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Vulnerable British breed bounces back

ONE OF Britain’s most endangered breeds of dog is experiencing new found popularity after it took the title of Best in Show at this year’s Crufts, bucking an overall trend that has seen the popularity of vulnerable dog breeds continue to decline.

The Kennel Club has already registered eight Sealyham Terriers in the first quarter of this year, which compares favourably to registrations in the same period in 2008.

The Kennel Club anticipates that this number will increase even further as the number of enquiries about the breed has increased by 55 percent since its Crufts success at the beginning of March, compared to the same period in 2009.

There were only 43 registered Sealyhams with the Kennel Club in 2008; the registrations in the four quarters last year read: 0/24/6/13 making 43 by the end of the year, so 8 appears to be a good start.

The Sealyham Terrier is on the Kennel Club’s British and Irish Native Vulnerable Breeds List which includes 23 breeds that all have less than 300 puppy registrations per year.
It is estimated that if a breed falls below this number it may be under threat of extinction.

Overall, there has been a 15 percent decline in the number of all dogs registered by breeders in the first quarter of this year, as the recession sets in - however, the number of searches for puppies on the Kennel Club’s Find a Puppy website have continued to increase, showing that people’s desire to own a dog has not been affected.

This figure is matched by an 11 percent decline in the number of vulnerable breeds registered with the Kennel Club, breeds who can ill afford to see their numbers drop any further.


The Irish Red and White Setter is the breed that has suffered the most with a 92 percent decline in popularity, falling from 39 registrations in the first quarter of 2008 to 3 registrations in the same period in 2009.

Vulnerable breeds that have fared better include the Irish Water Spaniel, whose popularity is up 137 percent on the first quarter of 2008, with an increase from 16 to 38 registrations and Lancashire Heelers whose registrations have gone from 2 to 7, in the same period. Ironically, another ‘vulnerable’ Terrier breed has done well, with Skye’s registering 13 whereas there were only 6 registered in this period in 2008, with 27 in total for the year.

It is thought that part of the reason that lesser known breeds are suffering is because of a growing trend to mimic celebrity choices when choosing a breed. This is causing a rise in the popularity of certain breeds, such as the Smooth Coated Chihuahua which was featured in the hit film Beverly Hill Chihuahua, whose registrations were up by 16 percent in the first quarter of this year.

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Communications Director, said: ‘The popularity of many dog breeds is often determined by the amount of publicity that they receive. For our vulnerable breeds this is of critical importance and an event such as Crufts is a prime opportunity to allow people to see what wonderful characters they are.

It is a real concern that many of the vulnerable breeds are not experiencing the same surge in popularity as the Sealyham Terrier has since its Crufts success.

‘Of course, overexposure can also have a detrimental impact and part of the reason that these breeds are vulnerable is because of an increasing tendency to buy a certain breed as a result of the publicity it has received in a film or because of a celebrity connection.

This can lead to misinformed choices where people are motivated by a sense of more of fashion than whether the breed would fit properly into their lifestyle.’

Ironically Westies - one of the more popular breeds - has shot down from 2,021 in 2008 to 1,353 for the same period this year, although Yorkies rose from 894 to 947.

People can find the right breed for them by visiting the OUR DOGS website and by looking at the OUR DOGS breeder network.

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