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Iconic breeds at risk of extinction

Old English Sheepdog could risk extinction

Warns the Kennel Club as Discover Dogs comes to London

  • The Old English Sheepdog has been put on the Kennel Club’s ‘At Watch’ list because it is hovering on the brink of vulnerable status
  • ‘Handbag’ dogs suited to urban life and fashionable exotic breeds on the rise
  • The Kennel Club urges people to research the very different dog breeds before they buy to prevent dogs ending up in rescue, as its Discover Dogs event approaches

One of Britain’s most iconic dog breeds, the Old English Sheepdog, has been put on an At Watch list by the Kennel Club because of concerns that the breed could face extinction in the future.

The breed has numbered just 316 puppy registrations so far this year according to Kennel Club statistics released today. This is compared to 28,787 Labrador Retrievers, the UK’s most popular dog, 2,669 Chihuahuas and 5,496 Pugs which are both rapidly growing in popularity.

A breed is deemed to be vulnerable if it numbers less than 300 puppy registrations in a year. The Kennel Club has put the Old English Sheepdog on a new At Watch list, for those breeds between 301 and 450 annual registrations, to highlight their plight before they get to vulnerable levels.

The Kennel Club’s Discover Dogs event, held at Earls Court on 10th and 11th November, enables people to meet more than 200 breeds of dog, including British native breeds, so that they can find the right match for their lifestyle.

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said: “The reason the majority of dogs end up in rescue is because people haven’t researched their breed before they buy. People often go for the most obvious or fashionable dog choice, which isn’t necessarily the right one for them. Our native vulnerable breeds will be amongst the 200 dog breeds at our Discover Dogs event. We hope it will open people’s eyes to the diverse range of breeds, and their very different characters and needs, so that they pick the right dog for their lifestyle.”

Bill Lambert, Manager of the Kennel Club Assured Breeder Scheme, said: “The decline of the Old English Sheepdog, which people can meet at our Discover Dogs event at Earls Court in November, can be partly explained by lifestyle changes as it needs a lot of grooming and exercise and so is not suitable for the fast paced urban lifestyles of many people.

“But it is also a lot to do with fashion. Despite the fact that Old English Sheepdogs have good temperaments and can make fantastic family pets their popularity is being eclipsed by more fashionable foreign breeds that can be much harder to train and care for. Of particular concern is the growth in popularity of the Siberian Husky, a beautiful dog which is notoriously willful and generally unsuitable for urban life.”

There are thirty vulnerable breeds in total and four on the At Watch list. Some native vulnerable breeds have fared well, with the Norwich Terrier seeing the largest increase in numbers in the first three quarters of this year, compared to the same period in 2011. It increased by 96 percent, from 108 to 202 registrations. The Otterhound has also increased by 57 percent, from 21 registrations to 33.

However, other breeds have not been so lucky with the biggest declines being seen in the Clumber Spaniel, down by 37 percent to just 114 registrations and the Irish Red and White Setter which has declined by 34 percent to just 73 registrations. The Foxhound has no registrations so far this year and the Cesky Terrier has just 25, making them currently the most vulnerable.

Outside of the vulnerable breeds so called ‘handbag’ dogs such as the Pug and Chihuahua continue to thrive. The smooth coat Chihuahua has increased by ten percent so far this year compared to the same period last year, to 2669 registrations. This is a 615 percent increase in the breed in ten years. The Pug has increased by 19 percent so far this year, to 5496 registrations, which represents a 397 percent increase on the 1105 Pugs registered ten years ago.

Dog breeds from abroad that are doing well include the Siberian Husky, the Hungarian Puli and Obama’s breed of choice, the Portuguese Water Dog, which numbered 93 registrations compared to 51 in the same period last year and just 38 in the whole of 2002.

To meet and find out more about more than 200 dog breeds, including those on the vulnerable list, visit the Discover Dogs event at Earls Court, London on 10th and 11th November


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