Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Perspectives on Breed Popularity

The American Kennel Club has a problem with the overwhelming popularity of Labrador retrievers, it seems.  Labs are just too popular for their own good, so the AKC says little about Labs, and AKC judges hardly notice them at conformation shows (see previous blog).

 Granddaughter with puppies Cody & Charles

AKC's behaviors led me to wonder if the USA is the only country with a big Lab problem.  With more difficulty than I imagined, I did find data on Labs' annual registrations with major kennel clubs in other countries.  How popular are Labs in other countries?  Here's the Table:

Labrador Retriever Annual Registrations by Country, 2005-2006

Country Population Annual Lab # Labs/

(millions) registrations mill. pop.
Sweden 9 5253 584
Australia 10 4491 449
Finland 5 2236 430
UK 60 18554 311
Canada 32 8881 278
France 61 10582 175
USA 298 38951 131
Netherlands 17 1505 89

Data are from published kennel club reports.  US and UK figures for annual registrations differ from their reports of total registrations by breed.
Popularity of Labs in the US lags far behind other Lab-loving countries, such as Sweden, Australia, Finland, and the UK.  Sweden has 4 1/2 times as many Labradors per capita as the US.   Even Canada has twice as many Labs per capita as the US.  Discussions of Labradors' popularity in other countries mentioned that, compared to other breeds of roughly the same size, Lab registrations are 2 to 4 times higher than the next large-dog breed (usually Golden retrievers or German Shepherds).

Suppose the US had as many Labradors per capita as Sweden does. There would be 174,000 Labs registered per year with the AKC, far greater number than the 38,000 registered in a good year. At any one time, the AKC could have a million registered Labrador retrievers.

It's hard to imagine how the AKC would react, if Labs' popularity increased four-fold, relative to other breeds.  Perhaps, the AKC should accept Labs for the hugely popular breed they are around the world and give them the attention they deserve.  Being recognized in AKC conformation shows would be a good start.

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