For the 19th consecutive year, the Labrador Retriever is the most popular purebred dog in America, but could this be the last year for the Lab’s reign?
According to American Kennel Club® (AKC) 2009 registration statistics released today during a press conference at Grand Central Terminal in New York City, the German Shepherd Dog overtook the Yorkshire Terrier last year and is now ranked second most popular in the nation for the first time in more than three decades.
An American favorite since the time of Rin Tin Tin, the German Shepherd Dog became the number one breed of the 1920s, but then slipped in popularity until after World War II.
“Labs have been America’s top dog for nearly two decades due to their loyal and gentle nature,” said AKC Spokesperson Lisa Peterson. “But the German Shepherd Dog has gained ground recently, quite possibly due to the increased attention they receive for their security efforts at home and abroad. Hailed as the world’s leading police, guard and military dog, this energetic and fun-loving breed is a loyal family pet, ideal companion and dependable K-9 partner when duty calls.”
2009 Most Popular Dogs in the U.S.
1. Labrador Retriever
2. German Shepherd Dog
3. Yorkshire Terrier
4. Golden Retriever
10. Shih Tzu
WORKING K-9s “SNIFF OUT” THE TOP 10
The German Shepherd Dog isn’t the only breed Americans will spot at the airport or train terminal when they travel – Labradors, Golden Retrievers and Beagles work throughout the country to keep the homeland safe. These AKC registered breeds are used by law enforcement military and homeland security personnel for a variety of tasks ranging from border patrol, bomb and narcotics detection, to searching for missing persons and tracking down fugitives.
These four breeds were developed for various forms of hunting or herding, but the traits that made them so effective at these jobs, such as strong scenting ability of the Beagle, the eager-to-please attitude of the Golden Retriever and Labrador, and the bold nature of the German Shepherd, make them effective in their careers today.
“Despite advances in security technology, the canine and its unique abilities remain a valued resource for the military and law enforcement agencies that work to keep us safe,” said Peterson. “The loyalty, intelligence and hardworking nature which make these breeds desirable as K-9 partners in the field also contribute to their status as valuable companions in the hearts of dog owners around the nation.”
PET PREFERENCES: FIFTY OF THE LARGEST CITIES
Top trends in 50 large cities in the U.S. include:
The ever-popular Lab is slowly losing ground in some towns – more U.S. cities featured a breed other than the Labrador Retriever in its top spot this year than in 2008. The breeds responsible for ousting the 19 year national favorite? The German Shepherd ranked first in Columbus, Detroit, Honolulu, Memphis, Miami, Providence and West Palm Beach; the Yorkshire Terrier triumphed in Oakland, Tampa, NYC, and Philadelphia; the Bulldog rose to the top in L.A.; and the Bull Terrier was a favorite in Newark, NJ.
The Bulldog is a favorite in California, perhaps due to celeb owners such as Adam Sandler, Kelly Osborne and John Legend. The breed reached the top spot in Los Angeles, the only city where it currently reigns as number one. The wrinkled pooch nearly reached the top in San Diego as well, coming in at the 2nd spot.
South Florida loves its German Shepherd Dog. The breed ranks first in West Palm Beach as well as Miami, where it has held the top spot since 2002, the first year the American Kennel Club started tracking city registration statistics.
Providence is the only U.S. city where the Labrador Retriever does not factor into the Top 5. Despite ranking second in 2008, the breed dropped off the list, making room for the German Shepherd in first place, along with the Yorkshire Terrier, Golden Retriever, Boxer and Poodle.
Unusual breeds on local top five lists include the Bull Terrier (1st in Newark), the Mastiff (4th in Des Moines), the Miniature Pinscher and Shetland Sheepdog (3rd and 5th, respectively, in Richmond) and the Chihuahua (3rd in Honolulu).
PET PREFERENCES: 1999– 2009
Some of the most notable recent trends in the past decade include:
The most popular pets with the biggest increase in rankings over the last decade included the Bulldog (from 21st to 7th); French Bulldog (from 73rd to 24th); Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (from 58th to 25th) and the making the largest leap the Havanese (from 92nd to 32nd).
Working K-9 breeds favored by law enforcement and the military have shown modest gains as pets including the Belgian Malinois (from 95th to 81st), the Border Collie (from 71st to 52nd) Bloodhound (from 51st to 43rd), and the Doberman Pinscher which served heroically with the U.S. Military during WWII (from 23rd to 15th).
A trend toward easy-to-groom breeds is seen with the rise of the Mastiff (from 39th to 27th) and the Rhodesian Ridgeback (from 56th to 48th) as well as the decline of higher maintenance breeds such as the corded breeds the Komondor (from 132nd to 154th) and the Puli (from 123rd to 149th) and on the Irish Terrier (from 108th to 132nd) and Sealyham Terrier (from 138th to 157th) which require hand-stripping.
Among rare breeds on the decline are the Curly-Coated Retriever (from 114th to 142nd), the Sussex Spaniel (from 135th to 159th) and the Irish Water Spaniel (from 130th to 150th).
Even before the Obama family selected the Portuguese Water Dog it was on the rise in popularity ranked 80th a decade ago to 60th currently. However, it did make a jump from 64th a year ago when all the interest in this mid-sized, hypoallergenic breed began.
Dog lovers can see and learn more about all of their favorite breeds on Saturday, February 6, 2010, when the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship — where the country’s top dogs compete for $225,000 in prize money and the title of “National Champion” — airs on Animal Planet and the Discovery Channel, 8-11 p.m. (ET/PT). You can also catch the AKC Humane Fund Awards for Canine Excellence honorees, which include the Golden Retriever “Robin” in the Law Enforcement category.