Lassie dogs in danger of becoming extinct

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Lassie dogs in danger of becoming extinct

It’s that time of year when the Kennel Club release their figures of the most vulnerable breeds. These are the breeds of dog which most at risk of disappearing altogether if more people don’t choose a lesser-known dog breed rather than something more fashionable. The new figures, from 2022 show there are more breeds at risk than ever before, with 2 more added to the Vulnerable List - but how does the Kennel Club work this out?

The Kennel Club looks at the number of pedigree dogs who were registered in the Britain and Ireland last year, to see which breeds are in decline. Dog breeds with less than 300 registrations in a year are classed 'Vulnerable' and last year 2 more breeds were added to this list: Bearded Collies and Miniature Bull Terriers. Already on the list are Welsh Springer Spaniels, Greyhounds and King Charles Spaniels (not to be confused with King Charles Cavalier Spaniels which have experienced a bit of a surge in popularity following the appointment of our new king.

Bearded collie by Ray Bilcliff on PexelsBearded collie by Ray Bilcliff on Pexels

There are now 34 Vulnerable native dog breeds with a further 8 classed as ‘At Watch.’ This year breeds including the Rough Collie – aka Lassie Dog – are also very close to making the list for the first time, as they are sadly nowhere near as popular as they once were. So what can be done to rescue Lassie and other iconic breeds which may be lost forever?

Less than 500 Lassie puppies were registered in 2022. This is a 25% decrease since 2021, and a steady 94% decline since their peak of popularity in 1979 when the TV show Lassie was broadcast on screens up and down the country. This is the lowest recorded number of Rough Collies bred in the UK since the 1940s, and if the decline continues they will be placed on The Kennel Club’s ‘At Watch’ list, which includes breeds that have between 300 and 450 puppy registrations a year.

Corgi by Pixabay on PexelsCorgi by Pixabay on Pexels

Save Lassie!

At the height of their popularity in the late 1970s, there were more than 8,000 annual Rough Collie puppy registrations, making them one of the top 10 breeds in the UK. Perhaps we need a new Lassie movie or TV show to inspire more people to own one of these regal-looking hounds!

Speaking about the steady decline in popularity of some vulnerable breeds, Kennel Club spokesperson, Bill Lambert said:

"We urge the British public to find out more about the lesser-known breeds, especially those who are at risk of disappearing.

"We have such a rich diversity of breeds, but if people don’t look beyond the most popular choices then there is a real danger we could lose them forever, leaving puppy owners with less choice, and therefore are unlikely to find their perfect match in the future."

Concerned about the potential loss of Lassie Dogs, Chairperson of the Rough Collie Breed Council, Carol Smedley added:

"We are very concerned to see this wonderful and majestic breed fall in popularity.

“I’ve spent my life surrounded by rough collies who have enjoyed long, healthy lives and I can confirm their friendly, happy temperament, but each year their popularity is decreasing.

“Of course, no breed will suit everyone, but for the right owner, who can provide the right space and environment, they have so much love to give and they adore children.

“It is such a shame that some of our most native historic and recognisable breeds are continuing to drop in popularity and we hope that more people will become aware of the range of breeds out there and responsibly select the right one for them.”

And it’s not just Lassie that’s on the wane. Another popular pooch from the 1970s, The Yorkshire Terrier, which was the number one breed in the UK during  that decade is also experiencing a steady decline, with just 495 pedigree puppy births recorded last year.

Jack Russell by James Frid on PexelsJack Russell by James Frid on Pexels

And despite their popularity, the Jack Russell Terrier is also currently at risk of becoming vulnerable with 403 registrations. A lot of terriers that we see today are not KC registered so whilst there are a lot around, they aren’t all pure bred. Likewise although many Foxhounds are still bred in this country, last year only 1 pedigree Foxhound puppy was registered and that was the first one recorded since 2017.

If you’re thinking of getting a pup this year, why not consider doing something to help preserve a breed. Here are the Kennel Club Vulnerable and At Watch breed lists:

Vulnerable List (less than 300 registrations per year) 

  • Bearded Collie
  • Bloodhound
  • Bull Terrier (Miniature)
  • Collie (Smooth)
  • Dandie Dinmont Terrier
  • Deerhound
  • English Setter
  • English Toy Terrier (Black & Tan)
  • Foxhound
  • Fox Terrier (Smooth)
  • Glen of Imaal Terrier
  • Gordon Setter
  • Greyhound
  • Harrier
  • Irish Red & White Setter
  • Irish Wolfhound
  • King Charles Spaniel
  • Kerry Blue Terrier
  • Lakeland Terrier
  • Lancashire Heeler
  • Manchester Terrier
  • Mastiff
  • Norwich Terrier
  • Otterhound
  • Retriever (Curly Coated)
  • Sealyham Terrier
  • Skye Terrier
  • Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
  • Spaniel (Clumber)
  • Spaniel (Field)
  • Spaniel (Irish Water)
  • Spaniel (Sussex)
  • Spaniel (Welsh Springer)
  • Welsh Corgi (Cardigan)

At Watch List (300 - 450 registrations per year)

  • Bedlington Terrier
  • Bullmastiff
  • Irish Terrier
  • Jack Russell Terrier
  • Norfolk Terrier
  • Parson Russell Terrier
  • Old English Sheepdog
  • Welsh Terrier 

Gordon Setter by Michael Hölzl on PexelsGordon Setter by Michael Hölzl on Pexels

The Kennel Club are also doing their bit to help preserve or restore well-known but Vulnerable or At Risk breeds as they continue to remind people about the large number of British and Irish native breeds available, particularly those that are seeing a decline in numbers and face a real danger of disappearing altogether. Most people are very surprised to see such recognisable breeds as the Bearded Collie, Bloodhound and Bedlington Terrier on the list and the campaign has had some success in the past, helping breeds like the Pembroke Welsh corgi bounce back from the brink of extinction. 

Is your pet pooch on the vulnerable or at risk list? Would you consider getting a pup that was? As always let us know in the comments section below! 

Main photo: Rough Collie (aka Lassie) Kanashi on Pexels 

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