Pits fall to lowest since 2010 relative to other top breed types
Non-pit bull small terriers, the hound category, large retrievers, and dachshunds all have a legitimate claim to being the most popular dog type in the U.S., according to the seventh annual ANIMALS 24-7 survey of classified ads offering dogs for sale or adoption.
Data from 783,645 classified ads
The 2016 ANIMALS 24-7 survey evaluated 783,645 total classified ads, excluding duplicates, to represent approximately 783,645 individual dogs.
Since there are more than 200 breeds recognized by major kennel clubs, many of which share most of their dominant characteristics and uses with other breeds, ANIMALS 24-7 consolidates breeds into generic breed types as much as is practicable.
At that, only 25 breed types claimed market share of 1% or more in 2016. Within those 25 breed types, four recognized individual breeds also claimed 1% market share: golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers, Boston terriers, and Siberian huskies.
Non-pit small terriers lead the pack
Non-pit bull small terriers easily outdistanced the hound group as the dogs most commonly listed for sale or adoption in 2016, with apparent total market share of 8.5%, split among many terrier variants.
One small terrier, the Boston terrier, qualified individually as a top 25 most popular breed in 2016, with 1.7% market share.
But hounds, second in 2016 at 7.0% of the sale or adoption listings, remained first in cumulative average since 2010, at 8.3%.
Hounds, like non-pit bull small terriers, are a broadly inclusive category.
The most popular single breed in 2016 appear to be dachshunds, at 6.9% market share.
This is by far the highest share that dachshunds have won since ANIMALS 24-7 began doing annual all-electronic surveys in 2010, and retrospective surveys using electronically archived newspaper classified ads going back to 1900––even though dachshunds have always rated well.
Cumulatively, dachshunds are also the most popular single breed since 2010, at 2.6% total market share.
Large retrievers, chiefly golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers, and Newfoundlands, claimed 6.1% market share in 2016, down somewhat from 7.6% overall since 2010. Both goldens and Labs also individually cracked the 2016 list of the 25 most popular breeds or breed types.
Pit bull advocates often allege that the popularity of “bully” breeds is why they inflict upward of 80% of all fatal and disfiguring dog attacks on humans and 95%-plus of fatal attacks on other animals.
The 2016 ANIMALS 24-7 survey of classified ads offering dogs for sale or adoption, however, shows the pit bull category slipping from market share of 6.7% and 6.6% in 2014 and 2015, to 4.9% in 2016, consistent with a seven-year average of 5.2%.
The pit bull group as logged by ANIMALS 24-7 includes any dog advertised as a pit bull, an American bulldog, an American bully, an Ambull, a Staffordshire, a bull terrier, or other bulldogs exclusive of English and French bulldogs. (Olde English Bulldogges, however, are pit bulls.)
French bulldogs share with pit bulls a combination of bulldog and rat terrier ancestry, and are also often inclined toward aggressive behavior, but typically weigh 20 to 25 pounds, too small to kill or disfigure most healthy adults.
Historically French bulldogs have not accounted for more than 1% of the U.S. dog population. French bull terriers, however, accounted for 2% of the dogs logged in the 2016 ANIMALS 24-7 survey of classified ads.
This, together with the soaring popularity of Boston terriers, suggests that many people acquiring dogs want a “pit bull” appearance without the liability risk associated with actual pit bulls.
At the opposite extreme, mastiffs and pit bull/mastiff mixes, including Cane Corsos, Fila Brasieros, Dog Argentinos, and Presa Canarios, came in at 3.7% of the 2016 ANIMALS 24-7 survey sample, rising to 3.0% of the cumulative average since 2010.
Rottweilers, rarely registering more than 1%, rose to 2.4% of the 2016 sample.
Boxers, developed as a fighting breed in the mid-19th century, became briefly 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 re-emerged among the top 25 most popular breeds since 2013. Achieving 1.9% market share in 2016 brought boxers over the 1% mark in average popularity since 2010.
“Bully” breeds & lookalikes
Altogether, “bully” breeds and bully look-alikes may together be as much as 13% of the total U.S. dog population. But the pit bull, Rottweiler, and mastiff/pit bull mixed dogs accounting cumulatively for about 90% of the fatal and disfiguring attacks on humans continue to make up under 9% of the dog population.
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.
1900 to 1950
Among the top 12 breeds and breed categories from 1900 to 1950, an era when the dog population was split among only about half as many recognized breeds as now, were huskies, setters, hounds, collies, poodles, boxers, spaniels, German shepherds, large retrievers, pugs, and dachshunds
Other breeds with “market share” of more than 1% from 1900 to 1950 included Newfoundlands as an individual breed, Dobermans, Pomeranians, whippets, Pekingese, Great Danes, and Dalmatians.
Top 25 over time
Pit bulls, by all names combined, were just under 1%; other “bully” breeds were about half of 1%.
Of the 12 most popular breeds and breed types from 1900 to 1950, only Great Danes have dropped out of the top 25 of today.
Belgian Malinois, historically less than half of 1% of the U.S. dog population, became briefly a breed of concern after suddenly winning 2.9% market share in 2014, coinciding with the pre-release hoopla for the film Max the Malinois, debuting in U.S. theaters in June 2015.
Over the past two years, however, Belgian Malinois popularity has fallen back to the historical norm for the breed.