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Swedish Statistics

AGAINST a decade of decline in total registrations in Sweden, the number of breeds' registered there continues to grow. In the period 1990-99 registrations have fallen from 61,007 to 48,032. It is too early to say whether the increase over the 1998 total Ð 46,933 Ð marks the start of a reversal, but it is the first for ten years.

Conversely, the number of breeds and varieties has risen from 226 in 1990 to 279 last year. Of the breeds listed as newly registered in 1999, only two are first-time introductions, the third is the Great Japanese Dog Ð two registered Ð the breed created by the FCI dividing the Akita into two, the one, the Anglo-American, joining the pinschers, schnauzers, molossers and mountain dogs in Group 2, the other retaining the Akita name and its place with the spitz breeds in Group 5.

The two genuine first-timers are the South Russian Owtcharka in Group 1 (Herders) bringing the total to 39 breeds, and the large variety of the Mexican Hairless joining the middle-sized in Group 5 which includes breeds of primitive type. There was just one South Russian sheepdog and three of the Mexican breed.

If it were not the same in so many countries it would be surprising that the German Shepherd has held top place over the last twenty years, though numbers have dropped from 4,939 in 1981 to 2,938 last year. For almost as long, the Golden Retriever (2,532) has held second place. The top twenty breeds have changed remarkably little, only changing their relative positions. Sixteen of those there in 1988 were still there in 1999.

The Wire-Haired Dachshund, most popular of the hunting breeds throughout the decade, is now in fifth place, overtaken by the hunting spitz from the north of Sweden, the Jamthund, now fourth.Most easily described, as in Frank Jackson's Dictionary of Canine Terms, as 'Basically a bigger and heavier version of the more widely popular Elkhound'. 'Widely popular' has to read as 'outside Sweden' and 'elkhound' has to be defined as the grey dog shown in the UK. There are also the Norwegian Black and the Swedish White, the latter first registered in 1993. In 1999, the grey elkhound (Norsk Šlghund grŒ) was in tenth place.

Hunters' preferences
The Drever, the rather basset-like hound (35 cm) has dropped from fourth place in 1988 to sixth in 1999 and from 2,396 to 1,162 registrations, but nothing like the fall of the Hamiltonstšvare Ð from sixth to fourteenth and from 2,101to 715. The Finnish stšvare, in seventeenth place, has maintained a fairly constant position in the table and a less steady decline in registered numbers, 771 in 1988, 562 in 1994, 630 in 1999. Most likely, the reasons are to be found in patterns of ownership by Swedish hunters, not in the show ring, though even there - at Sweden's end of year event last December - Finsk Stšvare (8) outnumbered Hamiltonstšvare (2) four to one.

The group of scent hounds has grown from sixteen breeds in 1988 to twenty-eight last year, only accounted for, to a small extent, by FCI changes to group composition by the inclusion of the Dalmatian and the Rhodesian Ridgeback, and the introduction in 1991 of a separate register for the Gotlandstšvare, previously registered as Hamiltons.

The breeds not in the top twenty at the start of the decade, but listed now, are the Border Collie (16th, 660), Boxer (18th, 599), Shetland Sheepdog (12th, 892). Nine in the table are of British origin: 2nd Golden Retriever (2,532), 3rd Labrador (2,180), 8th CKCS (972), 11th Cocker Spaniel (694), 12th Shetland Sheepdog (892), 13th Flatcoated Retriever (815), 15th Rough Collie (710).

Whose perceptions?
Until 1994, the Swedish group of companion dogs was the one most at odds with both FCI and KC classifications. It included the Anatolian, Bearded Collie, Bergamasco, Bernese Mountain Dog, Lancashire Heeler, Leonberger, Neapolitan and Tibetan Mastiffs and a dozen more. Clearly it reflected the way the breeds were perceived by their owners and the placing was based more on sociological than cynological reasoning. In 1993, there were 49 breeds regarded as companions and 35 as Toys. Today, combined, they total 31. The administrative change does not reflect any change in the way in which the breeds are popularly regarded. Neither peak registrations in Bearded Collies Ð 724 in 1992 Ð nor their continuing decline, 400 in 1998, 359 last year, have anything to do with their working origins. The Border Collies rise to sixteenth in the top twenty relates to its popularity in agility, flyball, and as a pet. Only six were entered at the Nordic Winner in December, compared with 63 Bearded Collies, 29 Rough Collies and 19 Smooths. Dominant interest in the track changed the conformation of sight hounds. Will not the agility and flyball sports result in changes in the shepherding breeds and how long will it be possible for judges to continue to apply the standards written for working breeds to those which for many generations have been bred for the beauty ring?

A guide for the UK?
Does the experience of Sweden over the past decade provide any kind of guide to what we may expect here after the abandonment of quarantine? Leaving aside those already here, Swedish introductions have been:

1989 Azawakh, Volpino Italiano.
1990 Epagneul Francais.
1991 Gotlandstovare.
1993 Swedish White Elkhound, American Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Stabyhoun.
1994 Balconic Gonic (hound), Eurasier,Caucasion Owtcharka, Peruvian Hairless.1995 Portuguese Sheepdog (Cao de Serra de Aires),Dutch Shepherd Dog (Long-haired and Wire-haired varieties), Dogo Argentino, Cao de Bou, Sarplaninac, Tosa, Kromfohrlander.
1996 Berger Picard, Schapendoes, Spanish Mastiff, Thai Ridgeback, Sabueso Espanol.
1997 Appenzeller, Min Schnauzer Ð White, Fila Brasileiro, Portuguese Podenco, Chart Polski.
1998 Cane Corso.

Do they point the way ahead in the UK? Those who find the graceful conformation of the Saluki and the Sloughi, and their reserved nature attractive, might fall for the even more graceful Azawakh. The Volpino Italiano might be too like other white Spitz breeds to exercise individual appeal but the Swedish White Elkhound is probably sufficiently distinctive. Given the enormous popularity of the Bearded Collie and Old English, the Portuguese Sheepdog and the Dutch Schapendoes might be my odds-on favourites. The Sarplaninac could be too much like the Leonberger and the Estrela Mountain Dog to appeal. Some of the Swedish introductions are banned breeds and the Spanish Cao de Bou would surely run foul of those searching avidly for anything that could possibly be identified as Pit Bull type, who would not be concerned with, or even aware of its ancestry.

In two minds
I am ambivalent towards the South Russian Owtcharka, introduced to Sweden last year. At the back of my mind I have my first close encounter with the breed in any number. They, and the other owtcharkas (sheepdogs), Caucasian and Central Asian, were all guard dogs at the vast premises of the Moscow Meat Corporation, which is also a breeding centre for all three.

There is something about long-haired, drop-eared breeds and especially those which are white, which makes them appear more friendly than the short-coated and those whose faces are not concealed. Still, I was told I should be most wary of the South Russian, which would give least warning of attack.

Massive rapid power
On the other hand, since then, I have met the breed at the Amsterdam Winner where it has appeared at ease with strangers and not at all inclined to be aggressive, but, again, that had been in contrast with the two I met and wrote about in my report on the Brno show in Czechia a year ago. Two were tied outside when they were not being shown. Apparently sleeping, they sprang into instant aggression when either man or dog passed by. Perhaps my own ambivalence is best summed up in The Caucasus, official publication of Caucasian Outcharka International.

'South Russian Owtcharkas are not suited to live in a flat. Most like to be outdoors during the day. They 'patrol the fences' or lie down somewhere on a look-out spot. They look calm, at ease, fast asleep. But, once alarmed, they show massive, rapid power. '(Just as they did in Brno). 'They consider trespassers on their property as a threat to their world (or herd, as they often seem to think that we, his family, are the sheep they have to guard), and these threats have to be dispelled.'

Clearly, as my experience in Holland illustrates, the breed can adapt, but at what cost to the dog? Some breeds are to be admired in their traditional work and the terrain in which they carry it out, not to be transported to the confines of gardens and cities, show benches and rings.

'Most South Russian Owtcharkas try to take over leadership at least once or twice. If you react adequately and firmly, it will only happen once. That is why you do not give your puppy or immature South Russian Owtcharka privileges which you have to take back and never give him the impression that he can be dominant over you, feed him last, greet him last, never let him sleep on your bed.'

Mexican hairless are different
It is quite the opposite with the Xoloitzcuintli, the Mexican Hairless, Sweden's other introduction last year. According to one prominent breeder quoted in A Celebration of Rare Breeds, Cathy J Flamholtz, OTR Publications, 1991) 'Most Xolos sleep in their masters' beds, sit on furniture and have free access to the house Ð and why not, when they behave so nicely?'

It takes all sorts. Not for me the rubber hot water bottle feel of the skin, but the Standard - in particular - is very striking, a powerfully athletic dog, reputedly very apt to obedience training. Some 'hairless' dogs do have 'a fine wisp on the skull, nape, feet and tip of tail. Total hairlessness is preferred. Coated Xolos have smooth, short coats. Their tails are covered with hair. Coated dogs have normal dentition and this makes them invaluable in breeding programmes. Chinese Crested breeders have found, by making use of coated dogs in their breeding programmes, they have been able to improve the teeth of their hairless dogs.'

Appointments in Sweden
The popularity of British breeds has its carry-over in the appointment of UK - and Irish - judges overseas. Only rarely are they faced with long lists of little known breeds, each with only one or two entries. Appointments in Sweden already published are as follows:

22-23 April - Stockholm Kennel Club Int Ch Show Saturday,
Groups 2, 3, 4, 6, 8.
Monika Everett Monks - Golden Retrievers.Sunday,
Groups 1, 5, 7, 9, 10.O.
M. Hunt - Irish Red Setters.

29-30 April - Wastmanlands Kennel Club Int Ch Show - in Vasteras Saturday,
Groups 2, 4, 6, 8, 10.
Mrs Pamela Cross Stern - Boxer and Group 2
Sunday, Groups 1, 3, 5, 7, 8.
Mrs Pamela Cross Stern - Bouvier des Flandres, Briard, Old English and Shetland Sheepdogs, Dvargspets (Pomeranian) and Group 1.

27-30 July - Smalands - Olands Kennel Club & Blekinge Kennel Club Int Ch Show, RonnebyThursday,
Groups 1-10.
Ann Ingram (Ireland) Affenpinscher, Min Schnauzer, Schnauzer, BIS. Brenda Banbury - Vastgotaspets (Swedish Vallhund), Chinese Crested, Pug.
Group 9.
Anthony Moran - CKCS, Chihuahua, French Bulldog, King Charles, Maltese.Friday, Groups 1-10.
Brenda Banbury - Bearded Collie, Schipperke, Bulldog, Pekingese. Terry Nethercott - Rottweiler, Tibetan Spaniel. Ann Ingram (Ireland) Cairn, Glen of Imaal, Lakeland, Skye, WHWT. Michael Forte (Ireland) Belgian Shepherds (all breeds), Border Collie, Bouvier des Flandres, Briard, Komondor, Lancs Heeler, Maremma, Nixinny, Puli, Japanese Chin. Anthony Moran (Ireland) Lhasa Apso, Shih Tzu.
Saturday, Groups 1-10.
Brenda Banbury - Australian, Dandie Dinmont, Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers. Michael Forte (Ireland) CKCS, King Charles, Tibetan Spaniels. Anthony Moran (Ireland) Poodles (all four sizes). Terry Nethercott - Pug, Peke, Papillon, Phalene.
Sunday, Groups 1-10.
Brenda Banbury - Min Schnauzer, Schnauzer. Michael Forte (Ireland) Silky and Yorkshire Terriers, Shih Tzu. Ann Ingram (Ireland) Flatcoated and Labrador Retrievers. Anthony Moran (Ireland) Boston Terrier, French Bulldog, Pekingese, Tibetan Spaniel.

Dogs - This article has been reproduced courtesy of Harry Baxter

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