New decade sees iconic 'Scottie dog' revival

The Scottish Terrier, more famously known as the ‘Scottie dog’ and the face of renowned brands such as Radley, has experienced a surge of popularity in the first three months of this year and is no longer at risk of dying out, according the Kennel Club.

The historic native breed, which even has a monopoly piece to its name, was last year at risk of disappearing from streets and parks around the UK after numbers fell so low that they were put on the Kennel Club’s ‘At Watch’ list for the first time.

However, new statistics released by the dog welfare organisation indicate a boost for the Scottish Terrier, with puppy registrations increasing by 92 per cent in the first few months of 2020 compared to the same period last year. This makes it the ‘top riser’ so far in this new decade.

Til Tovey, Chairman of the Scottish Terrier Club of England, said: “Scottish Terriers are affectionate, loyal and intelligent, so we are delighted that this heritage breed seems to be bouncing back from historically low puppy numbers. Of course responsible breeders will always place welfare first, not breeding simply to boost numbers, so we hope to continue to see a steady resurgence, with new owners taking time to research their decision.

“Scottish Terriers may be small but they certainly have big personalities and are simply iconic in this country – so they would be sorely missed if they were to dwindle as a breed. We hope this revival means the future is bright for our much-loved Scotties!”

Other native terrier breeds seem to be on the up this year too, with the likes of the Jack Russell Terrier – which found fame last year after the Prime Minister adopted a Jack Russell cross, Dilyn – increasing by 75 per cent, the historic Parson Russell Terrier up by 64 per cent, and one of the oldest of the terriers originating from the Scottish highlands, the Cairn Terrier, has increased in popularity by 58 per cent in 2020. In fact, of the top five breeds increasing the most in popularity in 2020, three are terriers.

There is worrying news however for another of Britain’s most recognisable dog breeds, the Old English Sheepdog, which in 2019 tumbled to historic lows, with just 317 puppies born, and has seen no sign of resurgence in 2020. The Kennel Club statistics show that there were just 53 puppy registrations of the breed, popularly known as the ‘Dulux dog’, in the first quarter of this year - this is a 46 per cent decrease on the same period last year.  

If the same level of decline continues throughout the year, the breed will enter the Kennel Club’s Vulnerable Native Breeds list – a list devised for those native breeds which have fallen below 300 annual puppy registrations and which could risk disappearing from our streets and parks. Registrations of the breed have decreased by 68 per cent in the last 20 years.

It’s a similar story for other larger native breeds, including the Bearded Collie, which has plunged in popularity by 61 per cent in 2020 compared to last year, with just 32 puppies registered in the first quarter of the year, and the Otterhound, which has had no puppy registrations in 2020 at all.

The shape of Britain’s top dogs certainly seems to be shifting in favour of smaller breeds, like terriers. Of the top ten decreasing the most in popularity since 2019, eight are larger breeds including old favourites like the Old English Sheepdog, the Dalmatian and the Pointer.

“Fashion and profile have the most influential impact on dog choice and we are pleased to see there is still a place in people’s hearts for some of our British vulnerable breeds, like the Scottish Terrier, which appears to be experiencing something of a revival,” says Bill Lambert, Kennel Club spokesperson.

“It is concerning though that some of those bigger native breeds, which have been so popular in the past, are truly at risk of disappearing if people don’t look beyond the obvious choices and explore the huge diversity of dog breeds we’re lucky enough to have in this country.”

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the Kennel Club has seen an unprecedented increase in people searching for puppies via its online ‘Find a Puppy’ tool. April saw a 141 per cent rise in searches for puppies compared to the same period in 2019. The most searched for breeds were Labradors and Cocker Spaniels, suggesting many of those looking for a ‘pandemic pet’ are only considering the most popular choices, rather than carefully thinking about which breed might be most suitable for their lifestyle.  

Bill continued: “There are more than 200 different dog breeds yet people are increasingly opting for the fashionable or obvious choices, even when they might have more time on their hands to find the right breed for them. Instead of making an impulsive decision to get a puppy, lockdown actually provides the perfect opportunity to carefully research your potential new four-legged family member so you can find your match – considering all the different personalities, needs and characteristics which of course vary hugely by breed.”

Refer to our Breeds A to Z for information about all 222 dog breeds.