'Dulux dog' breed could become extinct in UK

Shaggy pooch dying out as lifestyle habits change in Britain

The Old English Sheepdog, one of Britain's most recognisable dog breeds, has been listed for the first time as vulnerable to extinction after a drop in popularity.

The Kennel Club - the UK's biggest animal organisation devoted to dog welfare - said on Monday the move followed declining numbers since the breed's heyday in the late 1970s.

The club recorded just 227 puppy registrations in 2020 for the dog - instantly recognisable for its shaggy coat and long used in adverts for paint manufacturer Dulux.

It is the lowest number in 60 years, marking a "steep decline" in the breed's popularity, the club said.

The dog has since 2009 been on the club's "At Watch" list, which monitors breeds with between 300 and 450 puppy registrations a year.

But following the latest 28 per cent year-on-year drop in puppy numbers, it has now been added to its "Vulnerable Native Breeds" list.

The category was devised for British and Irish native breeds which have fallen below 300 annual puppy registrations and could be at risk of disappearing from Britain.

The Kennel Club blamed "lifestyle changes" and the breed's high-maintenance requirements as likely factors in the drop in its popularity in Britain.

"The Old English Sheepdog is such an historic and iconic breed, but they are rarely seen out and about over recent years, so the fact that they are now officially a vulnerable breed is very worrying," club spokesman Bill Lambert said.

"They require a lot of grooming and exercise and aren't suitable for smaller living spaces.

"However, it is a breed that is faithful and trustworthy with an even disposition that can make lovable family pets for the right owners."

The Kennel Club has 32 types of dog on its Vulnerable Native Breeds list, and seven more classed as "At Watch".

At the other end of the scale, gundog breeds have enjoyed a surge in popularity. The club suggested an increase in moves to the countryside and outdoor activity during the coronavirus lockdowns may have contributed to their popularity.

Updated: April 19, 2021 07:42 PM

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