Home Articles The Rarest Breeds in Canada – Part 3: The Working Group

The Rarest Breeds in Canada – Part 3: The Working Group


Part 3 of 7 – The Working Group

In part 3 of this series, previously we explored the rarest breeds found in the Sporting Group & the Hound Group, we visit the Working 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 Working Group

Breeds: These breeds have a job to do. Some pull sleds or carts while others guard livestock, homes, businesses or military installations. Diverse duties may also include water-rescue work, alpine rescue or stints at sea as the fisherman’s helper.
Activity level: The energy level of most Working breeds depends on the task at hand. Guardian dogs may patrol or simply observe until called upon to defend. Then they surge into action. Sled dogs keep their enthusiasm in check until they’re in harness and then they’re keen to hit the trail. Working breeds might be termed energy efficient.
Size: The Working breeds vary from medium-sized, such as the Standard Schnauzer, up to giant, typified by the Great Dane, Mastiff or lesser-known Leonberger.
Trainability: Prized for their long association with humans, their loyalty and willingness to work, these breeds usually take well to training, though some may take longer than others for lessons to sink in.

5th Rarest Working Breed

Entlebucher Mountain Dog

The Entlebucher Mountain Dog comes in at number 5, with a three year culmination of 82 individual registrations (31 in 2016, 26 in 2017 and 25 in 2018). The number of individual registrations in the UK are concerning, with only 11 registrations in 2018.

“The smallest of the four Swiss mountain dogs, the naturally bobtailed Entlebucher is believed to have descended from cattle dogs brought by the Romans to Helvetia 2,000 years ago. The breed takes its name from Entlebuch in the canton of Lucerne. Also known as the Entlebucher Sennenhund, which means “dog of the Alpine herdsman,” the breed was used to drive cattle to market. The breed is quiet and easygoing. Though independent and self-confident, they are very tuned to their owners. Entlebuchers are very aware of boundaries and are territorial and protective, but not aggressive. They delight in the company of people and are friendly with other dogs. Entlebuchers make good obedience workers since they enjoy having a job to do. Owners report the breed loves heights and is fond of climbing and jumping. Lots of outdoor activity and exercise goes over well with this breed. As adults, Entlebuchers stand 16-20 in (41-51 cm) at the shoulder and the sturdy dogs weigh 55-60 lb (25-27 kg). The breed wears a short, hard coat with a natural sheen. Like the three other Swiss mountain dogs, the Entlebucher is a tri-coloured dog. The ground colour is jet black with rich-rust and clear-white markings symmetrically placed. The breed is exceptionally clean and requires little grooming but they enjoy it and demand their turn when others are groomed.” (CKC Breed Profile)

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4th Rarest Working Breed

Karelian Bear Dog

The Karelian Bear Dog comes in at number 4, with a three year culmination of only 60 individual registrations (28 in 2016, 11 in 2017 and 21 in 2018). The number of individuals in the UK is unknown, as they are not currently recognized by The Kennel Club (UK).

“The Karelian Bear Dog is the big-game hunting canine of the Finnish people. Huntsmen use the dog to hunt bear, elk, moose, deer and wolf. The breed originated in the area of northern Europe known as Karelia and the isolation and remoteness of eastern Finland ensured that the breed remained relatively untouched until the 20th century. World War II nearly put an end to the breed but dedicated enthusiasts set out to re-establish this intelligent and courageous hunter. This is a breed with laser-sharp senses and extreme resourcefulness. A ‘work-bred’ Karelian can be particularly belligerent in its response to other dogs, a quality that makes the breed unsuitable for most urban situations. In its favour, the Karelian is known to be very devoted to its owner and a dog of tremendous genetic soundness. A true working dog, the Karelian demands outdoor exercise and is happiest with a hunter or outdoorsman. It is definitely not the breed for everyone but those who have worked with a Karelian rarely consider another breed. The medium-sized Karelian may range from 19-23.5 in (48-60 cm) at the withers. The Karelian has a straight, stiff and thick outer coat that is slightly longer on the neck, back and rear of thighs. A soft, dense undercoat provides insulation. The dog is black with distinct white markings on the head, neck, chest, abdomen and legs. The preferred black has a brownish cast or may be a dull matte black. Regular brushing is needed to remove dead hair and keep the coat healthy.” (CKC Breed Profile)

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3rd Rarest Working Breed


The Hovawart comes in at number 3, with a three year culmination of only 44 individual registrations (15 in 2016, 13 in 2017 and 16 in 2018). The number of individual registrations in the UK are higher than here in Canada, with 31 registrations in 2018 alone.

“Of ancient German origin, the Hovawart takes its name from a word that translates to “guardian of the estate.” References to dogs resembling the Hovawart have been found in drawings and writings as early as the 13th century. The Hovawart may have been one of the early ancestors of today’s German Shepherd Dog. But the breed lost favour and almost became extinct. In the 1920s, Kurt Konig began a reconstruction of the Hovawart after finding specimens in the German countryside and initiating a breeding program. Affectionate and loving with his family, the Hovawart may be distrustful of strangers. He makes an excellent herding and guard dog. A fairly large and vigorous dog, the Hovawart needs lots of outdoor exercise. Adult males measure 23.5-27.5 in (60-70 cm) and weigh 66-88 lb (30-40 kg). Females will be somewhat smaller. The weatherproof coat is long for the most part but short on the face and forelegs. The Hovawart may be black, black-and-tan or golden in colour. Regular brushing is a good idea to keep the coat neat and healthy.” (CKC Breed Profile)

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2nd Rarest Working Breed

Canaan Dog & Komondor

Canaan Dog

The Canaan Dog comes in at number 2, alongside the Komondor. The Canaan Dog has a three year culmination of only 2 individual registration (2 in 2016, 0 in 2017 and 0 in 2018). The number of individual registrations in the UK are higher than here in Canada, yet still concerning, with only 19 registrations in 2018.

“This natural breed of Israel dates back to pre-Biblical times and was the guard and herding dog of the ancient Israelites. As the Hebrew population was dispersed, many Canaans took up residence in the Negev Desert and remained mostly undomesticated except for some that attached themselves to the Bedouin and earned their keep as herders. A program recruited many of these pariah dogs and trained them for war use as sentries, messengers, Red Cross helpers and mine detectors. After World War II ended, the breeding program concentrated on developing the Canaan as guide dogs for the blind, the only program of its kind in the Middle East. Though reserved and aloof with strangers, the Canaan is alert, devoted, docile and vigilant with his family. The breed may be quite vocal. The Canaan is a responsive companion that takes well to training. This squarely built dog likes having a job to do. He enjoys an active life and no less than a brisk daily walk will satisfy his exercise needs. Adults may vary from 19-24 in (48-61 cm) at the withers, with the ideal being in the middle range. Weight, depending on size, may be anywhere from 35-55 lb (16-25 kg). The Canaan sports a straight, harsh, flat outer coat with a slight ruff. The length of the coat should be 1-1.5 in (2.5-4 cm) in length. The soft, short, close undercoat may vary in density with the climate. There are two colour patterns in the breed. The first is predominately white with a dark mask, with or without additional patches of colour. The second pattern is a solid colour with or without white trim. Grooming requirements are minimal. A little brushing to remove dead hair and the occasional bath are all that’s needed.” (CKC Breed Profile)

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The Komondor comes in at number 2, alongside the Canaan Dog. The Komondor has a three year culmination of only 2 individual registration (0 in 2016, 1 in 2017 and 1 in 2018). In the UK the Komondor breed equally as rare, official KC records show 1 Komondor registered in 2018.

“Largest of the Hungarian breeds, the Komondor’s reputation as a guardian of the flocks has earned him the accolade of “King of the Working Dogs” in his native land. The breed is believed to have descended from dogs brought to Hungary in the 10th century by the Magyars. The Komondor has been used as a police dog and herder but it shines as a protector of the flock. Recently, sheep ranchers across the U.S. have used the Komondor with great success to protect their stock from coyotes. The Komondor will fight any predator to the death. Quiet and rather laid-back, the Komondor can turn fiercely protective when the occasion demands. He is earnest, courageous and faithful. This is a breed that was bred to work as a guardian. It is best suited to outdoor, country living. “The bigger the Komondor, the better,” says the breed standard. Males may measure up to 31.5 in (80 cm) at the shoulder. Females may be slightly smaller. The long, white corded coat that covers the entire dog is a hallmark of the breed. Each ribbon-like cord consists of a mix of soft and harsh hair. The only allowed colour is white. This coloration allows the Komondor to blend in with the sheep it guards. Though the coat cords naturally, it does need some help to achieve the uniformly corded effect. Bathing the Komondor can be a chore since the cords must be towelled dry as much as possible, then allowed to air-dry – a process that can take up to three days!” (CKC Breed Profile)

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The Rarest Working Breed

Greenland Dog

The Greenland Dog comes in at number 1, the rarest Working breed in Canada, with a three year culmination of 0 individual registrations (0 in 2016, 0 in 2017 and 0 in 2018). In the UK the Greenland Dog is equally as rare, official KC records show 1 registration in 2018.

“Since the Inuit people of Canada’s Arctic were known to have emigrated from Greenland many centuries ago bringing their sled dogs with them, it’s possible this hardy polar Spitz breed is the forerunner of our native Canadian Eskimo Dog. The relationship to other northern Spitz breeds – such as the Alaskan Malamute, Siberian Husky and Canadian Eskimo – is unmistakable. Used primarily as sled dogs in the Scandinavian countries, Greenland Dogs were also put to work by the native people as hunting dog whose superior sense of smell was used to track down seal breathing holes. Loyal and affectionate with their owners, the Greenland Dogs have a lively outlook on life. Since they were bred to work on teams, they can get along with other dogs once a pecking order is established. The breed is known to be energetic and boisterous in play. Bred as a working dog for the Arctic climes, it is exceptionally hardy and is ideally suited for pulling sleds. This is definitely an outdoor dog that requires lot of exercise. The Greenland Dog usually stands about 26 in (66 cm) in height and is substantially built and well muscled. The dense, straight coarse outer coat is rather short on the head and legs but rather long and abundant on the body and tail. Beneath the outer coat, a soft, dense undercoat provides insulation against frigid Arctic weather. All colours, both solid and parti-colour, are accepted, the only exception being albino. The dense double coat should be raked regularly – and especially during seasonal shedding – to remove dead hair.” (CKC Breed Profile)

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Honorable Mention

Canadian Eskimo Dog

The Canadian Eskimo Dog only had 95 individual registrations in Canada over a 3 year period (52 in 2016, 23 in 2017 and 20 in 2018), compared to 18 individual registrations in the UK in 2018.

“A dog of the Canadian Arctic, the Canadian Eskimo Dog is called ‘Qimmiq’ by the Inuit. The breed proved popular with Arctic explorers and earned a reputation as a sled dog that could pull the heaviest loads over the greatest distances on the least amount of food. As snowmobiles gained favour, the number of Eskimo Dogs declined dramatically. In the 1970s, a project headed by William Carpenter and funded by The Canadian Kennel Club, the Canada Council and private individuals saved the breed from extinction.” (CKC Breed Profile)

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Stay tuned as next week we will bring you Canada’s rarest Terrier Breeds!

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Rob is a long time purebred dog enthusiast. Starting out in obedience sports, his main interests morphed into conformation and breeding. Rob is a breeder and exhibitor of Golden Retrievers under the Conquerer prefix.


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