It’s a dog’s life for traditional canine breeds

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Dane Andrew/ZUMA Wire/REX/Shutterstock (9635723b)'Paris Hilton with Rascal the dog'Coachella Music and Arts Festival, Weekend 1, Indio, USA - 15 Apr 2018
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Dane Andrew/ZUMA Wire/REX/Shutterstock (9635723b)'Paris Hilton with Rascal the dog'Coachella Music and Arts Festival, Weekend 1, Indio, USA - 15 Apr 2018
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Celebrities and social media may be driving once-popular dog breeds into extinction, as new owners demand “fashionable” breeds inspired by famous owners.

With celebrity ownership boosting the popularity of French bulldogs and pugs, several once-loved breeds such as Yorkshire terriers have drastically fallen in numbers, with several facing the possibility of becoming extinct in the UK in the next 50 to 100 years, according to the report. Westies and bichon frises are also at risk of extinction.

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The report found that In 2008, there were just under 4,000 Yorkshire terriers bred in the UK, yet in 2017 there were only 876 – a radical fall of 78.1 per cent. If the numbers continue to fall at this rate, the study warned, Yorkshire terriers would disappear altogether by 2060. Bichon frises are also at risk, as their numbers have dropped by 72 per cent in the last ten years, from 2,757 to just 769.

If these trends continue, the study found, bichon frises may only be around until 2070.

Similarly, in 2008, there were just over 7,000 West Highland white terriers bred, but by 2017, the number of Westies had reduced by 71 per cent. Should this trend continue, the breed could disappear by 2080.

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Prit Powar, head of Direct Line Pet Insurance, said: “It is sad to think that some of the dog breeds we are familiar with in the UK may not exist in the next 100 years, if the trends we are seeing continue. Celebrity ownership undoubtedly influences the desirability of breeds and those that are unfashionable appear to be paying the price.” He added: “We would like to encourage prospective dog owners to consider one of these ‘at-risk’ breeds, in order to secure these loveable dogs’ futures.”

The reason behind certain breeds becoming more or less popular is debated among rescue shelters, as 77 per cent have recorded a rise in abandoned dogs in their care over the past year, and 86.2 per cent predict a rise of “designer dogs” in particular in rescue over the next ten years.

In 2016, singer Justin Bieber posted pictures of his new dog, a chow chow called Todd, but less than a year later, gave him away to his backing dancer. Meanwhile, Paris Hilton’s “designer dogs” live in their own scaled-down mansion, complete with chandeliers.

Ryan O’Meara, dogsblog.com co-founder, said: “Not every person who buys or adopts a popular breed or cross-breed will do so having been inspired by celebrities or social media. However, it is evident that changes in the popularity of certain breeds coincide with celebrity and influencer ownership.”