Non-Sporting Dog Breeds: Definition & List

Non-sporting dogs are a diverse group of dogs that are usually bred for dogs shows or as pets, but can also be bred as hunters or workers. These dogs vary in size, breed, coat color, and personality.

Non-sporting dogs are one of the seven dog groups recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC).

This group of dogs includes multiple breeds that range widely in their characteristics. For example, larger non-sporting dogs include breeds like the Dalmatian, standard poodle, and chow chow.

Some of the smaller dogs in this group are bulldogs, bichon frisés, as well as Boston and Tibetan terriers.

Because the traits of non-sporting dogs differ drastically from one breed to another, determining any common characteristics based on their personality, trainability, and intelligence is nearly impossible.

Non-Sporting Dogs Overview

A non-sporting dog standing in a park

There are 21 breeds of non-sporting dogs that are recognized by the AKC. The non-sporting group includes a broad variety of dogs of different breeds.

Some of these dogs have short coats of various coloring, including Dalmatian dogs with distinct black spots on short white fur, or short-haired dogs, like the French bulldog or German pinscher. Other breeds have long, smooth coats, like the Lhasa apso or shih tzu.

While there are some taller dogs in the group, most of the dogs in the non-sporting group are small- to medium-sized.

Medium Non-Sporting Dog Breeds

Medium-sized dogs that comprise the majority of the non-sporting group range from 15 to 25 inches in height from the shoulder, and weigh anywhere between 40 and 70 pounds. Some of the better-known breeds of medium non-sporting dogs include bulldog, chow chow, Dalmatian, Chinese shar-pei, and standard poodle.


A non-sporting dog, the bulldog, walking near a river

Bulldogs usually reach 14 to 15 inches in height and both males and females weigh up to 50 pounds. These dogs have a smooth short coat that doesn’t require a lot of grooming, with typical colors including white, red, and light brown.

They are athletic, well-muscled, and are a generally strong breed known for their confident, yet soft personality.

Bulldogs are energetic and easy to train while, requiring a lot of intellectual stimulation and about an hour of exercise every day. Despite their intimidating appearance, bulldogs are kind, friendly, and love to play.

Chow Chow

A chow chow smiling at the camera

The chow chow is a relatively big dog, with origins in ancient China, reaching up to 20 inches in height and weighing up to 70 pounds.

Chow chows are recognized for their fluffy, medium-length coat, and can be bred in a variety of colors, including black, gray, brown, and red.

They require regular grooming with daily brushing of their thick coat and monthly trimming.

These dogs are calm and dignified dogs that aren’t open to strangers, but are loyal and protective when it comes to their families.

They are relatively easy to train and need up to one hour of exercise every day, which can be broken down into two or three short walks.


A Dalmatian smiling and posing for a photo

Dalmatians are among the most well-known breeds of the non-sporting group. They are large dogs, reaching up to 25 inches in height, and weighing up to 70 pounds.

Dalmatians are recognized by their spotted short coat. While these dogs do not require frequent grooming, it’s best to be aware of their heavy shedding.

They are dignified and even aloof with strangers, but protective when it comes to their owners and their families.

They are also intelligent, athletic, and energetic dogs that are easy to train. These dogs need at least 90 minutes of exercise per day. Also, Dalmatians need a nutritious diet to fuel their active lifestyle.

Chinese Shar-Pei

Two Chinese Shar-Peis posing for a photo against a gray background

A Chinese shar-pei is a non-sporting dog that has unique physical characteristics with its layers of loose skin, small eyes and ears, and a black tongue.

These are great guardian dogs known for their intelligence, loyalty, and physical abilities. A Chinese shar-pei can grow as tall as 20 inches and weigh between 45 and 60 pounds.

These dogs are independent and calm dogs that can be playful when they are in the mood. They are relatively easy to train, and don’t need too much exercise – two short walks per day are enough.

Standard Poodle

Three standard poodles exploring a field together

A standard poodle is an aristocratic, loveable breed known among dog lovers for its loyal personality and great character.

This breed can be up to 15 inches tall and weigh between 40 and 70 pounds. It has a long curly coat, requiring daily brushing, with the most popular colors including black, gray, apricot, and white.

Standard poodles are famously good-natured dogs that are playful, open with strangers, and extremely loyal to their owners.

These dogs are also highly energetic and intelligent, which means they are easy to train, but require a lot of physical and intellectual activity to stay happy and healthy.

Small Non-Sporting Dog Breeds

There are numerous smaller dogs in the non-sporting group. These breeds vary a lot in size and personality.

In general, smaller dogs of this group can be between 10 and 17 inches tall and weigh anywhere between 10 and 28 pounds.

Some of the popular breeds of small non-sporting dogs include the bichon frisé, French bulldog, miniature poodle, and Shiba Inu.

Bichon Frisé

 A small white bichon frisé sitting on a patio floor looking at the camera

The bichon frisé is a small non-sporting dog known among dog lovers for its great personality and characteristic fluffy white coat.

These small dogs are between 10 and 12 inches tall and weigh up to 18 pounds. They usually have a long and curly white coat that needs regular trimming.

Bichon frisé dogs are curious, lively, and loveable. They are affectionate with their owners, open to strangers, and great with children.

These dogs are also smart and energetic, easy to train, but don’t need longer than 30 minutes of outdoor exercise every day.

French Bulldog

A French bulldog looking sad as it sits on a table

French bulldogs are similar to bulldogs, but they are smaller and have a characteristic pointed ear shape. They reach up to 13 inches in height and weigh up to 28 pounds.

This breed is popular among dog owners because of its easy adaptability, miniature size, friendly personality, and minimal exercise requirements. French bulldogs are intelligent and eager to please, making them easy to train.

Miniature Poodle

Miniature poodle smiling for the camera

Miniature poodles are similar to standard poodles in both their looks and temperaments. Unlike the standard poodle, the miniature breed reaches up to 15 inches in height and weighs up to 15 pounds.

These dogs also have long, soft, curly coats of a variety of colors.

Miniature poodles are adaptable and easy to train because of their great intelligence and high levels of energy.

These dogs enjoy frequent and diverse forms of exercise, requiring no less than an hour of activity per day. They are also playful, loyal, and loving, both with their owners and strangers.

Shiba Inu

Shiba Inu dog playing in the forest

Shiba Inu is a popular breed of small non-sporting dogs from Japan, known for its adaptability, high energy, and friendly personality.

These dogs can grow up to 16 inches tall – males weigh up to 23 pounds, and females, up to 17 pounds. They have a smooth short coat ranging from red to tan in color.

Shiba Inus are friendly and loving, but also highly protective of those they love. They are highly adaptable, which makes them great companions in a range of settings.

These dogs have independent personalities, which makes them harder to train than other non-sporting dogs. Due to their high level of energy, they enjoy at least one hour of exercise per day.

Non-Sporting Dog Mixes

A bichon poodle mix sitting in a flower garden

Non-sporting dog mixes are common among dog lovers and include a variety of breeds with a mix of colors, sizes, and temperaments.

These mixes can be very diverse, and it’s therefore difficult to name many common characteristics of these breeds.

Non-sporting dogs can be crossbred with other breeds from non-sporting groups or with breeds outside this group.

Some of the most well-known non-sporting dog mixes include poodle mixes, also known as doodles. Below are some poodle mixes popular among dog lovers:

Should You Get a Non-Sporting Dog?

A poodle smiling and biting a leaf

Non-sporting dogs are a diverse group of breeds of various sizes, colors, personalities, and care needs.

The non-sporting group offers a variety of options for different dog lovers, from those looking for a small companion dog to live with in the city, to those wanting a larger hunting or working breed to live with in the countryside.

About Thomas Woods 224 Articles
Thomas has been a dog lover since he was 6 years old when his parents got him a rescue Labrador. Since then his love for dogs has lead him to study Animal Behavior & Welfare. He now keeps a six year old English Bullmastiff and educates pet parents through his online publication Perfect Dog Breeds.

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