America's Top Dog

Whether you’re looking for a distraction from the media frenzy or are truly interested in the changing popularity of dog breeds, you’ll be happy to hear that America’s favorite dog is still the labrador retriever! According to data collected by the American Kennel Club, the labrador retriever has ranked as the most beloved breed for American owners for over twenty years.

If you’re a lover of small dogs, there is some disappointing news. Cocker spaniels and beagles have both declined in popularity. However, spaniel popularity is much less volatile than beagle popularity. Since falling from the top of the podium in the 1980s, cocker spaniels have seen a sharper, downward trend.

The figure below shows a definitive trend of increasing popularity for some of the earliest breeds known to man. Maltese and French bulldogs, favorites of Marie Antoinette and the French monarchy, have seen rising popularity since 1935.

In comparison to the rankings of retrievers, poodles, beagles, and spaniels, the numbers of these older breeds are still meager. One possible explanation of these breeds’ unwavering popularity is breeding. Historically popular dogs, like labradors and golden retrievers, are bred in high numbers due to consistently high demand. A greater pool of irresistible puppies does well in continuing to stimulate this demand.

Newer crossbreeds, like the famed “puggle” (a mix of a pug and beagle), are becoming ever more popular. Tastes will continue to change, but according to this data, there’s no need to worry. America’s love for Old Yeller isn’t going anywhere.


Anna Graff


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