Mutt Census Provides Insight Into Which Dogs Are Most Popular in U.S.

PetMD Editorial
Published: April 11, 2011
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Every year a new "Kennel Club" list tells us which dog breeds are most popular, but as we know, not everyone has a purebred that is registered with a Kennel Club. Many dog lovers have hybrids, mutts, or otherwise unclassifiable and unregistered dogs — more than half of all companion dogs, in fact. 

For those of you who have always intuitively felt that the AKC’s Most Popular Breed list may not have been accurate — since it relies entirely on registered dogs — and have wondered which dogs are really the most popular, the Mars Veterinary group has stepped in to fill that information void with their National Mutt Census.

The Labrador Retriever is ahead of the German Shepherd in popularity, and has been for a very long time, according to the AKC numbers. However, the Mutt Census shows the German Shepherd mix ahead of the Labrador Retriever mix. Not only that, the Chow Chow mix is also ahead of the Lab, even though the Chow is at 63rd place on the AKC list.

Other mixed breeds that made it into the Mutt top 10 — but not the AKC top 10 — were the Rottweiler at 5 (11-AKC), American Staffordshire Terrier at 6 (70-AKC), Siberian Husky at 9 (18-AKC), and the Cocker Spaniel at 10 (25-AKC). Dog breeds that have been steadily popular in the AKC registries — the Yorkshire Terrier, Beagle, Dachshund and Shih Tzu — are curiously missing from the Mutt Census.

It is readily apparent that the Mutt list has more big dogs than the AKC list, and this is thought to be owing to the fact that the people who are participating got their dogs from shelters and rescue groups. Big dogs are much more likely to be surrendered to shelters, while small dogs are easier to give away and re-home. This is believed to be the reason for the disparity.

Since the Mutt Census’ launch in March of 2010, nearly 19,000 dogs have been counted so far. The census relies on voluntary participation. Visitors to the website can add their dogs’ info by filling in the survey, and find out more about getting their dogs’ DNA tested so that the background breed information can be added to the database. While this information is fun to know, the census is not being done just for the pleasure of knowing.

Mars Veterinary's stated goal of the research is to determine risk factors for certain breed mixes so that veterinarians and owners have a better idea on what to expect and how to go about treatment.

Image: outlier dogs / via Flickr

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2010 Mars Veterinary National Mutt Census