As the Kennel Club warns the old English sheepdog faces extinction, consider rehoming if you are looking for a new best friend – whatever its ancestry
‘What breed is she?” is one of the questions I’ve learned to avoid in the dog park, along with “Ooh, what’s he rolling in?” and “Are you sure that’s play-fighting?”. The park seems to be populated entirely by saints who have spent inordinate amounts of time and money rescuing mutts from conflict zones. There’s no greater piece of canine one-upmanship than the casual reply: “Oh, she’s a Syrian street dog.” At which point I have to admit that I bought my dog as an eight-week-old pedigree puppy, a decision that seemed wise at the time, as neither my partner nor I had ever cohabited with one before, but that now makes me feel like a cross between a eugenicist and a child trafficker.
Clearly, pedigree dogs are an outmoded, ridiculous idea, so the news that the old English sheepdog – a perfect visual representation of the genre, with its utterly impractical silky mop – is now on the Kennel Club’s endangered “at watch list” might seem like a vindication for progress, but it’s hard to feel that way, looking into its … well, I presume it has eyes somewhere under all that hair. Other native breeds at risk of dying out include the sleek little Manchester terrier, and my beloved sturdy Scottie.