Published: February 15, 2014
It's puppy love for the record books: The Labrador retriever was the nation's most popular dog breed in 2013 for a 23rd year in a row, the American Kennel Club announced.
That's the longest any breed has been top dog since the organization's 1884 founding.
German shepherds, golden retrievers, beagles and bulldogs are holding steady in the top-five pack, with Yorkshire terriers, boxers, poodles, Rottweilers and dachshunds continuing to round out the leading 10, which mirrors last year. But the comical French bulldog is newly on their heels.
Surpassing the poodle's 22-year reign some decades ago, the Lab has proliferated as a congenial, highly trainable dog that was developed to fetch game but readily has taken on other roles: search-and-rescue aid, therapy dog, competitor in canine sports and all-around family pet.
The rankings reflect newly registered dogs, mostly puppies. The AKC doesn't release exact numbers but estimates its registry has included more than 40 million purebred dogs over its history.
The top 10 remains a testament to the variety of purebreds, from the pert, portable Yorkie to the muscular, purposeful Rottweiler. But overall, the AKC has logged some leaning toward larger dogs in the past decade.
Shih tzus and Chihuahuas have dropped from the top 10, while Rottweilers and bulldogs have marched in. Such big breeds as the Doberman pinscher and the great Dane have made double-digit gains on the popularity ladder.
No breed has rocketed up the rankings quite like the French bulldog, now the nation's 11th most popular purebred after its numbers more than quadrupled in the past 10 years. The Frenchie was 14th in 2012 and 58th in 2002.
The top 10 most popular dog breeds in the U.S. in 2013, according to the American Kennel Club's registry:
1. Labrador retriever
2. German shepherd
3. Golden retriever
6. Yorkshire terrier