9 Dog Breeds Facing Extinction

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We love our dogs, but our preferences are changing. Many once-popular breeds are now rare, close to extinction. The American Kennel Club states, “Purebred dogs are the only living museum of mankind’s journey on Earth.”

There are reports of declining registrations for several breeds. Popular dog breeds like Labradors and French Bulldogs overshadow others, increasing the risk of extinction for less common breeds.

Thankfully, preservation efforts have saved many, but nine breeds are still critically vulnerable. Let’s discover these endangered companions.

Dogs on the Brink of Extinction

Here’s a run down on 9 of the once best-loved breeds now at risk:

1. Cardigan Welsh Corgi

There are two Welsh Corgi breeds: the Pembroke (favored by royalty) and the Cardigan. The Cardigan, known for its long tail and foxy face, is a small, old British herding dog.

While valued historically for cattle herding, its numbers have dwindled. Noted as near extinction in 2013-2014, with just about 300 registered, the Cardigan dog breed faced challenges due to modern farming.

They’ve recovered slightly but remain a vulnerable breed in the UK. Known for its deep bark, Cardigans were also guard dogs, which may seem less approachable.

2. Dandie Dinmont Terrier

dog breeds

Dandie Dinmont Terriers, a rare dog of terrier breed, were once active working dogs and skilled rodent hunters. Today, these furry companions are beloved family pets, known for their unique look that resembles a mix of a Dachshund and a plush bathmat.

While terriers like Yorkies are globally popular, Dandies have faced challenges, particularly during the World Wars when food rationing impacted breeding. This led to a decline in their popularity and a real risk of extinction for this specific breed.

3. Scottish Deerhound

deerhound irish wolfhound

The Scottish Deerhound, native to Scotland’s misty hills, has a rich history as a deer hunter and companion to Scottish nobility.

Despite their significance in Scottish heritage, they are at risk of extinction due to exclusive ownership and limited breeding.

Known for their long legs, grey shaggy coat, and friendly demeanor, these dogs excel in hunting red deer. Dedicated enthusiasts have strived to preserve the breed, but they remain a rare sight.

4. Smooth Fox Terrier

Dog Breeds Facing Extinction

The Smooth Fox Terrier, known as the ‘gentleman of the terrier world,’ is energetic and friendly, originally bred for Britain’s foxhunts. However, this breed has experienced a significant decline, the most dramatic in the Kennel Club’s 150-year history.

Since 1926, there’s been a 97% drop in yearly birth registrations, marking it as the breed with the largest decrease.

The dog breed boasts a charming personality, marked by an expressive face and a friendly nature. However, its popularity is overshadowed as social media tends to highlight more common breeds, leading to many others, including this one, being overlooked or even forgotten.

5. Gordon Setter

big shaggy dogs

Originating from Scotland and England in the early 1600s, Gordon Setters were bred for game bird hunting and are known for their reliability. They are distinguished by their silky coat and striking black-and-tan coloring.

In the United States, Gordon Setters are quite rare. Kennel Club reports indicate a 60% drop in registrations. A December 2018 report highlighted a significant decline in their popularity in Scotland over the past six years.

Similar trends have been observed in other Scottish breeds, with Scottish Terriers experiencing a 51% decrease and Bearded Collies 48%. As native breeds lose ground, international ‘trendy’ breeds like French Bulldogs have surged in popularity.

6. Irish Red and White Setter

irish mastiff

The Irish Red and White Setter, known as the “gentleman’s hunting dog” for its striking glossy coat, is now a Vulnerable Native Breed in the UK, with fewer than 300 yearly registrations.

Originally assisting falconers in the 1600s, Irish Setters were once the preferred gundogs of Irish aristocrats. However, by 1875, Setters’s popularity was overshadowed by the Irish Red Setter.

Despite efforts to revive interest, their numbers have continued to decline. Experts believe this drop is due to confusion with the more famous Irish Red Setter and concerns over high costs and their need for extensive daily exercise.

7. Irish Water Spaniel

extinct dog breeds

The Irish Water Spaniel, the tallest of the AKC spaniels, stands out with its distinctively curly coat and unique ‘rat tail.’ Its features include a liver-colored, water-resistant coat with tight curls, a tapered tail, and a head graced with a topknot of flowing curls.

Their decline in numbers is attributed to changing environments and hunting styles. Once suited for Ireland’s bogs, which are now scarce, their specialized coat requires extensive care.

This oily, high-maintenance coat, along with their barrel-shaped ribs, made these water dogs excellent in water.

8. Otterhound

hound dog breed

The Otterhound holds the title of the UK’s most endangered native dog breed. Originating from the Scottish Borders in medieval times, they were bred to guard the fishing industry from otters.

However, following the 2002 ban on otter hunting in the UK, the Otterhound’s numbers dwindled, recording the lowest puppy births among the twenty-eight vulnerable breeds.

Known for their gentle and calm nature, Otterhounds are great pets for adventurous owners. Yet, they might not be ideal for everyone, given their messy eating and fondness for muddy play.

9. Skye Terrier

terrier dog breeds

Originally bred for pest control, Skye Terriers later rose in popularity among English and Scottish nobility, becoming cherished companions and figures in British lore. Queen Victoria’s fondness for the breed, particularly those with pointed ears, further boosted their popularity.

However, in recent times, with the rise of designer dog breeds, Skye Terriers have faded into the background. The breed suffers from a hereditary form of fatal hepatitis, a challenge compounded by its small breeding population.

Despite these hurdles, passionate enthusiasts are striving to revive the Skye Terrier, hoping to restore its deserved recognition and appreciation.


Numerous dog breeds, each with unique histories and characteristics, face the threat of extinction. Factors like changing lifestyles, breeding challenges, and the rise of designer breeds have contributed to their declining numbers.

Preserving these breeds is not just about maintaining canine diversity but also about protecting our cultural heritage.

It’s crucial that efforts continue to safeguard these breeds, ensuring that future generations can appreciate the rich and varied tapestry of canine companions that have walked alongside us through history.

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