Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Know Your Dog: Non-Sporting Group

In honor of the Lowchen, whose presence along a path by the railroad track several blocks from my suburban neighborhood remains a mystery, I turn to Non-Sporting Dogs. As I have previously mentioned, there is no unifying principle determining a breed's membership in this group. Many Non-Sporting Dogs could be reasonably placed in another group. Schipperkes certainly were bred to be Working Dogs. Dalmatians were used as guard dogs for horse-drawn coaches, and, in my childhood were called Firehouse Dogs--Working Dog occupations. Poodles were originally water retrievers, a pretty Sporting purpose for a Non-Sporting Dog, I'd say.

Non-Sporting is also the group for some rare breeds that have been promoted to full A.K.C. recognition relatively recently--Tibetan Spaniels, Tibetan Terriers, and, Lowchens, for example.

Many Non-Sporting Dogs are what the British call Companion Dogs. This does not refer to the American certification of a dog as an assistant to the physically challenged human, but rather to its purpose: keeping humans company. These are the dogs that are insufficiently diminutive for the Toy Group, but function very much like the Toys. Bichon Frises, Boston Terriers, Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, Lhasa Apsos and Miniature Poodles are in this sub-group, as are Lowchens, and Tibetan Spaniels.

Nominees for The Most Stubborn Dog are also well represented in the Non-Sporting Group: Chinese Shar-Peis and Chow Chows are obvious competitors for that title. Lhasa Apsos, for all their Adorableness Quotient, are not known to be particularly eager to please humans. They seem to believe that humans need to please THEM!

But if I were to recommend a Best First Dog--a dog for someone who had never before had a dog--I would name a few from the Non-Sporting Group. Bichon Frises; Boston Terriers; Poodles, particularly the Miniature size; and, perhaps, either of the Bulldogs would be on my list.

My personal experience of Keeshonds tempts me to put them on the list, too. I have found them to be charming, affectionate dogs. But then, they had loving, responsible owners.

But, no surprise. You can acquire the most easy-going breed of dog and turn it into a nervous wreck by neglect. Or, you can acquire an admittedly challenging breed and turn into a menace by neglect.

Some Non-Sporting Dogs require daily or twice daily grooming in addition to regular trips to a professional groomer. If you lack time and money, give the American Eskimos, Bichon Frises, Chow Chows, Lhasa Apsos, Lowchens, Poodles, Tibetan Spaniels and Tibetan Terriers a pass.

But all Non-Sporting Dogs, as all other dogs, require socialization, patience, and consistency. If you can't deliver those, don't get any dog.

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