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Decline in breed leads to loss of CCs

The Maremma Sheepdog has officially had its CCs axed by the Kennel Club, following concerns about the breed’s dwindling numbers.

Maremma SheepdogAt a meeting held last months, the General Committee decided to withdraw Kennel Club Challenge Certificate status from Maremma Sheepdogs with effect from 2011.

The Kennel Club had already been in consultation with both of the UK breed clubs, the Maremma Sheepdog Club and the Northern Maremma Association, for a number of years following their concerns about spiralling numbers of the breed being exhibited at shows, as well as the very small number of dogs in the breeding programme. The clubs had, over the years, been asked to work together in a co-ordinated way to improve the breed’s situation. They had also been asked on several occasions, to provide information on the progress being made jointly in addressing the breed’s problems. At the meeting, the Committee also studied a submission from the breed clubs outlining the current state of the breed.

Speaking on behalf of the Northern Maremma Association, Chairman Joanne Baxter told OUR DOGS: ‘Naturally we are all disappointed to have lost CCs in the breed after all the hard work we have put into it over the years.

‘We always knew that the breed’s recovery would be a long term project, however it is one we shall endeavour to continue with in the future.

‘I think we need to register our thanks to all those who have supported the breed so far, and also the Kennel Club for working closely with ourselves and the Maremma Sheepdog Club over this matter.

‘I hope that societies will continue to schedule classes for the breed, as without these classes we will obviously struggle to maintain the breed.’

Last year only nine dogs were registered, since 2004 that figure has risen above 20 only once. Average entries at shows where tickets were on offer had stagnated at less than 10 at general and group championship shows and even when the breed club championship show is included only rise to about 12.

Having considered all of the information before it, the Committee decided that it was ‘inadvisable’, for the moment, ‘to continue to consider Maremma Sheepdogs as a breed to which it is appropriate to permit the awarding of Challenge Certificates – the Kennel Club’s highest award. Therefore Championship status for Maremma Sheepdogs will be removed effective from the beginning of 2011’.

The General Committee has invited the breed to enter into a period of development and cohesion, and has requested an interim report on progress made in three years’ time.
In a statement issue after the meeting, Ronnie Irving, Chairman of the Kennel Club said: “We began to question whether Maremmas should retain CCs a number of years ago, and told the clubs of our concerns at that stage.

Since then we’ve been in touch with them regularly about their individual attempts to improve things. Sadly, for various reasons, not enough progress has been made. It was with regret, therefore, that the General Committee took this decision to remove CCs from the breed. Hopefully after a few years of future co-operation between the two clubs and the various breeders, the situation will be remedied and the breed will be strong enough to merit CC status again. The Committee has asked for a review of the position in three years’ time.”

Well known breeder, exhibitor and judge Charlotte Walsh (Charlian) told OUR DOGS: ‘The Kennel Club’s decision has not come as a surprise in reality. I think perhaps many of us had become a little bit complacent that we would not loose CC’s. For us to loose them also means that other breeds in decline may in the future face the same fate. We have been involved with Maremmas for twenty eight years, have seen in the eighties numbers increase and steady decline in the last decade. There have been several imports over the past five/six years all of which for one reason or another including leishmaniasis in potential stud dogs has not furthered the gene pool or exhibition statistics.

“New imports have arrived lately in the UK; we can only wait for the future to assess their impact within our existing Maremmas. Like others we will be striving to preserve the breed as a species and typical of the standard. We all have to remember that they are a “live stock protecting dogs” and even although they are mostly companions in the UK maintenance of being able to do their task in the hills in Italy and pasture in other countries should not be forgotten.”