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Ten Bird Dog Breed Popularity Trends

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

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.

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17 Responses to “Ten Bird Dog Breed Popularity Trends”

  1. Hank says:

    GWPs have to be out pacing a lot of those breeds!

  2. Judy says:

    I agree Hank! I own 3 GWP and one looks just like Rupert above – love them!

  3. Tcarn says:

    #5 baby!

  4. Tom says:

    Then again, llewellin setters don’t care about AKC.

  5. Doug says:

    Two other breeds I know gaining are the French Brittany(Epagnuel Breton) and the German Pudelpointer – -. The pudelpointer has not been recognized by the AKC. Both breeds hunt well – - and are at home on land of water.

  6. Laurence Friedman says:

    Agree with Hank and Doug. I’d match a GWP or a Pudelpointer against any of your listed breeds.

  7. Pay says:

    I would take an English Pointer over all of theses!

  8. Doug says:

    The English P is a great hunter but not so good at retrieving or in real cold conditions. For my money – - (limited as it is for most) – - I’ll take a versatile. By the way it took about 100 Pointers and 8 to 11 poodles to create the Pudelpointer – -and I can tell by mine’s drive and hyperactivity.

  9. Geoff says:

    If all griffs are like Rupert its no wonder they are gaining in popularity. He was so easy to train, a great hunter, and a pleasure to be around at home.

  10. karen says:

    Vizsla is our dog of choice. Great family dog, works in close, very Smart!

  11. Junior says:

    Too bad AKC is rating. DD popularity is on the rise.

  12. Rudi says:

    All great dogs, but my heart will always belong to a Brittany.

  13. Doug says:

    I know what you mean Rudy – -I have had two American Brits and two French.
    Their personalities have been more like a little person. My Pudelpointers have been a dogs dog.

  14. yes she tired after 4 hours but so was i my flat coated retriever kicked butt for 12 years. she hunted with pointers,goldens,shorthairs,springers,brittanys and vizslas.she constantly found birds the others ran by.she only flushed pheasants but pointed quail,chucker and woodcock but her tail would not stop wagging.

  15. Jerry says:

    Not to start a big debate but why not the most versitile dog out there “The Pointing Lab” will lock down and point any wild bird and retrieve in the harshest of weather. I love mine.

  16. Tony Gross says:

    More interesting for hunters is: What breeds are tops and rising in Field Dog Stud Book? (American Field)

  17. Tony Gross says:



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