Labrador retrievers set popularity-ranking record

NEW YORK — 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 taken other roles in stride.

“It does so many different things really well — it excels as a family companion, it’s an awesome hunting dog, and it also has a great presence as a service and law-enforcement search-and-rescue dog,” AKC spokeswoman Lisa Peterson said.

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 had tendonitis in her elbow from 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.

Top dog breeds

1 — Labrador retriever

2 — German shepherd

3 — Golden retriever

4 — beagle

5 — bulldog

6 — Yorkshire terrier

7 — boxer

8 — poodle

9 — Rottweiler

10 — dachshund

More in Local News

Young woman missing from Mukilteo found safe

She called her parents and told them she was at a museum in Seattle.

Mom and brother turn in suspect in Stanwood robberies

The man is suspected of robbing the same gas station twice, and apologizing to the clerk afterward.

Derrick “Wiz” Crawford, 22, is a suspect in the homicide of his roommate. (Edmonds Police Department)
Roommate suspected in Edmonds killing found hiding in closet

Police had been searching for him for 10 days before locating him at a house in Everett.

Video shows man suspected of attacking a woman in Edmonds

The man allegedly threw her on the ground, then ran away after the she began kicking and screaming.

Navy to put filter in Coupeville’s contaminated water system

Chemicals from firefighting foam was found in the town’s drinking water.

Officials to test sanity of suspect in Everett crime spree

He allegedly tried to rob and clobber a transit worker, then fled and struggled with police.

Katharine Graham, then CEO and chairwoman of the board of The Washington Post Co., looks over a copy of The Daily Herald with Larry Hanson, then The Herald’s publisher, during her visit to Everett on Sept. 20, 1984. The Washington Post Co. owned The Herald from 1978 until 2013. (Herald archives)
Everett’s brush with Katharine Graham, leader of ‘The Post’

Retired Herald publisher Larry Hanson recalls The Washington Post publisher’s visits.

Former Monroe cop loses appeal on sex crimes conviction

Once a highly respected officer, he was found guilty of secretly videotaping his kids’ babysitter.

Families seek to change wrongful death law

A bill would allow or parents or siblings who wish to pursue a suit for an unmarried, childless adult.

Most Read