One of Britain’s most recognisable dog breeds, the Old English sheepdog, is in danger of dying out, warn experts.
Best known as the Dulux dog after featuring in TV adverts for the paint brand, the Kennel Club recorded just 227 puppy registrations in 2020, meaning the breed has been classed as vulnerable for the first time.
This is the lowest figure since 1961, the first year the Old English sheepdog was used in the adverts, and came as the club registered the largest number of puppies in a decade.
The popularity of the breed peaked in 1979 with nearly 6,000 registrations.
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Bill Lambert, a spokesman for the club, said: “It’s likely the numbers have dwindled over the years as a result of lifestyle changes as they require a lot of grooming and exercise and aren’t suitable for smaller living spaces.
“However, it is a breed that is faithful and trustworthy with an even disposition that can make lovable family pets for the right owners.”
There are 32 vulnerable native breeds, with seven more on the watch list.
Fifteen of these have increased in popularity over the past year, including Irish red and white setters, named Britain’s most vulnerable breed last year.
This year registrations increased by 113 per cent.
Lakeland and Kerry blue terriers also recovered by 54 per cent and 49 per cent respectively.
Bill Lambert added said: “The nation has gone through a huge collective lifestyle change and of course many have either become first-time dog owners or are looking to buy one soon.
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“With some people now deciding to move out of our cities towards more rural areas, there is hope for some of our larger and more vulnerable breeds yet.
“We have such a rich diversity of breeds in the United Kingdom, all with their own unique characteristics, so we really do urge the British public to find out more about the lesser-known breeds, especially those who are at risk of disappearing.”