Greyfriars Bobby breed “as rare as the Giant Panda”


THE dog breed behind the Greyfriars Bobby legend has become almost as rare as the tiger and Giant Panda, according to experts.

The Skye Terrier is so under threat that just 44 puppies were born last year.

Worldwide between 3500 and 4000 Skye Terriers exist, according to figures from the American and Finnish breeders clubs.

Dogs have been brought into Scotland from Germany and Finland  Photo:Pleple2000

The world’s panda population stands at just 3000 wild animals, while the tiger population stands between 3062 and 3948.

The Kennel Club say the terrier is number four on their list of under-threat breeds and it’s feared the dogs could be extinct in just a few generations.

Breeders are now organising a publicity drive to try and save to breed, with a rally planned at Greyfriars Kirkyard, Edinburgh on Sunday.

Gail Marshall, secretary of the Scottish branch of the Skye Terrier Club, said: “The Skyes are out of fashion.

“At one stage every close would have one – Queen Victoria had a whole kennel of them and there was one under Mary Queen of Scots’ dress as she was led to her execution.

“But people are now going for these cross-designer breeds – the labradoodles and cockerpoos – and the Skyes are being forgotten about. We need to change that.”

Scots breeders have recently been forced to bring in dogs from Germany and Finland to ensure the gene pool does not become too small and it’s estimated around 300 puppies need to be born each year to ensure a healthy population.

Ms Marshall said: “we are unable to breed enough litters at the moment – the Skyes are endangered, on a par with tigers. Even if we could get the births to between 100 and 200, we’d feel far happier.”

Greyfriars Bobby is a famous example of the breed  Photo:Michael Reeve

However she warned that breeders should not produce puppies without ensuring there are enough owners.

She said: “We would not want people to be breeding for the sake of breeding and not having homes for the puppies. It could cause us all sorts of problems  if people start to breed dogs that are too close genetically.”

Cathie McLeod, who has bred Skye Terriers for 40 years, said: “None of us wants to be responsible for the demise of this animal so we are pulling together to turn things around.

“There is international cooperation now, every country  that has a Skye Terrier club is actively working together to raise the profile of the breed. Scottish people are unaware of the critical state the breed is in. We need to draw attention to that and raise awareness.”

A spokeswoman for the Kennel Club said: “The Skye Terrier is one of the most endangered native dog breeds in this country.

“Celebrities, popular culture and fashion play a big part in today’s society and unfortunately dogs are not immune from our fickle tastes.

“Exotic and foreign dog  breeds and handbag dogs have rapidly increased in popularity whilst the lesser known native breeds have suffered.”


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