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As seen in the 1/18 issue of USA Weekend Magazine, the AKC has just released its registration numbers for 2003.

For the 14th consecutive year, the Labrador Retriever is the most popular purebred dog in America, according to registration figures released today by the American Kennel Club*. Nearly three times as many Labs were registered in 2003 as any other breed.

Golden Retrievers were a distant second, with Beagles, German Shepherds and Dachshunds rounding out the top five spots. The top five breeds are the same as in 2002, with the exception that Beagles moved ahead of German Shepherds into the third position.

The top 10 most popular dogs according to 2003 AKC registrations are:
1. Labrador Retriever (144,934)
2. Golden Retriever (52,530)
3. Beagle (45,033 moving up one place from 2002)
4. German Shepherd Dog (43,950)
5. Dachshund (39,473)
6. Yorkshire Terrier (38,256)
7. Boxer (34,136)
8. Poodle (32,176)
9. Shih Tzu (26,935 moving up one place from 2002)
10. Chihuahua (24,930)

The Labrador Retriever has proven once again to be a family favorite, said AKC spokesperson Gina Lash. The Labs versatile nature makes him ideal for work or play, which is why you see the breed successfully used for a variety of tasks including AKC companion events, service work, hunting as well as family companion.

At the other end of the list, the least-registered purebred dog (19 registrations) is the English Foxhound. The other four most rare breeds are: Otterhound (34 dogs), Harrier (45), American Foxhound (52) and Komondor (69).

In 2003, the AKC registered 150 different breeds, including the newly recognized Toy Fox Terrier, German Pinscher and Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. In total, nearly one million dogs (915,671) and 423,761 litters were registered with the AKC in 2003.

Registrations remained the same or increased for 70 breeds including the Bernese Mountain Dog (+22 %), Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (+32%), and Skye Terrier (+75%). Some lesser-known breeds also saw significant increases in AKC registrations, such as the Finnish Spitz (+52%), the Havanese (+42%) and the Ibizan Hound (+84%).

It’s great to see that some of these breeds such as the Ibizan Hound are being discovered, added Lash. All of the 150 AKC recognized breeds have traits and tendencies that make each one unique, and our goal is to educate the public about their differences and characteristics. Potential dog owners can only make informed decisions after researching the breeds and speaking with responsible breeders. Its important to select the dog that fits your lifestyle and that can be a successful addition to the family.

*A Look Into the Archives
Historically, once a breed has achieved the top dog status at the AKC, the trend continues for a number of years. Cocker Spaniels ranked number one from 1940-52, before Beagles took over, 1953-59. Poodles enjoyed a long reign as the most popular dog for 23 years (from 196083). Cocker Spaniels made a comeback and were number one again from 1984-90 when the Labrador Retriever took over (and where it remains).

AKC registration statistics were compiled approximately every five years from 1915-1940. However, the Boston Terrier Club of Americas records show that between 1905 and 1935 the Boston Terrier held the number one or two position consistently. It was displaced by the German Shepherd Dog according to AKC data compiled in 1926, which was shortly after Rin Tin Tin was featured in the Warner Brothers film Man From Hells River.