Baltimore Sun

French bulldog ousts Lab as top purebred dog breed in US

- By Jennifer Peltz

NEW YORK — For the first time in three decades, the U.S. has a new favorite dog breed, according to the American Kennel Club.

Adorable in some eyes, deplorable in others, the French bulldog became the nation’s most prevalent purebred dog last year, the club said Wednesday.

Frenchies ousted Labrador retrievers from the top spot after a record 31 years.

Yet the Frenchie’s dizzying rise — it wasn’t even a top-75 breed a quarter-century ago — worries its fans, to say nothing of its critics.

The bulldogs have been targeted in thefts, including last month’s fatal shooting of a South Carolina breeder and the 2021 shooting of a California dog walker who was squiring singer Lady Gaga’s pets.

There’s concern that demand, plus the premium that some buyers will pay for “exotic” coat colors and textures, is engenderin­g quick-buck breeders and unhealthy dogs. The breed’s popularity is sharpening debate over whether there’s anything healthy about propagatin­g dogs prone to breathing, spinal, eye and skin conditions.

The British Veterinary Associatio­n has urged people not to buy flat-faced breeds such as Frenchies. The Netherland­s has prohibited breeding very short-snouted dogs, and the country’s agricultur­e minister aims to outlaw even owning them.

The AKC’s popularity rankings cover about 200 breeds in the nation’s oldest canine registry. The stats are based on nearly 716,500 puppies and other dogs newly registered last year — about 1 in every 7 of them a Frenchie. Registrati­on is voluntary.

The rankings don’t count mixed breeds or, at least for now, Labradoodl­es, puggles, Morkies and other popular “designer” hybrids.

Rounding out the AKC’s top 10 were: Golden retrievers, German shepherds, poodles, bulldogs, Rottweiler­s, beagles, dachshunds and German shorthaire­d pointers.

With roots in England and then France, French bulldogs became chic among U.S. elites around the turn of the 20th century, then faded from favor. That changed in this century. Last year, 108,000 newly registered French bulldogs surpassed Labs by over 21,000.

 ?? TINA FINEBERG/AP 2007 ?? French bulldogs, or Frenchies as they are known, have been targeted in recent dog thefts.
TINA FINEBERG/AP 2007 French bulldogs, or Frenchies as they are known, have been targeted in recent dog thefts.

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