Close to Extinction
Former Royal Favourite Dog Close To Extinction
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PRINCESS MARGARET SIR ALFRED HITCHCOCK
A rare breed of dog, that used to be popular among Royalty, is now teetering on the edge of extinction.
Sealyham Terriers, which were initially bred for pest control, are now rarer than endangered species like giant pandas and tigers.
Their popularity soared in the 1920s, when the Kennel club registered more than 2,000 puppies every year.
The dogs, often described as intelligent and loyal, were favourites with celebrities like Elizabeth Taylor, Cary Grant and Alfred Hitchcock.
Their gregarious personalities and boundless energy, meant they remained sought-after for decades, and in 1959 a Sunday newspaper reported: "A notice has been posted in Clarence House and Windsor Castle giving explicit instructions that when Princess Margaret has breakfast in bed, her two Sealyhams must be brought to the room along with her breakfast tray."
But, last year only 49 were bred in the UK, putting them on the Kennel Club's top three most endangered native breeds list.
The dramatic change is attributed to new fashions, the availability of a greater number of breeds and the decline of ratting as a form of vermin control.
Now the founder of the Working Sealyham Terriers Club, Harry Parsons, is campaigning to raise their profile and to try and save the blood line from dying out.
"If nothing is done Sealyhams will be the dog that's lost. We can't recreate this dog. And with them we would lose a bit of merry old England," he said.
Sealyham Terriers are believed to be a mix of the now extinct English White Terrier combined with Dandie Dinmont, the Fox Terrier, the West Highland, and the Corgi.
Vet Alison Hawkes is baffled by their waning popularity. She said: "There isn't an hour that goes past that they don't make you laugh.
"They're wonderful, healthy, stocky dogs - prepared to do anything.
"They'll sit on the sofa or you can take them on a 10 mile hike and they'll love it and come with you and enjoy that too."
Another passionate fan is Finny Muers-Raby, who grew up with the breed, and is eager to help to preserve them.
"Everyone flies the flag for a tiger or a bear, but this poor little British dog is being ignored."
GARY COOPER & HIS WIFE