An Introduction to Vulnerable Native Breeds

What Does the Term “Vulnerable Native Breeds” Mean?

The term “vulnerable native breeds” indicates dogs of British origin whose numbers are declining, and/or whose status in the dog world has diminished. Applied to breeds that receive 300 or fewer birth registrations per year, the Kennel Club coined the term in 2003. Healthy, sustainable levels for breed registration need to be around the 250 – 300 mark to avoid concerns over the narrowing of the gene pool, and threats of breed extinction.

A surprising selection of dogs are currently on the Kennel Club’s vulnerable native breeds list. Well-known breeds such as the Greyhound, Welsh Terrier and Irish Setter are currently listed as vulnerable, alongside more obscure breeds such as Otterhounds, which is twice as rare as the giant panda.

Why is this Happening and What can We Do?

Curiously, issues of size or grooming demands are not typically a factor with vulnerable native breeds. Many larger dogs, or dogs with more intense grooming needs remain popular.

Choice may instead be an issue. There are over 200 dog breeds recognised by the Kennel Club, only 63 of which are British. Lifestyle and celebrity trends must also be considered – indeed, more “exotic” breeds such as Huskies and Chihauhaus are seeing increased registrations year on year.

The Kennel Club continue to actively research these native breeds in an attempt to ascertain why certain breeds are vulnerable, and the nature of their vulnerability. In addition, vulnerable breeds Crufts and Discover Dogs now showcase these vulnerable breeds, and long-term development is also planned between the Kennel Club and the individual breed clubs to give these native dogs more prominence.

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