To call the breeds in this group “Non-Sporting” is not quite accurate. The name was given to them, however, because by and large they have lived with men as companions for such a long time that they are now known mainly as pets. Originally, all the breeds in this group came from different lands and served different purposes. They were all raised and bred for some specific work or sport. Although almost always considered pets today, they could still be used for their specific purpose if trained properly.
An exception to this rule is the Boston terrier. As far as can be learned, this may be the only breed in all dogdom that was never raised for any purpose except to be pets! This is why they are included in the Non-Sporting Group rather than in the Terrier Group.
The Boston terrier is often called the “American gentleman.” It is incorrect to call him a “Boston bull,” as some people do. This is one of the few breeds that originated in the United States. It started with a cross between an English bulldog and a white English terrier, around 1870, in Boston. By 1915, this new breed was the most popular dog in America! It has held a high place in the hearts of dog lovers everywhere ever since.
There are many good reasons for the great popularity of the Boston. His personality is as lovable and playful as his looks are original and handsome. He is easy to train, fits into any kind of home, and is devoted to every member of the family, from baby to Grandpop. It is simple to keep him clean, and his short coat never leaves annoying hair on clothes or furniture. He is an alert watchdog who seems just as happy when playing tug-of-war with an old belt as when curled up in a lap-so long as he is with a human being! His enthusiastic wriggles of joy when he greets you make every home-coming a delightful event.
The Boston’s sleek brindle or black coat, with its white chest, make him look like a man dressed up in evening clothes. He wears white socks on his feet, a white muzzle, and a blaze of white over his smooth forehead between his dark, intelligent eyes. His body is compact, almost square, as is his head. He has small, erect ears and a short straight or screw tail. This is the tail he is born with. It is never docked. He can be one of three sizes: toy, under fifteen pounds, medium, fifteen to twenty pounds, or heavy, twenty to twenty-five pounds. But whatever his size, his courage, loyalty, and affection are enormous. There could hardly be a better all-round family dog companion for city or country.
When you think of a poodle, you probably think first of a pretty little dog who does marvelous tricks. As long ago as the early 1700s, in France, there were troupes of these trained dogs who performed on street corners, in theaters, and even in courts. And, of course, poodles still make some of the most intelligent circus dogs today.
But originally, the poodle came from Germany where it was called “der Pudel.” There it was used as a water dog and a retriever. Later, in France, the poodle was also trained to hunt truffles. Truffles are a delicate food, something like a mushroom. But since they grow underground, the only way they can be found is by smell. This difficulty of finding them makes them very expensive. But the poodle learned how to sniff out the places where the truffles were growing. Since most truffle hunt, ing was done at night, the French preferred to use white, poodles, so the hunters could see where the dogs were digging.
Although you might think the poodle’s funny haircut started when he began to act on the stage, this is not true. When the poodle was a hunting dog, he had to have his flanks shaved of their heavy hair, so he could swim faster. But he also needed enough wool on his chest to keep him from catching cold, and enough hair on other parts of his body to protect them from brambles. These are the reasons for his special style of haircutting, a style which has been kept until this day, when most poodles are used only for pets.
The poodle comes in three sizes: standard, over fifteen inches high, miniature, under fifteen inches high, and toy (belonging to the Toy Group), ten inches high, or less. His thick, clipped, curly coat is his most distinctive feature. This coat can be any solid color-black, white, brown, silver, or blue, for example. He has a square body that is very strong, and his tail is cut short. His nose is pointed, his ears long and feathered. His bright, intelligent eyes look out at the world from beneath the thick hair that covers his head. Because he is a natural clown, and is devoted to people, he makes a smart, lovable pet who is hardy enough to enjoy country life, but gentle enough for the city. And if you particularly want a dog whom you can teach to do tricks, the poodle is perhaps the best of all breeds.
Like the poodle and the Boston, another striking-looking breed of the Non-Sporting Group is the Dalmatian. Sometimes called a “coach dog’ or a “firehouse dog,” he is of an ancient breed. It is thought he was originally raised by Gypsies from Dalmatia, when this country was a province of Austria. But since he traveled all over Europe with his Gypsy masters, he became well known in many other lands. He was used to guard the horses in the stables, and he seemed to prefer running with these horses to hunting, like other dogs. Later, it became quite the fashion to have a Dalmatian trotting beside the horses that pulled a fancy carriage. This is how the Dalmatian came to be called a coach dog.
In the old days, when fire engines were drawn by horses, almost every fire-fighting company had its pet Dalmatian. It lived in the firehouse, and often rode to fires with the firemen.
The Dalmatian is a rather large, graceful dog who makes a fine companion and guard for children. His sleek and glossy coat is short and easy to care for. Its coloring gives him his distinctive appearance-white, with black or liver-colored spots. With black spots, he has dark eyes. With liver spots, he has light brown or yellow eyes. He weighs around forty pounds, and his pointed nose, drooping ears, and long, thin tail all make him look a little like a pointer.
Although rather sensitive to cold weather, the Dalmatian makes a good country pet, especially where there are horses. And since he is very clean around the house and easily trained, he is also at home in the city.
Sometimes called the “English” bulldog, this breed is believed to have originated in the British Isles. Pictures of him, with pipe in mouth or cap on head, are often drawn to represent the spirit of John Bull. (John Bull is to England what Uncle Sam is to America.)
The bulldog got his name from the days when Englishmen enjoyed a cruel sport known as bullbaiting. In this sport, dogs were put into a ring to fight a bull. Long before they were trained for this sport, these dogs had the habit of catching their food animals by the throat. Over many hundreds of years, in order to breathe while hanging on to the throat of their prey, they had developed a short nose above a protruding jaw. This asset came in handy when the dogs were trained to seize a bull’s nose or ears and hold on until the bull fell to the ground.
Of course, such dogs were very vicious. But after bullbaiting was forbidden by law, the bulldogs were then raised as pets. Little by little, they became the gentle (if still ferocious-looking!) animal we know today.
The bulldog weighs around fifty pounds when fully grown, and has a flat, shining coat of brindle, white, red, fawn, or other colors. His shoulders and chest are so broad that they make his front legs look bowlegged. His body is thick and heavy and he walks with a roll, like a sailorl When he wants to run, however, he can move faster than you’d expect.
His legs and tail are short. He has small, thin ears called “rose ears” because they fold back so part of the inside can be seen from the front. His huge head has a flat-topped, deeply wrinkled forehead, a large black nose that looks almost squashed, hanging cheeks called “dewlaps,” and a very strong, protruding underjaw. It is this sad, cross face that has earned him the nickname of sour mug.
But he really makes a gentle and obedient pet whose looks alone are enough to make him a wonderful watchdog as well! Because of his size, he is usually kept in a country home.
These are only some of the representative breeds in each of the six groups. Many other fine dogs might have been mentioned, such as the basset, borzoi, French bulldog, Gordon setter, greyhound, griffon, old English sheepdog, and Yorkshire terrier. Unfortunately, it would require a much longer book than this to describe all the purebred breeds now registered by the American Kennel Club.