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The Hunting Dog Top 20 Chart

The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever puppy, number 107 on the AKC list, but number 1 at Pheasant Fest.

One needed only attend National Pheasant Fest 2011 last weekend for proof that nothing draws people to the world of wildlife habitat conservation like sporting dogs. Quite frankly, I’m surprised someone didn’t straight up try and steal the fuzz ball Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever puppy. It was that cute.

The opportunity to see less common breeds such as this is a real draw of the show. But just how common or uncommon are certain breeds? The American Kennel Club last week released its annual list of the most popular dog breeds in America (Spoiler alert! The Lab retained its eternal hold on the top spot).

Either there are less bird hunters or hunting dogs are drowning in a sea of Shih Tzus (the complete AKC list includes all dogs), or both, but most working breeds are maintaining or declining in terms of overall dog popularity. Two breeds, Boykin Spaniels and Irish Red and White Setters, took serious nosedives on the chart, each dropping more than 40 spots. If someone can clue me in as to why, I’d sure like to know.

There are some notable exceptions. Proving that facial hair can really shape image, the breed with the biggest increase in ranking over the past year – hunting or non hunting dog – is the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon  (from 108th to 93rd). And if you examine data going back a decade, German Shorthaired Pointers are pointed in the right direction, jumping from 24th to 16th in that time period.

Listed below are the ranks of selected sporting dog breeds according to the AKC. In parentheses after each breed is its rank from 2010, followed by its rank from 2009 and then its rank from 2000, respectively. And considering the exposure the Duck Tolling Retriever pup got at Pheasant Fest, look for the breed to break the Top 100 next year.

Note: Many pointing dogs are registered with the Field Dog Stud Book as opposed to the AKC.

Labrador Retriever (1, 1, 1)

Golden Retrievers (5, 4, 2)

German Shorthaired Pointers (16, 16, 24)

Cocker Spaniels (25, 23, 14)

English Springer Spaniels (29, 29, 26)

Brittanys (30, 30, 31)

Weimaraners (32, 31, 32)

Viszlas (41, 42, 47)

Chesapeake Bay Retrievers (48, 49, 41)

English Cocker Spaniels (66, 66, 76)

German Wirehaired Pointers (73, 74, 73)

Irish Setters (77, 73, 62)

Wirehaired Pointing Griffons (93, 108, 112)

Gordon Setters (98, 97, 84)

English Setters (101, 95, 91)

Flat-Coated Retrievers (103, 106, 98)

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers (107, 110, NA)

Pointers (111, 114, 100)

Spinoni Italiani (118, 119, 143)

Welsh Springer Spaniels (127, 136, 113)

Clumber Spaniels (131, 128, 121)

Field Spaniel (132, 137, 132)

Boykin Spaniels (133, 92, NA)

American Water Spaniels (143, 139, 125)

Curly Coated Retrievers (146, 145, 130)

Irish Red and White Setters (150, 80, NA)

And in case you missed it, Pheasants Forever’s Bob St.Pierre also touched on the most popular bird dog breeds among Pheasants Forever members in his recent blog post What’s the Most Popular Bird Dog Breed in Pheasants Forever Land?

Anthony’s Antics Afield is written by Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Public Relations Specialist

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5 Responses to “The Hunting Dog Top 20 Chart”

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  1. POPGUN says:

    I have hunted behind some great hunting dogs in my 50 years of Pheasant Hunting. Some were free and 2 cost me $5.00 ea. They were all Muts and any story you can tell me I will believe, but I can say there ain’t no story I can’t top with a true story about the Muts I have seen do Amazzzzing things. In my book the Heinz 57 bunch is #1

  2. Kait says:

    The reason for the decline in numbers for both the Irish Red & White and Boykin Spaniel is simple. Last year AKC transfered over their entire stud books, and the numbers reflected that. This year the only dogs that were regestered were just those born during the year. If you look at the numbers the Tollers did the same thing in 2003-2004. Hope that helps.
    Katy

  3. BBGun says:

    Two great muts indeed, Popgun. But give a choclate lab a try and see what you think.

  4. Elyboy says:

    Get a field bred Gordon Setter and be done with it, or be a Sheeple and get a lab or golden ret.

  5. CDY says:

    As the average age of hunters increases the popularity of slow and close working dogs such as the wirehaired griffin increases. It is sometimes hard to admit the effects of age so we compensate in our choices.

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