The Kennel Club (KC) is urging potential dog owners to consider native breeds. This comes as the French bulldog, with its cute pointy ears, ousts the Cavalier King Charles spaniel from the top 10 breeds; numbers of the more petite version of a British bulldog have doubled since 2012, with 6,990 puppy registrations last year and high-profile owners including Reese Witherspoon and Hugh Jackman.

Out of the KC’s 215 registered breeds, 138 originated overseas, including three out of the last five new breeds to be recognised: the Hungarian Puli and the Picardy sheepdog and Griffon Fauve de Bretagne from France. In contrast, numbers for the floppy-haired Skye terrier, a breed that symbolises faithfulness through the legend of Greyfriars Bobby, have fallen to a record low of 17 puppy registrations.

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‘The simple reason for this is that people don’t know they exist,’ says breeder Sue Breeze. ‘It’s that basic. Winning Best in Group at Crufts last year led to a lot of enquiries, but we’ve all been too scared to breed in recent years for fear of the pups not having homes.’ KC secretary Caroline Kisko says she hopes Crufts (March 6-9) will aid recognition for other vulnerable breeds, which include the Cardigan Welsh corgi, the Dandie Dinmont, Norwich and Sealyham terriers, Clumber, Sussex and King Charles spaniels, the smooth collie and the deerhound. ‘The plight of many of our native breeds is largely down to shifts in fashion. The chihuahua, which has high-profile owners, is thriving, but many of our oldest breeds simply don’t have that recognition.’

The labrador-technically, an imported breed-continues to be top dog with more than 35,000 puppy registrations, followed by the cocker spaniel (22,943), springer spaniel (11,316), pug (8,071), German shepherd (7,954), golden retriever (7,117), French bulldog, border terrier (6,390), bulldog (5,769) and Staffordshire bull terrier (5,767). The Cavalier King Charles is in 12th place, just ahead of the shih tzu, which hails from China.

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