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Native Dog Breed Could Face Bleak Future

23 May 2017    14:16
Shelagh Walton, Chairman of the Irish Red & White Setter Club of GB, and her Irish Red & White Setter Stanley.
 

Number of Irish Red and White Setters hits 30 year low, raising concerns from the Kennel Club and Irish Red and White Setter Club of Great Britain that the breed could disappear for good in the UK.

  • The Irish Red and White Setter, which is on the Kennel Club’s list of vulnerable native British and Irish breeds due to its low numbers, saw a mere 63 puppies registered with the Kennel Club in 2016
  • The breed has seen a decrease of 70 per cent since its peak in 1995, nearly a 40 per cent decrease in the last three years alone, and is at the lowest it has been since 1984
  • Only two puppies have been registered in the first quarter of 2017 compared to 20 that were registered in the same period in 2016
  • Characterised by its distinctive red and white coat and friendly and loyal temperament, the breed could be the perfect choice for those looking to get a dog

New registration statistics released by the Kennel Club, which holds a registry for pedigree dog births, reveal that numbers of Irish Red and White Setters have fallen so low in the UK that the breed is at risk of disappearing from Britain for good.

There were only 63 puppy registrations for the breed in 2016, the lowest number in over 30 years, and a staggering 90 per cent drop in numbers registered in the first quarter of 2017 (only two puppies registered) compared to the same period in 2016 (20 puppies registered). 

Furthermore, there has been nearly a 40 per cent decrease in the last three years alone (2014 to 2016). 

The Kennel Club and Irish Red and White Setter Club of Great Britain believe this is because there is no public appetite for the breed, because people simply do not know it exists.  If numbers continue to decline, both organisations anticipate that the breed could eventually disappear entirely in the UK – in as little as a few years’ time.

Due to the breed’s low numbers, it is one of 29 breeds on the Kennel Club’s list of vulnerable native British and Irish breeds, which was devised to monitor those native dog breeds whose numbers are below 300 puppy registrations each year, which is thought to be a suitable level to sustain a population.

In comparison to the breed’s dwindling numbers, the Irish Setter, which has a distinctive all-red coat, has enjoyed far more popularity with the British public. While the breed has decreased by around 25 per cent in a ten year period (2007 to 2016), there is still an average of 940 Irish Setters registered per year, compared to only 92 Irish Red and White Setters.

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said: “The Irish Red and White Setter is a wonderful breed and would make a great family pet or working dog, but there is simply no demand for them because people do not know they exist, which means the breed faces a very uncertain future.

"People take for granted the wide range of pedigree dog breeds we have in the UK and overlook the lesser known ones in favour of some of the more popular or exotic ones simply because of how they look or because a celebrity owns one, which is a pity as they could be missing out on breeds that would be perfect for them.

“We hope that interest in the breed picks up and gives one of our native British and Irish breeds a revival before it is too late.  We would recommend that anyone thinking about getting a dog speaks to the breed club or to a Kennel Club Assured Breeder for the breed, to find out if it could be the perfect match for them.

“The Kennel Club and Irish Kennel Club have introduced various measures over the years to protect the health of the breed to help sustain them and protect their future, which the breed club embraced wholeheartedly, making their threat even more devastating as breeders have worked so hard to protect them and sustain them.”

Shelagh Walton, Chairman of the Irish Red and White Setter Club of Great Britain, said: “The reason that Irish Red and White Setters are in decline is that people simply don’t know they exist. The breed has always had that problem, which is such a shame because they are truly lovely dogs so we hope we can encourage more people to consider them as an option when choosing which breed might be right for their lifestyle.

“We need to find ways that we can protect the breed or they won’t be around for future generations to enjoy.  They are a friendly, affectionate and intelligent breed and we would implore people to consider them when choosing a dog to help give them the future they deserve.”

Anyone interested in finding out more about the breed and whether it might be the right one for their lifestyle should contact the Irish Red and White Setter Club of Great Britain (www.irishredandwhitesetterclub.com) or a Kennel Club Assured Breeder for the breed, who can be found here.

ENDS


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