It's taken twenty three long years, but the Labrador Retriever has finally attained the status of America's most popular dog breed of the American Kennel Club's 130 year tenure. The American Kennel Club (AKC) determined the popularity of dog breeds using their registry, which has included more than 40 million purebred dogs throughout its history. The rankings for AKC's results each year are based on dogs that have been newly registered.
Popular for a Reason
This achievement comes as the breed officially surpassed the Poodle, who had previously held the record for the record for the longest-reigning most popular dog breed. Though poodles are still one of the top ten most popular dog breeds, an honor they've held for quite some time, they have been overtaken by a variety of other breeds that now represents a diverse array of dog breeds. Of the hundreds of breeds registered with the AKC, only the Labrador Retriever indefatigably holds its spot at the top.
One of the primary factors for the proliferation of Labrador Retrievers over the past two decades is their immense utility. A highly intelligent and capable breed, Labs have found work across the nation both as therapy dogs and rescue dogs. Another aspect of the breed that has propelled its popularity is its docile nature. The family-friendly breed is obedient and mindful not only in a professional setting but also with almost any potential dog owner.
Large dogs also tend to be more popular with American dog owners, a trend which is seeing a recent comeback. For the previous few years, smaller dogs have been gaining on the larger breeds. AKC offers a finance-based explanation of these numbers, citing economic depression as the reason people went for smaller dogs. Because smaller breeds eat less and are generally cheaper to care for than larger breeds, it makes sense that these breeds rose in popularity during the recession and fell once the economy recovered.
A Rising Star
One breed, in spite of its absence from the top ten most popular dog breeds, has proven itself to be a rising star over the past few years. The French Bulldog has continued its steady ascent to the top, resting at the eleventh spot on AKC's list. The previous year, it was ranked at the fourteenth most popular- a rank which elicited a surprised response from AKCs spokeswoman, Lisa Peterson. "That's a big jump," she stated, "I haven't seen anything like that in any breed."
Though it cannot be said why the French Bulldog is growing in popularity, its growing presence in American media might be a contributing factor. The breed is featured in the popular ABC sitcom Modern Family and is represented on Instagram by several dogs with immense followings. One dog in particular, Trotter the Hipster Dog, has more than 180,000 followers that like and share his photos.
Whatever factors are at play, this is the highest that the French Bulldog has ever placed on the list. In fact, the breed has been growing in popularity for several years now- having been ranked as low as 54th on the list in 2003. When considering the overall trend of small and large dogs, it's even more surprising that this pooch's popularity perseveres even as the economy returns to normal. However, there are still nine dogs that stand between it and the beloved Labrador Retriever.
The Top 10
Aside from the French Bulldog and the Labrador Retriever, more than 170 breeds were indexed in this year's list. The top ten brings little surprises, with each breed holding the same place as they did the previous year; however, as soon as one ventures outside of these top ten breeds, they are met with a fervent dynamism. For those of you that are curious about the unwavering top ten breeds, this year and last year's order are as such:
- Labrador Retrievers
- German Shepherd Dogs
- Golden Retrievers
- Yorkshire Terriers
The full list is available at AKC's website here. What do you think of the list and of the new record set by Labs? Is the list surprising or just what you expected? Let us know in the comments section!