The gentle and gentle French Bulldog has been named the most popular dog in the United States, ending the Labrador Retriever’s 31-year reign as king of pure-breeds in the American Kennel Club’s 2022 rankings.
With his flat face and bat-like eyes and ears, the Frenchie has climbed steadily in the rankings over the past decade, reaching second place the year before, according to the club, which holds the largest record pedigree of purebred dogs in the country. “What’s not to like about them? They’re great companions, gentle and show great affection,” said breeder Johnny Danley Jr., of Atlanta.
The Frenchman finished 14th in the 2012 ranking. The club states on its website that registrations have since increased tenfold. Danley began breeding French Bulldogs for nearly a dozen years as a hobby, selling them to friends, before opening his own business, Damn Danley Kennels, in 2018. But puppies aren’t cheap, with prices starting at $3,000.
“I’ve heard about multimillion-dollar sales. But we sell to blue collar, 9-to-5 guys who are willing to spend a little for a great mate,” Danley said. The breed’s growing popularity — and its price tag — has led to an increase in French Bulldog thefts in recent years, according to the club. In an incident that made national headlines in 2021, two Frenchmen belonging to Lady Gaga were robbed during an altercation in Los Angeles that left the singer’s walking dog with gunshot wounds.
Danley admitted that some French Shorthairs can suffer from health issues affecting the respiratory system and spinal cord. But he said the risks are much lower when only healthy dogs are used for breeding. The former top dog, the Labrador Retriever, still has plenty of fans, dropping to second place, ahead of third place golden retriever, and number 4 German shepherd. At number 199 is the English Foxhound.
“They are amazing dogs,” said Arcelan Hegne, breeder and co-owner of Royale French Bulldogs in the Atlanta suburb of Union City. “I love labs, don’t get me wrong,” Higgin said. “But the French are the best. They are such little people. When they look at you, they melt your heart.”
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