There are plenty of dogs and each year about million of them die in kill shelters. That’s what makes it kind of unbelievable to discover there are actually some breeds on the edge of disappearing.
- Skye Terrier:
If you’ve watched the Starz Outlander series, you’re familiar with the Scottish Isle of Skye. Well, it is home to one of the oldest terrier breeds, one that dates back to the Middle Ages. Nowadays, however, the total population of Skye terriers is between 3,500 and 4,000, making it one of the rarer dogs in the world. In the United Kingdom, there were only 17 puppies of the Skye terrier breed registered in 2013 with their Kennel Club, and some experts say it could go extinct in our lifetimes.
This breed was developed to hunt otters, which apparently is no longer a popular pastime since it became illegal in the 1970s. There are about 1,000 such dogs left worldwide, and 350 of those are in the United States. In 2013 there were just 42 Kennel Club registrations. A 2011 article on the dwindling breed described it as being akin to an “heirloom rose or tomato.”
- Tibetan Mastiff:
A few years back, a Tibetan mastiff puppy sold for $200,000 in China, but a fickle public is sending this dog back to obscurity where it came from. It was recently reported that breeders are losing their investments (and their enthusiasm) with the dog, which is now selling for as little as $5 or, reportedly, being sent to the slaughterhouse for hotpot meat. The pure breeds originated in Tibet, Nepal, and Bhuta, where they still function as work dogs that live at an average altitude of 16,000 feet.
The British Harrier is a hare-chaser, but that sport has also been outlawed and the breed has fallen off to the level in which there are fears it will eventually disappear in England. Harriers in the United States are third-to-last in the AKC popularity list and are mostly kept as pets rather than hunters. Less than 100 are believed to be living here in the U.S.
- Irish Red and White Setter:
The Irish Red and White Setter came close to extinction in the early 1900s when the breeders tried to breed the white color out of them in favor of the sleek, popular red coat. The breed was revived in the 1970s, but it is still considered to be a somewhat endangered species of setter, with just 82 AKC registrations in 2013.