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Labrador Retriever Tops According to AKC's 2004 Registration Statistics

(Wednesday, January 12, 2005)
-- Small Breeds Continue to Make Largest Percentage Gains Over Past Decade --

For the 15th consecutive year, the Labrador Retriever is the most popular purebred dog in America, according to registration figures released today by the American Kennel Club (AKC). Nearly three times as many Labs were registered in 2004 as any other breed.

The AKC released the figures in conjunction with the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship in Tampa, Fla. on January 15th and 16th. The event will give the public the opportunity to view all 153 breeds registered by AKC – from the universally loved Lab (#1) to the lesser known English Foxhound (#153) – in a two-night live simulcast on Animal Planet and Discovery Channel, beginning at 8pm both nights.

Golden Retrievers came in behind the Lab, followed by German Shepherds, Beagles, and Yorkshire Terriers to round out the top five spots. In 2004, the German Shepherd reclaimed third place by displacing the Beagle, which held that position in 2003. The Yorkshire Terrier also edged out the Dachshund this year, reclaiming its former position as the fifth most popular dog.

The top 10 most popular dogs in 2004 are:

Labrador Retriever (146,714)
Golden Retriever (52,560)
German Shepherd Dog (46,054)
Beagle (44,557)
Yorkshire Terrier (43,527)
Dachshund (40,774)
Boxer (37,744)
Poodle (32,673)
Shih Tzu (28,960)
Chihuahua (24,853)

At the other end of the list, the English Foxhound is again the least-registered purebred dog (17 registrations) followed by the Otterhound (23), American Foxhound (42), Sussex Spaniel (45) and Harrier (53).

In 2004, the AKC registered 153 different breeds – including the newly recognized Black Russian Terrier, Glen of Imaal Terrier and Neapolitan Mastiff – for a total of nearly one million dogs (958,272) and 437,437 litters.

Registrations increased or remained the same in 2004 for 107 breeds, including the French Bulldog (+53%), Havanese (+37%) and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (+34%). Some lesser-known breeds also saw significant increases in AKC registrations, particularly the Anatolian Shepherd (+83%), which entered the registry in 1996. The Spinone Italiano (+36%) and the Curly-Coated Retriever (+44%) also experienced substantial growth.

"Whether the Ibizan Hound in 2003 or the Anatolian Shepherd this year, it's great to see relatively rare breeds increasing in popularity," said Gina Lash, spokesperson for the AKC. "It indicates that people are becoming more aware of the diversity within purebred dogs and selecting a pet that best fits their lifestyle, which is the ideal first step in becoming a responsible dog owner."

A Decade of Dogs
Despite the fact that the top three most popular dogs in 2004 are large dogs, over the past 10 years, the popularity of small dogs has steadily risen. Breeds showing the most significant increases in registrations since 1994 are mostly small dogs such as the French Bulldog (increase of 252%), Brussels Griffon (234%), Chinese Crested (134%), Staffordshire Bull Terrier (120%), and the Papillon (122%). Conversely, some breeds with the largest declines in the past ten years are Dalmatians (-98%), Chow Chows (-93%), Rottweilers (-83%) and Akitas (-72%).

On the Other Side of the Pond
The AKC's counterpart in the U.K., the Kennel Club, recently released their national statistics, which show that the Labrador Retriever also reigns in England. As in the U.S., there are almost three times as many Labs registered as any other breed. Together with the Lab, the English Cocker Spaniel and the English Springer Spaniel – ranked 75th and 28th respectively in the U.S. – round out the top three spots.

The top 10 most popular dogs in U.K. are:

Labrador Retriever
Cocker Spaniel (English)
English Springer Spaniel
German Shepherd Dog (Alsatian)
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Golden Retriever
West Highland White Terrier
Boxer
Border Terrier

A complete listing of 2004 registration statistics is available on the AKC web site and will be published in the March issue of the AKC Gazette. For more information about the Kennel Club of the U.K., go to www.the-kennel-club.org.uk/.