That Dog Is So 2012
The pet product industry is a lot like the baby product industry. The engine that runs these industries is love—people’s love of their animals and their babies. So, it seems an odd peculiarity of the pet trade that its chief assets, dogs and cats, can literally go in and out of style.
Of course, you expect these kinds of evolving allegiances on the product supply side of the trade—consumer preferences and tastes constantly change and evolve when it comes to all manner of things, from collar designs and apparel to pet treat flavors and doggy bowl colors. But it is an interesting phenomenon that pet breeds are as subject to consumer trends as the bowls they drink from.
According to DogVacay, a dog-sitting and boarding company, this year’s most popular dog breed is the Golden Retriever—followed by the Shih Tzu in second place and the Rottweiler in third. This assertion, the company says, is based on a compilation of its own data and data available through Google regarding the breeds found most prevalently in today’s U.S. households (see below for the full infographic). The American Kennel Club (AKC) also publishes an annual listing on popular dog breeds. The organization’s most recent list, released in February 2015, had the Labrador Retriever holding the top spot for the second year in a row. German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers and Bulldogs took the next three spots on the ranking, respectively.
Meanwhile, a recent article on Vetstreet.com—a website resource that provides a directory of veterinarians and pet health care information for pet owners—turned the spotlight on breeds that seem to have fallen out of favor. Famed veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker, the author of the article, laments the steady decline of five dog breeds that he used to see far more often in his practice.
For example, his No. 1 pick was the Irish Setter. “I used to see a lot of these bouncy, red dogs in my practice,” Becker says. “I know the rub is that they’re too energetic and not the brightest bulb on the light string, but the ones I used to know were great family dogs who loved to be around people and really wanted to please. I miss their smiling faces and the feathered tails that never stop wagging.”
He also misses Scottish Terriers and Collies. Check out the article for the full list on Vetstreet.com.
In a similar article looking at trends in cat ownership, Vetstreet.com editor Laura Cross fondly recalls feline breeds that have lost popularity with pet owners in recent years—including Birman, Somali and Tonkinese cats.
“Known for her gorgeous sapphire blue eyes and white-gloved feet, the Birman is still in the top 20 breeds as ranked by CFA [Cat Fanciers’ Association], but she hasn’t been in the top 10 in the past few years,” she remarks, for example.
Any number of reasons can contribute to the rise and fall in popularity of animal breeds—anything from husbandry concerns to the influence of pop culture and social media. But every once in awhile, it is nice to throw some sunshine on the underdog and let these less-beloved breeds share in its warm glow. After all, a dog or cat is not last season’s coat or pair of pumps. Animals can never truly go out of style.