For the 12th year in a row, the Labrador retriever is at the top of the American Kennel Club's annual ranking of the registered breeds that have been in the most demand.
The 2001 AKC roster once again shows that the Labrador and the golden retrievers are the number one and number two most popular dogs in the United States. In fact, the top 10 list has not changed from last year, although several breeds changed places in the rankings. The Yorkshire terrier and the poodle switched places, as did the boxer and the Chihuahua.
Overall, Americans registered 1,081,335 purebred dogs last year, down from 1,175,473 purebreds in 2000. That's a drop of almost 9 percent over the previous year, and most breeds show a decline in registrations, some more than others. The Rottweiler, for instance, remains at number 11, although 4 percent fewer Rottweilers were registered. (The prior year, the Rottweiler's popularity fell by 11 percent between 1999 and 2000.)
The reasons why registrations have fallen are not clear. Though the numbers do fluctuate from year to year. Caroline Kelly, communications director for the AKC, said any number of factors may influence the total registration, from the economy to Sept. 11.
Fewer Labrador retrievers were registered between the years 2000 (172,841 registrations) and 2001 (165,970 registrations), but the breed still dominates the list. More than 15 percent of all registrations last year were Labradors, a large, active yet easy-going and friendly breed.
The Top 10 Breeds of 2001
The top 10 list showed some significant declines in numbers, but not in rankings. Chihuahuas fell the most in percentage followed by poodles, but both only dropped by one in the rankings. In order of their ranking, the following dogs round out the top 15 breeds: Rottweilers, Pomeranians, miniature schnauzers, cocker spaniels and pugs, same as in 2000.
Publicity Spurs Breed Popularity
Sometimes, breeds gain popularity because of publicity that comes from starring in a popular TV show, movie, advertisement or dog show. The hit TV sitcom “Frasier'' co-stars “Eddie,'' a Jack Russell terrier. In 2000, the feisty little dog surged 21 percent to rank 72 on the AKC list.
In 2001, the breed made gains on the list - coming 70th on the list. The breed bucked last year's total decline by gaining 3 percent in registrations. The Cavalier King Charles spaniel also continued his upward swing, gaining 33 percent. The lively, loving dog leaped 10 places, from 54 to 44.
Dalmatians continue to fall. This breed was publicized first by the 1996 movie "101 Dalmatians," then by the sudden rush to adopt them, and tragically by the number of Dalmatians abandoned due to their hyperactive nature. While dogs like retrievers, German shepherds and dachshunds generally have held their popularity over the years, the Dalmatian went from 22,726 registrations in 1997 to just 2,139 registrations in 2001 - a huge drop.
In what may be evidence that the recession has taken its toll, "chic" and otherwise trendy dogs declined sharply compared to last year. In 2000, Lhasa apsos held relatively steady compared to the year before. But in 2001, the number of registrations dropped by 23 percent. The Pekingese, a toy breed from China, fell even further - 25 percent, with 7,798 being registered in 2001.