The English setter, a dog breed which has survived for more than 400 years, is on the brink of extinction because of the fad for smaller dogs.
Only 234 English setter puppies were registered with the Kennel Club last year – a decline of 33 per cent on 2010 which took the breed below the 300-registrations threshold for being considered endangered. Registrations of the breed have fallen by almost two-thirds over the past decade.
The drop is a result of owners shunning less common, more traditional breeds for fashionable and exotic dogs, such as those owned by celebrities including Paris Hilton.
Numbers of native breeds are tumbling, with 25 regarded by the Kennel Club as in danger of extinction. They include the Sealyham, Dandie Dinmont and Kerry blue terriers, the King Charles spaniel and the deerhound. The most endangered breed appears to be the otterhound, with only 38 registrations in Britain in 2011.
Exotic breeds, on the other hand, are flourishing, with numbers of smooth and long-coated Chihuahuas rising from 5,397 in 2010 to 6,121 last year. Another "toy" dog, the pug, has risen from 5,726 registrations in 2010 to 6,221 last year, while the miniature Schnauzer is up from 5,651 to 5,924.