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The Most Popular Dog Breeds Of 2020: Labs And French Bulldogs

French Bulldogs were the second most popular breed registered with the American Kennel Club in 2020.
Chris Pizzello
French Bulldogs were the second most popular breed registered with the American Kennel Club in 2020.

Many people coped with the pandemic year, in part, by welcoming a dog into their home. The surge in adoptions left some shelters low on dogs to take home.

But some people were very particular about what kind of dogs they chose. The American Kennel Club has released its rankings of the most popular dog breeds of 2020.

The most popular? The Labrador Retriever – for the 30th straight year.

But there was movement in the number two slot, where French Bulldogs displaced German Shepherds.

Frenchies, with their wrinkly faces and perky bat ears, have been rising in popularity for the last 10 years, says Brandi Hunter, a spokesperson for the AKC. "As more people see them and learn about the breed, they find out what a great breed it is," Hunter says in an email. "Fun, smart, adaptable, easy to care for and a good companion."

But the breed is not without problems. Frenchies are prone to obesity and their front-heavy build means they can't swim. And like other flat-faced breeds, they are prone to breathing problems and don't do well in hot or humid weather.

Labrador Retrievers remain secure at number one: More than 98,300 people registered Labs in AKC's registry last year. That number was about 66,500 for French bulldogs.

The AKC only registers purebred dogs. The Club says it saw its registrations increase 20% in 2020 over 2019.

Famous dogs can sometimes influence breed popularity. President Biden owns two German Shepherds, Champ and Major. Will that mean a return to number two in 2021?

Perhaps not.

"The breed has been in the top 5 for some time now, so I am not entirely certain their popularity will increase due to this additional exposure," says Hunter.

And anyway, she notes, popularity is not a smart way to choose a dog: "A dog is a long commitment and choosing the breed that fits your lifestyle is important."

Here's the top 10:

  • Labrador Retrievers
  • French Bulldogs
  • German Shepherd Dogs
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Bulldogs
  • Poodles
  • Beagles
  • Rottweilers
  • German Shorthaired Pointers
  • Dachshunds
  • You can see the full list — including the Xoloitzcuintli, the Spinone Italiano and the Dogo Argentinohere.

    Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

    Laurel Wamsley is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She reports breaking news for NPR's digital coverage, newscasts, and news magazines, as well as occasional features. She was also the lead reporter for NPR's coverage of the 2019 Women's World Cup in France.
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