For the 24th consecutive year, the Labrador Retriever is big dog on the American Kennel Club’s list of most-popular U-S breeds. That’s the longest reign of any breed in the history of the AKC, which was founded in 1884.
Labradors are also among the most popular working dogs for search and rescue, guide and therapy work and hunting. They were initially bred to fetch game but they’re also sensitive family companions. According to the AKC, Labs “make an excellent family companion with a natural tendency to form strong bonds with kids, an easy-to-care-for coat and minimal exercise needs.” The breed made it to the AKC top spot in the 1970’s and has been there ever since.
The German Shepherd, Golden Retriever and Beagle round out the top five, followed by the Yorkshire Terrier, Poodle, Boxer and Rottweiler to fill out the top ten. The Dachshund slipped from 10th to 11th.
The AKC’s 2014 ranking, which was released Thursday, shows the Bulldog moving up in the top ten to #4, its highest ranking yet. The French bulldog made it to the top ten for the first time in nearly a century. In 1910, the breed held the #6 spot briefly. Recent appearances in movies, TV shows and advertising have helped to raise its profile. The bulldog’s push-faced expressions and generally calm demeanor make it a favorite of dog owners, according to AKC.
“The Lab truly is America’s dog,” said AKC Vice President Gina DiNardo, “but the lovable Bulldog breeds are clamoring to dominate. Watch out for an upset next year.”
Several other breeds are also moving up the list. The Wirehaired Pointing Griffon jumped 38 spots from 112th in 2004 to 74th in 2014. The Havanese moved from 52nd in 2004 to 25th in 2014, the Border Collie jumped from 60th in 2004 to 39th in 2014, the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever climbed from 118th in 2004 to 96th in 2014 and the Black and Tan Coonhound jumped from 140th in 2004 to 120th.
Dog breeding is sometimes criticized by animal rights groups who say it fuels puppy mills – those large scale breeding operations where dogs are raised in cramped and inhumane conditions. They’d like more attention paid to mixed-breed dogs, like those usually found in shelters and in need of forever homes.
The full list of 2014’s Most Popular Breeds:
1. Labrador Retriever
2. German Shepherd Dog
3. Golden Retriever
6. Yorkshire Terrier
9. French Bulldog
For the full list of breed rankings, click here.