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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.
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 lghund gr) was in tenth place.
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 Gotlandstvare, 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).
A guide for the UK?
1989 Azawakh, Volpino Italiano.
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
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
'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 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
22-23 April - Stockholm Kennel Club Int Ch Show Saturday,
29-30 April - Wastmanlands Kennel Club Int Ch Show - in Vasteras Saturday,
27-30 July - Smalands - Olands Kennel Club & Blekinge Kennel Club Int Ch Show, RonnebyThursday,
Dogs Worldwide.com - This article has been reproduced courtesy of Harry Baxter
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