The Demise of the Purebred Dog

A friend of mine made a recent comment that stuck with me.  She had visited a city park recently, a place which she had frequented for many years, and a place where city dwellers always took their dogs for daily outings.  She casually mentioned the dogs she saw and how so many of them now were mixes and seeing a purebred dog of any breed was the exception, whereas years ago the majority of the animals were purebred dogs representing various breeds.  This got me to thinking - are we truly becoming a nation of mutts?  Sadly, it would appear so.  The Animal Rights (AR) movement, backed by the very deep pockets of the Humane Society of the United States, People for the "Ethical" Treatment of Animals, the North Shore Animal League, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Best Friends Animal Sanctuary and various regional Humane Societies and rescues - many of which are quite wealthy and all with an agenda to capture market share of the animal industry and by doing so, driving breeders out of business, have succeeded in placing a huge guilt trip on the American public, shaming them into adopting, rather than purchasing the purebred dog of their choice.

The AR movement has made major inroads into outlawing and driving respectable breeders and retail pet stores out of business all across the country.  They approach local officials with a pre conceived agenda filled with dated inaccuarcies and many times outright lies and brainwash them into their way of thinking.   Without an opposing point of view, officials buy into this mantra of "overpopulation, abuse and so many needing rescue".  The ARs have hijacked words and given them new definitions, have created numerous slogans such as, "Don't shop - adopt" and "Don't breed or buy while shelter dogs die".  

Now, anyone looking for a dog feels guilty if they don't "adopt" and if one stops and thinks about it, adopting is truthfully just another term for buying.  Money changes hands.  Unfortunately, as with a used car, one does not always know what they are getting and stories abound about sick dogs, health issues and temperament problems.  Now, back to the purebred dog.

What you see below is a prime example of the rise and fall of the purebred dog.  While this dog, the Norwegian Elkhound was never extremely popular, what you see that's happened to this breed has also happened to the majority of other purebred populations in this country today. 

According to the American Kennel Club, the Norwegian Elkhound breed of dog has seen a steady decline in registrations since its peak in 1974.  Today, out of all the purebreds registered, this breed sits as the 100th most popular overall.  See the following chart:


This alarming decline in registration also parallels the dramatic decline in the number of breeders still producing our dogs. As breeders in today’s society, we are confronted not only with high cost of maintenance and veterinary care, but also with the Animal Rights steady push to outlaw all breeding.  Make no mistake; the future of the purebred dog is in jeopardy. The chart that follows shows the decline over the years in litters produced and registered with the AKC (Note:  AKC did not start keeping litter statistics until 1981).

National specialty dog show entries for this breed are on the decline as well.  AKC does not have all the statistics from preceding years on their website, but the downward trend is obvious.

National Specialty Conformation Statistics:

































For the Norwegian Elkhound regional clubs, it’s even worse.  The average entry of dogs and bitches for all regional clubs in 2014 was 22, with lowest being 8 and highest 43.

So, where do we go from here?  First, we need to wake up and face reality.  We are on a steady downhill slide towards extinction and the only way we can fight this is to fight it together.  For the sake of our breed and its future, we need to pool resources, put aside any squabbling or differences of opinion and set a goal to work hard to attract, support and mentor new members to our breed and more importantly, figure out a way to deal with the apathy that seems to permeate throughout. 

Where do we begin? 

The Norwegian Elkhound Association of America (NEAA) is a national parent club who counts among it's members fourteen recognized regional specialty clubs and one still in its infancy. ** Those clubs are: 

  • California – Norwegian Elkhound Association of Northern California – Norwegian Elkhound Association of     Southern California – Sacramento-Sierra Norwegian Elkhound Club
  • Colorado – Columbine Norwegian Elkhound Association
  • Illinois – Northeastern Illinois Norwegian Elkhound Association
  • Massachusetts – Norwegian Elkhound Minuteman Association
  • Michigan – Norwegian Elkhound Club of Southeastern Michigan
  • Minnesota – Norwegian Elkhound Association of Minnesota
  • New Jersey – Garden State Norwegian Elkhound Club
  • Ohio – Greater Cleveland Norwegian Elkhound Club
  • Texas – Greater Houston Norwegian Elkhound Club
  • Virginia  - Norwegian Elkhound Club of the Potomac Valley
  • Washington – Puget Sound Norwegian Elkhound Association
  • Wisconsin – Greater Milwaukee Norwegian Elkhound Association
    **North Carolina – Cherokee Foothills Norwegian Elkhound Club – not yet recognized by the AKC

Involvement begins at the local level with communication.  We must better connect with our members and member clubs, encouraging them to become more active.  As with any successful organization, communication is a two way street.  Our clubs must also reach out to us and utilize the educational and support tools we, as the parent club, have to offer them.

Social Media is huge in this day and age and all dog clubs should at the very least, have a Facebook page, even if they have a website.  Posting interesting articles and events to the page and encouraging real time back and forth comments  is key in making it a success.  Best of all, it’s free! 

Attend community events with "Meet the Breeds" booths and play days.  We need to reintroduce our breeds to the public.  They need to know about, understand and be educated in the various breeds.

If we are to survive, we need to become much more aggressive at engaging the public and educating them about the benefit of choice when chosing a lifetime companion dog.

Get involved with your local officials.  Attend events, such as town hall meetings or meet and greet parties where you meet your local officials.  If we are to survive, we need to ban together and work for a common goal of saving the purebred dog from extinction.



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