IN 1960 there were, according to some estimates, around four million dogs being kept as pets in the UK. Canine training classes, such as this one in Rutherglen, were doing brisk business.

Poodles, it seems, had increased massively in popularity since the war. Or, as Claude Thomson put it in our sister paper, the Evening Times: “From being a rather rare and dandified choice of breed they have soared right to the top of the public-esteem league.

“Formerly almost exclusively a woman’s dog, poodles can now be seen mincing their delicate way down the street accompanied by brawny specimens of manhood.

“Why should this change have happened? It’s difficult, if not impossible, to say for sure, but the reason to a large extent lies in the fact that it is a highly intelligent dog, smart, not too big for modern homes, and it doesn’t need so much exercise as some breeds. It doesn’t moult.

“And no dog gives more reward to those who take a comb-brush-and-clippers pride in their pets.”

Miniature poodles had just topped, for the sixth year in succession, the list of all breeds, with more than 17,000 Kennel Club registrations.

The 1960 Cruft’s Show had seen no less than 14,000 entries, a world record at the time.

Spaniels and Alsatians, together with Pekinese, had all remained popular breeds in the UK. Moreover, more and more owners had been opting for boxers, while the Queen’s well-known fondness for corgis was being reflected in the increasing popularity of that breed, too.

People who choose to have Alsatians, however, were given advice by various experts.

Mr SH Benson, director-secretary of Calderpark Zoo (whose son, Harry, would go on to become a world-renowned photographer), told the Evening Times: “The Alsatian is a powerful, highly intelligent, one-man dog.

“It is a working dog,” he added, “and definitely unsuitable as a family pet – unless there is someone in the family prepared to give it the attention and training it needs.”