The Labrador Retriever Is No Longer America’s Favorite Dog

After more than 30 years, there's a new sheriff in town

French Bulldog

Coming up in the ’90s and early aughts, I can’t remember a movie or TV show — save for 7th Heaven, which was problematic for a few very unHappy-related reasons — that featured a family dog that wasn’t a perfectly-sized, perpetually adolescent retriever of sorts. Hell, there was an entire franchise dedicated to how good golden retrievers (allegedly) are at sports.

It’s arguably the most telling piece of evidence where America’s feelings towards retrievers are involved, though for further affirmation you needn’t look any further than the American Kennel Club rankings, where Labrador retrievers have reigned supreme for the last 31 years.

Thanks to the powers that be, however, there’s a new sheriff in town. For the first time in more than three decades, the Labrador has usurped by the French bulldog, which was found to be the most popular dog in America in 2022. Per a new report from Forbes, “Popularity of the ‘smart, compact breed,’ as the AKC describes it, grew by over 1000% in the past 10 years, climbing the AKC ranks of nearly 200 breeds and making it to the number two spot in 2021.” And last year, it finally clinched the top spot.

These Are the Most Googled Dog Breeds in America
Golden retrievers don’t even crack the top five

The reason? Aside from the fact that they’re cute af, it’s hard to say for sure. The breed is known for being rife with health problems (a 2021 study from the journal Canine Medicine and Genetics noted that French bulldogs have a higher chance of being diagnosed with up to 20 common disorders than almost all other breeds, due to their “extreme body shape”), and is commonly associated with unethical breeding practices (said shape also almost guarantees that all French bulldogs are born by C-section).

But, according to the AKC, they’re also extremely adaptable to “a variety of home circumstances,” awesome watchdogs and don’t require a ton of outdoor activity, which is a hard sell for a lot of dog owners in metropolitan areas. Additionally, in recent years, to solidify their position as official dog of the glitterati, with John Legend and Chrissy Teigan, Reese Witherspoon, Lady Gaga, Hugh Jackman and Martha Stewart counted among the Frenchie-owning stars, which could have some bearing on the most recent rankings.

Retriever enthusiasts can rest assured, however, that the proverbial fall from the top wasn’t far. The Labrador retriever, golden retriever, as well as the German shepherd and poodle, rounded out the top five most popular dogs in America in 2022. The sloughi, Norwegian lundehund and English foxhound, for their part, were found to be the least popular breeds in America. That said, I’d be remiss not to use my platform to say…justice for dachshunds!

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