Big vs small: Smaller dogs come out on top over larger iconic breeds

Small dog breeds often favoured by celebrities are taking over as the UK’s top dogs, with the likes of the Dachshund and the Queen’s favourite, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi, soaring in popularity - whilst large dog breeds including old favourites such as the Old English Sheepdog decline.

New statistics released by the Kennel Club show that many small dog breeds have surged in popularity in the last six years with other larger dog breeds trailing somewhat behind, with significantly fewer being registered with the not-for-profit organisation.

Seven of the dog breeds which have risen the most in popularity in the first three quarters of 2018, compared to the same period in 2017, are smaller breeds. This includes the Schnauzer, which has risen the most out of all dog breeds – by 47 per cent. Other breeds in the top ten biggest risers for 2018 include the Chow Chow (43 per cent), the Long Haired Dachshund (26 per cent) and the Queen’s favourite, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi (25 per cent). The Pembroke Welsh Corgi has been a success story in recent years – rising 39 per cent in the five year period 2013 to 2017 which has meant that it has come off the Kennel Club’s ‘At Watch’ list.

Amongst the ten breeds declining the most in popularity so far this year are the Alaskan Malamute (34 per cent), Bearded Collie (30 per cent), the Giant Schnauzer (21 per cent) and the Welsh Springer Spaniel (18 per cent).

The changing shape of Britain’s dog breeds have been taking place over a longer period, with nine out of the ten dog breeds that have seen the biggest increase in the last five years (2013-17) being mainly small breeds.

During this period, the French Bulldog, owned by celebrities including Lady Gaga and the Beckhams, has increased the most in popularity, by a staggering 342 per cent. However, the breed hasn’t made it into the list of breeds increasing the most in popularity so far this year, indicating a slight change in pace to the breed’s astronomical climb in the popularity charts. This is followed by the Smooth Haired Dachshund (292 per cent), the Sealyham Terrier (146 per cent), Havanese (111 per cent) and the Wire Haired Dachshund (107 per cent). By contrast, larger breeds have significantly declined in registrations, including the Akita (57 per cent), Great Dane (24 per cent) and Boxer (16 per cent).

There is some good news for large breeds which are amongst those whose popularity has plummeted so much over the years that they have landed in the Kennel Club’s list of Vulnerable Native Breeds for native breeds that number fewer than 300 annual registrations. The Old English Sheepdog, which has declined in popularity by 17 per cent between 2013 and 2017, has seen a small three per cent increase so far this year, compared to the same period in 2017. Similarly, the English Setter which declined by 20 per cent between 2013 and 2017, has seen a slight resurgence of 8 per cent so far this year. However, others such as the Bearded Collie continue to decline with a 30 per cent decrease so far this year.

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, commented: “In recent years we’ve seen a real increase in the number of small breeds registered with the Kennel Club compared to larger breeds.

“Popular small dogs such as the Miniature Dachshund, the French Bulldog and Pomeranian have all seen a significant rise in puppies registered, whereas the likes of the Bearded Collie, Old English Sheepdog and English Setter have dropped in popularity over the years.

“This can be down to a number of reasons, such as celebrity ownership or advertisers using breeds in film and television, which can influence the public to purchase a puppy due to its celebrity or fashionable status rather than because breed suits their lifestyle. City lifestyles are also a huge factor in the changes in popularity, as smaller dogs can be a good fit for urban life. But people should not make the mistake of thinking small breeds require less exercise and stimulation, as smaller dogs such as the Miniature Bull Terrier and Toy Poodle need up to an hour of physical and mental stimulation a day to keep them happy and healthy.

“Buying a dog is a lifetime commitment and they should not be purchased on a whim or to go along with the latest trend. Those looking to buy a puppy should go the Kennel Club website to find a responsible breeder, such as a Kennel Club Assured Breeder to find the right breed for their lifestyle.”

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