The Corgi: A Breed on the Rise

The popularity of the Corgi dog breed is on the rise.
The popularity of the Corgi dog breed is on the rise.

Earlier this month, the American Kennel Club (AKC) revealed its list of the country’s favorite breeds. The list — which ranks 193 of the 195 AKC-recognized breeds — is based on the nearly 1.5 million puppies that were registered with the AKC last year. The Barbet and the Dogo Argentino were officially recognized on January 1, 2020. As such, they were ineligible for this year’s rankings.

America’s Favorite Dogs

Not much changed at the top of the AKC’s list. For the 29th-consecutive year, Labrador Retrievers claimed the Number 1 spot. In fact, almost the entire top ten remained static. German Shepards, Golden Retrievers, French Bulldogs, and Bulldogs rounded out the top five once again. Like last year, they’re joined at the top by Poodles and Beagles (which swapped spots), as well as German Short-Haired Pointers.

There was, however, one new addition to the upper ranks. Edging out the Yorkshire Terrier, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi broke into top ten for the first time in history. The breed jumped three spots from last year and has leapt 16 spots since the start of the decade.

A Surprising New Favorite

Brandi Hunter, the AKC’s VP of public relations and communications, was surprised (but not shocked) to see Corgis distinguish themselves as a top dog. “They’re a lot of dog in a little package,” she says, “They’re very adaptable, very smart, and people tend to fall in love with them.”

Hunter suggests that Netflix’s popular series The Crown has helped many Americans fall for the Corgi over the last few years. The show charts the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, easily the world’s most famous Corgi enthusiast. While they were initially bred to herd cattle, Corgis have been known as loving companions since King George VI bought one for the future Queen in 1931. She’s since owned more than 30 and, according to The Telegraph, “their popularity can be traced alongside the Queen’s reign.” Their numbers have waxed and waned throughout the decades, but events like the Diamond and Sapphire Jubilees have regularly boosted Corgi adoptions in the UK.

The Internet’s Favorite Dog?

The Corgi’s growing popularity in American homes — while considerable — is nothing compared to its popularity on the internet. With their stubby legs and sweet smiles, Corgis are among the online community’s favorite breeds. Dog memes are everywhere, but Corgis may be the only breed to become a meme unto themselves. The social networking site Reddit has at least a half-dozen communities dedicated to them.

As early as 2012, commentators noticed that Corgis had taken the web by storm. In the Chicago Reader, Asher Klein suggested that Corgis were the beneficiaries of everything from a backlash against cats to the rise of viral content. He also made an astute prediction. “Get ready,” he said, “you’re going to be seeing a lot more of these adorable dogs.”

Eight years later, his words still apply. Who knows where the Corgi will rank a year, five years, or a decade from now.

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