Following Country Life's feature on the Lucas terrier last year, breeders have been unable to fulfil the demand for puppies.
The beguiling Lucas terrier is the latest endangered native breed to benefit from the ‘COUNTRY LIFE effect’. When our feature (originally published November 8, 2014) on the plucky little dogs, described by breed founder Sir Jocelyn Lucas as ‘grand little sportsmen’, came out in November last year, it was estimated that there were just 500 of them left in Britain. But, since then, breeders have seen a near-miraculous resurgence in interest.
‘Six months on, the puppy requests are still coming in—we had 350 at the last count,’ says Lucas Terrier Club chairman Jo Rodwell. ‘We can’t fulfil the demand, but we’re doing our very best!’ She feels the article has focused owners’ minds on the future of the breed they love. ‘It’s encouraged the people who have breeding- age animals to get on and breed from them. This year, we’ve had five new breeders who say they’ll do it again in 2015.’
Perhaps the most famous dog to have been championed by the magazine in recent years is the Lucas terrier’s close relative, the Sealyham. When we featured puppy Molly on the cover of the October 26, 2011, issue, the breed’s position was precarious, with just 49 puppies having been registered with the Kennel Club (KC) the previous year—during its 1920s heyday, the figure exceeded 2,000 each year. However, in the wake of our campaign to ‘Save Our Sealyhams’, the outlook is much brighter.
‘What’s crucial is that we’re getting demand from the right people,’ says Working Sealyham Terrier Club founder Harry Parsons. ‘COUNTRY LIFE readers make great owners. Without the magazine, we’d be years behind where we are now.’ His pack of working Sealyhams certainly seems to have resonated with the readership. ‘We still get people who ring up having seen the article. I’ve had people admit to pinching that issue from the doctor’s waiting room.’
Other embattled breeds whose cause COUNTRY LIFE has taken up include the Irish terrier (January 9, 2013) and the English setter (August 29, 2012). At the time of the feature going to press, the latter was on the KC’s At Risk register, which was set up to monitor breeds whose numbers have become critically low. However, since then, it has been demoted to the At Watch list, reflecting a healthy rise in registrations.
The KC continues to fight the corner of British breeds that, due to the prevalence of ‘trophy dogs’ on TV and in the cinema, are being unfairly overlooked by would-be owners who have their priorities all wrong.
‘One of our chief concerns is that people should do their research properly,’ says KC secretary Caroline Kisko. ‘Often, people buy breeds that are completely unsuitable for them, when, in fact, many of our native breeds, which have been forgotten about, would have been right.’ She points to the likes of the Siberian husky, which, although strikingly handsome, is totally ill-suited to life as a family pet. ‘Rescue centres are full to bursting with them. Looks are the worst reason to buy a dog.’