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Labrador retrievers set popularity-ranking record

Updated: Friday, January 31 2014, 12:14 PM EST
NEW YORK (AP) -- It's puppy love for the record books: The Labrador retriever was the nation's most popular dog breed last year for a 23rd year in a row, the American Kennel Club announced Friday.

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 after a decade-long popularity spurt.

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 has taken other roles in stride.

"It does so many different things really well — it excels as a family companion, it's an awesome hunting dog, and it also has a great presence as a service and law-enforcement search-and-rescue dog," AKC spokeswoman Lisa Peterson said.

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 out of the top 10, while Rottweilers and bulldogs have marched in. Such big breeds as the Doberman pinscher, the Bernese mountain dog and even the great Dane have made double-digit gains on the popularity ladder.

But 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 last 10 years. The Frenchie was 14th last year — and 58th in 2002.

With foreshortened faces, large pointed ears and an attitude that's been described as "a clown in the cloak of a philosopher," French bulldogs were in vogue in the U.S. around the turn of the 20th century. Then their popularity waned until recent years, when they've gotten exposure in such venues as Martha Stewart's chic-domesticity empire, TV's "Modern Family" and a 2012 Skechers Super Bowl commercial.

Some people flock to Frenchies because they're compact and don't need a lot of exercise or elaborate coat care.

After 15 years of breeding cocker spaniels, Gale Golden had tendinitis in her elbow from brushing them, so she decided to try the short-coated Frenchie. Now she has eight.

"They have so many funny and endearing qualities," including being people-oriented, said Golden, of Marlborough, Mass. "A Frenchie is everyone's friend."

Still, popularity causes some consternation for aficionados, who fear demand can drive irresponsible breeding.

To be sure, dog breeding in general has critics who feel it's more focused on human tastes than canine health and draws dog lovers away from mixed-breed pets that need homes. Purebred fans counter that conscientious breeding aims to create healthy dogs with somewhat predictable traits, helping people and dogs make lasting pairings.

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Reach Jennifer Peltz on Twitter @jennpeltz.Labrador retrievers set popularity-ranking record


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In Ohio, all dogs over three months of age must be registered (licensed) with the county auditor. The licensing of any dog residing in Hamilton County can be completed by using this mail-in form or by visiting any one of a number of convenient licensing agents. If you and your pet live outside of Hamilton County, please contact your local auditor's office for information.

Dog licensing is much more than a law you need abide by. The tags and the identification number they contain could also help return your prized pet to you should he or she become lost!

Vacationing with Pets

Vacationing with Pets Vacations are a lot more fun if you share them with your best friend!

If you plan to take your dog with you, carefull planning and safety precautions will make travel more enjoyable for both of you. Please visit the ASPCA Virtual Pet Behaviorist at www.aspcahebavior.org to find a number of articles that can make your travels fun for everyone!

SAFETY FIRST
• It's a lot safer for everyone if your dog is securely fastened or confined during car trips. A large dog in your lap or a small one bouncing around the accelerator pedal can be distracting and dangerous--and should you have an accident, your unrestrained dog might be thrown about the cab. Popular options for safe dog travel include dog seat belts, crates, and car barriers.

• Don't forget to microship your dog before leaving home, and attach an ID tag with your cell phone number to his collar. If you're travelling to multiple places during your trip and you don't have a cell phone, you can buy inexpensive temporary ID tags to use along the way.

THINGS TO BRING
• Pack a spill-proof water bowl, your dog's regualr food, and medications he takes and his favorite toys for playing fetch or tug.

• It's also a good idea to bring along something you can use to safely secure your dog for brief periods, such as a crate or an exercise pen.

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Disclaimer
The ASPCA Virtual Pet Behaviorist specializes in the resolution and managment of pet behavior problems only. Please do not submit questions about medical problems her. Only licensed veterinarians can diagnose medical conditions. If you think that your pet is sick, injured or experienceing any kind of physical distress, please contact his verterinarian immediately. A delay in seeking proper verterinary care may worsen your pet's condition or put his life at risk.


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