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From 'It' dog to 'What is it?' dog: The Sealyham Terrier loses steam

February 5, 2009 |  5:46 pm

Sealyham Terrier From Alfred Hitchcock to Humphrey Bogart to Elizabeth Taylor to Cary Grant, old Hollywood loved the Sealyham Terrier.  (Grant even named his Archie Leach, after himself.)  Sealyhams were owned by royalty and among the world's most popular breeds.

But the Sealyham ("a proud, compact sturdy little dog that makes an ideal companion for young and old in today's modern world, adapting well to both city and country living" according to the American Sealyham Terrier Club's website) has fallen out of favor in recent years, according to the Independent:

...the breed is declining so fast that extinction beckons. More than 1,000 Sealyham puppies a year used to be registered with the Kennel Club but, in 2008, there were just 43.

Originally bred in Wales in the 19th century as a working terrier, the Sealyham appears to have become the victim of what propelled it to fame in the first place –- fashion. Between the wars, and up to the 1960s, it was almost a must-have accessory for your pooch-loving celeb, especially in the movie industry.... But fashions change. "These days Hollywood stars like little continental dogs such as Chihuahuas and shih-tzus in their handbags," said Paul Keevil, formerly of the Kennel Club's vulnerable breeds committee. "This is one reason why their numbers are dwindling."

Beyond just the evolving whims of dog buyers, why the fall from favor?  One theory suggests that increased regulation in Britain over the docking of dogs' tails may play a role.  (Sealyhams' tails are traditionally docked at a young age, the rationale being that short, stocky tails are better engineered to help owners pull their terriers out of the holes into which they're fond of following small prey animals.)

The AKC recently noted a few other breeds whose popularity has waned in recent years; among them were the Rottweiler, the Basset Hound and the Lhasa Apso. 

Any breeds you wish would lose their popularity?  Let us know in the comments.

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Matt Rourke / Associated Press

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