The Hova-WHAT?!! Growth of obscure foreign dog breeds outstrips old favourites

Following reports about the decline of our Vulnerable Native Breeds the Kennel Club can reveal that some lesser known dog breeds of foreign origin, such as the Hovawart, Beauceron and Mexican Hairless, are having more luck in the popularity stakes.

These are amongst the fastest growing in the UK, whilst old favourites such as the Labrador Retriever and Old English Sheepdog have declined in popularity.

The Beauceron, an imported dog breed which is most famously owned by Davina McCall, is the fastest growing dog breed in the UK this year, when compared to the same period last year.

The 30 Kennel Club registrations so far this year are the highest yet recorded for the breed and compare favourably to just 1 registration last year.

This is according to figures released by the Kennel Club before Discover Dogs event in November, which gives visitors the opportunity to meet nearly 200 different breeds of pedigree dog, to find out which would be the best fit for their lifestyle.

The Beauceron’s popularity spurt is closely followed by the standard Mexican Hairless, which has grown more than tenfold, from one to 11 registrations and the Hovawart breed which has grown from four to 29 registrations – although the popularity of all three breeds has waxed and waned over the past ten years.

Meanwhile the nation’s most popular dog, the Labrador Retriever, retains its top spot with 31,791 registrations so far this year but this is a significant 10 percent decline on the same period last year.

This seems to buck a trend that has seen the breed go from strength to strength, growing by six percent over the past ten years, to more than 44,000 registrations last year.

Another breed that has declined in popularity is the Old English Sheepdog (pictured below) which has dropped in popularity by 25 percent, numbering just 274 registrations so far this year. In total the breed has dropped by 33 percent over the past ten years and this fall looks set to increase in 2011.

There is even good news for some British breeds, which the Kennel Club has incorporated into its endangered native breeds campaign, because they have numbered less than 300 registrations in consecutive years.

Nine breeds on the 26-strong list have seen an increase in popularity – bucking an overall trend that has seen dog registrations fall by five percent so far this year.

This includes the Cardigan Welsh Corgi, which is one of the biggest climbers in the popularity charts, seeing a 206 percent rise to 89 registrations.

Other breeds that have continued to prosper include the so called ‘handbag dogs’ – small dog breeds that are often popularised by famous celebrities.

This includes the Coton de Tulear, owned by the likes of Catherine Zeta Jones, which has grown by 56 percent so far this year to 168 registrations; and Paris Hilton’s Smooth Coat Chihuahua which has grown by 16 percent to 2,432 and Jessica Alba’s Pug which has grown by nine percent to 4,625.

Over the past ten years, the popularity of these small breeds has soared with the likes of the Coton de Tulear growing by 1,170 percent, from 10 to 140 registrations and the Smooth Coat Chihuahua by 651 percent from 871 to 2796 registrations and the Pug by 557 percent to 5,726 registrations.

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary said: “Celebrity dog choice is sadly still a powerful influencer when it comes to breed popularity but it seems that people are increasing choosing those breeds that will fit more easily into their increasingly busy and often urban lifestyles, which is perhaps why we are seeing shifts in the popularity patterns of certain breeds.

“There is no one size fits all solution when it comes to dogs and that is why we hold the unique Discover Dogs event each year, giving people the chance to look beyond the obvious and meet nearly 200 different breeds, each with their own unique characteristics, to see which is the best fit for them.”

Davina McCall, who owns a Beauceron said that she spent a year looking for the right breed for her and her family. She said: “We had a long list of things we wanted: a very energetic dog that loved running and the outdoors; a big dog that was good with families but also protective.

“My advice would be: do tons of research. The more you know about the breed the happier your dog will be. And the happier your dog is the happier you are. Win win!!”

Discover Dogs takes place at Earls Court, London on 12-13 November.

Almost 200 breeds of dog will be at the event with breed experts for visitors to meet and talk to.

There will also be advice and information about training and caring for dogs, displays of agility and obedience, the final of the national Scruffts Family Crossbreed of the Year competition, and hundreds of trade stands selling products for dogs and dog lovers.

For more info, tickets, etc, for Discover Dogs click here.

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