Famously dogs are man’s best friend but when we learned of the Vulnerable Native Breeds List we couldn’t help thinking shouldn’t friendship work both ways?
Earlier in the year 10 years of microchipping doggy data became available and news agencies fell over themselves competing to tell us what the Nation’s favourite breed was.
Go on – have a guess?
It was – no big surprise – the Labrador. Paws down.
The Jack Russell slid into 2nd on his little side-table legs. And the Staffordshire Bull Terrier competed fiercely for 2nd but ended in 3rd.
There were slight regional variations, Labs in the country and Staffies in Cities. But really it was all rather predictable and we couldn’t help thinking about all the breeds missing from the list.
Old English Sheepdogs? Irish Setters? Dalmations?
Vulnerable Native Breeds List
Basically the whole cast of Hairy McClarey is missing – consigned to children’s storybooks. No longer fashionable? Nobody breeding? We wanted answers.
So we did some digging and turned up – not a bone, but the Vulnerable Native Breeds List. Forget Pandas for a moment, this is a list published by the Kennel Club of breeds of British origin that are considered to be vulnerable ‘whose numbers are declining and whose status within the world of dogs has diminished over a number of years.’
The list includes data on the number of puppies of each vulnerable breed registered with the Kennel Club.
Now these results are surprising.
Declining Native Breeds
Breeds that hold a prominent place in our national culture and heritage feature strongly:
In 2013 only 17 Skye Terriers – otherwise known as Greyfriars Bobby – were registered.
Kerry Blue Terriers – a breed that in the 1920’s accounted for 1 in 4 of all puppy registrations has been eclipsed by the similar but smaller Miniature Schnauzer. Despite the fact that Kerry Blue’s are known for their character and ‘sense of humour.’
Irish Red, English and Gordon Setters are all on the list. As are Field Spaniels Smooth coated Fox Terriers and Smooth coated Collies.
Old English Sheepdogs are on the Watch List. Along with English Setters and Welsh Springer Spaniels.
All in all it made for dispiriting reading. A brief cast about threw up possible explanations from informed commentators. Some felt the popular breeds like Lab did well because they ticked all the boxes, good family pet, loyal, easily trained.
Others thought it was more of a chicken and egg thing – the popular breeds did well because those were the breeds, breeders concentrated on. And breeders concentrated on those breeds because they did well.
The world of dog breeding is after all as subject to market demand as anything else. But it would just be awful to think of breeds disappearing because they didn’t run a very successful marketing campaign
One Day Will All Dogs Look The Same?
Are we waving goodbye to a diversified dog population? One day will all dogs look the same?
When you next think about a family pet look to the Vulnerable Native Breeds List. Good loyal, easily trained dogs come in all shapes and sizes. Isn’t it time Man was Dogs Best Friend?
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