Home Articles The Rarest Breeds in Canada – Part 6: The Non-Sporting Group

The Rarest Breeds in Canada – Part 6: The Non-Sporting Group


Part 6 of 7 – The Non-Sporting Group

In part 6 of this series we’re looking at those breeds that don’t seem to fit in other group, the Non-Sporting Dogs. Previously we explored the rarest breeds found in the Sporting Group, the Hound Group, the Working Group, the Terrier Group and the Toy 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 Non-Sporting Group

Breeds: When a breed didn’t quite seem to fit in any other group, it became part of the Non-Sporting crew. The varied group includes three bull breeds – the Boston Terrier, Bulldog and French Bulldog. In addition, there are a number of Spitz breeds, such as the Shiba Inu, Schipperke, Keeshond and Chow Chow. Three Tibetan breeds – the Lhasa Apso, Tibetan Terrier and Tibetan Spaniel – are also on the group roster, as are two of the three Poodle varieties. And more.
Activity level: The athletic, tireless Dalmatian and the shuffling Bulldog are as different as a drippy faucet and Niagara Falls. The diverse breeds of Non-Sporting defy generalizations as to their energy levels.
Size: The Dalmatian and Standard Poodle are the tallest dogs in this group. The smaller Non-Sporting breeds encompass the Schipperke, Tibetan Spaniel, Lowchen, Bichon Frise, Shih Tzu and Boston Terrier.
Trainability: The vast variety of breeds, purposes and personalities make it difficult, if not impossible, to assess the group’s capacity to learn.
Characteristics: When it comes to Non-Sporting, variety is the spice of life.

5th Rarest Non-Sporting Breed

Tibetan Spaniel

The Tibetan Spaniel is the 5th rarest breed in the Non-Sporting Group, with a three year total of 67 individual registrations (17 in 2016, 30 in 2017 and 20 in 2018). The number of individual registrations in the UK is much healthier than here in Canada, with 154 registrations in 2018.

“A breed of ancient origin, Tibetan Spaniels were bred in monasteries and used as watchdogs, ‘hot water bottles,’ and to turn prayer wheels for the monks. Because China and Tibet were closely linked at one time, it has been theorized that the Chinese gave Pekingese to the Tibetans and they developed along different lines from the Pekes of the Imperial palace. In fact, paintings of 15th century Pekes portray the breed as looking more like the Tibetan Spaniels of today. The name “spaniel” is a misnomer and was only used because of the ear placement and the fact that “spaniel” was used to describe the small companion-comforter dogs favoured by ladies of European and Oriental courts. The Tibetan Spaniel is gay and assertive, highly intelligent and may be aloof with strangers. Bred as a small companion and watchdog, the Tibetan Spaniel enjoys his playtime. Because of his size, he adapts well to any size dwelling and his exercise needs are minimal. The adult Tibetan Spaniel measures about 10 in (25 cm) in height and weighs 9-15 lb (5-7 kg). The moderate-length, flat-lying double coat is silky in texture. While the coat is smooth on the face and front of legs, there is longer hair on the ears, back of forelegs, tail and buttocks. All colours and mixtures of colours are allowed. Minimal grooming is required. A weekly session with brush and comb should suffice.” (CKC Breed Profile)

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4th Rarest Non-Sporting Breed

Lhasa Apso

The Lhasa Apso comes in at number 4, with a three year culmination of only 61 individual registrations (22 in 2016, 24 in 2017 and 15 in 2018). The number of individual registrations in the UK for 2018 is 1588, significantly higher than here in Canada.

“Bred in Tibetan monasteries for over 2,000 years, the Lhasa Apso is said to have been in existence since 800 BC. In Tibetan homes and monasteries, the giant Tibetan Mastiff was regarded as the outdoor guardian while the Lhasa guarded the indoors. Its name comes from the Tibetan city of Lhasa while opinions are divided on whether the Apso part comes from the word ‘rapso’ meaning goat-like (referring to the coat, of course) or from Abso Seng Kye, which means Barking Lion Sentinel Dog. Lhasas were never sold but were considered harbingers of good luck and were presented to visiting dignitaries or as gifts of esteem. That’s how the first Lhasas left the Roof of the World. The Dalai Lama presented some to occidental friends in the 1920s. True to his heritage, the Lhasa is gay and assertive, loyal and loving to those it knows but suspicious of strangers. Keenly watchful, the Lhasa also relishes its playtime. It is a good watchdog and its small size makes him a most agreeable city pet whose exercise needs can be met with a short, daily walk. The ideal size for dogs is 10-11 in (25-28 cm) and in no case should it exceed 11.5 in (29 cm) at the shoulder. The crowning glory of the Lhasa Apso is the long, heavy, straight, hard coat. With its abundantly coated head and plumed tail carried over the back, sometimes it’s hard to tell which end is which. For a time, golden or lion-like colours were preferred but now all colours and mixtures of colours are considered equal. That long, glorious coat needs almost daily grooming to keep it free of mats and since it reaches to the ground, it needs occasional cleansing with suitable coat-care products.” (CKC Breed Profile)

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3rd Rarest Non-Sporting Breed

German Pinscher

The German Pinscher comes in at number 3, with a three year culmination of only 60 individual registrations (28 in 2016, 10 in 2017 and 22 in 2018). The number of individual registrations in the UK are just as concerning with only 22 individuals registered in 2018.

“A comparative newcomer to this continent, the German Pinscher has been accepted for registration in Germany since 1879 though it was known in that country long before that time. Its roots can be traced back to the Middle Ages and the Biberhund of southern Germany, a dog bred to hunt beaver, badger and otter. By the 15th century, a breed known as the Rattler evolved. It was renowned as a killer of vermin and protector of the home. The Rattler came in two varieties, rough and smooth, and the smooth is believed to be the forerunner of the German Pinscher. The German Pinscher is often mistaken for a small or young Doberman Pinscher, yet it was the German Pinscher that came first and inspired Louis Dobermann to create his larger version of the breed. Due to two World Wars, the German Pinscher slowly began to disappear and it remained for Herr Werner Jung to start a breeding program in the 1950s to put the breed back on its feet. German Pinschers thrive on human attention and affection. They are loyal to their family and protective of them. Alert and vigilant, they may be wary of strangers. The breed displays fearless courage if threatened. This intelligent breed takes well to obedience training. A very active dog, the German Pinscher is not given to excessive barking. He makes an agile and alert watchdog. Daily exercise is a must. The sleek and muscular German Pinscher stands 17-20 in (43-51 cm) at the shoulder. The coat is short, dense and close-fitting with a healthy gloss. German Pinscher coats may be brown to stag red, and black (with tan markings). In bi-coloured dogs, there are sharply marked and symmetrically placed red or tan markings. Little grooming is required.” (CKC Breed Profile)

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2nd Rarest Non-Sporting Breed


The Löwchen is the second rarest Non-Sporting breed in Canada. The Löwchen has a three year culmination of only 29 individual registration (5 in 2016, 12 in 2017 and 12 in 2018). The number of individual registrations in the UK (where they are also known as the Little Lion Dog, and in the Toy Group) are higher than here in Canada, with 73 registrations in 2018.

“Of ancient origin, the Löwchen (or Little Lion Dog) was popular with nobility on the continent and was featured in paintings by leading artists. The breed appears in several woodcuts and paintings of the 1500s by German artist Albrecht Dürer. With strong roots in Germany, the breed’s name means “little lion” in that language. The breed seemed to slowly fall from favour and might have disappeared entirely had it not been for Madame Bennert, a Belgian lady, who gathered up Löwchen during the World War II era to keep the breed going. The breed has twice appeared in the Guinness Book of World Records – once as the most expensive dog in the world and once as the rarest dog in the world. Sprightly, affectionate, outgoing, playful and exuberant are all adjectives that describe the Lowchen. The breed takes well to training and makes an excellent candidate for obedience work. Löwchen abhor an empty lap. The breed makes excellent tummy warmers and couch companions but they also love to run, jump and play. Löwchen can be good prospects for agility since they enjoy a challenge. The average Löwchen measures 10-13 in (25-33 cm) at the shoulder and lightly tips the scales at 12-15 lb (5.5.-7 kg). The non-shedding coat is soft, silky and may have a slight wave. All colours or combinations of colours are accepted. “Do they grow that way?” folks are inclined to ask of the leonine look sported by the breed. The answer is “no.” They’re clipped to resemble miniature lions but, unlike the Poodle, the unclipped portions are not trimmed or shaped but left shaggy and natural.” (CKC Breed Profile)

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The Rarest Non-Sporting Breed

Japanese Spitz

The Japanese Spitz comes in at number 1, the rarest Non-Sporting breed in Canada, with a three year registration culmination of 8 (1 in 2016, 0 in 2017 and 7 in 2018). The number of individual registrations in the UK are much higher than here in Canada, with 187 registrations in 2018 alone.

“Although white Spitz-like dogs were known in Japan from about 1900, the breed didn’t become established until after World War II. Bearing a remarkable physical resemblance to the Samoyed, it is considerably smaller in size. The British Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1977, establishing it in that country as well. It is still rather rare on this continent. The breed is known to be lively, affectionate and intelligent. Alert, with acute hearing, the breed is always ready to sound the alarm when strangers approach. The Japanese Spitz enjoys playtime but does not need excessive exercise. The breed stands only 12-14 in (30-36 cm) at the shoulder and weighs in at 11-13 lb (5-6 kg). The breed has the typical Spitz double coat with a profuse, standoff outer coat and a soft, dense undercoat. The breed is white in colour. Regular grooming is important.” (CKC Breed Profile)

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Honorable Mention


The Schipperke had 134 individual registrations in Canada over a 3 year period (60 in 2016, 48 in 2017 and 36 in 2018), compared to an even lower number in the UK of only 33 individual registrations in 2018.

“Known for over four hundred years in Belgium, the Schipperke (pronounced skipper-key) is most likely a descendant of the black sheepdog that was also the predecessor of the later Belgian Sheepdog variety known as the Groenendael. While the latter was bred larger, the Schipperke was bred down in size. The breed was favoured by Belgian canal boat owners and some think its name came from the Flemish term for “little captain.” More recent research indicates the breed name actually means “little shepherd,” and in Europe the breed is classified as a sheepdog for exhibition purposes. Guild workmen who took the little dogs to heart are known to have exhibited the breed in 1690, at a show held in the Grand Place of Brussels, that was judged for the dogs’ hammered brass collars. Bright, active and inquisitive, the Schipperke is fond of children and makes a fine family pet. He is an excellent protective watchdog, quiet unless alarmed. He is a good ratter, yet sociable with other animals. He has an independent streak, although he is intelligent and highly trainable. Trained properly, he is a quick and accurate worker in obedience, tracking, scent work, and agility. A big dog in a little package, a Schipperke is able to cope fearlessly in almost any situation. Playful and hardy, the Schip requires only moderate outdoor exercise and is well suited to any accommodation. He is athletic and strong, capable of hiking long distances, within reason. Schipperkes weigh 12-18 lb. (5-8 kg). Except for the traditional absence of a tail, the breed resembles the Belgian Sheepdog in miniature. The coat is shiny, slightly harsh and double with a dense undercoat. Though short on the ears, the front of the legs and hocks, the coat is longer around the neck and down the chest, forming a distinctive ruff and cape. On this continent and in Europe, black is the only acceptable colour. The breed needs regular brushing but no special grooming. The coat is easily cared for, naturally clean and odour free, and does not knot. It is not trimmed in any way.” (CKC Breed Profile)

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Stay tuned as next week we will bring you Canada’s rarest Herding 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.