The Queen's Corgis and Other Breeds at Risk of Extinction

Some dog breeds with low registration numbers are at risk of disappearing.

Posted Nov 04, 2013

queen elizabeth corgi club winnipeg canada manitoba dog pet

Queen Elizabeth greets Winnipeg Corgi Club members

With all of the fuss and press coverage that is given to each new breed of dog accepted for registration by the American Kennel Club and the British Kennel Club one might also expect that some media attention might be given to those of breeds of dogs whose numbers are becoming so low that their variety might be in danger of extinction. People forget that dog breeds come and go as needs and fashions change. The turnspit dog, the Spanish pointer, the European water spaniel, and the long-haired Greyhound (like one called Peritus, who was much beloved by Alexander the Great) are all gone. Other breeds hover at the point of no return and also may soon disappear. Those strains of dogs that are in danger of extinction include a number of breeds that have had great popularity at some time, such as the Pembroke Corgi, the favorite dog of Queen Elizabeth II.

Corgis have been a part of the Royal family since 1933 when George VI saw one in a local kennel and brought it home. It was understood that Dookie belonged to the whole family, however on her eighteenth birthday the Queen was given a Corgi of her own, named Susan. That dog became the matriarch of the canine dynasty which has been at Buckingham palace ever since, and even accompanied Elizabeth and Philip on their honeymoon. Over her life the Queen has owned more than 30 Corgis. Currently she has two Corgis, Willow and Holly. A third, Monty, who appeared with the Queen and Daniel Craig in the spectacular James Bond presentation at the Olympics, has since died. 

One might expect that the association of the Pembroke Corgi with the Queen would guarantee its popularity. This often appears to be the case. For example, on her visits to Canada when Elizabeth stopped at the cities of Halifax and Winnipeg, members of the local Corgi Clubs lined the streets with their dogs. This seemed to please the Queen and she would often stop to say hello to some of the owners and pet their dogs.

Yet it seems that having a royal connection is not sufficient to guarantee the viability of a dog breed. The British Kennel Club keeps a "vulnerable native breeds list" on which dogs that have fewer than 300 registrations in a year are noted. With only 241 registrations in the last year, the Pembroke Corgi is now on the list. The decline in the number of Pembroke Corgis is believed to be a result of a number of major breeders giving up after the Animal Welfare Act came into force a few years ago. The problem was that it enforced a ban on tail docking. Many breeders feel that the presence of the tail has spoiled the look of the dog and that is all why they have ceased producing new puppies.

alfred hitchcock sealyham terrier dog pet canine extinction risk

Alfred Hitchcock and one of his Sealyham Terriers

The Kennel Club is concerned with protecting and preserving those breeds of dogs which are British and Irish origin and they began compiling the vulnerable breed list in 2003. The largest number of dogs on the list comes from the Terrier group. The most marked drop in popularity is that of the Sealyham Terrier. This was the breed of dog favored by the movie director Alfred Hitchcock. When he got his first Sealyham Terrier in 1938 there were 1084 Sealyhams registered, but now annual registrations average 60 dogs or less.

otterhound dog extinction vulnerable pet british ban

Otterhound

The Otterhound, was extremely popular for centuries from the time of Henry VIII when they were kept in packs, like foxhounds. However the British ban on otter hunting sounded the death knell of this breed. A world wide count of the number of Otterhounds managed to find fewer than a thousand dogs. The British and Irish a Dog Breeds Preservation Trust noted that that made the Otterhound "twice as rare as the Giant Panda". 

Here is the list of those breeds of dogs that are considered to be "vulnerable" or "at risk" by the Kennel Club:

  • Deerhounds
  • Greyhounds
  • Otterhounds
  • Irish Red & White Setters
  • Clumber Spaniels
  • Field Spaniels
  • Irish Water Spaniels
  • Pembroke Welsh Corgis
  • Sussex Spaniels
  • Miniature Bull Terriers
  • Dandie Dinmont Terriers
  • Smooth Fox Terriers
  • Glen of Imaal Terriers
  • Irish Terriers
  • Kerry Blue Terriers
  • Lakeland Terriers
  • Manchester Terriers
  • Norwich Terriers
  • Sealyham Terriers
  • Skye Terriers
  • Welsh Terriers
  • Smooth Collies
  • Lancashire Heelers
  • Cardigan Welsh Corgis
  • English Toy Terriers (Black & Tan)

Stanley Coren is the author of many books including: The Wisdom of Dogs; Do Dogs Dream? Born to Bark; The Modern Dog; Why Do Dogs Have Wet Noses? The Pawprints of History; How Dogs Think; How To Speak Dog; Why We Love the Dogs We Do; What Do Dogs Know? The Intelligence of Dogs; Why Does My Dog Act That Way? Understanding Dogs for Dummies; Sleep Thieves; The Left-hander Syndrome

Copyright SC Psychological Enterprises Ltd. May not be reprinted or reposted without permission

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