The Labrador retriever has been America’s most popular dog breed for over three decades, but not anymore. According to the American Kennel Club’s 2022 rankings, the French bulldog has taken the throne as the nation’s most prevalent purebred dog.
The French bulldog, or Frenchie for short, is a small, compact, muscular dog with a distinctive appearance. It has large, erect ‘bat ears,’ a flat face with heavy wrinkles, and a short, smooth coat that comes in various colors and patterns. The Frenchie is also known for its playful, alert, adaptable, and charming personality. It is a breed that loves to make people laugh and enjoys human companionship.
The Origin of the Frenchie
Contrary to its name, the French bulldog did not originate in France. The breed’s ancestors were the ancient Molossian dogs of Greece, which Phoenicians spread throughout the world. Some of these dogs ended up in England, where they became the foundation of the Mastiff and Bulldog breeds.
In the 19th century, English breeders developed a smaller version of the Bulldog by crossing it with Terriers and Pugs. These Toy Bulldogs were popular among lace workers in Nottingham, who brought them along when they migrated to Normandy, France, in search of better opportunities during the Industrial Revolution.
In France, the Toy Bulldogs quickly gained popularity among different classes of people, from aristocrats to artists to prostitutes. They were also crossed with local ratters, which gave them their characteristic bat ears. The breed became known as the “Bouledogue Francais” or French Bulldog.
The Rise of the Frenchie
The Frenchie’s popularity soon spread beyond France. In the late 19th century, American tourists visiting Paris fell in love with the breed and brought some specimens back to the United States. The first French Bulldog Club of America was formed in 1897, and the AKC recognized the breed in 1898.
The Frenchie’s popularity peaked in the early 20th century when it was one of America’s most fashionable and expensive dogs. It was also favored by many celebrities of the time, such as J.P. Morgan, Greta Garbo, and King Edward VII of England.
However, after World War I, the Frenchie’s popularity declined due to economic hardships and changing tastes. The breed faced near extinction during World War II, when many dogs died or were abandoned due to food shortages and bombings. Only a few dedicated breeders managed to keep the Frenchie alive.
The Frenchie’s popularity began to rise again in the second half of the 20th century, thanks to its loyal fans and improved breeding practices. The breed also benefited heavily from its exposure in movies, TV shows, and commercials, such as Babe: Pig in the City, Modern Family, and Amazon’s Super Bowl ad.
The Frenchie Today
The Frenchie’s rise in popularity has continued into the 21st century as more and more people appreciate its compact size, low-maintenance coat, quiet demeanor, and friendly personality. The breed is especially suitable for urban living, as it does not require a lot of outdoor exercise and does not bark much.
The Frenchie has also become a favorite among celebrities such as Reese Witherspoon, Megan Thee Stallion, Lady Gaga, and Dwayne Johnson. The breed has also won several awards at dog shows, such as Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in 2021.
However, the Frenchie’s popularity also comes with some challenges. As a brachycephalic breed, they face some health issues, especially related to their breathing. The Frenchie’s flat face and narrow nostrils can cause respiratory problems, such as snoring, wheezing, and overheating. The breed can also suffer from spinal disorders, eye diseases, and skin infections. The Frenchie’s high demand also makes it vulnerable to unethical breeding practices and thefts.
The Frenchie’s fans and critics may have different opinions on the breed’s merits and drawbacks, but one thing is certain: the Frenchie is here to stay. The breed has captured the hearts of many Americans with its unique looks and lovable temperament. As the AKC’s executive secretary Gina DiNardo said, “The French bulldog is poised for a takeover.”
The Top 10 Most Popular Dog Breeds in the US
According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), which ranks the most popular dog breeds based on its registration statistics, these are the top 10 most popular dog breeds in the US as of 2022:
- French Bulldog: The Frenchie has dethroned the Labrador Retriever as the most popular dog breed in the US for the first time in history. The Frenchie has climbed from No. 14 in 2012 to No. 1 in 2022, with a 1,000% increase in registrations.
- Labrador Retriever: The Lab has been the most popular dog breed in the US for 31 years, from 1991 to 2021. The Lab is still a beloved family dog and a versatile working dog, but the Frenchie has surpassed it in popularity.
- Golden Retriever: The Golden has maintained its position as the third most popular dog breed in the US since 2019. The Golden is known for its friendly, loyal, intelligent personality and beautiful golden coat.
- German Shepherd Dog: The German Shepherd has dropped from No. 2 in 2019 to No. 4 in 2022. The German Shepherd is a strong, courageous, and obedient dog that excels in various fields, such as police work, military service, search and rescue, and therapy.
- Poodle: The Poodle has reentered the top five for the first time since 1997, moving from No. 6 in 2019 to No. 5 in 2022. The Poodle is a smart, elegant, and versatile dog that comes in three sizes: standard, miniature, and toy.
- Bulldog: The Bulldog has dropped from No. 5 in 2019 to No. 6 in 2022. The Bulldog is a sturdy, wrinkled, and lovable dog with a calm and gentle temperament.
- Rottweiler: The Rottweiler has moved up from No. 8 in 2019 to No. 7 in 2022. The Rottweiler is a powerful, loyal, protective dog that can be a great companion or formidable guard.
- Beagle: The Beagle has moved down from No. 7 in 2019 to No. 8 in 2022. The Beagle is a small, cheerful, curious dog that loves exploring and playing with its human family.
- German Shorthaired Pointer: The German Shorthaired Pointer has moved down from No. 9 in 2019 to No. 10 in 2022. The German Shorthaired Pointer is a versatile, energetic, and athletic dog that can excel in hunting, agility, obedience, and other sports.
- Dachshund: The Dachshund has moved up from No. 12 in 2019 to No. 9 in 2022. The Dachshund is a long-bodied, short-legged, and spunky dog that comes in three coat types: smooth, wirehaired, and longhaired.
According to the AKC, these are the most popular dog breeds in the US, but many other breeds may suit different lifestyles and preferences. You can find more information about each breed on the AKC website or use their breed selector tool to find your perfect match.