By Barbara Goldberg
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Labrador retriever held onto the title of America's most popular dog breed for the 25th year in a row, even as the upstart French bulldog stole the limelight in New York and other big U.S. cities, the American Kennel Club said on Monday.
The chunky Lab, known for its loping gait and easy-going nature, owes its enduring popularity to its well-deserved reputation as a family pet, AKC Vice President Gina DiNardo.
"The Lab checks all the boxes," DiNardo said. "It comes in three different colors. Athletic people can play with it, run with it and swim with it. They are family friendly and get along with others."
But being beloved is not necessarily a springboard to elite honors. A Labrador has never won best in show at the Westminster Kennel Club's annual dog show since the prestigious event began in 1877.
By the same token, being an international superstar - like the German short-haired pointer who won Westminster last week - doesn't automatically translate into being America's dream dog.
The German short-haired pointer did not make the top 10 most popular breeds in U.S. homes in 2015, trailing the pack at number 11, DiNardo said.
In addition to the Labrador retriever, the top 10 list includes the German shepherd, golden retriever, bulldog, beagle, French bulldog, Yorkshire terrier, poodle, Rottweiler and boxer.
In the century that AKC has been tallying the most popular dogs, only four breeds have held the top spot: the Labrador, poodle, beagle and cocker spaniel, DiNardo said. The Labrador boasts the longest reign on top, holding on for 25 consecutive years.
But the French bulldog, with its cute mug and bat-shaped ears, is gaining traction, especially among urbanites in New York, Miami, San Francisco and Honolulu, where the breed ranked higher than the Labrador last year.
"French bulldogs are smaller in size so very portable and good for apartment living, and they don't require lots of exercise so they fit into a more relaxed lifestyle," DiNardo said.
(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Sandra Maler)