• English Setter Joins List of Vulnerable Native Breeds

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    January 26th, 2012Laura P (Editor)Articles

    This week, the BBC and the UK Kennel Club announced that, for the first time, the English Setter had joined the list of Vulnerable Native Breeds, after a 33% drop in registrations from 2010. (A Vulnerable Native Breed is classified as a breed which originated in the UK and which now registers less than 300 puppies a year.)

    The Kennel Club blamed this drop on “celebrity impacts on breed popularity”: more than 6,000 Long and Short coated Chihuahuas were registered by the Kennel Club in 2011, for example, compared to some 3,000 dogs across the 25 vulnerable British breeds.  Pugs and Huskies have also shot up in popularity.

    Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said: “Celebrities, popular culture and fashion play a big part in today’s society and unfortunately, dogs are not immune from our fickle tastes.”

    As Crufts approaches, the Kennel Club warns against shunning our historic native breeds in favour of more exotic dogs that we fail to understand and for which we are unable to offer the right lifestyle. “We urge people to do their research before they buy.”

    However, the celebrity culture has had a positive impact on the numbers of one former VNB, the Cardigan Welsh Corgi, whose registrations shot up by 134% in 2011. This is thought to be due to the “Royal Wedding Effect”; numerous appearances of the breed in advertising and on television, and the breed’s close relation to the Pembroke Welsh Corgi, owned by the Queen, may have increased demand for these charming dogs.

    There’s been good news for other breeds too. Interestingly, the Irish Red & White Setter (similar to the English Setter) registered 43% more puppies last year than in 2010. The Manchester Terrier and the Smooth Collie have also seen leaps in popularity of 42% and 38% respectively.

    Plus, the Sealyham Terrier – famously dubbed as “rare as tigers” in a Country Life article this autumn, sparking a campaign to save the breed – actually registered 63 puppies last year (14 more than in 2010), so may not be as endangered as once thought.

    Breeds which have left the list in the past due to a rise in numbers in the past include: the Gordon Setter, the Miniature Bull Terrier, the Bloodhound, the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, and the Welsh Terrier.

    The Irish Terrier was removed from the VNB list in 2010, after just barely making more than 300 registrations, but returns this year after another dip in numbers.

    The most vulnerable breeds on the list at present are the Greyhound (numerous outside of the Kennel Club, but with just 14 pedigree pups registered with them in 2011), the Otterhound (38), the Skye Terrier (44), and the Field Spaniel (46).

    You can see a full list of 25 the British breeds currently at risk of extinction here.

    The KC have had a list of ‘endangered’ British breeds since 2003, and 29 breeds were on it at one point. They, and other organisations such as British Heritage Dog Breeds, have been working hard to preserve these breeds ever since.  You can read a more detailed analysis of why these breeds are endangered, and find a list of links to further resources, here.

    Do you own one of these breeds? What do you think can be done to save them?

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