Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Kennel Club Protects and Preserves Failure

The U.K. Kennel Club is trying to protect and preserve failure -- dog breeds that were created in the last 130 years or so that have simply failed to catch on.

The numbers above, show the number of puppies of select "endangered" breeds that were registered with the Kennel Club last year.

Those of you with an eye might notice the greyhound on the list.

What? The greyhound is NOT endangered -- they are a dime a dozen!

Ah yes, but you are talking about non-registered greyhounds. You are talking about working greyhounds. You are talking about ruffians -- dogs that either hang out at the track all dog long, or else poach their dinner in the fields.

You are not talking about -- sniff, sniff -- pure bred greyhounds. Greyhounds with papers. Dogs with pedigrees. Dogs with enough money that that they do not have to work.

Work is so common.

The Kennel Club is not concerned with common dogs or working dogs. They are concerned with noble dogs. Dogs with pieces of paper. Dogs with registrations.

And with these dogs we have a crisis.

It seems that no one wants a Kennel Club greyhound. If you ask folks about it, everyone says the same thing: the Kennel Club dogs are expensive and complete shit as workers go.

Why buy a poorly made Kennel Club knock-off of the real thing when the real thing is still well made and available anywhere, and can run like the wind?

You wouldn't, and neither would anyone else, it seems.

Much the same story is true for the rest of the dogs on the list. The miserable Glen of Imaal Terrier is a dog far too large to work, and its legs are a bowed mess, as the above picture shows. And let's not talk about the genetic diseases here!

The Skye Terrier is another dog that needs to be pushed off the cliff -- nothing but a dust mop attached to a never-ending veterinary bill.

The Manchester Terrier is a dog that never offered anything special to the world. Any dog can rat. The Manchester is a breed with a distinction without a difference -- a dog dealer's dog if ever there was one.

As for Field Spaniels, are any registered dogs actually found in the field? Apparently not. Are any registered Smooth Collies actually found with a shepherd and his sheep? Apparently not.

Hmmmm. As I recall, people are still shooting birds in the field, and they are still herding sheep. What's up?

I will pretend no expertise on shooting dogs and sheep, but I can tell you that no registered Sealyhams are found in the field, even though there's no shortage of folks digging to fox, badger, groundhog, and raccoon in the U.K., U.S,. Canada and the rest of Europe. The work is still being done, but the heavy-bodied, soft-coated, and over-large show Sealyham is not being asked to do it.

Hmmmmm. . . .

Could the problem be with the Kennel Club standard and the Kennel Club rosettes to ruin system?

Heaven forbid! No!

The problem must be the foreigners!

Those damn foreigners are taking away jobs from British dogs! Or at least that the's train of nonsense being pushed on the good reporters over at The Independent newspaper.

But there is good news says the Kennel Club and the sages at The Independent:

"That most British of British breeds, the bulldog, is going from strength to strength, according to the Kennel Club figures."


A bow-legged, barely walking, always farting, hardly breathing, skin-disease plagued dog is being heralded as "the most British of British breeds."

And the Kennel Club is celebrating this "achievement?"

Say no more. Which way to the final exit?



Heather Houlahan said...

Errrr ... It gets better.

The photo of the "smooth collie" is clearly of either a smooth-coated border collie (no shortage of them) or a mixed-breed dog. Whatever it is, it isn't a "smooth collie" as defined by the KC show ring. Google image search if you are in doubt.

The photo of the "Manchester terrier" appears to be a coonhound. Ear set. Ticking. Apparent mass and build.

That greyhound just might be a whippet after all ...

This panty-twisting over the demise of proper British breeds is the flip side of the same over "dangerous" foreign breeds. Staffordshire terriers (proper BRITISH terriers) are "doughty." American Staffordshire terriers eat babies, and are banned, confiscated, and slaughtered on suspicion of existing. (They all carry guns, apparently, just like the Yankees on the telly.)

If the KC is so concerned about the influx of foreign breeds, they could do much by just not "recognizing" the foreign invaders. But that would cut into the revenues and might leave working breeds of foreign origin still-functional. Mustn't have that. Fads and spikes are a perennial source of "buzz" and revenue for show-dog registries.

Anonymous said...

My brother has a Bulldog. It's a marvelous dog. Smart, energetic, athletic. All said, the most amazing dog I've ever seen, save for my own little JRT (who's all of the above, only more so).

The catch, of course, is that his is an American Bulldog - like the JRT and the Border Collie, a breed that escaped the ruinous notice of the kennel clubs.

Anonymous said...

The "Manchester Terrier" in the picture looks like a Black and Tan Coonhound!!

Daniel Gauss said...

Yup. That pretty much says it about the AKC greyhound as well. Hare courser? The hare laugh as they run away...

Daniel Gauss said...

Now you've done it Patrick... you've upset both of the people doing "work" with their field spaniels ;)

Marie Mc Neill said...

Irish Glens of course are not a British Breed,they are Irish. 'Show' glens barely resemble 'The old Irish type Glen' in fact even less than KC Bassets currently resemble hunting Bassets. See my blog & website for further details. Registration for the Glen in 1930's & now the Jack with the IKC is worst idea ever! JRT's always a bit mixed, glens the same. But now we must make do with what we got. Please God,keep the fell & patt safe. Excellent blog, Mr Burns, always an education, often a challenge and usually unmissable ;-)

Sean said...

The working spaniels in the United States have worked a fairly neat trick. As the AKC has a lock on the working dog trials, those breeding working dogs have avoided any show titled dog for so long that there are really two breeds registered under the same name. No working dog could compete in a show (not enough hair and ears) and one NEVER sees a show dog at a field trial. Compare this dog:
with this dog

Which one do you think a pheasant would fear?

Unknown said...

Funniest looking Manchester Terrier WE'VE ever seen. As far as the 'any dog can rat' comment goes... THAT explains why a toy Manchester Terrier named Billie is recorded as killing 10 rats in 12 minutes... guess the other terriers in the competition (held in 1827) were having an off day.

Anonymous said...

Well, for the most part, I'm in agreement. It should be noted that the UK Sealyham statistics are still admirable compared to the US. Believe it or not, there are still Sealyhams utilized for working and I've had 2 Sealys under 20 lbs, both with conformation chs.

PBurns said...

If you have a Kennel Club-registered Sealyham that works below ground, send a picture of the dog in the field (wearing a locator collar) to me at

Most of the so-called "Sealyhams" I know of that work in the UK are unregistered cobby-looking Jack Russell terrier crosses. One man has dogs that look like poodle crosses! I'm not saying working registered Sealyham's don't exit -- I just want to know where they are! I have looked and asked before and come up blank. The KC dog is pretty far removed from the workers of 70 years ago. Even Jocelyn Lucas gave up on the dog!


PBurns said...

I am assuming, packet&amp jericho, that you have neve been ratting? I have, and can assure you that ANY dog can rat.

That said, if you are talking about the old light-weight record holder (allegedly), you should know:

1) His name was Billy, not Billie;

2) He lived in 1822, about 35 years before the first dog show, about 50 years before any Kennel Club was created anywhere, and about 100 years before there was a Manchester Terrier breed club of any sort. There is no reliable record of the dog's feat. Some say he killed over 100 rats in over 6.5 minutes, not 10 rats in 12 minutes (which would have been a pathetic peformance). Other records say he weighed 26 pounds and killed 100 rats in 5.5 minutes;

3) Killing this many rats in a rat pit is not quite as hard as it sounds as square rat pits allowed the dogs to simply pick off rats at the back of the corners. Billy was a FAST dog, but not necessarily a very tough one, and;

4) Billy was not a Manchester terrier, but a Black and Tan. And no, they are not the same dog. Black and Tan terriers still exist, and they are not the smooth dogs of the show ring, but the rougher dogs we now know as working Fell Terriers. A Welsh Terrier is closer to the breed that Billy actually was. The smooth coated dogs we see today are bred off from hounds and toy dogs. None of the pictures you see of rat pits actually date to Billy's time, and some of the pictures of Billy (such as this one ) actually show him to be a Jack Russell terrier!

As for what Manchester terriers look like, they come in two sizes (toy and standard), and not all ears are taped up as in the U.S.
What appears in the newspaper picture, is probably a Black and Tan Coonhound, though a Standard Manchester with button, or untaped ears, looks much the same albeit with a smaller ear and body.

A lot of romance and nonsense is said about the rat pis. In reality they were very small rings and they were very small sport with dogs matched by weight against a known quantity of rats over time. Times from match to match are meaningless, however, as every pit was different in size and material, and a round pit was MUCH harder to work than a square one.

All the rat pits disappeared before the Kennel Club came into existence, by the way. The last rat pit in in New York City (and probably the last rat pit in the USA) was run by Kit Burns and disappeared in 1870. His black and tan terrier (100 rats in 6 minutes and 40 seconds) was stuffed over the mantle.

P. Burns

Anonymous said...

Seems to me we may be missing an important point when it comes to dicussing the Manchesters of today. It is documented that Manchesters excelled in the past at keeping vermin under control on English farms, in pubs etc., besides being successful in the rat pits.
Today the skills that Manchesters used in the past are now transfered to dog sports such as fly-ball and agility in which the Manchester excells.
Many fanciers here in North America enjoy tremendously the team work involved with their dogs in these sports and the Manchesters certainly do well in these areas.
They also appeal to many people because of their short, glossy black easy to care for coat and that they make great companions.
No they may not be running around chasing mice and rats today (think we rely more on mose traps for that now :-)), but the Mancester does make an amiable and fun companion.
It is too bad his country of origin is not supporting him to the extent he is making a steady comeback here.

PBurns said...

Documented by whom? The breed did not exist until afer the era of the rat pits were long over as previusly noted.

And, for the record, rat traps and rat poison are a LOT older than this dog, so outside of the rat pits and the show ring, it has never had a purpose outside of companionship! See posts on this blog about vermin control by poison and trap; I know a bit about this.

And yes, a Manchester IS a pretty easy coat to take care of. That said, I am not sure a smooth coat offsets the health problems with this dog. See >> for more on that (33 percent of a population of 117 dogs with average age of 4 years and 7 months had one or more health problems, and one in five Machester owners will have to deal with cancer in their dogs).

I do not give too much weight to the notion that a Manchester is special because of flyball or agility; any dog can do those sports (and every dog does, more or less).

Nothing wrong with a Manchester as a pet, by the way; they just bring nothing special to the table. That, of course, is true for most Kennel Club dogs who are simply bred as pets.