The labrador is still one of the UK?s most popular dogs, new Kennel Club figures reveal. The Kennel Club?s annual breed registration statistics saw a total of 45,233 labrador puppies registered in 2008.
The breed overtook the German shepherd as the UK?s most popular dog in 1989. The second most popular pedigree dog in 2008 was the cocker spaniel, with 22,508 puppies registered, and English springer spaniels came in third with 14,899 puppies registered.
Labradors, springers and cockers have remained in the top 10 most popular breeds in the UK since 1982.
Of other sporting dog breeds registered in 2008, Border terriers came in at number eight, with 9,145 puppies registered, while whippets reached number 17 with 3,328 puppies registered.
Overall, registrations of pedigree dogs rose by 0.4% compared with 2007, with the Kennel Club registering a total of 271,719 dogs last year, more than 1,000 dogs greater than the previous year.
Gun dog enthusiasts were not surprised by the news.
Chairman of the Spaniel Club, Paul Rawlings, said: ?These dogs are, after all, predominately from working lines which have been produced over many years with good health and intelligence in mind. Breeds that can still do the job they were originally bred for will continue to be healthy and fit, hence they will always remain popular.?
BASC?s Jamie Stewart commented that consistency of supply is one of the reasons why gun dogs are the most popular breeds in the UK: ?We in the shooting world can take great pride in the fact that our dogs are relatively robust,? he said. ?People like to know what they are getting for their money and with these three breeds they do what they say on the tin, as it were.?
Shooting Times?s gun dog columnist, David Tomlinson, speculated that cocker spaniels might one day replace labradors as the most popular breed: ?Before World War II, cocker spaniels were the most popular breed in Britain and a 10% rise in registrations last year suggests that the breed could be heading that way again. It?s interesting that both labrador and English springer spaniel figures remain almost the same as the year before. What would be fascinating to know is what percentage of these puppies registered come from dogs of working stock, but that?s something we can only guess at. My suspicion is that a considerable majority of springers are working bred, as this isn?t a particularly popular breed in the show ring.?
The full set of Breed Registration Statistics can be found at www.thekennelclub.org.uk/item/1128