Ten Bird Dog Breed Popularity Trends

  • 02/20/2014
Wirehaired pointing griffons, or “Griffs,” continue to be a breed gaining in popularity. Photo of “Rupert” courtesy of Geoff Osterman.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) has released its annual list of the most popular dog breeds in the U.S. Here are the ten 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.
1. Long Live Labs! For the 23rd consecutive year, and no doubt thanks to many pheasant hunters, the Labrador retriever maintains the #1 spot on the AKC most popular list – the longest reign at the top in history.
2. Can GSPs Crack Top Ten? 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 a mere three spots away from the top grouping.
3. Griffs Gaining. Wirehaired pointing griffons continue to increase in popularity, having moved up five slots (85 to 80) from 2012 to 2013, and 32 slots in the last decade.
4. Bigger is Better. According to the AKC, owning bigger breeds is somewhat of an economic indicator, bigger dogs costing more to feed and care for. Consider the Chesapeake Bay retriever – up from 46 to 43 in the last year – a sure sign of stimulus.
5. Red, White and Move. While still near the bottom of the overall list, Irish red and white setters moved up double digits, from 155 to 145, a big jump for a breed officially first recognized as part of the AKC Sporting Group in 2009.
6. Retrievers Reeling. While Labs and Goldens are mainstays in the top five, flat-coated retrievers dipped three (91 to 94) and curly-coated retrievers dropped down 10 spots (153 to 164).
7. Rare Comebacks. A pair of rare breeds which have been on the decline over the past decade made strong gains in 2013: Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers from 104 to 97; and Sussex Spaniels from 169 to 162.
8. Setters Slip. Three years ago, the AKC declared the “Year of the Setters” as four setter breeds made jumps. While Irish setters joined red and white setters in moving upward, English (87 down to 91) and Gordon (99 down to 105) setters saw their trends reverse course in 2013.
9. Flushing Forward. English cocker spaniels continue their steady rise in popularity, moving up another two spots to 62. As recently as 2001, English cockers were at 76.
10. Consistent Brits. A decade ago, Brittanys were found at #30 on this list. Today, they are found in the exact same place…the more things change, the more things stay the same.
Anthony’s Antics Afield is written by Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Online Editor. Email Anthony at AHauck@pheasantsforever.org and follow him on Twitter @AnthonyHauckPF.