Breeds at risk of extinction could be saved through research

Wednesday, 29th February 2012

A number of dog breeds are currently at risk of extinction, including the Irish Red, the White Setter, the Manchester Terrier and the Lancashire Heeler.

Through research, the Kennel Club and the Animal Health Trust is working to tackle the high levels of inbreeding that can reduce fertility levels in these breeds.

As a result, the Kennel Club is now developing strategies to help breeders prevent the decline in genetic diversity.

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club secretary, said: "We have banned close matings amongst those dogs that are registered with us and we now want to use science to help breeders look at other solutions which might include out-crossing, importing dogs from abroad and using a wider variety of stud dogs."

She added that through the organisation's Mate Select service, breeders will be able to find out how many times a dog has been used as a stud and if he can be used in the future for breeding.

Judith Ashworth, Kennel Club breed health coordinator for the Otterhound Club, said that the research is crucial to developing strategies to help protect  the health of these breeds as well as their future.