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Old English sheepdog saved from extinction by Covid

Old English sheepdog

The old English sheepdog was gradually becoming extinct as it went out of favour with the British who decided that they preferred small dogs such as the French Bulldog. But Covid has changed things. My interpretation is that the change in working practices which allows people to work at home is provided dog care givers with more time to care for their dogs which in turn allows them to consider adopting an old English sheepdog which I’m going to presume is more demanding in terms of day-to-day care.

Old English sheepdog

Old English sheepdog. Photo: Pixabay.

The old English sheepdog is known as the Dulux dog because of the successful Dulux paint advertisement on television years ago. The breed was put on the Kennel Club’s vulnerable list in 2020 when annual registrations of new puppies fell below 300.

Only 227 puppies were recorded in 2020. Only a handful of enthusiasts remained in the country but there’s been a reversal of fortunes in 2021 when breeders reported 377 puppies representing an increase of 66% in numbers.

Other breeds have also recorded increases such as the bearded collie which is up 28% and the English setter which is up 109%.

A spokesman for the Car Club, Bill Lambert, believes that the likely explanation is Covid resulting in lockdowns and a change to peoples’ habits. He said:

“A lot of people are continuing to work from home and a lot of us are having this blended approach to work. We know this has led to a lot more people living outside of cities. Maybe they are considering that they can have a larger dog.”

He said that the smaller breeds have grown in popularity while the opposite has affected the larger breeds. City living is another factor as the English sheepdog is suited to the countryside as they are herding dog. You don’t want such a large companion animal cooped up in a city apartment. They need lots of exercise and outdoor activities.

Perhaps this migration away from cities to the countryside is also resulted in the improved fortunes of the English setter. People are appreciating the outdoors more thanks to Covid because they can work from home and if you’re going to work from home, you might as well buy a detached house in the countryside if you can afford it. Although prices have risen dramatically in the countryside because of this emigration.

The improved fortunes of the French Bulldog have come about because of their diminutive size and social influencers on social media. It is ranked the most popular dog breed in Britain currently after being adopted by people like David Beckham, Holly Willoughby, Lady Gaga and the late actress Carrie Fisher.

The Kennel Club wants to ensure the survival of these less popular breeds and they hope that more people will be inspired to own a vulnerable breed when watching Crufts which will be held from March 10-13 in 2022. They are going to include a competition for the 29 vulnerable breeds and seven breeds which are in the “at watch” category. A dog breed is categorised as “at watch” if there are 300-450 puppy registrations annually.

Dogs in the vulnerable category have shrunk from 32 breeds in 2020. The miniature bull terrier has also seen some success with registrations reaching 364 in 2021 which was double the previous year.

This indicates that adopters are resisting the urge to go for the most obvious choices and are doing more research. If this is true it is most welcome. The French Bulldog’s popularity became a trend during Covid with people, I believe, adopting the dog without doing due diligence on health issues. Neither did they do due diligence on the source of the animal. Some of these popular dogs were being imported from abroad from puppy mills. Adopters should not support these illegal and illegitimate businesses.

RELATED: Dogs bought during pandemic lockdowns are being given up to rescue centres as strays

The problem is that too many people still buy a puppy on impulse which can lead to the ultimate abandonment of that puppy or the puppy is resold online to another person who buys on impulse and so the cycle of adoption and abandonment continues. This is very detrimental to dog welfare.

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