NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- It's puppy love for the record books: The Labrador retriever was the nation's most popular dog breed last year for a 23rd year in a row, the American Kennel Club announced Friday.
That's the longest any breed has been top dog since the organization's 1884 founding.
German shepherds, golden retrievers, beagles and bulldogs are holding steady in the top-five pack, with Yorkshire terriers, boxers, poodles, Rottweilers and dachshunds continuing to round out the leading 10, which mirrors last year. But the comical French bulldog is newly on their heels after a decade-long popularity spurt.
Surpassing the poodle's 22-year reign some decades ago, the Lab has proliferated as a congenial, highly trainable dog that was developed to fetch game but has taken other roles in stride.
"It does so many different things really well, it excels as a family companion, it's an awesome hunting dog, and it also has a great presence as a service and law-enforcement search-and-rescue dog,'' AKC spokeswoman Lisa Peterson said.
The rankings reflect newly registered dogs, mostly puppies. The AKC doesn't release exact numbers but estimates its registry has included more than 40 million purebred dogs over its history.
The top 10 remains a testament to the variety of purebreds, from the pert, portable Yorkie to the muscular, purposeful Rottweiler. But overall, the AKC has logged some leaning toward larger dogs in the past decade.
"Owning bigger breeds, an economic indicator of sorts, have been on the rise during the past five years," said Peterson. "As the economy has improved, people are turning back to the big dogs they love, which cost more to feed and care for than the smaller breeds that saw a rise in popularity in 2007 and 2008."
New Yorkers' tastes in dogs differ a bit from the rest of the nation.
The AKC said that the bulldog was the most popular dog breed in New York City last year. The French bulldog was second.
Labrador retrievers, German shepherds and golden retrievers round out the top five. In 2012, the Lab was number one.
Still, popularity causes some consternation for aficionados, who fear demand can drive irresponsible breeding.
To be sure, dog breeding in general has critics who feel it's more focused on human tastes than canine health and draws dog lovers away from mixed-breed pets that need homes.
Purebred fans counter that conscientious breeding aims to create healthy dogs with somewhat predictable traits, helping people and dogs make lasting pairings.
For more on the most popular dog breeds, click here.
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