Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Vulnerable dog breeds…at risk of disappearing!

 Heritage or preservation breeders fulfill a vital role.  Often judged harshly by those passionate about rescue, they are vilified for producing puppies while so many animals languish in shelters.  What is often misunderstood, is that a reputable breeder is not at fault for the pet overpopulation that results in the many homeless dogs and cats filling the rescues and animal shelters.  A truly reputable breeder cares about dogs and cats, and they stand by the animals they produce.  They are always willing to take back those animals, at any age, to keep them out of the shelters and rescues.  Most of the collie breeders that I know, will work with rescues, and they are the first to donate money, supplies and their time when a crisis occurs.  It’s the unplanned litters, accidentally produced by a dog or cat that was not spayed or neutered, or the pet shop puppy that is no longer wanted once it starts to grow up, or even the abandoned street dogs and cats, that make up the majority of the animals in our shelters.  

Pictured is a European smooth collie, only 45 smooths were registered in the UK last year.

All shelter and rescue animals deserve a home, that’s not up for debate.  But an individual, or family, choosing to buy a puppy or an adult dog from a preservation breeder should not be held in contempt for that choice.  There are a host of reasons for deciding to get your next puppy (or kitten) from a breeder.  The first, may be the desire to get a dog that was produced by fully health-tested parents, to reduce the risk of your dog developing a preventable disease or illness in the future.  The second could be the desire to get a dog that was purposefully bred to be able to perform a specific task, such as retrieving, herding, livestock guardianship, search and rescue, guide dogs or service dogs.  Another reason might be the love of a specific dog breed, such as my love of the collie.  There are countless reasons to get a puppy from a reputable breeder, and none of them are wrong.  And if you choose to adopt from a shelter or rescue, that is wonderful, you are saving that dog or cat’s life, and filling your home with love.  Everyone has to decide what is best for their individual needs.

Foxhound, image from Petfinder. Only 1 Foxhound was registered in the UK last year!

Being a preservation or heritage breeder means that the breeder is producing dogs in an effort to protect, maintain and improve a particular dog breed, based of the breed’s original purpose.  These are individuals who are passionate about that specific breed, they strive to maintain the standard created for that dog, while carefully producing healthy, well-socialized puppies.  Why is this necessary? Because without them, we are at risk of losing some beautiful, intelligent and loyal dog breeds.  Every year in the U.K. they release a list of “Vulnerable Native Dog Breeds.”  The list is comprised of dog breeds, of British or Irish origin, that are considered to be at risk of disappearing because of declining registration numbers in the U.K.  These are dog breeds with fewer than 300 registrations per year.  The reason for the decline may be that they are not well known, so they are overlooked when people are considering their next dog.  For others, who were once a popular breed, they are not considered to be currently fashionable, like the French Bulldog or Labrador.

The Greyhound, image from Wikipedia.  Only 35 Greyhounds were registered in the UK in 2023

For whatever the reason, with less demand for these specific breeds, fewer and fewer puppies are being bred and sold each year, and they are becoming unrecognizable by the general public.  These dog breeds are wonderful companions with a rich history, developed over centuries of careful breeding by dedicated preservation breeders.  While some dogs on the Vulnerable breeds list are more popular in other countries, the low numbers in the U.K., where they were originally developed, is very concerning.

The Harrier, slightly smaller than the Foxhound, there were 0 Harriers registered in the UK in 2023!

Hopefully, through the hard work of their preservation breeders, these dog breeds can be saved.  If you want to learn more, please research these wonderful dog breeds, and reach out to your local breed clubs.

The Irish Red and White Setter, only 46 were registered in the UK last year. (Image from Wikipedia)

I know this a hot topic for people, and it’s not my intention to start arguments with this post.  Please understand the intent of this post is to help bring attention to the efforts being made to preserve these vulnerable dog breeds before they are lost.

The Otterhound, image from Vetstreet.  Only 18 Otterhounds were registered in 2023.

There were only 36 Skye Terriers registered in the UK in 2023

Want to see the complete list of Vulnerable dog breeds?  Please click here!

Sussex Spaniel, only 27 were registered last year. (Image from Showsite Magazine)


  1. Love the OtterHound and I always have!

  2. Lulu: "That Harrier is so handsome, I can't believe none were registered last year! We can definitely understand wanting to save these breeds. Mama and Dada love vizslas, as you know, and vizslas were almost wiped out during World War II."
    Java Bean: "Sí, and I owe those vizslas a debt of gratitude, because the reason Mama came over to me in the shelter is because I reminded her of Tucker!"