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Labrador retriever remains favorite dog breed; French bulldogs climb ranks

Bud, a black Labrador retriever, looks up to Quincy Humane Society worker Zach Atteberry for another treat during a daily walk at the humane society on Tuesday, April 10, 2018. The American Kennel Club recently published a list of the 10 most popular dog breeds in America. | H-W Photo/Jake Shane
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Apr. 11, 2018 8:30 am

QUINCY -- The Labrador retriever has long been the preferred breed of American dog owners, and that hasn't changed.

The Labrador has held the top spot every year since the American Kennel Club began tracking the most popular breeds in 1991. The AKC recently released its 2017 rankings, and the German shepherd retained the second-place position that it has steadily held for several years. The golden retriever ranked third out of the 190 breeds mentioned.

The Labrador is the favored dog in the Midwest, said Sally Westerhoff, Quincy Humane Society executive director.

"The Lab is always at the top of the list," Westerhoff said. "I think the overall feeling is that the Lab is best with kids."

Mary Price, past president of the Quincy Kennel Club, said poodles, a breed that came in seventh on the AKC list, are becoming increasingly popular in mixes with other breeds. Price, who is also a groomer at Pampered Pets at 48th and Broadway, said the business regularly sees poodle and golden retriever mixes, known as goldendoodles, and poodle and Labrador retriever mixes, known as labradoodles. Poodles are also often mixed with Australian shepherds.

"It used to be that the majority of dogs we saw were purebred," Price said, "but now we don't see that as much."

Price attributes the shift to an increasing demand for what she referred to as "designer dogs," a cross between two purebred dogs. Pampered Pets has 35 clients with goldendoodles that visit the shop every four to six weeks, which amounts to two or three dogs daily.

The popularity of different breeds ebbs and flows, and can be largely dependent on popular culture.

"Over the years, we've seen that Hollywood dictates the popularity of pets," Westerhoff said.

Price has been with the Quincy Kennel Club for 50 years and has seen the rise and fall of many breeds. As pitbull-type breeds climbed the ranks, she said, Doberman pinschers and Rottweilers simultaneously dropped. Other breeds, such as Labs and beagles -- which ranked sixth on the AKC list -- are more consistent.

In 1997, the New York Times reported a sharp increase in the demand for Dalmatians after the release of Disney's remake of "101 Dalmatians." The report said that because the breed tends to shed, snap and sometimes bite, and doesn't particularly like children, Dalmatian returns also skyrocketed.

"Breed is a significant factor," Westerhoff said, "but we select more for behavior than breed. We see a lot of animals here, and we're good judges of what's going to be a good pet."

The French bulldog has seen a resurgence in recent years, ascending from 11th on the AKC list in 2013 to fourth in 2017. The bulldog ranked fifth on the list. Rounding out the top 10 were Rottweilers at eighth, Yorkshire terriers at ninth and German shorthaired pointers at 10th.

Click here for the full list of 190 most popular breeds.

TOP 10 BREEDS

1. Labrador retriever

2. German shepherd

3. Golden retrievers

4. French bulldogs

5. Bulldogs

6. Beagles

7. Poodles

8. Rottweilers

9. Yorkshire terriers

10. German shorthaired pointers