Number of pedigree dog breeds in the UK will rise to 220 as the Barbet, developed in France, gains official recognition and is set to wow the public at Crufts, the world’s greatest dog show, for the first time this year
Following the ‘entente chaleureuse’ established between Theresa May and Emmanuel Macron at last week’s summit in London, Anglo-French relations in the world of dogs also look set to become even more cordial after official recognition of an ancient French breed in the UK.
The Barbet, often known as the French water dog because of its readiness to take to water, will become the 220th pedigree dog breed in the UK this April when it becomes recognised by the Kennel Club, the UK’s registry body for pedigree dogs.
The breed will be putting on a special parade at this year’s Crufts, the world’s most famous dog show, held at the NEC in Birmingham from 8th-11th March, enabling the public to meet this breed for the first time.
The Barbet was originally developed to work alongside hunters and farmers around the lakes and estuaries of France as it will go into the water readily to retrieve fowl in all weathers, its coat providing necessary protection.
The first female Barbets arrived on UK shores from France in 2007, when two were imported, and the breed has since been developed here by a small group of enthusiasts who run their own club dedicated to the breed. Despite their small numbers so far in the UK, with only around 140 believed to be in the country to date, supporters of the breed believe they would make wonderful family pets due to their nature.
Barbets are intelligent, active and friendly dogs that are devoted and loyal to their owners. They are a medium to large breed and require good daily exercise and mental stimulation, becoming bored if they are left alone for long periods. Barbets are sociable with both adults and children and are good with other dogs. Like any breed, Barbets require proper training, socialisation, and experienced guidance. The Barbet has a thick, non-moulting curly coat that is commonly solid black, solid brown in varying shades or are either colour mixed with varying quantities of white.
The breed is only the tenth new breed to be recognised in the UK since 2008, following official Kennel Club recognition of the White Swiss Shepherd Dog and Russian Toy in 2017, the Braque d’Auvergne and the already well-known Jack Russell Terrier in 2016, and before that the Hungarian Pumi, Griffon Fauve de Bretagne and Picardy Sheepdog in 2014. Previously, the Turkish Kangal Dog and the Portuguese Pointer were officially recognised in 2013.
Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said: “The diverse mix of pedigree dog breeds in this country has grown slowly over time and we are now seeing many of the breeds that originated overseas becoming some of the most popular in the UK.
“The process of being recognised as a pedigree breed by the Kennel Club takes several generations of dogs, but once we recognise a breed it means that we know that it has a reliable lineage that will give people a dog with predictable characteristics in terms of temperament, health, exercise and grooming needs, which helps dogs to find homes with the right owners.
“The recognition of the Barbet will bring the number of breeds in the UK up to 220, which provides even more choice for those researching which breed might be the best one for their lifestyle.
“We are delighted to welcome the breed to Crufts for the very first time this year and the parade they will be taking part in will allow the public to meet them for the first time and speak to experts in the breed who can advise on what they are like to live with.”
Wendy Preston, from the New Forest, Hampshire, who imported the first two Barbets into the UK from France in 2007, said: “The Barbet is a truly versatile breed that loves being active but equally enjoys curling up on the sofa. We have Barbets that take part in dog agility and gundog work and even one that is currently being trained as a search and rescue dog. They are fantastic, loving dogs and we are thrilled that they have gained official recognition from the Kennel Club and will be introduced to the public at Crufts 2018.”
Crufts runs from 8th-11th March 2018. The parade of Barbets will take place at the show on Thursday 8th March. For more information, visit www.crufts.org.uk.