Hot or not - What dog breeds and types are changing in popularity in the UK?
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Hot or not - What dog breeds and types are changing in popularity in the UK?

Dogs
Breed Facts

Every dog lover can relate to the following sequence of events: Walking along the street and spotting a dog breed that you remember from your childhood as being present in the UK in large numbers, and then realising that actually this dog is the first one of its type that you have seen for a number of years.

Just as with any other trend, be it baby names or fashion styles, dog breeds also seem to be susceptible to changes in popularity. Over the course of just a couple of decades significant variations can be found in terms of what dogs are the most prolifically bred, and what dog types you are the most likely to spot when out and about.

This effect is the most pronounced among the pedigree dog breeds that are classed as “vulnerable native UK breeds,” or those to whom less than 300 individual puppies are produced year on year. May of us will never even have seen (or in some cases heard of) some of these incredibly rare dogs, such as the Otterhound and the Sussex Spaniel.

Even if you remove these rare breed and very uncommon dogs from the equation, the fact remains that many dogs that used to be seen in large numbers seem to be falling in popularity, being replaced with other breeds and types of dogs that previously were less common. The reasons for these shifts in popularity are multitude, and in some cases difficult to identify at all. While there are obvious reasons for some dog breeds appearing to drop off the radar altogether (such as the Pit Bull Terrier, which is now banned in the UK under the terms of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991) for other breeds, the reasons are less clear. Many dogs that were historically kept and bred in large numbers for working purposes fell into a natural decline when their traditional working roles became eroded (such as the Otterhound, as otter hunting is no longer undertaken in the UK) while other ex working dogs seem to have made the transition to civilian life as popular pets with ease.

Here are some dogs worthy of mention as having either fallen or risen in popularity to a significant degree over the course of the last two decades.

The standard Poodle

While the standard Poodle is not technically rare within the UK today, nevertheless, there are a lot less standard Poodles kept as pets today than there were twenty or so years ago. The Poodle remains a popular dog breed among owners who are seeking a low-shedding dog that may be a good pick for allergy sufferers, although the toy and miniature Poodle are the most common choices today rather than their larger cousins.

Popularity: On the wane

The Labradoodle

While the Labradoodle (a cross between a Labrador and a Poodle) is not a pedigree dog breed, this popular hybrid dog type can be seen all over the UK and in larger numbers than many other pedigree breeds. While the standard Poodle itself is waning in popularity, Poodle crosses and hybrid dogs of all types are becoming more and more popular year on year, and the Labradoodle leads the pack.

Popularity: On the rise

The Irish Wolfhound

These large, lanky dogs are classed as the tallest dogs in the world in terms of height, and historically could be seen in large numbers both as pets and companions and as hunting dogs. While the Irish Wolfhound makes a good family pet and is very versatile for a range of activities, as their hunting working roles have dwindled, so too have numbers of Irish Wolfhounds within the UK and Ireland.

Popularity: On the wane

The Greyhound

The speedy but rather sedentary Greyhound used to be one of the most prolific and popular dog breeds within the UK when the sport of Greyhound racing was at its peak, and many racing enthusiasts used to keep their own Greyhounds as combination family pets and racing dogs. As Greyhound racing has become less and less popular, numbers of Greyhounds bred and produced each year have fallen dramatically, and it is no longer common to spot groups of Greyhounds being walked around the streets in the way that it once was.

Popularity: On the wane

The Lurcher

The Lurcher is a mixed breed dog composed of a cross between a sight hound (such as a Greyhound, Whippet or Irish Wolfhound) and any other dog. The Lurcher shares many of the desirable traits of the Greyhound as a family pet, and is much more commonly available due to the sheer number of Lurcher breeding variations available.

Popularity: On the rise

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier or “Staffy” has been around in the UK for centuries, and made the transition from a working dog to a companion and a pet with ease. While numbers of Staffordshire Bull Terriers have always remained relatively constant and the breed was never in any danger of dying out, since the advent of the Dangerous Dogs Act in 1991 when Pit Bull Terriers were banned, the Staffy’s star has been on the rise. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier shares some similar physical traits with the Pit Bull Terrier and also many of the other positive traits of the breed, making it a popular choice of dog in recent years with people who previously owned Pit Bull Terriers, as well as many other people as well!

Popularity: On the rise

West Highland Terrier

These small, lively terrier dogs from Scotland were among the most popular dogs in the UK up until the turn of the century, and frequently made the top ten list of the most prolifically bred dogs in the UK. However, Westie popularity has been declining gradually over the course of the last ten years, as other small dogs such as the Pug and the Bichon Frise have risen in popularity.

Popularity: On the wane

Dog breeds that never go out of fashion

Despite the ever-changing nature of the popularity of breeds within the UK, there is a small set of breeds whose numbers and popularity has remained high over the course of the last few decades. The Jack Russell terrier can be seen out and about with a high degree of regularity all over the country, as can the Labrador Retriever and the Cocker and Springer spaniels.

Whether these dog breeds will continue to endure as near to the top of the list of the nation’s favourites over the course of the next fifty years as yet remains to be seen!

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