Canine Chat: Rare breed SOS

Old English Sheepdog

Old English Sheepdog - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

October is usually an important month in the dog lover’s calendar for it signals Discover Dogs. This is London’s biggest doggy event and is widely supported by scores of canine aficionados from the South West.

One of the most important parts of this extravaganza is ‘meet the breeds’. This allows members of the public to get up close and personal with more than 200 different breeds and this is a particularly important showcase for our rare and vulnerable breeds.

Sadly, this year, due to Covid-19, this spectacular event was cancelled.

However, one doesn’t have to travel all the way to London to meet some of the vulnerable breeds on show. A walk along Torquay seafront will often bring you into contact with several of our endangered native breeds.

The Old English Sheepdog, more commonly known to people of a certain age as the ‘Dulux Dog’, was once hugely popular and seen in every park and the street, but these are now sadly on the ‘at watch’ list, with just over 300 puppies born in 2019.

The Bedlington Terrier, which resembles a little lamb - and is anything but! - is another on the list with just 333 puppies born last year.

The stylish Wire-Haired Fox Terrier is another breed rarely seen nowadays and its smooth-coated cousin - immortalised as the HMV dog - is in an even worse predicament with just 112 puppies born in 2019.

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The smart Manchester Terrier - a favourite of Agatha Christie - fares only a little better with just over 200 puppies born.

These beautiful breeds of dogs have often been completely overlooked in the public’s rush for ‘fashionable’ breeds such as the Frenchie or popular mixes such as the Cockapoo.

Thankfully, a number of smart folk in the Bay haven’t been swayed by the vagaries of fashion and breeds such as the Bedlington, which make cracking pets, and the Wire-Fox Terrier can quite often be spotted around Torbay, and I - and many others - thoroughly enjoy watching a pair of OES being exercised on the beach.

If, after Christmas, you are considering getting a dog, do check out the list of vulnerable breeds and see if one would fit into your home/lifestyle: www.thekennelclub.org.uk/vulnerable/native/breeds