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Dogs You Can Believe In: Most Popular Breeds for 2011

It’s an election year, and the popularity of the various presidential hopefuls seems to wax and wane as often as the phases of the moon. As they tune into pundits, and anxiously scan their polls, they might well envy the Labrador Retriever. The American Kennel Club released its annual ranking of the country’s most favored breeds on February 28, and the Lab has come out as “top dog” (as measured by AKC registrations) for the 21st successive year. 

“It all comes down to their fetching ability,” said Mary Feazell, secretary of the national breed club, Labrador Retriever Club, Inc.

“Military trainers told me that they give all breeds of dogs retriever tests before any other tests because they show their ability and willingness to serve mankind, and Labradors have one of the highest retrieving instincts in all the breeds, and they will do anything for man. Plus, they have shorter coats, and are very, very patient with children,” she explained.

Labs’ loving loyalty make them ideal family companions, but their drive and focus also means they are in demand as police and service dogs — another reason for the high number of registrations.

Nationally, the second most favored breed in 2011 was the German Shepherd Dog. Shepherds took the No. 2 spot last year as well, so their popularity can’t be credited to Susan Orlean’s bestselling “Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend,” which was published last October.

Another dog with drive, the Beagle, unseated the Yorkshire Terrier as the No. 3 dog nationwide. With their Steiff plush toy-like charm and lively personalities, Beagles are becoming the pet of choice for more households, but like Labs, they also have a professional side — the breed’s extraordinary scenting ability is prized by customs and Drug Enforcement Agency agents.

Locally, the pint-sized Yorkie continues to reign supreme. It was the No. 1 dog in New York City in 2011 and 2010. 

The densely-populated city followed the national trend closely, with the Labrador Retriever coming in at No. 2.  Mary Feazel credits this to Labs’ adaptability.  “As long as they are with their people, that’s the most important thing to them.” Also, she notes, we’re not completely without a great outdoors here: “You also have jogging trails and bridle trails and parks, where they can run off some of that energy.”

The rest of the New York City rankings seem to reflect a balance between power and portability. The engaging French Bulldog continued its climb into New Yorkers’ hearts, moving up to No. 3 from No. 5 last year,. The German Shepherd Dog came in at No. 4  and the Bull Dog, the ultimate muscle dog came in at No. 5.  The highly decorative Poodle, the dainty Shih Tsu, the Golden Retriever, the Rottweiler and the Havanese rounded out the city’s Top Ten most popular breeds. 

You can go to this link for a complete list of the AKC’s most popular breeds, including statistics for 50 U.S. cities.

But regardless of which breeds are tops where, the rankings reflect the durability of the canine/human bond. Every American who chooses a puppy is confident that he/she will feel happier, sometimes safer, and always more loved, as a result. Something, alas, that no politician is able to deliver.

New York City’s Most Popular Breeds 2011*

New York City’s 2010 Ranking*

1.  Yorkshire Terrier

1.  Yorkshire Terrier

2.  Labrador Retriever

2.  Labrador Retriever

3.  French Bulldog

3.  German Shepherd Dog

4.  German Shepherd Dog

4.  Bulldog

5.  Bulldog

5.  French Bulldog

6.  Poodle

6.  Shih Tzu

7.  Shih Tzu

7.  Dachshund

8.  Golden Retriever

8.  Rottweiler

9.  Rottweiler

9.  Maltese

10. Havanese

10. Poodle

*Registration data pulled from New York City zip codes as specified by U.S. Postal Service

2011 Most Popular Dogs in the U.S.

2010 Ranking

1. Labrador Retriever

1. Labrador Retriever

2. German Shepherd Dog

2. German Shepherd Dog

3. Beagle

3. Yorkshire Terrier

4. Golden Retriever

4. Beagle

5. Yorkshire Terrier

5. Golden Retriever

6. Bulldog

6. Bulldog

7. Boxer

7. Boxer

8. Poodle

8. Dachshund

9. Dachshund

9. Poodle

10. Rottweiler

10. Shih Tzu

(Charts: American Kennel Club)