While some imported dog breeds grow in popularity in the UK, some native breeds are at risk of disappearing. Although the pet industry also has fashions and fads, this is not the only reason these native UK breeds are endangered. Many British breeds were bred to be working dogs and require plenty of exercise and specific care. Without this need for work, many have lacked the support to maintain them.
Why are native breeds vulnerable? In 2006, The Kennel Club launched its first list of Vulnerable Native Breeds of the United Kingdom. This is the official dog registration organization of the UK. Compiled with other institutions, the KC recorded the British breeds that only has 300 puppies or less registered that year. The list of Vulnerable Native Breeds is updated every year, and includes different levels of endangerment. The UK list also includes vulnerable dog breeds in Ireland. The majority of these breeds are types of Terrier dogs, a type of breed which has a long history in the British Isles. The purpose of the list is designed to help maintain the lineages of these breeds before they disappear altogether. It is something which is common among dog show organizations such as Crufts as it helps to maintain the variability of breeds.
Reasons for dog breeds being vulnerable. As we have alluded to in the introduction, part of the reason for the existence of the Vulnerable Native Breeds list in the United Kingdom is due to fashion. While it can be hard to pinpoint exactly why, some breeds simply become more popular. With a finite amount of homes to provide for these dogs, the growing number of more recent breeds means that some are simply no longer bred as much. More importantly is the use of many of these dogs as working dogs. The United Kingdom once relied much more heavily on its own agriculture industry and dogs were more often used for working and sport purposes. Technology and changes in practices have meant that farming and other industries no longer require such reliance on dogs for work. Similarly, sporting dogs are not as common as they once where thanks to a drop in popularity.