In June 2003, the British Kennel Club became concerned about the decline of some British dog breeds in the UK. Following research and consultation with the relevant breed clubs, it was decided that action should be taken to promote these endangered native breeds.
The Kennel Club subsequently published a list of Vulnerable Native Breeds, defined as dog breeds of English, Welsh, Scottish or Irish origin which register less than 300 puppies each year. They also produced a second list of British breeds which should be ‘At Watch’, due to annual registrations between 300 and 500.
Since the list was produced, the Kennel Club has undertaken various initiatives to raise the profile of these dogs. For example, at Crufts 2008, they featured in a Vulnerable Breeds Parade in the Main Arena, and they were given a dedicated booth at Discover Dogs for a few years. In 2015, the first ever Vulnerable Breeds Competition was held, culminating in a final won by the Gordon Setter, Sh Ch Lourdace Fulcrum JW, at Crufts 2016. The Kennel Club also put out annual press releases regarding the state of the Vulnerable Native Breeds following the finalisation of the annual registration and import figures (see below). Of course, breed enthusiasts and clubs also play a large part in the promotion of their breeds; for example the recent gathering of Dandie Dinmont Terriers to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the book which gave them their name.
The Vulnerable Native and At Watch breeds represent 37 of the 63 officially recognised native British breeds. British Breeds currently classed as Vulnerable* are :
Bull Terrier (Miniature)
Dandie Dinmont Terrier
English Toy Terrier
Fox Terrier (Smooth)
Glen of Imaal Terrier
Irish Red and White Setter
King Charles Spaniel
Kerry Blue Terrier
Retriever (Curly Coated)
Spaniel (Irish Water)
Welsh Corgi (Cardigan)
British Breeds currently classed as At Watch*:
Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
Old English Sheepdog
Parson Russell Terrier
Spaniel (Welsh Springer)
Welsh Corgi (Pembroke)
* Based on their 2015 registration figures
** It is also worth noting that the Foxhound and the Greyhound both have extremely low registration figures (8 and 34 in 2015 respectively), but are not considered to be Vulnerable Breeds. This is due to the fact that many dogs of this breed exist in racing circles and hunt kennels, but are just not formally registered with the Kennel Club.
KC Press Releases:
2012 – English Setter Joins List of Vulnerable Native Breeds
2014 – Skye Terrier registrations fall to a record low, making them more rare than Giant Pandas
2015 – Queen’s Corgi Breeds In Danger As Popularity Plummets
2016 – Queen’s Corgi And Old English Sheepdog Bounce Back
Crufts 2015 & 2016 entry figures
Vulnerable Native Breeds feature, Crufts 2014, w Frank Kane