For the 13th year in a row, the Labrador retriever is America's favorite purebred, according to registration numbers tallied by the American Kennel Club.
And, as in past years, the Labrador far outstrips the second-most favorite – the golden retriever. The 2002 list is almost identical to the 2001 list. All the same breeds made the top 10, but four switched positions. The beagle moved into fourth place, switching positions with the dachshund, and the boxer moved into seventh place, taking the poodle's spot.
"It's no surprise that the Labrador retriever is number one again" said David Frei, spokesperson for the AKC. "They are wonderful family dogs – smart, loyal, great temperaments – and good at many things including showing, obedience and hunting, and they also often work as service dogs."
The Top 10 Breeds of 2002 are:
1. Labrador retrievers 154,616
2. Golden retrievers 56,124
3. German shepherds 46,963
4. Beagles 44,610
5. Dachshunds 42,571
6. Yorkshire terriers 37,277
7. Boxers 34,340
8. Poodles 33,917
9. Chihuahuas 28,466
10. Shih Tzus 28,294
The AKC recognizes dogs in seven categories: sporting, hound, working, terrier, toy, non-sporting and herding. The largest breed registration in each group is as follows:
At the other end of the spectrum, the otterhound came in last with just 17 registrations. Four other least-registered breeds are: the harrier, the English foxhound, the Ibizan hound and the Finnish spitz. But the low registration counts doesn't detract from these breeds qualities, Frei explained.
"It's important to remember that each of the 150 breeds recognized by the AKC has a distinct personality and characteristics that make them uniquely suited for particular lifestyles and family settings," he said. "With the incredible diversity of purebred dogs, there is a right dog for everyone."
The total number of purebred registrations has dropped for the second year in a row. Last year they fell by almost 9 percent. This year, they dropped by 11 percent. Frei said contributing factors may be litter sizes, which have been smaller in recent years, and increased inspections by the AKC to verify applications. Another factor may be longevity. "Dogs are living longer, thanks to better veterinary medicine, food and care," Frei said.
A complete listing of registration statistics is available in the February 2003 issue of the AKC Gazette.