NEW YORK (AP) – It’s puppy love for the record books: The Labrador retriever was the nation’s most popular dog breed last year for a 23rd year in a row, the American Kennel Club announced Friday.
That’s the longest any breed has been top dog since the organization’s 1884 founding.
German shepherds, golden retrievers, beagles and bulldogs are holding steady in the top-five pack, with Yorkshire terriers, boxers, poodles, Rottweilers and dachshunds continuing to round out the leading 10, which mirrors last year. But the comical French bulldog is newly on their heels after a decade-long popularity spurt.
Surpassing the poodle’s 22-year reign some decades ago, the Lab has proliferated as a congenial, highly trainable dog that was developed to fetch game but has readily taken on other roles: search-and-rescue aid, therapy dog, competitor in canine sports and all-around family pet.
“They’re a very versatile dog. They’ll adapt to just about anything,” says Michael Wiest of Warren, N.J., who has bred them for 45 years.
The rankings reflect newly registered dogs, mostly puppies. The AKC doesn’t release exact numbers but estimates its registry has included more than 40 million purebred dogs over its history.
The top 10 remains a testament to the variety of purebreds, from the pert, portable Yorkie to the muscular, purposeful Rottweiler. But overall, the AKC has logged some leaning toward larger dogs in the past decade.
Shih tzus and Chihuahuas have dropped out of the top 10, while Rottweilers and bulldogs have marched in. Such big breeds as the Doberman pinscher, the Bernese mountain dog and even the great Dane have made double-digit gains on the popularity ladder.
But no breed has rocketed up the rankings quite like the French bulldog, now the nation’s 11th most popular purebred after its numbers more than quadrupled in the last 10 years. The Frenchie was 14th last year – and 58th in 2002.
With foreshortened faces, large pointed ears and an attitude that’s been described as “a clown in the cloak of a philosopher,” French bulldogs were in vogue in the U.S. around the turn of the 20th century. Then their popularity waned until recent years, when they’ve gotten exposure in such venues as Martha Stewart’s chic-domesticity empire, TV’s “Modern Family” and a 2012 Skechers Super Bowl commercial.
Some people flock to Frenchies because they’re compact and don’t need a lot of exercise or elaborate coat care.
After 15 years of breeding cocker spaniels, Gale Golden developed tendinitis in her elbow and had difficulty brushing them, so she decided to try the short-coated Frenchie. Now she has eight.
“They have so many funny and endearing qualities,” including being people-oriented, said Golden, of Marlborough, Mass. “A Frenchie is everyone’s friend.”
Still, popularity causes some consternation for aficionados, who fear demand can drive irresponsible breeding.
To be sure, dog breeding in general has critics who feel it’s more focused on human tastes than canine health and draws dog lovers away from mixed-breed pets that need homes. Purebred fans counter that conscientious breeding aims to create healthy dogs with somewhat predictable traits, helping people and dogs make lasting pairings.
Reach Jennifer Peltz on Twitter (at)jennpeltz.
(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- The 5 worst things you could do for your roof
- 6 coolest things brewing in Arizona
- The virus that keeps head and neck cancers on the rise
- State Fair ‘Kid Reporter’ has all the angles covered
- 4 important things to know about timeshare maintenance fees
- Signs of delayed car crash injuries
- The truth about sports concussions
- The Alzheimer's epidemic: Facts you need to know
- The season is here, keep your Fantasy Football team strong all season
- 8 TV shows you can't miss this fall
- Football is here: 6 tips to make this your best season ever
- Gameday recipes and beers to match
- 6 reasons the Cardinals are driven to win the Super Bowl
- The Pac-12 football season nears kickoff
- Tips to get ready for a pain-free golf season
- Protect your family with these 7 home security features
- How to train like an Olympic swimmer
- 2016 Olympics: A guide to must-see TV events
- The bride's guide to feeling your best on your wedding day
- Deciding when you need knee surgery
- Celebrating Fourth of July is much cooler in these AZ towns
- Top ten road trip bathrooms in America
- Six things causing a pain in your neck
- 5 things to make your summer move easier
- Three elements of a strong timeshare exit guarantee
- Stretches and exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome
- The best Major League ballparks have their own personality
- Comparing the best regular seasons: The '96 Bulls and '16 Warriors
- 3 Arizona road trips and the vehicles to get you there
- Colon cancer is preventable. Check these signs and symptoms to stay healthy.