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Scotties added to vulnerable native breeds list

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As covered by the Sunday Times today, the Scottish Terrier has been added to the Kennel Club’s Vulnerable Native Breeds List, which highlights the breeds considered in danger of disappearing from the UK. 

The list categorises breeds into ‘vulnerable’, with fewer than 300 registrations per year, and ‘at watch’, for those with 300 to 450 registrations. Leading the vulnerable category are the Harrier and Foxhound, totalling just one registration in 2023, reflecting their decline due in part to modern lifestyle changes and the preference for low-maintenance, ‘designer’ hybrid breeds. A total of 11 hunting breeds are listed as vulnerable.

Also concerning are the breeds on the ‘at watch’ list, including those less suited for urban life, like the Bedlington Terrier and Old English Sheepdog, and those that may lack public awareness in the modern age. A prime example is the Scottie with only 406 registrations in 2023, despite being the UK’s third most popular breed in the 1930s, and even making it onto the monopoly board.

Bill Lambert, spokesperson for The Kennel Club, said: “The Scottish Terrier has been such an iconic and recognisable breed in the UK for decades, and means so much to so many different people, so these latest figures are really worrying. We are lucky to have an amazing 222 breeds of dog in this country, each with unique personalities and characteristics, but the vast majority of dogs that you will meet come from within the top ten breeds alone. People often opt for the well-known choices and simply forget to dig a little deeper, with the worrying knock-on effect that not only are some of our most iconic breeds in decline but also that people might not be getting the perfect match for them.”

Social media trends significantly influence breed preferences, as seen with the Goldendoodle, or Groodle, becoming highly sought after partly due to its increased presence in celebrity culture (see GoFido’s recent article).

However, capturing the public’s imagination using celebrity culture is not without its risks.  A cautionary tale should be the surge in Dalmatian popularity following the 1996 ‘101 Dalmatians’ movie, which led to a huge spike in registrations and many dogs being surrendered due to unprepared owners and irresponsible breeding.

The Kennel Club’s message is clear: protecting our dog heritage is vital. But it requires both a collective effort to raise awareness and a responsible approach to breeding, selecting, and caring for the breeds at risk. Lambert commented “We want people to enjoy lifelong relationships with their four-legged friends and urge potential dog owners to do their research”.

The vulnerable native breeds list can be found on the Kennel Club’s website here.

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