For the first time in decades, America’s got a new “top dog.” Literally.
But the nation’s newly-minted favorite breed could prove a costly best friend due to a laundry list of possible health issues.
The French bulldog was named the most popular dog breed in the U.S. Wednesday by the American Kennel Club, ending a 31-year streak at the top for the Labrador retriever, and experts say it’s an easy dog to love.
"They're comical, friendly, loving little dogs," French Bull Dog Club of America spokesperson Patty Sosa told the Associated Press.
The American Kennel Club describes the Frenchie as having a “charming and adaptable nature” and a “generally quiet demeanor.”
But ownership of a French bulldog can certainly come with challenges.
Bulldogs are categorized as brachycephalic – dogs with shortened skulls and snouts. This feature makes then more susceptible to eye, respiratory, skin and spinal issues.
In fact, bulldog breeding was banned for three years in the Netherlands, beginning in 2019. A similar ban in Norway was only recently overturned by a judge. And the British Veterinary Association’s president issued an advisement in 2017 urging people not to purchase brachycephalic dogs.
Still, those potential health hurdles obviously haven’t deterred Americans from bringing Frenchies into their homes in historic numbers, perhaps aided by their status as a popular pet for celebrities and on social media, where French bulldogs are among the most hashtagged canines on Instagram.
Labrador retrievers didn’t fall far from #1 though. They still hold the runner-up position on the ranking for the 2022 calendar year.
Golden retrievers, German shepherds and poodles round out the top five.