When you think of endangered species what comes to mind? The black rhino? Or perhaps the Bornean Orang-utan? It’s unlikely you would immediately think if dogs, but believe it or not there are a considerable number of UK native canine breeds that are now endangered and facing the brink of extinction.
As of 2020 the UK’s Kennel Club currently recognises 218 different breeds of dogs and of these 30 of them are classed as vulnerable and endangered. This is determined by the number of new registrations to the Kennel Club each year but also quite worryingly many of these breeds are completely unrecognisable to most of the general public. To see the full list you can click here, but for now let’s learn a bit more about the top 3 most vulnerable breeds and what can be done to prevent their extinction.
The Irish/Red Setter
Most of us are likely to have heard of this recognisable breed so it may surprise you that Setters are effectively dying out. This large and very active gundog needs lots of exercise and open space and they are a highly intelligent dog that responds well to training. They have also been used as therapy dogs in schools and hospitals as they get on great with people, children and usually other dogs too.
These guys need a minimum of 2 hours exercise a day and due to their moderately long silky coat require regular brushing to prevent knots and tangles.
With only 600 known Otterhounds in the entire world and only 44 Kennel Club registrations in 2019 this is Britain’s most endangered native breed. They are a large sized breed with a rough medium length coat. Otterhounds were originally bred as hunting dogs and as such have incredibly sensitive noses. They also have uniquely distinctive webbed feet making them excellent swimmers!
If considering this lovely outgoing breed they require on average 2 hours of exercise per day and will require grooming a couple of times a week.
Another extremely endangered breed, the Skye terrier was originally found on the Isle of Skye. They have a history of being used as hunting dogs for foxes, badgers and smaller prey but as well as these qualities in the field they also make exceptionally loyal and devoted companions. Like most terriers they are a small breed with a long coat that make excellent house dogs.
The Skye terrier has a very distinguished history by being a favourite breed of Queen Victoria who helped to widen the breeds’ popularity. Sadly only 59 were registered to the kennel club last year and this makes them one of the most critically endangered native dog breeds.
If considering this charming loyal breed they will require short to moderate daily walks and twice weekly grooming to keep them in tiptop shape.
To help prevent native breeds from becoming obsolete the demand for them as pets would need to increase. Unfortunately we live in a culture where people are highly influenced by trends, often set by celebrities or social media followings. This has led to the rise of certain breeds and designer crosses at the expense of some of our more traditional breeds. These vulnerable and endangered dogs can make superb pets and devoted life-long companions so next time you are considering a new family member then consider helping to preserve the rich canine heritage we have in the UK.