The dog that's almost had its day: English terrier that's as rare as a tiger


On the brink: Rare Sealyham terriers, which are described in Country Life magazine as 'cheerful companions'

They look so cute it is almost impossible to believe these dogs have had their day.
But the Sealyham terrier, once beloved of Hollywood stars and royalty, is now ‘rarer than a tiger’ and on the verge of extinction.
The staggering decline in the popularity of the little white dogs is highlighted in the latest edition of Country Life magazine as it sends an ‘SOS’ - that’s ‘Save our Sealyhams’ - message to its well-heeled readers.

Describing the breed as ‘both cheerful companion and efficient pest controller’, the article urges: ‘If we can save the rhino or tiger, we can surely save this useful and charming breed of dog.’

There are only 49 of the puppies registered in the country last year

The call to arms to rescue the British breed from oblivion comes as the Kennel Club revealed that just 49 Sealyham puppies were registered with it in the UK last year.
Almost incredibly, that is actually a very slight improvement on three years ago.
In 2008, only 43 were registered - an all-time low which placed Sealyhams in the bottom three most endangered breeds on the Kennel Club’s Vulnerable Native Breeds list.
It is all a very long way the days when more thousands were registered a year and everyone who was anyone seemed to have a Sealyham.
Owners then included Princess Margaret, Humphrey Bogart and Elizabeth Taylor.

Sealyhams were originally bred to catch rats, rabbits and other vermin, but Country Life says: ‘People soon discovered that, although the Sealyham might have the wit and courage to hold a badger at bay, he was also a very charming fellow to have at dinner.
‘At the peak of their popularity, in the 1920s, the KC regularly registered more than 2,000 puppies each year, but this did nothing for the integrity of the breed. After the rise came the fall.’
The Kennel Club has blamed the decline of the Sealyham partly on the popularity of ‘designer’ continental dogs including Shih Tzus.
Another possible reason was the ban on tail docking in 2006.
The dogs' tails were traditionally docked to the strongest point so farmers could pull them out of rabbit holes.
Even a Sealyham winning Best in Show at Crufts for the first time in 2009 could not stem the rot as the competition was not televised that year due to the BBC withdrawing support after exposing cruelty in the pedigree-dog world.
‘So an opportunity for publicity fell on stony ground,’ writes Tessa Waugh in article for this week’s Country Life, which is out today.
Reasons listed by the magazine why you should have a Sealyham include: ‘They make adorable, loyal family dogs, which are eager to please and are quite trainable.’
It adds that they are ‘aren’t neurotic’, have a ‘non-shedding coat’.
The one hope seems to be how passionate Sealyham owners are about promoting the breed.

source: dailymail