It’s puppy love for the record books: The Labrador retriever was the nation’s most popular dog breed last year for the 23rd year in a row, the American Kennel Club announced last week.
That’s the longest any breed has been top dog since the organization’s 1884 founding.
German shepherds, golden retrievers, beagles and bulldogs are holding steady in the top-five pack, with Yorkshire terriers, boxers, poodles, Rottweilers and dachshunds continuing to round out the leading 10. The French bulldog is gaining ground because of a recent popularity spurt.
The Lab was bred to hunt but has readily taken on other roles such as search-and-rescue aid, therapy dog and family pet.
“They’re a very versatile dog. They’ll adapt to just about anything,” says breeder Michael Wiest of Warren, New Jersey.
But no breed has rocketed up the rankings quite like the French bulldog, now the nation’s 11th most popular purebred. The Frenchie was 14th last year and 58th in 2002. Some people flock to Frenchies because they’re compact and don’t need a lot of exercise or coat care.
After breeding cocker spaniels, Gale Golden decided to try the short-coated Frenchie.
“They have so many funny and endearing qualities,” including being people-oriented, said Golden, of Marlborough, Massachusetts. “A Frenchie is everyone’s friend.”