Could the Old English Sheepdog become extinct?

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11 June 2021
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New data released by the Kennel Club shows the Old English Sheepdog is teetering on the brink of extinction after recording the lowest number of puppy registrations in six decades.

One of Britain’s most recognisable breeds, the iconic ‘Dulux dog’ has been placed on the canine welfare organisation’s vulnerable native breeds list for the first time, following the registration of just 227 puppies in 2020.

This is a far cry from the Old English Sheepdog’s heyday in 1979, when puppy registrations peaked at nearly 6,000, making it the ninth most popular breed in the UK.

“Old English Sheepdogs have rarely been seen out and about over recent years,” said Kennel Club spokesperson Bill Lambert.

“It’s likely the numbers have dwindled due to lifestyle changes, as they require a lot of grooming and exercise and aren’t suitable for smaller living spaces. However, this is a faithful and trustworthy breed with an even disposition, and they can make lovable family pets for the right owners.”

It’s not only this historic breed that has declined sharply — the Otterhound, Skye Terrier, Bloodhound, and English Setter have also fallen further out of favour, while previous family favourites, the Norfolk and Cairn Terriers, have been added to the ‘at watch’ list for the first time.

Fortunately, three of last year’s most vulnerable breeds have enjoyed a resurgence, with the Irish Red and White Setter increasing by 113 per cent and the Lakeland and Kerry Blue Terriers up by 54 and 49 per cent respectively. 

As well as the Whippet, Cocker Spaniel, and Bull Terrier, the top 10 fastest risers include two gundog breeds, the Weimaraner and German Shorthaired Pointer, perhaps reflecting the nation’s desire to become reacquainted with the outdoors during lockdown and many people moving to the countryside.

Read more about the Old English Sheepdog here- https://www.yourdog.co.uk/dog-breeds/old-english-sheepdog-dog-breed-profile/