Old English sheepdogs are in danger of dying out, according to recent Kennel Club statistics.
Known to a generation as the Dulux dog, this beautiful breed has had just 316 puppy registrations so far this year, compared to 28,787 Labrador retrievers. There has also been a rise in Chihuahuas (2,669) and Pugs (5,496) who are becoming increasingly popular due to the current craze for ‘handbag dogs'.
“The decline of the Old English Sheepdog can be partly explained by lifestyle changes as it needs a lot of grooming and exercise and so is not suitable for the fast paced urban lifestyles of many people,” said Bill Lambert, manager of the Kennel Club assured breeder scheme. “But it is also a lot to do with fashion.”
A breed is deemed to be vulnerable if less than 300 puppies are registered in a year. So while the Old English sheepdog isn’t yet critical, it has been put on a ‘At Watch List’ by the The Kennel Club.
This new scheme is for breeds that have between 301 and 450 annual registrations, and aims to highlight their plight before they get to vulnerable levels. There are currently thirty vulnerable breeds and four on the At Watch list.
The good news is that some vulnerable breeds, which are native to the UK, are increasing in numbers. The Norwich Terrier has increased its registrations by nearly 100%, rising from 108 to 202, while the otterhound has risen in numbes by 57%.
More worryingly is the trend for foreign breeds, such as Siberian huskies, which Bill says are notoriously willful and unsuitable for urban life.
“Despite the fact that Old English Sheepdogs have good temperaments and can make fantastic family pets their popularity is being eclipsed by more fashionable foreign breeds that can be much harder to train and care for,” he said.