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Hampstead neuroscientist hopes to boost numbers of rare dog breed favoured by Queen Victoria

Dog breeder Hana Ros with her two English Shepherds. Picture: Nigel Sutton. Dog breeder Hana Ros with her two English Shepherds. Picture: Nigel Sutton.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014
3:00 PM

A woman is hoping to kick-start the return of a rare dog breed which originated in the UK and is believed to have been a favourite of Queen Victoria.

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Dr Hana Ros, 32, wants to see the number of English Shepherds rise nationwide after her bitch Constellation, known as Stella, gave birth to 10 puppies in October.

The neuroscientist, from Lyndhurst Road, Hampstead, is one of only three English Shepherd breeders in the UK and Stella’s litter has increased the national population to 92. All have gone to new homes except for one, named Carina.

She said: “I chose to keep her because she got on well with Stella, they were inseparable from birth.

“I found out about the breed online and then realised they had the perfect type of temperament. I wanted a very intelligent dog but also one which was loyal and gentle.

“It also helps that they are very good-looking and striking dogs, and I thought, ‘That’s the dog for me’.

“I got the dog because it was just going to be my pet and then I realised there are so few of them in the UK. I thought it would be beneficial to breed because then I can increase the population in the UK.”

Dr Ros says the breed originated in the UK as a working dog on farms to herd cows and sheep, and was taken to the USA in the 18th century by the early settlers.

Their numbers flourished across the pond and they remain in high numbers in America today.

Dr Ros said photographs from the 19th century show Queen Victoria with a dog resembling an English Shepherd, but the breed declined in the next century.

She said: “The numbers started decreasing during the Second World War because there was a decline in the massive farms and there was a decrease in demand for working dogs.”

After buying Stella, Dr Ros contacted one of only two UK English Shepherd breeders and arranged for Stella and the breeder’s dog, Stan, to meet.

Two months later, Dr Ros took on the role of “dog midwife” and assisted Stella as she gave birth to 10 puppies at home.

Having contributed to the breed, Dr Ros is confident about its future.

“I think it’s very promising because already there have been growing numbers,” she said. “They’re such a versatile breed.

“I think that they can be used for many things that they haven’t been in the past. Before, they were just a working dog, but now people have realised they can be used for sport, rescue and as family pets.

“More people will begin to realise that they are a great dog to have.”

To support Dr Ros’s efforts, visit gofundme.com/6s4hb0 and for more about the breed go to theenglishshepherd.co.uk.

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