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Hunting Dogs Increasing in Popularity?

Last year’s American Kennel Club (AKC) listing of most popular dogs revealed hunting breeds struggling to gain traction among dog owners, but bird dog breeds served notice in the just-released list, buoyed by four Setters making big jumps in the past year.

More English Setter pups found happy homes in 2011. Photo by Anthony Hauck / Pheasants Forever

“The Year of the Setters” is how the AKC described it, with the English Setter (from 101 to 87), the Irish Setter (from 77 to 70), the Irish Red and White Setter (150 to 147), and the Gordon Setter (from 98 to 94) all moving up the chart. Are hunting breeds gaining in popularity? More than 10 breeds commonly associated with bird hunting moved up the chart this year. Hopefully that translates into more interest in upland hunting and upland conservation.

Other notable upward bird dog trends in 2011 include:

  • English Cocker Spaniels flushed up three spots on the list since last year, and have leapt 13 breeds in popularity since 2001. Count me among the new English Cocker owners; check out Pheasants Forever’s “My First Bird Dog” series about the experience.
  • Flat-Coated Retrievers made a big one year move, from 103 to number 90.
  • Vizslas keep pointing higher, from 41 in 2010 to 37 this year.
  • Wirehaired Pointing Griffons moved up another spot (from 93 to 92). The breed continues to gain popularity, having moved up 23 slots in the last decade.

Listed below are the ranks of selected sporting dog breeds according to the AKC. In parentheses after each breed is its rank from 2011, followed by its rank from 2010 and then its rank from 2001, respectively. Note: Many pointing dogs are registered with the Field Dog Stud Book as opposed to the AKC.

  • Labrador Retrievers (1, 1, 1)
  • Golden Retrievers (4, 5, 2)
  • German Shorthaired Pointers (15, 16, 22)
  • Cocker Spaniels (27, 25, 14)
  • English Springer Spaniels (29, 29, 27)
  • Brittanys (30, 30, 31)
  • Weimaraners (32, 32, 29)
  • Vizslas (37, 41, 45)
  • Chesapeake Bay Retrievers (46, 48, 41)
  • English Cocker Spaniels (63, 66, 76)
  • Irish Setters (70, 77, 59)
  • German Wirehaired Pointers (75, 73, 73)
  • English Setters (87, 101, 89)
  • Flat-Coated Retrievers (90, 103, 98)
  • Wirehaired Pointing Griffons (92, 93, 115)
  • Gordon Setters (94, 98, 84)
  • Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers (107, 107, NA)
  • Pointers (115, 111, 100)
  • Spinoni Italiani (123, 118, 122)
  • Welsh Springer Spaniels (130, 127, 112)
  • Clumber Spaniels (133, 131, 120)
  • Boykin Spaniels (138, 133, NA)
  • Field Spaniel (141, 132, 133)
  • Irish Red and White Setters (147, 150, NA)
  • Irish Water Spaniels (150, 148, 131)
  • Curly Coated Retrievers (154, 146, 129)
  • American Water Spaniels (157, 143, 124)

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.

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8 Responses to “Hunting Dogs Increasing in Popularity?”

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  1. Matt Nordahl says:

    Go ECS! Great dog. Still no ADT’s. (airedales) I’ve got my new agenda. Have Airedales make the PF popularity list of hunting dogs!

  2. Doing our part to spread the word about how GREAT Wirehaired Pointing Griffons are!!:) Thanks for the mention on behalf of Griffondom.

  3. Bill Wagner says:

    Wahoo for the English Cockers – my first dog was a great hunting partner for 12 years!!!

  4. Bill Wagner says:

    She was an English hunting Cocker.

  5. M.G. Fread says:

    I’m a shorthair fanatic and to see them gain any popularity makes me sad. I can only assume more of them are stuck in apartments or tiny yards only getting nose time once a month when their owners aren’t at work. What’s more memorable to a new hunter, taking their first shot behind slick and experienced pointers and retrievers or watching bumbling dogs bust points and steal retrieves because they don’t know better. Even worse, the yipping rabbit chaser. Popularity ? a better hunting future.

  6. M.G. Fread says:

    I’m a shorthair fanatic and to see them gain any popularity makes me sad. I can only assume more of them are stuck in apartments or tiny yards only getting nose time once a month when their owners aren’t at work. What’s more memorable to a new hunter, taking their first shot behind slick and experienced pointers and retrievers or watching bumbling dogs bust points and steal retrieves because they don’t know better. Even worse, the yipping rabbit chaser. Popularity does not equal a better hunting future.

  7. banks137 says:

    Love my Brittany Spaniel! Very easy to train, great instincts and great with the family.

  8. Carol Ptak says:

    I have to agree with MG – I hate to see the griffon get any more popular. People who do not understand the unique characteristics of a griffon in training, exercise and lifestyle should not have one. Add to that what some show breeders are doing to the breed in the name of improving field capability and I hate to think of where the breed is going.

    http://gryphonranch.com/Breed%20improvement%20or%20destruction%20v2.1.pdf

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