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French Bulldog Named the Most Popular Dog Breed, Ending the Labrador Retriever's 31-Year Reign

People 3/15/2023 Anna Lazarus Caplan

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For the first time in 31 years, America's got a new favorite dog!

The French bulldog has unseated the Labrador retriever as the country's most popular breed, ending the Lab's record-breaking, 31-year run as the most popular pup, the American Kennel Club announced Wednesday.

"The French bulldog has seen a surge in popularity over the years, and for good reason," AKC Executive Secretary Gina DiNardo said in a news release. "Frenchies are playful, adaptable, loyal, and outgoing."

DiNardo continued, "They make wonderful companions for a variety of people, but it's extremely important to do your research to not only find the right breed for your lifestyle, but to ensure that you're getting a well-bred dog from a responsible breeder."

RELATED: Labrador Retriever Named Most Popular Dog Breed for 31 Consecutive Years: 'Record-Breaking Run'

Labs dropped to the No. 2 spot on the annual AKC list, followed by the golden retriever, German shepherd, poodle, and bulldog. Rottweilers, beagles, dachshunds, and German shorthaired pointers rounded out the top 10. The rankings are determined by counting the number of pure-bred dogs registered with the AKC.

According to the AKC, Frenchies have been mounting a charge for the top spot over the past decade. In 2012, the breed was ranked 14th, and registrations have increased by over 1,000% in the past ten years, the organization said.

Other breeds making strides on this year's list include the American hairless terrier, which jumped 15 spots year over year (#135 in 2021 to #120 in 2022), the Gordon setter (#113 in 2021 and #99 in 2022), the Italian greyhound (#73 in 2021 and #63 in 2022) and the Anatolian shepherd dog (#88 in 2021 and #79 in 2022). 

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The Cane Corso, Belgian Malinois, giant schnauzer, and English cocker spaniel have also bounded up the list since 2012, the AKC said.

In 2021, French bulldogs made headlines for a less cheerful reason.

After Lady Gaga's two French bulldogs were stolen in an armed robbery that critically wounded her dog walker, animal advocates shared that the breed is frequently stolen due to their desirability and small footprint — the dogs typically weigh 28 lbs. or less, according to AKC standards.

RELATED: French Bulldogs Like Lady Gaga's Are Frequent Targets for Theft. Here's Why

Tara Bruno, the founder of SNORT Rescue, an organization that rescues bulldogs and similar breeds, told PEOPLE at the time that the highly sought-after dogs are expensive and can cost between $3,000 and $5,000 from reputable breeders. 

She added, "The motive is resale. Thieves know they can get a couple thousand dollars for them."

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