25 Years Ago It Wasn't in the Top 75. Now It's No. 1

The most popular purebred dog breed in the US is the French bulldog
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 15, 2023 12:51 PM CDT
After 31 Years at the Top, Labradors Lose Their Crown
The American Kennel Club announced Wednesday that French bulldogs have become the United States' most prevalent dog breed, ending Labrador retrievers' record-breaking 31 years at the top.   (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg, File)

For the first time in three decades, the US has a new favorite dog breed, according to the American Kennel Club. Adorable in some eyes, deplorable in others, the sturdy, push-faced, perky-eared, world-weary-looking, and distinctively droll French bulldog became the nation's most prevalent purebred dog last year, the club announced Wednesday. Frenchies ousted Labrador retrievers from the top spot after a record 31 years, reports the AP.

It's been a dizzying rise—the dog wasn't even a top-75 breed a quarter century ago. The AKC's popularity rankings cover about 200 breeds in the nation's oldest canine registry. The stats are based on nearly 716,500 puppies and other dogs newly registered last year—about 1 in every 7 of them a Frenchie. Registration is voluntary. The most rarely owned? English foxhounds. The rankings don't count mixed breeds or, at least for now, Labradoodles, puggles, Morkies and other popular "designer" hybrids.

The AKC's top 10 were: French bulldogs, Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, German shepherds, poodles, bulldogs, Rottweilers, beagles, dachshunds, and German shorthaired pointers. Last year, about 108,000 newly registered French bulldogs surpassed Labs by over 21,000. The breed's popularity is sharpening debate over whether there's anything healthy about propagating dogs prone to breathing, spinal, eye, and skin conditions.

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The British Veterinary Association has urged people not to buy flat-faced breeds, such as Frenchies, and has campaigned to scrub them from ads and even greeting cards. The Netherlands has prohibited breeding very short-snouted dogs, and the country's agriculture minister aims to outlaw even owning them. Some other breeds are prone to ailments ranging from hip dysplasia to cancers, and mixed-breed dogs also can get sick. But recently published research involving about 24,600 dogs in Britain suggested that Frenchies have "very different, and largely much poorer" health than do other canines, largely due to the foreshortened, wrinkly face that encapsulates the breed's je ne sais quoi. (The AP has much more on the breed, as well as a defense of the dogs' health from some vets, here.)

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