Home Articles The Rarest Breeds in Canada – Part 1: The Sporting Group

The Rarest Breeds in Canada – Part 1: The Sporting Group

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Part 1 of 7 – The Sporting Group

Social media has recently seen meme’s alerting the public to how rare some breeds of purebred dogs are in the world today.

National Purebred Dog Day
The above courtesy of the FB Page National Purebred Dog Day

We decided to go through the CKC’s magazine, Kennel & Bench, to see which breeds are the rarest in Canada. Below you will find the top 5 breeds with the lowest registration numbers for the Sporting Group.

We have looked at the individual registration numbers for years 2016, 2017 & 2018 and combined those three years to come up with the numbers for the rarest breeds. As a point of interest we have also looked at data from the Kennel Club (UK) for these same breeds when available.

The write up for each group and breed copied from the CKC.

The Sporting Group

Breeds: For many centuries, Sporting breeds have been employed to find, flush out and retrieve game birds. The group includes a variety of retrievers, pointers, setters and spaniels.
Activity level: Size Most are medium in size, with the American Cocker Spaniel being the smallest of the crew and the English, Irish and Gordon Setters the largest.
Trainability: The ability to respond to a variety of commands is a must for the Sporting set. Most take quite happily to a training regime.

5th Rarest Sporting Breed

Spinone Italiano

The Spinone Italiano comes in at number 5, with a three year culmination of only 14 individual registrations (10 in 2016, 4 in 2017 and 0 in 2018). The number of individual registrations in the UK are much higher than here in Canada, with 429 registrations in 2018.

“A large rugged dog of distinctive appearance, the coarse-haired Spinone was developed as an all-around gun dog whose specialty is working in marshy and wooded areas. A versatile hunting dog of ancient lineage, his origins are in northern Italy. Believed by some to be a mixture of several sporting breeds, such as the French Pointer, the French Griffon, the Barbet, the Porcelain and the German Wire-haired Pointer, in appearance the Spinone is more hound-like. Once in danger of fading from the scene, the Spinone enjoyed renewed interest when the Italian Kennel Club came to his rescue. The breed has recently been recognized by the American Kennel Club.” (CKC Breed Profile)

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4th Rarest Sporting Breed

Curly Coated Retriever

The Curly Coated Retriever comes in at number 4, with a three year culmination of only 11 individual registrations (2 in 2016, 9 in 2017 and 0 in 2018). The number of individual registrations in the UK are once again higher than here in Canada, with 70 registrations in 2018.

“One of the oldest of the retriever breeds, the Curly has appeared in British sporting prints dating back 300 years. He was the first breed trained to retrieve game and deliver it back to the hunter. Because he was a ‘finished’ breed long before breeding records were kept, his actual ancestry is a matter of conjecture. Educated guesses place the St. John’s Newfoundland, the Poodle, the Old English Water Spaniel and the Irish Water Spaniel in his background. At one time the Curly was the gamekeeper’s favourite dog and it is still regarded as the most efficient retriever in New Zealand and Australia where it is worked on upland game as well as waterfowl. The Curly’s popularity was eclipsed by the Labrador and Golden Retrievers but it still maintains a faithful following around the world.” (CKC Breed Profile)

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3rd Rarest Sporting Breed

German Long-Haired Pointer

The German Long-Haired Pointer comes in at number 3, with a three year culmination of only 2 individual registrations (0 in 2016, 0 in 2017 and 2 in 2018). The number of individual registrations in the UK are once again higher than here in Canada, but not by much, with only 4 registrations in 2018.

“The rarest of the German Pointers, the German Long-haired is closely related to three other long-coated German sporting breeds: the Large Münsterländer, the Small Münsterländer and the Wachtelhund, the last being similar to the English Spaniel. Only the German Long- haired Pointer is recognized by The Canadian Kennel Club. In outline, the breed resembles a rather heavily constructed setter. Some believe the breed first appeared on the scene around 1860 but other authorities contend the breed traces back to medieval times. In Germany, the breed is still highly regarded as a versatile gun dog and family companion; however, the breed remains a rarity on this continent.” (CKC Breed Profile)

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2nd Rarest Sporting Breed

Pudelpointer

The Pudelpointer comes in at number 2, with a three year culmination of only 1 individual registration (1 in 2016, 0 in 2017 and 0 in 2018). The breed is not recognized in the UK, so there aren’t any official numbers on individual registrations.

“Sigismund Freiherr von Zedlitz und Neukirch was convinced that a cross between a Pointer and a Poodle was the only road to an ideal German pointing dog. In the first crossing, a black Poodle bitch named ‘Molly’ was bred to a Pointer named ‘Tell,’ descended from the kennels of the Prince of Wales and owned by Friedrich III, the future Emperor of Germany and King of Prussia. The first litter was born in 1881.” (CKC Breed Profile)

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The Rarest Sporting Breeds

The American Water Spaniel & The Sussex Spaniel

The American Water Spaniel

The American Water Spaniel comes in at number 1, alongside the Sussex Spaniel below, with a three year culmination of 0 individual registration (0 in 2016, 0 in 2017 and 0 in 2018). The breed is equally as rare in the UK, with 0 individual registrations in 2018.

“Born in the U.S.A., the American Water Spaniel is primarily a working gun dog that is seldom seen in the show ring. There’s good evidence to suggest that the American Water Spaniel and the Boykin Spaniel, which takes its name from the town of Boykin, South Carolina, are the same breed. But while the Boykin has been known in the southern states since before the Civil War (1861-65), the American Water Spaniel was mainly developed in the midwest. Type was set by 1900 but it wasn’t until 1938 that a club was formed and a standard drawn up. Though there are no records to confirm the breed’s beginnings, it has been suggested that its ancestors may have included the Irish Water Spaniel as well as the Curly-coated Retriever, old English Water Spaniel and American Cocker Spaniel. An all-around shooting dog, the American Water Spaniel is an efficient retriever of upland game, while his small size and protective colouring make him valuable for duck hunting. He’s physically and mentally tough enough to take on the frigid waters of the Great Lakes and small enough launch himself out of a boat or clamber back in without swamping it.” (CKC Breed Profile)

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Sussex Spaniel

The Sussex Spaniel comes in at number 1, alongside the American Water Spaniel above, with a three year culmination of 0 individual registration (0 in 2016, 0 in 2017 and 0 in 2018). The breed fairs slightly better but still considered rare in the UK, with 34 individual registrations in 2018.

“The Sussex Spaniel is noted for two distinct characteristics. The first is his unique golden-liver colour and the other is the unspaniel-like habit of ‘giving tongue’ when he scents game. Hound genes in his background may account for the breed’s tendency to sound off. To this day, the Sussex is a talker, possessing a full repertoire of sounds from a sharp bark to a melodious howl. Among the rarest of purebreds, the Sussex takes his name from the English county of Sussex, where he was developed to be a rugged sporting dog the hunter could follow comfortably on foot.” (CKC Breed Profile)

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Honorable Mention

The Field Spaniel

The Field Spaniel only had 27 individual registrations in Canada over a 3 year period (1 in 2016, 15 in 2017 and 11 in 2018), compared to 48 individual registrations in the UK in 2018.

“At one time, the only thing that distinguished Cocker Spaniels from Field Spaniels was weight, the ‘under 25-pound’ variety being called Cockers and the ‘over 25-pound’ variety Fields. The Cocker advanced in popularity while the Field Spaniel suffered terribly at the hands of breeders who, in attempting to create a sturdier sporting dog, ended up producing a awkward, long-backed, heavy-headed caricature of the original. Springer and Cocker crosses were introduced to get rid of the exaggerations and restore the breed to former type and working ability.” (CKC Breed Profile)

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