For the first time in over 30 years, the American Kennel Club (AKC) has named a new top dog breed in the United States: the French Bulldog.
The Labrador Retriever had long held the top spot in a yearly ranking determined by the AKC’s registration data.
The AKC’s annual popularity rankings are based on the registration data of nearly 716,500 newly registered dogs and puppies last year, spanning around 200 different dog breeds.
The complete list of the top 10 most popular dog breeds in the U.S. in 2022 was as follows:
- French Bulldogs
- Labrador Retrievers
- Golden Retrievers
- German Shepherds
- German Shorthaired Pointers
The rankings only take into account purebred dogs and do not include mixed breeds or designer hybrids, such as Puggles or Goldendoodles.
The French Bulldog’s rise in popularity in recent years can partly be attributed to social media and celebrity owners like Ariana Grande or Megan Thee Stallion.
The breed has also been increasingly present in dog shows. For example, Winston the French Bulldog won “Best in Show” at the 2022 National Dog Show hosted by the Kennel Club of Philadelphia.
Their unique and adorable appearance, combined with their affectionate, comical, and friendly nature, make them appealing to many. They are also city-friendly dogs that require modest grooming and exercise, an attractive trait for city dwellers.
“They provide a lot in a small package,” Patty Sosa, spokesperson for the French Bull Dog Club of America, told Associated Press News.
Yet the surge in interest for French Bulldogs has also hiked up their going price. This has made purebreds a target for thieves.
Last year five French Bulldog puppies were stolen during a home invasion outside Houston, as The Dallas Express reported. Two children were home at the time and hid from the thieves inside a closet. The puppies, which may have been worth as much as $5,000 each, were never recovered.
Dr. Lori Hunt, a veterinarian and longtime breeder, told AP News that she sees Frenchies as ideal companions but also considers their fame “a curse, not a blessing.”
Alongside the issue of thievery, some are concerned about the unethical breeding of unhealthy pups for quick cash. French Bulldogs are prone to breathing, spinal, eye, and skin conditions.
Norway and the Netherlands have banned breeding flat-faced dogs, including French Bulldogs, as they have shortened snouts and often suffer from breathing impairment.
Also, due to French Bulldogs having large heads and small hips, they are not able to reproduce or give birth naturally, which has made the breed even more controversial.
On the other hand, Dr. Carrie Stefaniak, a veterinarian and committee member of the French Bulldog Club of America, believes that owners play a significant role in the health of their French Bulldogs, per AP News.
Not only does she recommend that potential owners investigate breeders and perform health tests before committing to a pup, but she also encourages them to ensure their pet is appropriately conditioned to live an active and healthy life.