If you like dogs and rankings of things, then this one's for you! (That might sound specific, but this has to be a lot of people.) Trends are fun to look at, especially when you get to say things like, "Wow, this TV show/pop song/style of jean was most popular when I was six!" And that applies to dogs, too. A look at which dogs were most popular in the '90s versus now is, well, cute, but also provides insight — like the fact that Labs have really made their presence known in the past 30-ish years.
In 2016, Vox published a graphic showing the top five dog breeds each year from 1935 to 2015. The data is from the American Kennel Club and is based on the number of dogs of each breed registered with the club. Obviously, this means that the dogs on the list are purebred and registered, and does not account for the reported 38 million mixed breed dogs in the U.S.
This is all to say, these stats speak to what type of dog people are getting when they get a purebred dog. And even then, the ones that people tend to register. Still, the trends there are very clear, so here's a look at how things have changed in the top five spots from the '90s to today. (Note: The 2019 list is not released yet, for obvious reasons, so the 2018 list is the most current.)
#1 — Spaniels To Labs
In 1990, the number one dog breed was the cocker spaniel, but things changed (for good??) in 1991. Ever since 1991, the top breed has been the Labrador retriever.
#2 — Rottweilers Are So '90s
It's no surprise that the number two dog breed in 1990 was the Lab, since it was posed to takeover the top spot. In '91, second place was the cocker spaniel, '92 through '97 it was the Rottweiler, and in '98 and '99 it was the golden retriever. In 2018, German shepherds were number two.
#3 — German Shepherds Make Their Move
In 1990 and 1991, the poodle was in third place. 1992, it was the cocker spaniel. Then, in 1993, German shepherds made their big move and held the number three spot until 2001, when they dropped down to number four. Golden retrievers were number three in 2018.
#4 — Finally, A Big, Modern Change For 2018
There was some more variety at number four in the '90s. In 1990 it was the golden retriever. In 1991, the Rottweiler. In 1992, the shar-pei. In 1993, the cocker spaniel. In 1994-1997, the golden retriever. In 1998, the Rottweiler again. And in 1999, the dachshund. The number four dog for 2018 was the French bulldog, which didn't appear in the top five at all until 2017.
#5 — Some More Diversity
Like the number four spot, there was also plenty of movement here during the '90s. Rottweilers were number five in 1990. In '91 and '92, German shepherds. In '93, the golden retriever. In '94, the poodle. In 1995 and 1996, it was the beagle. In '97, back to the poodle. In '98, the dachshund. And in '99, back to beagles. For 2018, the fifth place was bulldogs, which are often known more specifically as English bulldogs.
In the stats that Vox has listed, since 1935, there have been only five different number one dog breeds: Boston terriers in 1935, cocker spaniels from 1936-1953, beagles from 1954-1959, poodles from 1960-1982, cocker spaniels again from 1983-1990, and Labrador retrievers from 1991-2018. There's no way of knowing how long the Labs' reign will go on, but it is clear that while there are a lot of things that change quickly over the years — like fashion, technology, and entertainment — the popularity of certain purebred dog breeds sure isn't one of them.