Native British dog breeds said at risk

Jan. 25, 2012 at 6:03 PM
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LONDON, Jan. 25 (UPI) -- Native British dog breeds are at risk of extinction, overwhelmed by the growing popularity of exotic dogs such as huskies and Chihuahuas, figures suggest.

One beloved breed, the English setter, has seen a steep decline in registrations over 10 years, the U.K. Kennel Club said, and has been added to the club's list of vulnerable breeds.

Meanwhile, breeds like the Chihuahua, popularized by celebrity owners such as Paris Hilton, saw huge increases in registrations last year.

"Celebrities, popular culture and fashion play a big part in today's society and unfortunately, dogs are not immune from our fickle tastes," Kennel Club Secretary Caroline Kisko said.

"The latest victim is the English setter, a wonderful and loyal breed, while the number of Siberian huskies has more than trebled in this country in the last 10 years."

British breeders of English setters say the decline is unfortunate.

"English setters have got a fantastic nature. ... I would say that they are sensitive, terribly affectionate, loyal and wonderfully elegant in appearance," Fran Grimsdell, who breeds setters in Norfolk, told BBC News. "They are good with children. They can be a bit willful ... but I love that."

The English setter's history stretches back at least 200 years to dogs used for hunting upland game birds.

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