Lockdown leaves pawprint on popularity of disappearing dog breeds as Irish Red and White Setter among those boosted during lockdown

  • New statistics suggest that puppy buyers opted for lesser-known breeds during the height of the pandemic
  • Queen’s favourite, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi, formerly a vulnerable breed in 2014, also now in the top ten fastest risers
  • Popularity of previous old favourites, like the West Highland White Terrier, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and Yorkshire Terrier, tumbles
  • Terrier takeover: Vulnerable native Terrier breeds see their numbers increase during lockdown
  • Discover Dogs, showcasing over 150 breeds – from the unusual to the most popular – returns to London to raise awareness of the diversity of breeds
With dog ownership skyrocketing over the past 18 months, the impact of lockdown on puppy buying may be even more widespread than expected, with certain ‘rare’ breeds seeing their numbers increase during the height of the pandemic.

New data released today (14 November) ahead of Discover Dogs by dog welfare organisation, The Kennel Club, shows that, since the start of the pandemic, there has been a rise in popularity of more unusual breeds, indicating that puppy buyers were using the time spent at home to research more unknown breeds that would best suit their lifestyle.

In fact, of the ten breeds which have risen the quickest in popularity during the pandemic, two are currently classed as vulnerable breeds; the Field Spaniel, and the Irish Red and White Setter, the latter of which was named as the most vulnerable breed in 2019. Additionally, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi, a vulnerable breed in 2014 (registering fewer than 300 puppies that year), also saw an increase of 65 per cent during the pandemic period, with more than 1,500 puppies registered during this time. A further two breeds in the top ten ‘fastest risers’ were the White Swiss Shepherd Dog and the Russian Toy, both newly recognised breeds in the last five years. Other unusual breeds that have seen a significant increase in popularity include the Cesky Terrier, Swedish Vallhund and the Slovakian Rough Haired Pointer.

Furthermore, certain previously sought-after British breeds decreased in popularity over the last year, including the West Highland White Terrier, Yorkshire Terrier and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, suggesting that many of those purchasing a puppy are starting to look beyond some of the more common choices. Indeed, these three breeds, all of which were in the top ten during the 2000s, have seen a substantial decline over the past 20 years, with both the West Highland White Terrier and Yorkshire Terrier having declined by 89 per cent since 2001, and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel by 65 per cent.

Meanwhile, many vulnerable British breeds saw a shift in their annual puppy registrations, with the Glen of Imaal Terrier, Kerry Blue Terrier, Sealyham Terrier, Lakeland Terrier, Skye Terrier, Manchester Terrier, Smooth Fox Terrier, Norwich Terrier and Miniature Bull Terrier all seeing their numbers soar during lockdown.

Bill Lambert, spokesperson for The Kennel Club, said: “We are all aware that many people turned to canine companionship during the pandemic, with Britain experiencing a boom in puppy ownership. However, the fact that many of these puppies being brought home are lesser-known, and even vulnerable, breeds is a welcome surprise.

“With many of us having spent much more time at home over the past two years, it appears that some would-be owners have been using this time to make more informed choices when purchasing a puppy, and choosing breeds that are truly right for them. There is such a rich diversity of breeds, all with their own unique characteristics, so we hope that potential puppy buyers in the future will continue to consider some of our more unusual four-legged friends.

“We would strongly encourage anyone thinking about getting a dog to come to Discover Dogs, where there will be more than 150 breeds to meet first hand and learn more about from their breed experts.”

Discover Dogs returns to the ExCeL London on 20 – 21 November. Tickets cost between £15 and £21 and under 8’s go free. More information and tickets are available on the Discover Dogs website.