As countries go, Ireland just might have one of the longest runs of formal dog breeding in the world with breeds that were working dogs at one time or another, each, an integral part of Irish family life.
Sadly, of the nine native dog breeds (four terriers, three gun dogs, and two hounds), five are on the Kennel Club’s Vulnerable Breeds list, and two are “at watch” (or at risk). It came as good news, then, when Sean Delmar, President of the Irish Kennel Club – Gadharchumann na hÉireann, recently announced that the nine Irish Breeds have been granted National Heritage status by the Minister. He added, “This is a wonderful step in the future protection and development of our amazing Irish Breeds and comes after many years of representations by those committed to Irish Breed. On behalf of The Irish Kennel Club I would like to specifically acknowledge the commitment of the following who put there heart and soul into making this a reality. Cathy Delmar, Eddie Burke, Vincent Flannelly.”
As an aside, and a bit off topic is a tip of our hat to Ireland’s breed policy, as well. According to a paper prepared by the Department of Rural and Community Development relating to the control of dogs in Ireland issued this month (July 2019), no breed of dog is banned in Ireland. However, certain breeds are required to kept on a short, strong lead by a person over 16 years who is capable of controlling them; and to be securely muzzled whenever they are in a public place. These breeds are the Bullmastiff, English Bull Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Rottweiler, Bangdog, Doberman Pinscher, Japanese Tosa, Japanese Akita, German Shepherd Dog, and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. That said, England and Wales do have a list of four breeds that are banned: The Pit Bull Terrier, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino, and Fila Brasileiro. Our emphasis here, however, is to congratulate Ireland on recognizing the “museum pieces with a pulse” that their native dog breeds are.
A final note to anyone living in, or considering a visit to Minnesota next month between August 9 – 11, 2019: There has been a yearly gathering of Native Dogs of Ireland since 1985 at Minnesota’s Irish Fair. From 10-am-4pm, visitors can ask questions of the Owners and Breeders about their magnificent dogs, and once a day, they can be seen taking a turn around the grounds of the park ending in the “Parade of Dogs” at the children’s stage where spectators can hear the traditional uses of these dogs, and who owned them.
It’s an idea we hope more heritage breeders and owners will consider because our breeds are our best PR, but many of us aren’t doing enough to get them seen by the public. Octoberfest for German breeds, Renaissance Festivals for British and Irish breeds, the Hungarian Revolution Memorial Day for our Hungarian breeds, Highland Games for our Scottish breeds, Italian American Festival for (wait for it) – Italian breeds – the list goes on. Contact event organizers to ask about bringing your dog native to their celebration. By and large, well behaved dogs are seen as assets and attractions, and it goes a long way to teaching the public about purebred dogs! You might even inspire organizers to consider a “Parade of Native Dog Breeds” for their event.
We hope the Irish Kennel Club doesn’t mind our borrowing a photo from their website of their glorious native breeds