Once popular dog breeds, you rarely see anymore in the UK.
Times change, things come and go and it seems that dog breeds are no exception to this phenomenon. I can remember a time when Afghan hounds were popular in the 1970’s as well as red Setters; two breeds that are not commonly seen nowadays.
I spent many a happy childhood summer holiday chasing ‘Paddy’ the Irish red setter around the neighbourhood, since he was forever escaping! I can’t remember having seen a red setter since, expect on very rare occasions, or when I happen to visit a dog show.
Pedigree corgis, (particularly Cardigan Welsh Corgis) are in serious decline along with terriers, such as pedigree wire-haired fox terriers and Sealyhams and other once favoured breeds such as Old English Sheepdogs and field spaniels.
One breed that is one now one of the most rare dogs in the country, is the Otterhound. These dogs were bred as hunting dogs in the 19th Century, but just 24 puppies were registered in 2017, putting the breed as a whole on the endangered list.
Similarly, Glen of Imaal terriers which were popular during the reign of Elizabeth I almost became extinct in the early part of the 20th Century. Irish breeders brought these dogs back from the brink of disappearing altogether, but even so, there were only 48 puppies registered with the Kennel Club in 2017.
With so few numbers of such dogs being bred they are naturally overlooked by the general public, in favour of other breeds such as French Bulldogs. These dogs, along with similar other small breeds such as pugs, are constantly in the limelight, popularized by celebrities and used in all sorts of media marketing campaigns promoting products and services.
It would be a shame to lose some of these unique breeds of dog, many of which were originally bred for a particular purpose, such as hunting. Every year Crufts dog show incorporates their ‘Discover Dogs’ zone, which encourages people to be more aware of the lesser known breeds and what they are like as pets.
Of course, our preference for particular dog breeds is closely associated with our lifestyles. Many people live in urban areas with more complex and demanding lives that leave little time for walking a dog, let alone working one in some field of discipline, such as hunting or herding.
However, there is room to reignite interest in some of the more rare breeds and in the world of Afghan hounds they are doing just that. While these dogs, with their long straight hair were commonly seen in the 1960’s and 70’s accompanying ‘hippies’ wearing coats of the same name, they are not very often seen on UK streets in 2018.
However, a group of Afghan Hound enthusiasts in Bicester are raising awareness of these beautiful sighthounds by retaining and running the last Afghan racetrack in the UK. Racing these dogs began during the breed’s popularity in the 1960’s, but now there is just one track left in the UK where these dogs are raced just for fun.
Unfortunately, however it remains that many people just don’t have the time or space for some of these larger breeds, or breeds from working backgrounds. Afghan hounds are demanding dogs that require a lot of exercise and a great deal of time must be spent grooming.
That said, many people seem to make their choice of dog breed based on how fashionable they are and this doesn’t always work out for the best. If you are considering buying a pedigree dog, it is always well worth doing a fair amount of research and at the same time, you could consider some of the UK’s lesser known dog breeds, that may very well suit your lifestyle better than a dog that just happens to be top of the popularity stakes!