25 most popular ‘breeds’: Mixed-breeds rule the charts

Every year the American Kennel Club puts out its ranking of the top breeds of dogs in the country, based on (of course) AKC registration figures.  That’s all well and good, especially for the AKC, which always gets lots of media exposure for the list.

But is it truly a reflection of the U.S. dog population? I asked our database wizards to find out the rankings based on our policy-holders, figuring that these numbers might possibly be more representative of the actual popularity of various kinds of dogs. After all, the American Kennel Club is largely a registry of pedigreed dogs, and mixed breeds just aren’t their main interest. Yes, I know that mixed-breeds are now welcome in many AKC competitions, as shown most vividly last weekend, when the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show added an agility trial to its annual event, and proudly made a point that mixed breeds were welcome to that event. (And one of them won a height division, making history.)

As I said, there’s nothing wrong with the AKC’s list, and it’s certainly interesting to see how breeds rise and fall in popularity over the decades. Our data certainly reflects some of what their rankings reveal, but more importantly, it shows one thing  the AKC does not:

Mixed breeds are very popular dogs. 

So let’s look. First, the AKC’s list for 2013:

1. Labrador Retrievers
2. German Shepherd Dogs
3. Golden Retrievers
4. Beagles
5. Bulldogs
6. Yorkshire Terriers
7. Boxers
8. Poodles
9. Rottweilers
10. Dachshunds
11. French Bulldogs
12. Doberman Pinschers
13. German Shorthaired Pointers
14. Siberian Huskies
15. Shih Tzu
16. Great Danes
17. Miniature Schnauzers
18. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
19. Pomeranians
20. Australian Shepherds
21. Shetland Sheepdogs
22. Chihuahuas
23. Boston Terriers
24. Pembroke Welsh Corgis
25. Havanese

And now, VPI’s list for 2013:

1. Labrador Retriever
2. Mixed
3. Mixed (Small 11-30 Lbs.)
4. Mixed (Large 51-110 Lbs.)
5. Mixed (Medium 31-50 Lbs.)
6. Golden Retriever
7. Yorkshire Terrier
8. Shih Tzu
9. Boxer
10. German Shepherd
11. Mixed (Toy 0-10 Lbs)
12. Chihuahua
13. Maltese
14. English Bulldog
15. Schnauzer-Miniature
16. Pug
17. Beagle
18. Bichon Frise
19. Dachshund-Miniature Smooth Haired
20. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
21. Boston Terrier
22. Pomeranian
23. Poodle-Toy
24. French Bulldog
25. Jack Russell Terrier

Of course, there’s a certain element of apples vs. oranges here because we keep track of some breeds differently. For example, we break Poodles and Dachshunds down by size and/or type, while the AKC lumps them together for the purposes of their annual popularity list. Probably should be noted that we don’t require our pet parents to prove a dog is a registered purebred, either: If you and your veterinarian say you’ve got a Miniature Scnhauzer, then that’s how we enter your dog in our database.

If you look just at the purebreds, you’ll definitely see some similarities: 15 of our top 25 breeds are on the AKC’s top 25 list as well.

But then there are those mixes. We have mixed breeds broken into five size categories, plus kind of a “decline to state size” mixed breed category. If we grouped all the mixes together (including the “extra-large,” which didn’t make the top 25), their numbers would swamp the No. 1 breed, the Labrador Retriever. Taken as separate categories,  mixed-breeds claim five of our top 25 slots.

Interesting, isn’t it? If nothing else, it makes a good case that most popular dogs in America aren’t purebreds at all.  And probably also that among purebred dogs, Labradors really do rule.