The Labrador retriever has long been one of the most popular dog breeds in the UK, and these versatile, outgoing and friendly large dogs are great ambassadors for the canine population as a whole. The Labrador is the UK’s favourite large dog breed, and the fifth most popular breed overall – and they’ve been in virtually every top ten dog breed by popularity list you are likely to find for several decades.
In terms of annual Kennel Club registrations of new puppies of the Labrador retriever breed, the breed is even more popular than it is in general ownership of both registered and unregistered dogs – the Lab has been the number one breed in terms of annual pedigree registrations since back in 1990.
However, 2018 is set to be the year that the Labrador finally loses their number one spot in Kennel Club rankings – and they’ve also slipped down a notch in general popularity since 2017 too, when they fell from fourth place to fifth.
In this article, we will ask the question of whether or not the Labrador is becoming less popular in the UK, examine the figures, and look at how and why the Lab’s relative popularity has changed over the last decade or so. Read on to learn more.
To get a complete picture of the popularity of the Labrador retriever breed in the UK, we’re taking into account two sets of data.
The first is the statistics for user adverts and searches here on Pets4Homes for Labradors for sale in the UK, which helps us to build up a complete picture of all dogs of each given type that are advertised and sold, including both puppies and adult dogs, and pedigrees and non-pedigrees alike.
The second is the statistics published by The Kennel Club each year, which shows how many new puppies of each dog breed are registered year on year and so, how their numbers increase and decrease over time.
The Labrador retriever is and always has been a really popular breed in the UK, and they haven’t gone through any major fluctuations in terms of significant shifts in rankings.
In terms of Kennel Club figures, the Lab has been the UK’s most popular breed since 1990 – although has mentioned, they are set to fall into second place by the end of this year.
However, based on 10-year Kennel Club registration figures, the breed has undergone quite a degree of fluctuation from year to year in the last decade alone – and over 10,000 less pups of the breed were registered in 2017 than were in 2008.
2008 was the Lab’s peak year in the last decade, with a total of 45,233 new pups registered that year – compared to 35,068 in 2017.
The year with the lowest breed registrations in the last decade was 2015, when a total of 32,507 pups were registered – but the breed’s numbers have recovered slightly from there, increasing a little in 2016 and again in 2017, to the aforementioned 35,068 figure.
In terms of Pets4Homes data based on all Labradors, both pedigree and non-pedigree, the Lab has also slipped somewhat in recent years too.
In 2017 the Lab was the fourth ranked breed, whilst this year, they’ve been pushed into fifth place by the Cockapoo.
In terms of the numbers of Labradors in the UK, they are indeed a little less common than they were 10 years ago – almost 25% less common, in fact. However, they are still a hugely popular breed nonetheless, and their numbers have been on the rise again for the last couple of years too.
Additionally, you can’t just view the Labrador retriever’s own breed statistics when looking for evidence that there are less of them around – you also have to consider the other breeds that are close to them in the list too and may be pushing the Labrador down as they rise.
For instance, the French bulldog, the UK’s most popular breed overall and the second most popular in Kennel Club rankings, is the breed that is tipped to topple the Lab from The Kennel Club’s top spot this year.
This is a breed that has seen a huge 7,500% increase in registration numbers over the last decade – and so the Lab’s popularity isn’t only dictated by the vagaries of their own fluctuating numbers, but also the unprecedented rise in ownership of the French bulldog too.
Additionally, the Cockapoo – which is not a pedigree dog breed – has surpassed the Labrador retriever in the popularity stakes too, and this is one of the potential dog types that people who might otherwise own a Labrador may consider buying, and as this hybrid type was uncommon and relatively little heard of a couple of decades ago, this also helps to explain the shift.
The Labrador retriever has indeed lost a couple of places in the popularity rankings and fallen in numbers over the last decade or so – but their numbers actually seem to be on the rise again over the last couple of years too, and the breed remains fairly safe in their top five position in the UK.