By Steve Dale
They snore, they wheeze, they’re often bow-legged and they’re renowned for flatulence " yet the Bulldog is the trendiest dog in America. For the first time since 1935, the Bulldog has wiggled onto the American Kennel Club’s (AKC) list of the ten most popular dog breeds.
The Bulldog (photo compliments of the AKC)
“There’s just something about Bulldogs,” says Lisa Peterson, AKC spokesperson. “They’re great companions and have dependable personalities.” But there must be more to it. Maybe it’s the celebrity factor; George Clooney and Adam Sandler have high profile Bulldogs. Or maybe it’s the sports factor; Fresno State, Yale University and the University of Georgia are all nicknamed the Bulldogs. Team apparel and gear with Bulldog mugs are walking advertisements for the breed.
According to AKC breed registrations, Bulldogs shot up 62 percent in popularity over the past ten years, and increased five percent over the last year.
Bulldogs weren’t alone. French Bulldogs shot up 400 percent in popularity over the past 10 years, up 16 percent from last year. They now settle at number 34 on the AKC popularity chart. “There must be a thing for that pushed in face " it is cute, and they’re wonderfully fun. Frenchies certainly have a sense of humor,” says Peterson.
Another trendy breed is the Havanese, a relative of the Bichon Frise, appealing to some because lots of people aren’t allergic to them. The Havanese has increased in popularity by an astounding 944 percent over the past 10 years, with a hike of 10 percent since last year. They’re now the 37th most popular breed on the AKC list of 157 breeds and varieties.
The French Bulldog
The German Pinscher, a relatively unknown breed, increased 49 percent in popularity since last year, now number 135 on the AKC list. Smaller than the Doberman Pinscher, but larger than the Miniature Pinscher, Peterson notes, “They’re a good compromise in size, around 25 to 35 lbs.”
The Belgian Malinois was number 90 in popularity last year; this year they’ve increased to 79 on the AKC chart, up 29 percent. “People see these dogs (which resemble German Shepherds) used more and more for law enforcement, sometimes in demonstrations by police, and they’ve become appealing,” Peterson says.
After reaching number 15 on the AKC list in 1996 following the various 101 Dalmatian movies, the Dalmatian began to wane in popularity. Quality breeders were thrilled, feeling their breed was then being exploited by puppy mills and other unscrupulous breeders. For the first time in 11 years, Dalmatians have now gained in popularity, increasing 24 percent from last year, now number 77 on the AKC chart. (Up from number 85 last year.)
“If you like to run, Dalmatians are an excellent choice,” says Peterson. “They’re also hard-wired to work alongside horses. After all, they were the original carriage dog.”
For several consecutive years in the late 1990’s, the Dalmatian was the breed that tumbled the most in popularity. This year, it’s a four-way tie among those who plummeted the most. The Pug, Miniature Pinscher, Bichon Frise and American Cocker Spaniel all dropped 17 percent. The Pug is now number 14 on the AKC chart, the Mini-Pin is 26, the Bichon is at 32 and the American Cocker Spaniel is 17.
As for the Pug and Miniature Pinscher, Peterson notes a slightly larger similar dog seems to be favored now. People have upgraded to the Bulldog over the Pug and the German Pinscher over the Mini-Pin. Adding evidence to her theory that the toy dog trend is perhaps moderating into mid-size dogs, the Chihuahua dropped 12 percent.
Peterson is careful to add, “Just because a breed is more, or for that matter less, popular is no reason to make a choice. Every breed has predictable sizes and personality characteristics, and that’s what you should be considering. For example, the Bulldog doesn’t require much exercise and can be a great apartment dog, which is not really the case for a Dalmatian.”
Here are the top-10 American Kennel Club breeds:
- 1) Labrador Retriever
2) Yorkshire Terrier
3) German Shepherd Dog
4) Golden Retriever
9) Shih Tzu
It’s always interesting to note who’s at the bottom of the pack:
- 157) English Foxhound
155) American Foxhound
154) Sussex Spaniel
153) Canaan Dog
152) Skye Terrier
151) Finish Spitz
Check out all the breeds, as well as the most popular breeds listed for each of the top-50 cities at www.akc.org.
Top Dogs in History
The Labrador Retriever has held the title of most popular dog since 1991. Here are the other breeds who have held the title as America’s top dog:
1983 to 1990 – American Cocker Spaniels
1960 to 1982 " Poodles
1953 to 1959 " Beagles
1936 to 1953 " American Cocker Spaniels