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Labrador retriever tops American Kennel Club’s annual list of most popular dog breeds

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - MARCH 13: Anchor and Murphy the Labradors during Crufts at National Exhibition Centre on March 13, 2022 in Birmingham, England. Crufts returns this year after it was cancelled last year due to the Coronavirus pandemic. 20,000 competitors will take part with one eventually being awarded the Best In Show Trophy. (Photo by Shirlaine Forrest/Getty Images)

(CNN) — The American Kennel Club has unleashed its annual list of the most popular dog breeds — and, for the 31st year in a row, the Labrador retriever has placed “first in show.”

Each year, the AKC, a non-profit purebred dog registry in the US, uses its registration data to compile a list of the most popular breeds. This year, the Lab was joined by the French bulldog, golden retriever, and German shepherd in the top spots, with most dogs maintaining their popularity from 2020.

However, there were some shake-ups in the rankings. The poodle — a water dog known for its distinctive curly fur — pawed its way to the top five for the first time since 1997, beating out the bulldog. And the field spaniel, a medium-sized dog, shot up 24 spots to reach #136.

The Biewer terrier, a long-haired toy dog first recognized by the AKC in 2021, debuted in the rankings at #83.

Here are 2021’s most popular dog breeds:

  1. Labrador retriever
  2. French bulldog
  3. Golden retriever
  4. German shepherd
  5. Poodle
  6. Bulldog
  7. Beagle
  8. Rottweiler
  9. German shorthaired pointer
  10. Dachshund

Coming in last place out of 197 total breeds was the Norwegian lundehund, a rare dog breed brought back from the brink of extinction in the 1930s. The dog’s name literally translates to “puffin dog.” Historically, they were trained to climb rocky cliffs and hunt puffins in the Lofoten Islands, a remote archipelago in Norway.

The Labrador retriever wasn’t always a typical household pet, according to the AKC. The breed was first developed as a working dog in Newfoundland to assist fishermen. Their propensity for retrieving ducks (or, more likely today, their favorite toys) gave them their name, although it isn’t clear how the Newfoundland-born breed became associated with Labrador. During the early 1800s, British nobles visiting Canada spotted the Labs and brought some back to England. The AKC registered its first Lab in 1917, and since 1991 the breed has topped the popularity rankings.

The dogs are in demand largely because of their versatility and easygoing temperament, according to the AKC. Labs are also popular guide and rescue dogs since they can easily be trained to perform a variety of tasks.