Dog breeds losing popularity

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September 27, 2018
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Dog breeds losing popularity

Trends of all kinds can fade in and out of popularity, including dog breeds. While some purebreds’ popularity rankings have stood the test of time for more than a quarter century, other breeds have quickly dropped in popularity.

To identify which dog breeds are trending out of style, Stacker found the 50 dog breeds that have become the least popular over the last two decades. To do this, they used data from the American Kennel Club (AKC) to find the purebreds whose U.S. popularity ranking dropped the most from 1997 to 2017. The breeds are ordered by their 20-year rank change, with the breed experiencing the furthest fall from grace taking the #1 spot. When ties occurred, breeds are ordered by descending 2017 popularity rankings. In 1997, the AKC recognized only 145 breeds, so any breeds who have been added since then are not included in this list.  

Whether you’re looking for a unique dog to bring home to the family or are seeing where your pet stacks up, check out the 50 dogs breeds that are losing popularity.

ALSO: Dog breeds gaining popularity

#50. Norwegian elkhounds

2017 AKC rank: 91

1997 AKC rank: 72

20-year rank change: -19

The Norwegian elkhound is a spitz-type breed, known for its wolf-like appearance. Prospective families should be aware that due to the breed’s two-ply coat, shedding is an inevitable fact of life.

#49. Belgian sheepdogs

2017 AKC rank: 120

1997 AKC rank: 101

20-year rank change: -19

Belgian sheepdogs require a lot of exercise to keep them docile and happy. This breed will work extremely hard for its owners, but may develop behavioral problems if left alone for long periods of time.

#48. Briards

2017 AKC rank: 127

1997 AKC rank: 108

20-year rank change: -19

Belonging to the herding group, Briards originated in France and were originally bred to protect farmers’ flocks. Today, the dogs may be falling in popularity because their long, coarse coats require extra care and attention.

#47. Sussex spaniels

2017 AKC rank: 161

1997 AKC rank: 142

20-year rank change: -19

The Sussex spaniel was among the first 10 breeds to be formally recognized after the AKC was formed in 1884, and has decreased in popularity since then. The breed is known for its long, low build and golden color.

#46. Chihuahuas

2017 AKC rank: 32

1997 AKC rank: 12

20-year rank change: -20

Despite trending down in popularity since 1997, Chihuahuas are the second-most popular breed on this list. Americans may be straying away from these dogs because of their reputation for having a big attitude.

#45. Italian greyhounds

2017 AKC rank: 74

1997 AKC rank: 54

20-year rank change: -20

Smaller, more slender versions of the larger greyhound, Italian greyhounds are alert and playful lap dogs. Their docile demeanor makes them ideal for families with small children.  

#44. Affenpinschers

2017 AKC rank: 147

1997 AKC rank: 127

20-year rank change: -20

Affenpinschers are small, wiry-haired dogs belonging to the toy group. According to the AKC, in France, this breed is known as the “mustached little devil,” likely because of its scrunched face, wiry hair, and devilish personality.

#43. Cocker spaniels

2017 AKC rank: 29

1997 AKC rank: 8

20-year rank change: -21

The cocker spaniel is the most popular breed to make this list. These dogs retain their popularity owing to their soft, beautiful coats and gentle personalities. Prospective owners may, however, be straying away in recent years due to the regular and thorough grooming that this breed requires.

#42. Pointers

2017 AKC rank: 113

1997 AKC rank: 92

20-year rank change: -21

Pointers are fast, agile dogs that have been working alongside humans for centuries. The breed requires minimal grooming and maintenance, but aren’t great apartment dogs because they require a lot of exercise to stay healthy and happy.

#41. Great Pyrenees

2017 AKC rank: 66

1997 AKC rank: 44

20-year rank change: -22

The Great Pyrenees may be mistaken for a polar bear thanks to its large build, fluffy white fur, and affinity for cold weather. Despite having a great deal of fur, these dogs don’t require regular grooming, but some prospective owners might hesitate to adopt one, due to the breed’s excessive shedding.

#40. Borzois

2017 AKC rank: 102

1997 AKC rank: 80

20-year rank change: -22

Dog-owners must have ample space to take care of borzois, as these dogs are considered a giant breed. Originally bred in Russia for hunting, this breed can have a stubborn temperament, making training puppies more difficult than other breeds.

#39. Cairn terriers

2017 AKC rank: 69

1997 AKC rank: 45

20-year rank change: -24

Cairn terriers are named after a pile of rocks once used to mark graves called a cairn. These small dogs have an average life expectancy of 13–15 years and are known for being inquisitive and intelligent.

#38. American eskimo dogs

2017 AKC rank: 118

1997 AKC rank: 94

20-year rank change: -24

American eskimos may not be ideal dogs for pet owners who live in hot environments. This breed has a thick undercoat that sheds seasonally, and can cause them to overheat in warmer months.

#37. Kerry blue terriers

2017 AKC rank: 129

1997 AKC rank: 105

20-year rank change: -24

Yet another terrier to fall in popularity, the AKC first recognized the Kerry blue terrier in 1924. The dogs’ unique, blue coats and long snouts are their defining characteristics.

#36. Gordon setters

2017 AKC rank: 104

1997 AKC rank: 79

20-year rank change: -25

Gordon setters were originally bred in Scotland as hunting dogs. Today, the Gordon takes its name from Alexander, Fourth Duke of Gordon, who lived in the 1800s and had an affinity for the breed.

#35. Greyhounds

2017 AKC rank: 156

1997 AKC rank: 128

20-year rank change: -28

Greyhounds are the world’s fastest dogs and can reach top speeds of 45 miles per hour. Their slender bodies and unique “inverted S” makes them uniquely aerodynamic.  

#34. Lowchen

2017 AKC rank: 169

1997 AKC rank: 141

20-year rank change: -28

The lowchen, translating to “little lion” in German, has fallen 28 spots in the last 20 years. Owners of this breed usually groom them to appear to have a mini lion’s mane. Despite all of the fur, however, these dogs don’t require much grooming.

#33. Ibizan hounds

2017 AKC rank: 165

1997 AKC rank: 136

20-year rank change: -29

This hound dates back as far as ancient Egypt, and is in fact a descendant of the Egyptian hound. Dog lovers may hesitate before bringing home one of these quick, strong hunting hounds, due to their ample exercise needs.

#32. Keeshonden

2017 AKC rank: 87

1997 AKC rank: 57

20-year rank change: -30

The Keeshond is a medium-sized breed known for its lion-like hair. The coloration around its eyes make this breed appear to wear glasses.

#31. Japanese chin

2017 AKC rank: 108

1997 AKC rank: 78

20-year rank change: -30

Japanese chin belong to the toy group and have roots as the favorite pets of ancient aristocracy. Pet-owners looking for studier working dogs should consider another breed, as chins only average 7–11 pounds.

#30. Komondor

2017 AKC rank: 163

1997 AKC rank: 133

20-year rank change: -30

The Komondor does not look like your average dog. Owners of this breed forgo soft fur for long white cords, giving them the appearance of 100-pound mops.

#29. Bedlington terriers

2017 AKC rank: 151

1997 AKC rank: 120

20-year rank change: -31

The third terrier to make the list, Bedlingtons resemble sheep with their fluffy white fur and pear-shaped heads. Although they don’t shed, these dogs need regular trimmings to keep their hair looking neat and tidy.

#28. Chinese Shar-Pei

2017 AKC rank: 64

1997 AKC rank: 32

20-year rank change: -32

The Shar-Pei is a relatively popular breed, but its temperament could be one cause of its fall in popularity. This Chinese breed does not do well with strangers or unfamiliar dogs, and can be difficult to train.

#27. Irish water spaniels

2017 AKC rank: 164

1997 AKC rank: 132

20-year rank change: -32

The Irish water spaniel has many qualities that make it unique, including its tight, curly, waterproof coat and thin tail. These dogs don’t shed much, and therefore ideal for owners with allergies or aversions to long grooming sessions.

#26. Bearded Ccllies

2017 AKC rank: 125

1997 AKC rank: 89

20-year rank change: -36

Families looking to bring home a bearded collie should first make sure they know all of the characteristics of this breed. Bearded collies’ long coats require regular grooming, their energetic natures mean they need regular exercise, and their stubborn temperaments may make training challenging.

#25. Smooth fox terriers

2017 AKC rank: 122

1997 AKC rank: 85

20-year rank change: -37

The smooth fox terrier is a small dog with a lot of energy. Bred to chase foxes out of their holes, these terriers now use their high energy levels to serve as great watchdogs.

#24. Wire fox terriers

2017 AKC rank: 99

1997 AKC rank: 61

20-year rank change: -38

The wire fox terrier’s popularity has fallen sharply since the 1920s, when it was one of the top 10 most popular breeds in America. Like its smooth-haired counterpart, this terrier also was bred for the hunt, and now exhibits lots of personality.

#23. Australian terriers

2017 AKC rank: 137

1997 AKC rank: 99

20-year rank change: -38

High energy is a defining character of many terriers, including the Australian terrier. Owners of this breed should give their pet lots of exercise, and they may need to deal with holes in the yard—Australian terriers love to dig.

#22. Manchester terriers

2017 AKC rank: 135

1997 AKC rank: 96

20-year rank change: -39

The Manchester terrier is slightly less popular than its toy counterpart, which comes in at the #133 most popular purebred in America. The standard version of this terrier was developed in Manchester, England, by crossing black and tan terriers with whippets, resulting in a high-energy terrier with the agility and speed of a racing dog.

#21. Finnish spitz

2017 AKC rank: 177

1997 AKC rank: 138

20-year rank change: -39

The Finnish spitz—aptly named for their Finnish origins—are known as “barking bird dogs.” The breed is incredibly vocal, and their rapid barking may bother the neighbors.

#20. Harriers

2017 AKC rank: 183

1997 AKC rank: 144

20-year rank change: -39

Even though the Harrier has dropped greatly in popularity over the last 20 years, they have been a rarity in the U.S. for over a century. Between 1884 and 1994, fewer than 1,000 harriers were registered with the AKC.

#19. Pharaoh hounds

2017 AKC rank: 174

1997 AKC rank: 134

20-year rank change: -40

As you may have guessed by this breed’s name, the Pharaoh hound originated in ancient Egypt during the Bronze Age. Large pointed ears and a beautiful tan coat are defining characteristics of this dog.


#18. Chow chows

2017 AKC rank: 76

1997 AKC rank: 35

20-year rank change: -41

The chow chow is the second Chinese dog of antiquity to make this list. This breed’s regal mane and unique blue-black tongue are two traits that make this dog unique. The breed may be decreasing in popularity, however, due to its reputation for being aggressive.


#17. Silky terriers

2017 AKC rank: 106

1997 AKC rank: 64

20-year rank change: -42

Silky terriers are a small breed, as only measuring up to 10 inches tall and weighing in at 10 pounds. Owners may be drawn to this breed for their silky, almost human-like hair.


#16. Curly-coated retrievers

2017 AKC rank: 171

1997 AKC rank: 129

20-year rank change: -42

Curly-coated retrievers are known for their seemingly life-proof coat: Their fur is waterproof and thorn-resistant. These retrievers are less-friendly with strangers, making them better watchdogs than their outgoing golden and labrador counterparts.


#15. Skye terriers

2017 AKC rank: 172

1997 AKC rank: 130

20-year rank change: -42

Once a popular dog among English royalty, the Skye terrier’s popularity has decreased greatly since the Victorian era. The dog is consider “endangered,” and only 42 Skye terriers were registered with the U.K. Kennel club in 2012.


#14. Otterhounds

2017 AKC rank: 186

1997 AKC rank: 143

20-year rank change: -43

Another rare dog breed to make the list, otterhounds have greatly decreased in popularity since 1997. The hound may be getting less and less common because it is getting increasingly harder to find—only 350 otterhounds live in the U.S.


#13. English foxhounds

2017 AKC rank: 189

1997 AKC rank: 145

20-year rank change: -44

The English foxhound is the least-popular breed to make this list, likely because it isn’t considered an ideal house pet. These dogs need lots of exercise and prefer lots of space to run.


#12. Dandie Dinmont terriers

2017 AKC rank: 182

1997 AKC rank: 137

20-year rank change: -45

Dandie Dinmont terriers were once more popular in the 1800s due to writer Sir Walter Scott’s affinity for the breed. The dogs were featured in his book “Guy Mannering” and later took on the name “Dandie Dinmont” from a character in the novel. Today, these dogs are known for their large, dome-shaped heads.


#11. Dalmatians

2017 AKC rank: 63

1997 AKC rank: 17

20-year rank change: -46

Dalmatians spiked in popularity in the 1990s. After Disney released “101 Dalmatians” in 1996, families everywhere were bringing home these spotted pups. They’ve sharply fallen in popularity since then, as owners gradually realized the dogs require regular exercise, shed a lot, and have a tendency to act aggressively.


#10. Lhasa apsos

2017 AKC rank: 77

1997 AKC rank: 31

20-year rank change: -46

Lhasa apsos may be falling in popularity due to their aristocratic standards. Once bred for palaces and monasteries, these dogs have floor-length coats that need regular grooming, and require high-quality dog food to maintain good health.


#9. Petits Bassets Griffons Vendeens

2017 AKC rank: 160

1997 AKC rank: 114

20-year rank change: -46

The Petits Bassets Griffons Vendeens, or PBGV for short, are named for their defining characteristics: they are short, low, shaggy dogs from Vendée, France. The PBGV is a descendant of the larger Grand Vendeens.


#8. Kuvaszok

2017 AKC rank: 157

1997 AKC rank: 110

20-year rank change: -47

The Kuvasz is a rare breed that was almost brought to extinction during World War II. Despite its Turkish name and Hungarian history, however, this dog was originally bred in Tibet.

#7. American foxhounds

2017 AKC rank: 187

1997 AKC rank: 139

20-year rank change: -48

Despite being bred in the U.S., American foxhounds are the second least-popular breed on this list. Owners who aren’t interested in bringing dogs along on regular outdoor adventures may shy away from this breed due to its exercise needs. Loud barking and stubborn attitudes may contribute to the breed’s increasing rarity.

#6. Scottish deerhounds

2017 AKC rank: 168

1997 AKC rank: 119

20-year rank change: -49

The Scottish deerhound is unique in more ways than one. This dog is one of the tallest purebreds, can weigh more than 110 pounds, and has a coarse gray coat.


#5. American water spaniels

2017 AKC rank: 167

1997 AKC rank: 117

20-year rank change: -50

The American water spaniel was bred in the Great Lakes region. These strong swimmers are thought to descend from other athletic breeds, including the curly-coated retriever and Irish water spaniel. These dogs have become more rare over the last century, likely leading to their decline in popularity.


#4. Miniature pinschers

2017 AKC rank: 71

1997 AKC rank: 18

20-year rank change: -53

The “min pin” hit its peak popularity in 1998, topping out at #16. Since then, the breed’s prevalence in the U.S. has dropped dramatically. Cutely nicknamed the “king of toys,” the miniature pinscher is indeed a small dog, but with a big personality and lots of energy.


#3. Schipperkes

2017 AKC rank: 110

1997 AKC rank: 51

20-year rank change: -59

Originally bred to work in the Belgian dockyards, Schipperkes are fierce watchdogs and have earned the moniker “little captain.” These independent dogs should be trained early to avoid excessive barking.


#2. Pekingese

2017 AKC rank: 88

1997 AKC rank: 27

20-year rank change: -61

Originally bred for Chinese royalty, Pekingese certainly appear regal in nature. Their small stature, long coat, lion’s mane, and unique gait make them stand out. Families may not choose to bring this dog home because they aren’t as child-friendly as other breeds.

#1. Canaan dogs

2017 AKC rank: 175

1997 AKC rank: 103

20-year rank change: -72

Belonging to the herding group, the Canaan dog is one of the oldest breeds in the world. Although the breed is declining in popularity in the U.S., the Canaan dog is the national dog of Israel.


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