Every year, the American Kennel Club releases its list of the most popular dog breeds in the USA, in order from most popular to the 197th rarest. In some cases, the lowest-ranking dogs aren’t ‘unpopular’ in the high school sense of the word. They’re simply very rare or more commonly found in other countries that they’re indigenous to.
However, as trends change so do dog ownership habits. And though the top spots on the list often remain the same – the Labrador Retriever has held onto the #1 title since 1991 – there are some breeds that have continued to move down the list in the last few years.
Here, we’ll look at the dog breeds that are becoming less popular according to the AKC, and posit some potential reasons for their decline.
Three of the top ten breeds that have fallen in popularity in the past decade are Coonhounds. Treeing Walker down 50, American English Coonhounds are down 38 spots, and Black and Tan Coonhounds are down 28.
Loyal and intelligent, these working dogs are best suited to active owners that can offer them plenty of time outdoors. One possible reason for their drop in popularity is that they aren’t an ideal breed for first-time owners as they can be a handful unless very well trained. In fact, it’s advised that unless your Coonhound has been trained for instant recall, they shouldn’t be allowed off-leash.
This could have affected their popularity during the rise in dog ownership during the Covid-19 pandemic, where new owners were looking for easy-to-train breeds to bring into the family for the first time.
Bearded Collies are actually a fairly expensive breed, which would imply their popularity. But having fallen by 31 places in the most-popular list between 2013 and 2021, it seems they’re becoming a less common family pet. Though fun, loving, loyal, and excellent to cuddle, there are a few factors that make Bearded Collie a challenge to have in the home.
Firstly, that strokable coat has a tendency to shed all over everything, so it’s not ideal for clean-freaks or anyone who doesn’t want to have to vacuum daily. They also require vigorous daily exercise and due to their herding nature, they’re known to round up children and other animals, and even follow after joggers and cyclists while out on walks. It’s all part of their playful and tender nature, but it can pose a problem for first-time owners not used to training boisterous breeds.
Slender and elegant, the fast and high-jumping Ibizan Hound actually loves to spend time lounging around indoors. So it’s surprising that such a homebody would have fallen 31 places on the AKC’s list of most popular dog breeds.
Though agile and athletic, Ibizan Hounds are also very gentle and don’t need huge amounts of exercise. However, they do need access to plenty of outdoor space where they can take themselves to blow off steam. And anything lower than 6ft off the ground is technically still in their reach!
Ibizan Hounds can be sensitive, so they need extensive training and socialization to help them become confident as adults. This also extends to unexpected touching, so they’re best suited to households with steady schedules and without many unexpected visitors.
Despite some terrier breeds ranking as the most popular dogs in the USA, the Australian Terrier has moved down 30 places in the past few years. As adorable and pocket-sized as their cousins, there are a few requirements that make the Aussie not so easy to own.
There’s a misconception that, due to their small stature, terriers are easy dogs to bring into smaller homes. But that often isn’t the case. Owners of Australian Terriers will need a fenced outdoors space where their pup can let off steam.
They’ll need to be walked and played with every day, and they need a lot of attention that isn’t well suited to full-time workers – even those who work from home. However they are genetically one of the healthiest breeds so are less likely to rack up scary vet’s bills than other dogs.
The Chinook has fallen 30 places on AKC’s most popular dog breed’s list, but it’s not so much about popularity as it is about scarcity. The Chinook was once on the brink of extinction, and was only founded in 1893 in New Hampshire, so compared to other, older breeds they don’t have the same heritage behind them.
But regardless of their spot in the most-popular list, Chinooks can make wonderful family pets. They love people and are loyal and dedicated to their owners. They’re working dogs that need a purpose and plenty of activity, but if your family is into that too then you’re sure to get along with a Chinook.
The graceful Saluki, like the Ibizan Hound, is capable of reaching great speeds but often prefers to relax on a comfy bed. But don’t be fooled – the Saluki certainly isn’t a lazy pet. If their attention is caught they will chase and have lightning reactions, so owners should be aware and keep them on a leash in busy areas.
It’s hard to say why the Saluki has fallen 29 spots on the AKC most popular dog breeds list. They’re beautiful, loyal, and loving. But some new owners might not be prepared for their destructive puppy phase, the patience required when training a sensitive dog breed, or their need for extensive socialization as puppies.
But, if you’re looking for a dog that is calm, gentle, and easy to look after at home, then the Saluki might be right for you.
Like a rugged Labrador, it’s a surprise that the Kuvasz doesn’t rank higher in the list. In fact, they’ve fallen by 27 places since 2013. Kuvasz are quiet, cuddly, and don’t need much exercise considering their large size.
However, since they were bred as working dogs, the Hungarian Kuvasz can be very protective, and even aggressive towards unfamiliar animals. Strong-willed and serious, they need a lot of supervision and should always be fenced in when at home. They also shed heavily and take up a lot of space which might make them less appealing pets to city-dwellers.
The fairly-rare Tibetan Terrier has fallen 24 places on the AKC most-popular list, but we think they make brilliant family pets. Small, playful, and rarely aggressive, they get on well with both humans and other animals.
Like all terriers, the Tibetan can be stubborn and strong-willed, but it just adds to their endearing personality. They can be hard to get hold of, with long waiting lists which does ramp up the price of a puppy – and if you’re house proud you might want to pick another breed. Their shaggy fur can hold water which eventually drips and seeps into flooring. So regular grooming is essential.
As elegant as they sound, the light-footed Silky Terrier has dropped 24 spots on the most-popular list in recent years. Though small, alert, and low-shedding considering their attractive long coat, Silky Terriers aren’t always the easiest pets.
They have high energy levels and love to chase, meaning they should be kept on a leash at all times, even when out in quiet places – you never know what unsuspecting wildlife might catch their eye. Silky Terriers also have a tendency to bark and can be difficult to train and house-break so they require patience.
They also need extensive grooming to keep their show-stopping coat looking sleek and healthy, and they can be mildly aggressive if not properly socialized.
Irish Water Spaniels
As one of the most popular family dogs, it’s a surprise to see a spaniel falling in popularity. But unlike the Field Spaniel, which has risen in popularity over the last few years, its Irish cousin hasn’t had the same luck.
Falling 24 places in the most popular breeds list, the Irish Water Spaniel is a sporting dog that’s easily identifiable by its luscious curly coat and tapering tail. Sometimes mistaken for Poodles, this liver-coloured breed is hardworking and, as you might expect, excellent at swimming. And don’t let their boisterous nature and enticing curls fool you: underneath their playfulness they’re deeply intelligent working dogs that need plenty of stimulation, but can fit easily into any family home.