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Bulldog spirit of endangered English breeds

England’s most vulnerable breeds of dog showed their bulldog spirit on St George’s Day after new figures show that the popularity of some of the threatened pedigrees has soared, bringing hope that they can fight back from the brink of extinction.

The Manchester Terrier, which is on the Kennel Club’s vulnerable native breeds list because it has less than 300 annual registrations, has shown a remarkable early comeback with 32 Kennel Club registrations in the first quarter of this year - 100 per cent more than the same period in 2007 when nobody registered the pups.

Perhaps similar to its human compatriots the breed is discerning and devoted, according to the Kennel Club Breed Standard - a blueprint for the personality of a pedigree dog which can then be matched against the lifestyle needs of its owner.

Other English breeds that have fared well include the courageous and happy Lancashire Heeler with a 20% increase in registrations and the Smooth Fox Terrier whose popularity has increased by 60%.

Elsewhere in Britain the active and agile Glen of Imaal Terrier, a vulnerable native breed from Ireland, has increased in popularity by 192% with 38 registrations; the popularity of the Scottish Dandie Dinmont Terrier is up by 71% and the outgoing Cardigan Welsh Corgi’s registrations are up by 77%.

Despite their individual natures these vulnerable native breeds all clearly possess some of the fighting spirit of the Bulldog - favoured by Winston Churchill and a true emblem of England - whose popularity has also increased by almost 100% in the past decade.

The breed, which recorded an all-time high of 4,000 Kennel Club registrations in 2007, has already recorded 1,000 registrations in the first quarter of 2008, 15% up on the previous year.
An epitome of Britishness, the Bulldog might convey the impression of strength but its courageous and dependable nature is actually accompanied by a softer side and it has a loyal, dependable and affectionate disposition.

Worryingly, other vulnerable British pedigrees such as the Sussex Spaniel and the Clumber Spaniel, have seen their popularity plummet still further and the fearless and friendly Sealyham Terrier has had no puppy registrations this year at all.

Speaking for the Kennel Club, Caroline Kisko told OUR DOGS: “We need to do everything that is possible for those breeds that are still experiencing a worrying decline in number, to ensure that we don’t lose them for future generations to enjoy. The Kennel Club believes that there are people out there to suit every type of dog because every pedigree breed has its own special set of characteristics.

“The Bulldog, for example, is affectionate and dependable and makes a very loyal companion, which helps to make it a popular choice with the British. Others, such as the Sealyham Terrier is friendly and fearless and would, for many people, make a perfect pet.”