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    February 25th, 2014Laura P (Editor)Articles

    As Crufts approaches, the Kennel Club urges people to remember forgotten breeds.

    New registration statistics released by the Kennel Club reveal that the Skye Terrier, which is one of the most vulnerable of Britain’s native dog breeds – and more rare than the Giant Panda – has fallen to a record low of just 17 puppy registrations in 2013, as foreign breeds continue to thrive.

    The annual registration statistics for 2013, which have been released ahead of Crufts, where more than 200 pedigree breeds will be on show, has seen a 59 percent drop on 2012 registrations for the breed. It is estimated that there are less than 400 of the breed left in this country, making it the rarest of Britain’s vulnerable native breeds, alongside the Otterhound.

    The Kennel Club’s list of vulnerable native breeds monitors those native dog breeds whose numbers are below 300 puppy registrations each year, which is thought to be a suitable level to sustain a population. An ‘at watch’ list monitors those between 300 and 450 registrations per annum that could be at risk if their numbers continue to fall.

    In total there are 25 vulnerable native breeds, including the Cardigan Welsh Corgi, Dandie Dinmont Terrier and Deerhound, and eight ‘at watch’ breeds, including the Irish Setter and the Pembroke Welsh Corgi.

    Full registration statistics for all the VNBs can be found here.

    Sue Breeze, a Kennel Club Assured Breeder of Skye Terriers, who won the Best in Group at Crufts last year, said: “As somebody who adores this breed, I am terrified by this new record low in their numbers. The simple reason that Skye Terriers are in decline is that people don’t know they exist. It’s that basic.

    “We need to find ways that we can protect the breed or they won’t be around for future generations to enjoy. Winning Best in Group at Crufts last year led to a lot of enquires about the breed, but there weren’t many pups available and we’ve all been too scared to breed in recent years, for fear of the pups not having homes to go to.”

    Skye Terrier

    The shift in fashion, from native to foreign breeds, can be seen in the Kennel Club’s top ten registered breeds of 2013, with the French Bulldog knocking out long term British favourite, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Registrations of the French Bulldog, owned by the likes of Jonathan Ross, Reese Witherspoon and Hugh Jackman, have increased by 50 percent since 2012, with 6,990 registrations in 2013. This is an increase of over 1,000 percent in the last ten years. Four of the top ten breeds in the UK are now from overseas.

    The increase in popularity of foreign breeds comes as the Kennel Club prepares to recognise the Hungarian Puli, Picardy Sheepdog and the Griffon Fauve de Bretagne for the first time, on its Imported Breeds register, taking the number of dog breeds recognised by the Kennel Club to 215. These are three of only five new breeds to be recognised in the past five years.

    There are now 138 breeds which have originated overseas since the Kennel Club opened its registers in 1874, when there were just 43 breeds. There will also be two new breeds competing in their own classes at Crufts this year – the Eurasier and the Catalan Sheepdog, which have moved from the Import Register to the Breed Register and so become eligible.

    Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said: “The Skye Terrier and other vulnerable breeds, which normally don’t register on people’s radars, will get much needed profile at Crufts, both in the show rings and the Discover Dogs area.

    “Of course, there will be imported and foreign dog breeds celebrated at the event as well – including those that have only just come into the UK – but we want Crufts to help people to remember our forgotten breeds. We register 213 breeds of dog and not just the ten or twenty obvious ones, so people should do their research and find the breed that is truly right for their lifestyle.

    “The plight of many of our native breeds is largely down to shifts in fashion and awareness. Some breeds, such as the French Bulldog and the Chihuahua, which have some very high profile owners, are thriving and the Labrador Retriever continues to maintain its top spot on our list of most popular breeds. But many of our oldest breeds simply do not have that profile. People need to ensure that the dog that they choose is right for them and that they go to a responsible breeder.”

    If people are interested in Skye Terriers they should contact the Kennel Club or the Skye Terrier Breed Club.

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    April 23rd, 2013Laura P (Editor)Dogs Of The World

    Every November, The Kennel Club hosts Discover Dogs at Earls Court in London. This is an opportunity for dog lovers to attend seminars and demonstrations, socialise, do some shopping, and, most importantly, meet and greet over 200 different breeds of pedigree dog.

    In association with his event, and the Discover Dogs stands at Crufts in March, Dogs In The News aims to give you a brief preview of some of the dogs you might meet with our “Dogs of the World” series. Today, English dogs get the spotlight:

    England is one of the most prolific producers of dog breeds in the world: a total of 38 breeds can claim to be of English origin! (There are also 8 Irish breeds, 14 Scottish breeds and 5 Welsh breeds.)

    Of those 38 English breeds, 47% are on the Vulnerable Native Breeds (VNB) list, which charts dog breeds which originated in The British Isles and which now regularly register less than 300 puppies a year. This is a shame, as many of them are lovely breeds which would make excellent family pets if given the chance.

    There are also two English breeds on the Kennel Club’s ‘At Watch’ list, which is for British breeds which register more than 300 but less than 500 puppies a year. These are the Old English Sheepdog and the English Setter.

    In the Gundog Group, there are a total of 9 English Breeds, 4 of which (Clumber Spaniel, Curly Coated Retriever, Field Spaniel and Sussex Spaniel) are VNBs.

    Top row, l to r: Sussex Spaniel, Flat Coated Retriever, Field Spaniel. Middle row, l to r: English Springer Spaniel, English Cocker Spaniel, English Setter. Bottom row, l to r: Pointer, Curly Coated Retriever, Clumber Spaniel.

    Top row, l to r: Sussex Spaniel, Flat Coated Retriever, Field Spaniel.
    Middle row, l to r: English Springer Spaniel, English Cocker Spaniel, English Setter.
    Bottom row, l to r: Pointer, Curly Coated Retriever, Clumber Spaniel.

    The Terrier Group is also home to some of our VNBs; 5 in fact (Lakeland, Manchester, Miniature Bull, Norwich and Smooth Fox). In total, there are 14 English Terrier breeds!  They make up more than half of the Terrier Group at championship shows.

    From the top left to the bottom right: Smooth Fox Terrier, Patterdale Terrier (not KC), Miniature Bull Terrier, Norwich Terrier, Norfolk Terrier, Bedlington Terrier, Parson Russell Terrier, Airedale Terrier, Bull Terrier, Manchester Terrier, Jack Russell Terrier (not KC), Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Lakeland Terrier, Wire Fox Terrier.

    From the top left to the bottom right: Smooth Fox Terrier, Patterdale Terrier (not KC), Miniature Bull Terrier, Norwich Terrier, Norfolk Terrier, Bedlington Terrier, Parson Russell Terrier, Airedale Terrier, Bull Terrier, Manchester Terrier, Jack Russell Terrier (not KC), Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Lakeland Terrier, Wire Fox Terrier.

    In the Hound Group, we have 6 breeds, 4 of which (Bloodhound, Foxhound, Greyhound and Otterhound) are on the VNB list.

    Top row, l to r: Whippet, Otterhound, Bloodhound Bottom row, l to r: Greyhound, Foxhound, Beagle

    Top row, l to r: Whippet, Otterhound, Bloodhound
    Bottom row, l to r: Greyhound, Foxhound, Beagle

    The Toy Group only has 4 English breeds to offer, but they are very different ends of the spectrum. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and Yorkshire Terrier are two of the most consistently popular dog breeds worldwide, while the King Charles Spaniel and English Toy Terrier are on the VNB list and have number which are unfortunately in decline.

    From the top left to the bottom right: Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, English Toy Terrier, Yorkshire Terrier, King Charles Spaniel/English Toy Spaniel

    From the top left to the bottom right: Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, English Toy Terrier, Yorkshire Terrier, King Charles Spaniel/English Toy Spaniel

    Finally, we have the Pastoral Group, which has two English 2 breeds, one Vulnerable (Lancashire Heeler) and one ‘At Watch’. The Working Group has two VNBs – the Bullmastiff and the (English) Mastiff – while the Utility Group has only one English breed, which is not Vulnerable, the classic English Bulldog.


    From the top left to the bottom right: Bulldog, Bullmastiff, English Mastiff, Old English Sheepdog, Lancashire Heeler

    From the top left to the bottom right: Bulldog, Bullmastiff, English Mastiff, Old English Sheepdog, Lancashire Heeler

    We hope you have enjoyed our brief little tour of the dogs of England.

    Remember you can visit all these breeds and over 162 more at Discover Dogs at Earls Court in November and at Crufts in March every year.

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    January 30th, 2013Laura P (Editor)Articles

    Alan Titchmarsh is due to feature some of the Vulnerable Native British & Irish (VNB) breeds on his show this Thursday (31st Jan, at 3pm).

    Long time VNB campaigner Paul Keevil reports that his Dandie Dinmont Terriers, along with some Old English Sheepdogs, Glen of Imaal Terriers, Cardigan Welsh Corgis and Otterhounds will all appear on the show, which will also be available via ITV Player.

    This is part of an ongoing drive to raise awareness of the plight of our Vulnerable Native Breeds – classed as breeds which originated in the UK or Ireland and which now produce less than 300 puppies annually. There are currently 28 breeds on this list.

    (There is also an ‘At Watch’ list which features native breeds which have between 300 and 450 puppies registered per year. 6 breeds are currently on ‘At Watch’ status.)

    This publicity push comes after the Kennel Club announced their yearly registration stats, and revealed that, overall, it’s been a good year for the Vulnerable Native Breeds. One breed – the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier – was even removed from the ‘At Watch’ list, with 455 puppy registrations in 2012.

    “Everybody is talking about the post Olympic baby boom but perhaps the celebration of our British heritage in 2012 has helped lead to a revival of some of our native breeds.”

    Both the Old English Sheepdog and the English Setter, which only entered the VNB lists in 2011, saw increases in numbers by 7 and 25% respectively, which is hopeful news for both breeds.

    Other breeds that have significantly increased in popularity include the English Toy Terrier which has seen a 25% increase; the Sussex Spaniel which increased by 29%; and the Irish Water Spaniel which has gone up by 32%.

    However, the significant decline of the Smooth Fox Terrier by 46% to just 94 registrations and of the Clumber Spaniel by 56%, to 151 puppy registrations, means that there is still much work to do to promote and preserve our British Heritage breeds. Meanwhile, the Foxhound registered a total of zero pups in 2012, and only 9 in 2011.

    Interestingly, the two Corgi breeds (Pembroke and Cardigan), which in recent years have been seeing a rise in registrations due to their association with the Royal Family, both experienced a drop in registrations this year.

    It’s not all bad news for British Breeds though; 3 out of the top 20 most popular dog breeds in 2012 originated in Scotland, while a further 7 are English breeds.

    “Fashion and profile have the most influential impact on dog choice and we are pleased to see there is still a place in people’s hearts and homes for our British breeds,” said Kennel Club Secretary Caroline Kisko.

    Tune into The Alan Titchmarsh Show on Thursday to learn more about our fascinating Native Breeds, or follow the links below.

    British native dog breeds stage comeback – BBC, Jan 2012
    Classic British breeds at risk – DITN, Oct 2012
    English Setter Joins List of Vulnerable Native Breeds – DITN, Jan 2012
    Plight of the Sealyham Terriers – DITN, Oct 2011
    Vulnerable Native Breeds Parade at Crufts 2008
    Dogs of Scotland
    Dogs of Ireland
    British Heritage Breeds Website


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    October 29th, 2012Laura P (Editor)Articles

    One of the unfortunate realities of the purebred dog world is that some breeds are always going to be more fashionable and popular than others. Ahead of Discover Dogs this year, the Kennel Club has urged people to carefully consider breed attributes when selecting a puppy, to make sure they pick the right dog for their lifestyle.

    “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.”

    “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.” Many people seek out the glamorous Husky due to its wolf-like appearance, without accepting that this is a breed which needs plenty of stimulation and exercise. As a result, rescue centres have reported a rise in the number of Huskies and Husky crosses coming through their doors.

    ‘Handbag’ dog numbers continue to thrive, with breeds like the Pug and the Chihuahua made popular by numerous celebrity owners and television appearances. The Smooth Coat Chihuahua, which originated in Mexico, has seen a 615 percent increase in numbers over ten years, while the Pug, from China, represents a 397 percent increase on the 1105 Pugs registered ten years ago.

    Other dog breeds from abroad that are doing well include the Hungarian Puli and President 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.

    But while this is good news for these breeds, their rise in numbers means a decrease in popularity for others.

    The Old English Sheepdog, one of the most iconic British Breeds, has been added to the “At Watch” list for Native Breeds, with just 316 puppy registrations so far this year. This is compared to 28,787 Labrador Retrievers, the UK’s most popular dog.

    “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.”

    Also on the “At Watch” list – for breeds which register between 301 and 450 puppies annually – are the Welsh Terrier, Pembroke Welsh Corgi and the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier. There are thirty Vulnerable breeds – less than 300 puppies a year – in total and four on the “At Watch” list.

    The biggest decline in numbers have been 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 had no registrations so far this year.

    However, it is not all bad news: the Norwich Terrier, though still considered Vulnerable, has had a 96 percent rise in registrations this year, from 108 to 202. This is likely partly due to the Group win at Crufts in March, but also because this breed is ideal for people who are looking for a small, apartment sized dog, which is well suited to a family lifestyle.*

    The Otterhound has also increased by 57 percent, from 21 registrations to 33, and the Cardigan Welsh Corgi continues to grow in popularity due to its associations with the Royal Family.

    Obviously breed enthusiasts will always wonder why the general public don’t love their breed of choice, but they are also often the first to admit that ‘this breed is not for everyone’. If you are considering getting a puppy, or a rescue dog, do please do your research first. Come to Discover Dogs at Earls’ Court in London on the 10th and 11th November 2012 – you can meet and greet over 200 breeds of dog, including the ones mentioned here, and discover exactly which one is right for you.

    For more info on Britain’s Breeds, visit: British Heritage Breeds or the Kennel Club website.

    Or see our features: The Dogs Of Scotland and The Dogs of Ireland (England and Wales coming soon!)


    * Of course, we’re somewhat biased, having been the proud owners of an adorable Norwich since 2006! – Ed


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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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    October 27th, 2011Laura P (Editor)Articles

    I have to admit that I was a little bit disappointed in my Twitter feed yesterday. It was full of people expressing surprise at an article which appeared in Country Life Magazine ( as reported in The Telegraph and the Daily Mail), about the decline of Sealyham Terriers.

    They’re as “rare as tigers”, reported the Mail, and only 49 Sealyham puppies were registered with the British Kennel Club last year. Everyone was astonished, and started issuing calls to arms to save this adorable breed.

    But what disappointed me is that this is not new news. The KC have had a list of ‘endangered’ British breeds since 2003, and 29 breeds were on it at one point. These Vulnerable Native Breeds (VNBs) are classified as breeds which originated in the UK and which now register less than 300 puppies a year. The KC and other organisations such as British Heritage Dog Breeds have been working hard to preserve these breeds ever since.

    I had thought they were mounting a rather aggressive PR and awareness campaign, but obviously not everyone has noticed.

    Due to the nature of my own nerdiness, I have a massive file of clippings and printed articles on all of these breeds; my own dog is a Norwich Terrier, a breed on the list, so I took an interest. I can tell you that the mainstream media tends to ignore this issue until a headline like “rare as tigers” rears its head. And while the publicity is, of course, welcome, it unfortunately doesn’t solve the underlying problems of why these breeds are suffering.

    Due to the low numbers of puppies born, and thus the number of individuals in the gene pool, even if demand were to soar for these dogs, supply couldn’t necessarily meet it. Why wait for a Norwich (aside from the fact that they are, in my opinion, the perfect breed of dog), when you can go to a local breeder who has very similar Cairns, Yorkies and Westies available right now? I’m not saying you shouldn’t consider taking on a VNB, but do be prepared to wait for a puppy.

    The upside of this, however, is that you are more likely to get a puppy from a reputable breeder who hasn’t just churned out a litter to make a profit. Again, using my own breed as an example, the Norwich has an average litter size of 3 pups, making them an impractical option for anyone who is just looking to make a fast and easy buck. Labradors, by contrast, have an average litter size of 8. The people who are ‘in’ Norwich Terriers are breeding them because of a genuine love of the breed.

    And yes, a limited gene pool can lead to more inbreeding, but I honestly do believe that good dog breeders, the ones who really care, are doing everything they can to avoid this and keep coefficients low. Bear in mind that the “less than 300 puppies” figure is only those registered in the UK – there is always the option to import dogs from other countries or use frozen semen to widen the gene pool.

    Anyway, back to my point. There are lots of reasons why a breed may be on the VNB list. Some, like the Sealyham, are due to a fall from fashion favour in honour of foreign dogs. Some are there due to a mere technicality, like the Greyhound, which registered just 65 puppies with the KC last year, but is of course thriving outside of the system with racing and pet greyhounds (which aren’t registered).

    Some are there, sadly, because they are impractical for the common dog owner – the Otterhound, for example, is a large hairy fellow who was originally bred to hunt otters by swimming upstream all day. Hardly something you want living in your two bed house with only that postage stamp of grass you call a garden to run in, is it?

    Sometimes, again as with the Norwich, a VNB’s similarity to other breeds has let it down. The Curly Coated Retriever and the Irish Water Spaniel, for example, are losing out to the Labradoodle, while the Smooth Fox Terrier is no match for the common Jack Russell. Again, if you want a dog that looks a certain way, and you want it now, you’re not going to wait for a more exotic breed.

    And that, I suppose, is what it boils down to – too many people these days pick dogs based on looks alone, and they buy them on a whim and aren’t willing to be patient or consider something a bit different. Perhaps if more people did their research, and were willing to take on these endangered breeds, and be ambassadors for them, we’d see an improvement.

    What’s really sad is that in 2010, there were two breeds on the list which registered less puppies than even the “almost extinct” Sealyham. Where is the publicity for the Skye Terrier and the Cardigan Welsh Corgi? In fact, where is the call to arms to save ALL our Vulnerable Native Breeds? County Life Magazine titled their article “SOS – Save our Sealyhams”, but why stop there?

    I guess myself, the Kennel Club, and people like Paul Keevil (who is one of the key voices on this issue) will have to lead the charge. I could write a book about this topic, so do please get in touch if you’re interested in hearing more. Or, check out the links below.

    • Crufts Magazine “Best of British” feature (Autumn 2011)
    • VIDEO: VNB Parade in the Main Ring at Crufts 2008
    • Brief on the VNBs from the Kennel Club
    • Talking Point Broadcasting interviews Paul Keevil about our British Heritage Dog Breeds in the run up to Crufts 2010


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    March 17th, 2011Laura P (Editor)Articles

    Well, it’s St Patrick’s Day, and I would like to ask everyone to raise a glass of Guinness tonight to Irish dogs everywhere.

    There are 8 Irish Breeds officially recognised by the British Kennel Club, and 6 of them are on the Vulnerable Native Breeds (VNB) list – dogs who originated in the UK which now register less than 300 puppies a year. In fact, the Glen of Imaal Terrier is considered one of the rarest breeds of dog in the world – there were just 36 pups born in 2007, the same year in which the Border Terrier produced 8,814 and the Westie 8,309.

    The other Irish VNBs include three more Terriers (the Irish Terrier, Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier and the Kerry Blue), and two Gundogs (the Irish Water Spaniel and the Irish Red & White Setter).

    These are all unique dogs with wonderful personalities, and it is a mystery to me why they aren’t more popular. However, I am sure they all have a devoted following of breeders and owners around the world.  In fact, the SCW has recently become increasingly popular as a pet in Canada, and the Irish Water Spaniel is enjoying the publicity of being similar to the Portuguese Water Dog owned by President Obama.

    The two Irish breeds which are slightly more numerous are the glamorous Irish Setter (all red, and not to be confused with his mixed-coated cousin) and the gigantic Irish Wolfhound.

    The Irish Kennel Club also recognises a breed called the Kerry Beagle. This breed is very like our Foxhound. (Dogs In Canada looks all these breeds in more depth here, as does the American Kennel Club here.)

    As an aside, the Irish Terrier is on the shortlist of breeds that my boyfriend and I are considering getting once we have the time and the space. I like their faces, and am a Terrier girl at heart, and he likes that they have long legs and would probably be up for camping trips etc. We’re even thinking of calling him Patrick (or Paddy)!

    So here’s to Irish dogs everywhere, big or small, scruffy or smart. May you all have a wonderful St Patrick’s day; keep your noses to the ground in case of leprechauns.

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