After three decades of reigning as America’s most beloved breed of dog, Labradors have officially been dethroned from their top spot by a new canine contender. The coveted title of the most popular dog breed in the United States has now been claimed by another furry friend, marking a significant shift in the nation’s canine preferences.
Labradors have long been a fan-favorite in the US, with their friendly temperament, high intelligence, and versatility making them a popular choice for families, individuals, and service organizations alike. However, according to recent data, their reign as the top dog has come to an end.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) has just announced that the French bulldog is now the most popular purebred dog in the United States, replacing the Labrador retriever, which had held the top spot for 31 years.
According to the French Bull Dog Club of America, Frenchies are a popular choice due to their friendliness, adaptability to city living, and low grooming requirements. However, critics have raised concerns about the breed’s rise in popularity, including thefts and health issues associated with the breed’s characteristic short snouts. The British Veterinary Association has urged people not to buy flat-faced breeds like Frenchies, and the Netherlands has banned breeding very short-snouted dogs altogether.
Dr. Carrie Stefaniak, a veterinarian and member of the French Bull Dog Club’s health committee, has treated French bulldogs with breathing difficulties and stresses the importance of researching breeders and health testing. Despite the concerns, Frenchies have gained popularity through social media and celebrity ownership, with U.S. TV audiences watching a Frenchie named Winston take second place at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show and then win the National Dog Show hosted by the Kennel Club of Philadelphia.
The AKC’s rankings are based on nearly 716,500 newly registered dogs, with the top ten breeds being French bulldogs, Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, German shepherds, poodles, bulldogs, Rottweilers, beagles, dachshunds, and German shorthaired pointers. While Dr. Lori Hunt, a longtime breeder and veterinarian, sees Frenchies as ideal companions, she worries about their popularity, stating that unscrupulous breeders are exploiting the breed.
Animal welfare activists have criticized the breeding practices that lead to the breed’s characteristic appearance, which prioritizes looks over health and welfare. The AKC notes that its Canine Health Foundation has donated $67 million since 1990 for research and education on many breeds. The kennel and Frenchie clubs also state that there have been advances, with a new breathing test making its debut in the U.S. for Frenchies, bulldogs, and pugs at a show in January.
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