Bird Dogs & Training  |  04/03/2015

Ten Bird Dog Breed Popularity Trends

The American Kennel Club (AKC) has released its annual list of the most popular dog breeds in the U.S. Here are 10 trends related to bird dog breeds that stand out. Note: Many pointing dogs are registered with the Field Dog Stud Book as opposed to the AKC.
Year of the Retriever. A pair of retriever breeds made double-digit gains over the last decade, the Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever (from 118 in 2004 to 96 in 2014) and the Flat-coated retriever (106 to 90). More on retrievers down the list…
Big Dogs Gaining. Another retriever gain was made by the Chesapeake Bay retriever, which jumped up from 43 to 40. Just five years ago, “Chessies” penciled in at 49.
Popular Pointers. A pair of already-popular pointing breeds continue their ascent. Just over a decade ago, the German shorthaired pointer stood as the 21st most popular breed in America. Today, the “GSP” – undoubtedly the top pointing breed among pheasant hunters – is just a pair of spots away from the top grouping at 12. And Brittanys made a move from 30 up to 27. 
Spaniel News. As far as spaniels go, English springers remain locked in at 28 (same), English cockers continued their momentum up to 61, but Boykin spaniels made the biggest move of the flusher bunch, gaining ground from 121 to 104.
Stylish Setters. Gordon setters made a nice leap forward, getting out of triple digits at 105 and locking up on point at 97.
Loveable Ugly. Beards are still in, as it’s 74 to 69 for the German wirehaired pointer in a five-year span. But this wasn’t even the biggest news in the “Ugly Dog” category…
Rare Breed. The rarest of bird dogs on the list just got rarer, as Sussex spaniels fell from 162 to 169.
4-Wheel Drive. The Wirehaired pointing griffon (aka “the 4-wheel drive of hunting dogs”) has made huge strides over the past decade, jumping 38 spots from 112 in 2004 to 74th in 2014.
Golden Hours. “Goldies” are named as much for the “Golden Hour” roosters they love to chase as their fashionable coats, right? While much of the Golden retriever’s popularity - see #3 on the list - is due to its family dog status, many pheasant hunters know the thrill of hunting with this biddable breed.
Labs’ Legacy. For the 24th consecutive year, the Labrador retriever holds firm at the top spot. Black, yellow or chocolate, the loveable Lab has helped the breed to the longest reign as the nation’s most popular breed in AKC history. 

Anthony Hauck is Pheasants Forever’s online editor. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @AnthonyHauckPF.
Photo credit: Sam Stukel