Vulnerable Native Breeds in the UK: Updated List
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While imported dog breeds such as the Alaskan Husky, the Chihuahua or the Afghan Hound grow in popularity in the UK, some native breeds are at risk of disappearing. This is because the world of pets also has fashions and fads, but also because most native British breeds were bred to be working dogs and require plenty of exercise and specific care.
In 2006, the Kennel Club launched its first list of Vulnerable Native Breeds. In this list, compiled with other institutions and including Irish native dog breeds, the club recorded the British breeds that only got 300 puppies or less registered that year. The list of Vulnerable Native Breeds is updated every year, and includes different levels of endangerment.
In this AnimalWised article we'll go over the updated list of Vulnerable Native Breeds in the UK. We support adopting dogs from shelters regardless of their breed and pedigree - in fact, mixed-breed dogs offer many advantages - but we think it's important to raise awareness of these very special dog breeds at risk.
- Bull Terrier (Miniature)
- Collie (Smooth)
- Dandie Dinmont Terrier
- English Setter
- English Toy Terrier (Black & Tan)
- Fox Terrier (Smooth)
- Glen of Imaal Terrier
- Gordon Setter
- Irish Red and White Setter
- King Charles Spaniel
- Kerry Blue Terrier
- Lakeland Terrier
- Lancashire Heeler
- Manchester Terrier
- Norwich Terrier
- Retriever (Curly Coated)
- Sealyham Terrier
- Skye Terrier
- Welsh Corgi (Cardigan)
- Vulnerable Native Breeds: At Watch
In 2015, only 77 Bloodhound puppies were registered in the UK, although their numbers are growing slowly. These large dogs are scent hounds; Bloodhounds were originally bred to hunt large prey, but nowadays they're known for being one of the best breeds of police dogs - and also one of the laziest dog breeds.
Despite their large size, Bloodhounds are gentle and stable. While they are excellent and loyal pets, you must take into account that the Bloodhound is one of the dog breeds with shortest lifespans.
Bull Terrier (Miniature)
Although the Bull Terrier is a very popular breed, the Miniature variety only had 183 puppies registered in 2015 and their numbers are decreasing.
Miniature Bull Terriers look just like their big siblings, except that they do not reach more than 35.5 cm (14 in) tall. This is a loving and brave breed that often does not realize their size. Miniature Bull Terriers do not require lots of upkeep, but their training can be difficult at first.
If you have time to exercise and play with a dog, though, you could do your bit to get the Miniature Bull Terrier out of the Vulnerable Native Breeds list.
The Collie group includes different Scottish breeds, famous for being the most intelligent dogs in the world. Despite their popularity, the Smooth Collie is in the Vulnerable Native Breeds list at only 78 puppies registered in 2015.
Smooth Collies are extremely smart and sociable, and thus they are very easy to train. They love children, and they are excellent herders and therapy dogs. If you adopt a Smooth Collie you will need to devote time to physical exercise, but you'll have the time of your life.
Dandie Dinmont Terrier
The Dandie Dinmont Terrier is a small and quite adorable Scottish breed. Only 88 Dandie Dinmont Terrier puppies were registered in 2015, and their numbers keep decreasing.
Dandie Dinmont Terriers look quite peculiar, with a long body and a particularly fluffy tuft of hair on their head. They are docile and friendly, but they won't back down from a challenge, be it chasing a pigeon or digging a surprisingly large hole.
The Scottish Deerhound is a large and majestic sighthound breed of ancient origins - historians believe that Deerhounds were bred to hunt deer even before Roman times. Even so, in 2015 only 267 Deerhound puppies were registered in the UK.
Despite their ominous look, Scottish Deerhounds are among the gentlest dog breeds in the world. They can adapt to living in a flat as long as they have regular access to off-leash outdoor spaces to exercise and explore. If you adopt a Deerhound, you should consider giving them a Scottish name for dogs.
The English Setter was added to the Vulnerable Native Breeds list in 2015, when only 289 puppies were registered. They are recognizable by their spotted or mottled white coat and their long, duster-like tail.
English Setters are hard-working and energetic dogs, and they love having something to do and learn new things. They are also friendly and love to be the center of attention - they may even become a bit mischievous and distracted when you're not looking.
English Toy Terrier (Black & Tan)
Only 78 English Toy Terrier or Black & Tan puppies were registered in 2015, and their numbers are still decreasing.
This beautiful small breed was first developed to hunt rats in blood sports, but nowadays English Toy Terriers are beloved for their affectionate and warm temperament - although they bark quite a lot.
Fox Terrier (Smooth)
While the Fox Terrier is one of the most recognizable British breeds - and the oldest terrier breed to become official - the Smooth Fox Terrier is in the Vulnerable Native Breeds list, as in 2015 only 148 puppies were registered.
Smooth Fox Terriers can be a bit hard to handle for new owners as they have energy to spare, but once trained they are extremely friendly.
Glen of Imaal Terrier
The Glen of Imaal or Wicklow Terrier is a rare Irish dog breed; only 79 Glen puppies were registered in the UK in 2015, although it seems that their numbers are growing slightly.
Glen of Imaal Terriers are recognizable because they are a dwarf breed; while heavy, they are much shorter than what their head may lead you to think. Glen Terriers are alert but stable and undemanding dogs, and they can sit on their bottoms like human beings.
Gordon Setters are relatively large hunting dogs notable for their black coat with beautiful spots and markings and long, floppy ears. They are a recent addition to the Vulnerable Native Breeds list; in 2015, only 234 Gordon Setter puppies were registered.
If your family has older children, you will find in a Gordon Setter a loving and loyal pet that is also quite independent and very smart, perfect to play and learn for hours.
Irish Red and White Setter
Only 64 Irish Red and White Setter puppies were registered in the UK in 2015; in fact, the breed almost disappeared until about the 1980s.
If you have access to open off-leash spaces, the Irish Red and White Setter is the perfect dog for you. This dog enjoys running free and can keep themselves entertained, while still being affectionate and gentle. If you have children, they will adore their new friend - and the dog will love them right back.
King Charles Spaniel
It may seem surprising that such a famous breed as the King Charles Spaniel is in the Vulnerable Native Breeds list, but their numbers are falling - only 149 puppies in 2015 - while the popularity of the healthier Cavalier King Charles Spaniel grows. Take a look at our article on the types and breeds of Spaniel dogs to learn the differences between them.
King Charles Spaniels are small and not meant to do much physical exercise, so if you have a quiet lifestyle and want an affectionate lapdog you will love this breed.
Kerry Blue Terrier
The Kerry or Irish Blue Terrier is a rare breed; only 131 puppies were registered in 2015, and the numbers keep decreasing. The term "blue" in their name refers to the beautiful shades in their gray curly coat, although Kerry Blue Terriers are black when they are puppies.
Kerry Blue Terriers require training and regular physical exercise, and they are beloved for their peculiar - almost humorous - personality and overall high spirits. If you want an eccentric yet clever dog, a Kerry Blue Terrier is the perfect choice.
The Lakeland Terrier is a native British breed; they were first bred in the Lake District. There were 173 Lakeland Terrier puppies registered in 2015, so we hope this breed gets more recognition in the future.
If you catch a Lakeland Terrier's attention by giving them plenty of exercise and playing with them, you'll discover how quickly they can learn. Lakeland Terriers are independent and smart, perfect for people with similar temperaments.
Another disappearing native breed of the UK is the Lancashire Heeler; no more than 81 puppies were registered in 2015.
Lancashire Heelers have long bodies, but they do not reach more than 30 cm (12 in) tall. Don't let their size fool you, though; Lancashire Heelers were bred to be working dogs, and they are energetic, alert and very strong.
Like the Black & Tan English Toy Terrier, the Manchester Terrier was bred to hunt rats in Northern England. Their numbers are growing slightly, but 192 new puppies in 2015 is still a low number.
Manchester Terriers are elegant, with a smooth and dark short coat and a sharp appearance similar to that of the Doberman Pinscher. There are standard and toy varieties.
The English Mastiff, like most other Mastiffs, is a large molosser dog with impressive folds in their nuzzle and a black mask. Despite being an old and beloved breed, there were only 149 Mastiff puppies registered in the UK in 2015.
If you can give an English Mastiff the right diet and exercise while watching for potential bone conditions or gastric torsion you will enjoy a gentle, dignified, slow-paced and even-tempered pet that gets along with children.
There were only 147 Norwich Terrier puppies registered in the UK in 2015, but this adorable small breed deserves to be lifted out of the Vulnerable Native Breeds list.
Although Norwich Terriers are among the smallest of their group, they are brave and sturdy - although not aggressive - and have surprisingly large appetites. While they are wary of strangers, Norwich Terriers love to spend time with their families, especially if there are children around.
Only 34 Otterhound puppies were registerd in 2015, the lowest number in the Vulnerable Native Breeds list. It is a true shame, because the Otterhound is an ancient and dignified scent hound that should be better-known all around the world.
Otterhounds are curious and friendly dogs with excellent noses and a rough and peculiar coat that can come in many colors. Otterhounds are currently the most endangered British dog breed.
Retriever (Curly Coated)
While the Labrador and the Golden retrievers are immensely popular around the world, only 66 Curly Coated retrievers were registered in the UK in 2015. Here you can learn more about the different types of retriever dogs.
The woolly Curly Coated retriever is a very smart and warm dog that loves to discover new and fun things and be entertained - Curly Coated retrievers get bored easily.
Sealyham Terriers were very popular in the early 20th Century, but in 2015 only 113 puppies were registered. They are notable for the tuft of hair over their eyes, like bangs. They don't reach more than 30 cm (14 in) tall at the withers.
If you want a peculiar, hard-working dog that is loyal to their family but can still be left alone, the Sealyham Terrier is the British breed for you.
The Skye Terrier is the second most endangered British dog in the Vulnerable Native Breeds list, as in 2015 only 43 Skye Terrier puppies were registered. One of the most famous dogs in Scotland, Greyfriars Bobby, was a Skye Terrier.
Skye Terriers are plucky and loyal dogs who enjoy going for walks but prefer living with their families, who should keep them well-groomed.
Besides the King Charles Spaniel, a lapdog, there are different spaniel breeds that used to be bred as working dogs but that have started to disappear from the British Isles. The spaniels in the Vulnerable Native Breeds list are the following:
- Clumber Spaniel: 214 registered puppies in 2015.
- Field Spaniel: 46 registered puppies in 2015.
- Irish Water Spaniel: 132 registered puppies in 2015.
- Sussex Spaniel: 43 registered puppies in 2015.
In the picture below you can see a Clumber Spaniel.
Welsh Corgi (Cardigan)
The Pembroke Welsh Corgi was raised out of the Vulnerable Native Breeds list in 2015, following a growth of interest in Queen Elizabeth II's dogs. The Cardigan Welsh Corgi is still on the list, as only 124 puppies were registered in 2015. However, their popularity is growing.
Although short and adorable-looking, Cardigan Welsh Corgis are are strong and responsible herding dogs, able to learn all sorts of obedience and agility commands. They will guard their family loyally, and are a great choice for a pet.
The Irish Wolfhound looks a bit similar to the Scottish Deerhound, although they're even larger. Originally bred to hunt wolves and guard homes, their purpose has been lost to the point that this native Irish breed only had 282 registered in 2015.
Irish Wolfhounds can seem imposing, but they are very intelligent and reserved dogs that will not make much noise. If you want a proud and loyal dog that can develop a strong bond with you or your older children, take a chance on the Irish Wolfhound - you won't be disappointed.
Vulnerable Native Breeds: At Watch
The following native British breeds have been lifted out of the "vulnerable" category, but they are still being monitored.
- Bearded Collie
- Bedlington Terrier
- Parson Russell Terrier
- Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
- Welsh Springer Spaniel
- Welsh Corgi Pembroke
- Welsh Terrier
In the picture below you can see a Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier.
Have you ever had one of the dogs in the list of Vulnerable Native Breeds of the UK? What was your experience like? What is your favorite native British breed? Tell us all in the comments section!
If you want to read similar articles to Vulnerable Native Breeds in the UK: Updated List, we recommend you visit our Endangered animals category.