It first rose to fame back in the 1920s as Snowy, the canine sidekick in The Adventures of Tintin.
But new figures reveal that the Wire Fox Terrier is now at risk of extinction.
The Kennel Club has shared new figures exclusively with MailOnline, showing how the breed has declined in popularity by 94 per cent since 1947.
Worryingly, just 281 Wire Fox Terrier puppies have been registered so far this year, with the breed now added to the ‘At Watch’ list for the first time in history.
‘The Wire Fox Terrier was the nation’s favourite breed a century ago, and it remained popular for decades, so it is very concerning to see such low numbers for a friendly and lively dog that was once beloved by royalty and families alike, and there is a real danger that we could lose them forever,’ said Bill Lambert, spokesperson for The Kennel Club.
It first rose to fame back in the 1920s as Snowy, the canine sidekick in The Adventures of Tintin. But new figures reveal that the Wire Fox Terrier is now at risk of extinction
The Kennel Club has shared new figures exclusively with MailOnline, showing how the breed has declined in popularity by 94 per cent since 1947
The Wire Fox Terrier was once a mainstay of traditional British foxhunts.
‘The Wire is thought to have come about from crosses of the Old English Terrier, smooth coated Black and Tan terriers of England, Bull Terriers, Greyhounds and Beagles,’ The Fox Terrier Club explains on its website.
‘They were used by hunters with the foxhounds to locate foxes when they went to ground by barking and so pinpointing the position of the fox for the huntsman.’
The breed gained widespread recognition after being featured as Snowy in the Tintin comics, which were first released in 1929.
Several celebrities could often be seen with their Wire Fox Terriers, with Albert Einstein, Clint Eastwood, and Lucille Ball all known to be fans of the breed.
What’s more, the breed was historically a Royal Family favourite during the Edwardian era.
King Edward VII and Queen Victoria are both reported to have owned one.
Registrations reached their peak in 1947, when over 8,000 puppies were born in the UK, making the breed one of the most popular.
However, since then, registration figures have dwindled.
Several celebrities could often be seen with their Wire Fox Terriers, with Albert Einstein, Clint Eastwood, and Lucille Ball all known to be fans of the breed. Pictured: Humphrey Bogart presents a silver dog statuette to Skippy, a Wire Fox Terrier, on March 11, 1938
Despite the falling numbers, the Wire Fox Terrier has consistently been one of the most successful at dog shows, including the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show (pictured)
In 2022, there were 359 Wire Fox Terrier puppies born in the UK, while this figure plummeted by 21 per cent this year, with just 281 puppies registered.
This means the breed is now likely to enter The Kennel Club’s ‘At Watch’ list, which monitors breeds with 300-450 puppy births a year.
‘The Wire Fox Terrier sadly [looks] likely to join this growing list,’ Mr Lambert said.
The Wire Fox Terrier was once a mainstay of traditional British foxhunts
‘We have such a rich diversity of breeds, so we urge the British public to find out more about the lesser-known breeds, especially those who are at risk of disappearing.’
Despite the falling numbers, the Wire Fox Terrier has consistently been one of the most successful at Crufts.
The breed won Best in Show on three occasions – in 1962, 1975 and 1978 – and has been in the running to take the title a further 12 times, including as recently as Crufts 2023.
Sadly, it seems these crowning moments have not translated into a boost for ownership outside of the event.
‘Crufts, taking place in March, will have a dedicated Discover Dogs zone, and we really want to encourage potential puppy owners to come along and not only discover more about over 200 breeds, including those that are vulnerable, but also talk to experts to find out if they are right for them,’ Mr Lambert added.
While the Wire Fox Terrier is likely to be added to the At Watch list, 34 dog breeds are in an even more vulnerable category, called the Vulnerable Native Breed List.
To be included in this category, the breed must have fewer than 300 registrations a year.
The list includes adorable breeds such as the Bearded Collie, King Charles Spaniel, Skye Terrier and Curly Coated Retriever.
‘Many native British and Irish breeds are at risk of disappearing from our parks and streets, simply because people don’t know they exist, or because they aren’t considered fashionable,’ The Kennel Club explained.
The 34 dog breeds at risk of being wiped out in the UK
- Collie (Smooth)
- Spaniel (Sussex)
- Spaniel (Field)
- English Toy Terrier (Black & Tan)
- King Charles Spaniel
- Skye Terrier
- Retriever (Curly Coated)
- Irish Red & White Setter
- Spaniel (Irish Water)
- Fox Terrier (Smooth)
- Norwich Terrier
- Dandie Dinmont Terrier
- Glen of Imaal Terrier
- Kerry Blue Terrier
- Lakeland Terrier
- Sealyham Terrier
- Lancashire Heeler
- Manchester Terrier
- Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
- Welsh Corgi (Cardigan)
- English Setter
- Spaniel (Clumber)
- Irish Wolfhound
- Spaniel (Welsh Springer)
- Gordon Setter
- Bearded Collie
- Bull Terrier (Miniature)