Current on-trend dog breeds include the French bulldog, pug and English bulldog. But sadly, these increasingly popular dogs are not always the most healthy writes David Tomlinson

I am a diligent reader of dog stories, 
but one I missed earlier this year 
was a regional map of dog-breed popularity, based on Kennel Club registrations in 2016.

As with so many statistics, the results are fascinating but mustn’t be taken too seriously. I wouldn’t mind betting that cockerpoos would score highly in top 10 statistics across the country if they could be Kennel Club-registered.

However, I spent an amusing time 
with an online map of the UK, divided 
into 10 regions — north-east, north-west 
south-east, Midlands, east, south-west, 
London, Scotland, Wales and Northern 
Ireland — checking out the regional 
popularity of the breeds. In every region 
except two the Labrador comes out on 
top; the exceptions are London and Wales, 
both of which prefer French bulldogs. 
Northern Ireland stands out as the leading region for gundogs, with Labrador first, cocker second and English springer spaniel third, plus golden retriever in fifth position.

cocker spaniels

The cocker spaniel

The spaniel is one of the oldest “type” of hunting dog and today the cocker and springer spaniel are among the most popular gundog…

Cockers are placed consistently second or third nearly everywhere, while the only list from which the springer is absent is London, which is fair enough, 
as springers definitely aren’t suited to city life. The springer creeps in at eight in the south-east, and is seventh in the east, but everywhere else it is a top-five dog.

Frustratingly, there is no way to discover what proportion of English springers are of show or working breeding, but as the former aren’t common you can safely assume that 
the majority are working-bred.

Popularity of the pug, French bulldog and English bulldog

What is apparent from every list is the surging popularity of the brachycephalic (flat-faced) breeds such as the pug, French bulldog and English bulldog. It is a reminder that relatively few people do much research about a breed before they buy one, suggesting that an awful lot of dogs are acquired simply because the buyer likes the look of them.

If you do an internet search 
of brachycephalic dogs you will find numerous warnings about the perils 
of buying a dog whose body shape prevents it from breathing properly.

There are lots of catchy headlines about these breeds, too, ranging from “Pugs are anatomical disasters — vets must speak out”, to “Flat-faced dogs like pugs are a crime against nature”. However, despite the warnings, it looks as if the French bulldog will soon be Britain’s most popular breed.