Large retrievers 2nd, pit bulls 3rd
Max the Malinois, whose story opened in theatres on June 26, 2015, may capture movie-goers’ hearts, but the most popular dog breed category in the U.S. still ain’t nothing but a hound dog.
Hounds have made up 8.5% of the total U.S. dog population on average since 2010, or about six million dogs at any given time, according to the 2015 annual ANIMALS 24-7 electronic survey of classified ads offering dogs for sale or adoption.
Because there are more than 150 dog breeds recognized by major registries, it is relatively rare for any one breed to amount to more than 1% of the U.S. dog population. This is true even of hounds.
Sample of 56.4 million
A record large sampling of 56.4 million listings of dogs for sale or adoption found that while no one hound breed ranks among the top dozen individual dog breeds in popularity, sight hounds and scent hounds as a group outnumber even the ever-abundant large retrievers.
Hounds accounted for 7.8% of the dogs listed for sale or adoption in 2015, down about 9% from the average for the hound group since 2010, but still 9% more than the volume of listings for the large retriever group, including Labradors in several variants, golden retrievers, and large retriever mixes.
Large retrievers, accounting for 11.4% of the dogs listed for sale or adoption in 2014, declined to 4.7% of the listings in 2015. As most dog breeds have large litters, and most high-volume breeders decide which dogs to breed in a given year based on the market conditions in the previous year, fluctuations of this magnitude are not unusual. The combined totals of large retrievers offered for sale or adoption for 2014 and 2015 combined were consistent, at 8.1%, with the 7.8% average for large retrievers since 2010.
This translates into a U.S. large retriever population of about 5.5 million dogs at any given time.
Pits & other “bully” breeds
Pit bull listings held even in 2015 at 6.6%, after three consecutive years of double-digit increases, bringing the average since 2010 to 5.2%. The current U.S. pit bull population is about 3.6 million dogs, of whom about 1.2 million will pass through animal shelters or shelterless rescues within one year’s time.
Other “bully” breeds, including bull mastiffs, Cane Corsos, Dogo Argentinos, Fila Brasieros, mastiffs, Presa Canarios, Rhodesian ridgebacks, Rottweilers, and Tosas, have cumulatively come up from about 1% of the U.S. dog population in 2010 to 5.5% of the listings in 2015, and 3% on average since 2010. The current U.S. population of “bully” breeds other than pit bulls is about 1.9 million.
Because dogs of most breeds have an average duration in a home of six years or more, ANIMALS 24-7 views the cumulative average percentages of listings as more indicative of the current dimensions of the dog population than the figures from just the most recent year. However, since the velocity of turnover for pit bulls and other “bully” breeds is two to three times greater than for other breed categories, the more accurate figure for these dogs may be an average from the most recent two or three years.
ANIMALS 24-7 took a particularly close look at the trend line for boxers in 2015 because growing numbers of “boxer mixes” are appearing in animal shelters who for the most part are actually pit bulls.
Developed as a fighting breed in the mid-19th century, boxers became popular in the early 20th century, but fell out of vogue with the emergence of the pit bull lines that are ancestral to most pit bulls today. Rarely used as fighting dogs during the past 100 years, boxers have never been close to the top 12 dog breeds and breed types in popularity during recent decades. Briefly rising to more than 1% of the total U.S. dog population in 2013 and 2014, boxers dropped back to their normal level of circa half of 1% in 2015.
Overall, there is no indication that boxers are now any more common than 10 or 20 years ago.
Shepherds & Malinois
German shepherds continue to hold “market share” of about 2.2%, or about 1.5 million dogs, but were outbred in spring 2015 by their close cousins, the Malinois, as breeders anticipated a surge in demand following the release of Max, the fictionalized story of a military dog used in Afghanistan.
A 2014 study entitled “Dog Movie Stars & Dog Breed Popularity: A Case Study in Media Influence on Choice,” by Stefano Ghirlanda, Alberto Acerbi, Harold Herzog, confirmed that 29 influential films featuring dogs of specific breeds had influenced the popularity of those breeds for as long as a decade after each film was released. The 1943 film Lassie Come Home was associated with a 40% increase in collie registrations during the next two years; Labrador retriever registrations increased fivefold after the release of The Incredible Journey in 1963; and the 1959 Walt Disney film The Shaggy Dog was followed by a 3,600% increase in sheepdog registrations over the next decade.
Ghirlanda, Acerbi, and Herzog noted a reported 35% increase in the numbers of Dalmatians surrendered to animal shelters after the 1996 release of a live-action remake of the 1961 hit 101 Dalmatians. This, however, was only about 10% of the surge in Dalmatian surrenders that followed the 1991 re-release of the original animated version of 101 Dalmatians, documented in 1993 by the first ANIMALS 24-7 breed-specific survey of shelter dog populations.
Most of the other most popular breeds and breed categories as of 2015 are small dogs, including beagles, returning to vogue as a fad for acquiring Dachshunds has abruptly declined.
1900 to 1950
Done during the first and second weeks of July 2015, the ANIMALS 24-7 survey was the sixth of an annual series using the same methodology within 10 days of the same time of year each year.
Of the dogs advertised for sale or adoption each year, about 80% appear to be puppies; older dogs appear to be advertised mostly by shelters and shelterless “rescues.”
ANIMALS 24-7 has also retrospectively surveyed classified ads offering dogs for sale, back to 1900.
Among the top 12 breeds and breed categories from 1900 to 1950, an era when the population was split among only about half as many recognized breeds as now, were huskies (9%, most of them working dogs); setters, 8.8%; hounds, 8.7%; collies, 8.2%; poodles, 7,7%; boxers, 7.6%; spaniels, 6.7%; German shepherds, 5.5%; large retrievers, 3.7%; pugs, 2.4%; and Dachshunds, 2.2%.
Other breeds with “market share” of more than 1% included Newfoundlands, Dobermans, Pomeranians, whippets, Pekingese, Great Danes, and Dalmatians.
Pit bulls, by all names combined, were just under 1%; other “bully” breeds were about half of 1%.
Populations of 15 leading dog breeds, 2010-2015