As a Gordon Setter lover I believe there has been a call to action that has been largely overlooked or ignored. I’m going to introduce you to that call if you’ve not heard it, or reintroduce you to the reasons why there is a call if you’ve lost focus or need more incentive to find your voice and play your part.
Since 1992, the AKC registry has experienced momentous losses in dog registrations and the numbers are alarming. AKC’s peak year for registrations was 1992 with approximately 1.5 million dogs registered. In 2010, the total annual AKC dog registrations were 563,611. This was a staggering 63% decrease in annual dog registrations for the AKC, and the decline has not stabilized since then.
In 2010 the AKC registered 535 Gordon Setters, approximately .095% of the total AKC registrations for all breeds. If we simply assume the breed has remained in a similar popularity ranking over that 20 year period, for 1992 we could estimate that AKC registered about 1,425 Gordon Setters. Now compare 1992 registrations of 1,425 to the 456 registrations of 2014 and we discover our breed has experienced a decrease of 969 Gordon Setters, a 68% decline in the number of Gordon Setters in the AKC registered population in 22 years. Last year, only 32% of the 1992 population were registered.
Several issues have been suggested as having an impact on the decline in AKC registrations that would also adversely affect our breed:
- AKC is experiencing more competition from other purebred dog registries and event organizations such as the United Kennel Club (UKC)
- Economic downturns impacting the funds available to purchase purebred dogs. (rescue pets are less expensive to obtain)
- Legislation restricting dog breeding and dog ownership at local levels.
- Unfavorable publicity in the form of marketing campaigns by Animal Rights Groups and Rescue/Shelter operations regarding “breeders” who compete for a market share of new pet owners. “Adopt Don’t Shop” type of messaging, even informational publications like the AHA Pet Population Fact Sheet implies a negative message regarding the purebred and the incidence of cancer. Would you buy a purebred dog after finding them listed here specifically by breed? Cancer scares everyone…
From the American Humane Society – US Pet population Fact Sheet
62% (72.9 million households) own some type of pet
Most popular type of dog – Mixed breed 53% of all U.S. Dogs
Source of dogs: Family/friends 38%, Shelter Rescue 22%, Breeder 16%
Purebred dog registration has declined in the past decade with “designer dogs” becoming more popular (e.g., Cocker Pug, Labradoodle, Cockapoo, etc.). Pitbull-type dogs have also increased in popularity over the past decade.
Cancer is the #1 cause of death in dogs over age two. 1 in 2 dogs will acquire cancer, 1 in 4 will die from cancer.
Golden retrievers – 60% will die from cancer
Certain breeds of dogs are at-risk for certain type of cancer examples:
Greyhounds – Bone cancer
Scottish terriers – Bladder cancer
Pugs – Mast cell cancer
Bernese Mountain Dog – Histiocytic sarcoma
Boxer – Brain cancer
Collie – Nasal cancer
Chow Chow – Stomach cancer
Golden retrievers – Hemangiosarcoma and Lymphoma
Labrador retrievers – Hemangiosarcoma and Lymphoma
Poodles – Mammary tumors (incidence greatly reduced in dogs neutered prior to puberty)
There is a call to action to be heard here, for those who want to protect and preserve the Gordon Setter, and that call goes out to all who own and love them. I am not advocating that we begin to mass produce Gordon Setters by indiscriminate breeding and one should never interpret this data, nor my words, to mean such action should take place. The AKC however, is taking appropriate action steps to improve the reputation and increase the interest in purebred dogs and we can follow their action plans and their lead. The AKC cannot be successful on their own though, it will take the support of each individual who loves a Gordon Setter and that includes pet owners, breeders and hunters alike. We each need to heed the call to take action and do our own small, yet vital part, to promote purebred dog ownership and the benefits of owning a purebred. We need to join and support our National club and regional specialty clubs to do any small part there that we are able to contribute. At the next level the breed’s parent club, the Gordon Setter Club of America, also needs to visit this call to action to ensure that we, as an organization, are doing our part on a larger scale to promote the breed, interest in the sport, the preservation of our breeders and the development of a future generation of breeders.
Sally Gift, Mesa AZ