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Tag: popularity

Supersize me: Americans turning to big dogs

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Big dogs — not that they ever left — are coming back.

In its annual report on breed popularity in the U.S., the American Kennel Club notes that, while the Labrador retriever is again the most popular dog breed, other large breeds are quickly moving up the list, including Dobermans, giant schnauzers and Great Danes.

According to the AKC, it could be a sign of an improving economy.

“Owning bigger breeds – an economic indicator of sorts – has been on the rise during the past five years,” said Lisa Peterson, AKC spokeswoman. “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.”

Labs took the top spot for the 23rd straight year, the longest consecutive reign of any dog in the annual ranking. The rankings are based on the number of AKC dog registrations across the country.

Here are the top 10, with links to their AKC profiles:

1. Labrador Retriever
2. German Shepherd Dog
3. Golden Retriever
4. Beagle
5. Bulldog
6. Yorkshire Terrier
7. Boxer
8. Poodle
9. Rottweiler
10. Dachshund

Comparing those rankings to the 2009 list, there’s evidence of a decline in small dog popularity — Yorkies dropped three places, from third, dachshunds dropped two, from eighth, and shih tzus fell out of the top 10 entirely.

Some smaller breeds saw a gain in popularity, like the French bulldog (now 11th). But far greater gains were made by greatly sized dogs: Doberman Pinschers rose from 22 to 12; Great Danes from 27 to 16; and Bernese Mountain Dogs from 47 to 32.

The AKC announced its rankings Friday, in advance of the upcoming Westminster Kennel Club dog show at Madison Square Garden.

Three new breeds will compete this year: rat terriers, Chinooks, and Portuguese Podengo Pequenos.

(Photo: Ash, a lab, or perhaps a lab mix (we didn’t ask for his papers), at play; by John Woestendiek)

Greetings from Bellaville, New Yorkie

I’m a proponent of spending more time with your dog, and less with your computer, but here’s an interesting, and interactive,  presentation from WNYC in New York, which has mapped out not just what breeds dominate the city’s neighborhoods, but what names as well.

Citywide, the top three female names for dogs are Bella, Princess and Lola; the top male names are Max, Rocky and Lucky and the top breeds are Yorkie, Shih Tzu and Maltese.

(Actually the most popular dog in New York is the mutt, and WYNC does report that elsewhere. Somehow they didn’t rate getting on the map, though.)

What’s the most fun though is scrolling through the boroughs to see where Lola tops Lucy, where Buddy beats Buster as the name of choice, and what breeds are, from neighborhood to neighborhood, most predominant. While Yorkies dominate most areas, there are enclaves where Labs and Chihuahuas and pit bulls are owned in the highest numbers. There’s a major English bulldog contingent in lower Manhattan, and pit bulls are the highest in number in Bed Stuy.

The list is based on information WNYC obtained from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which runs the city’s dog licensing program.

The feature has some other bells and whistles, too, including opportunities to play games and make a t-shirt.

Just after WNYC came out with its map, Gothamist put together an interactive map of its own – this back in January — claiming to show not where the dogs are, but where their poop is, or at least where it’s most complained about. The map shows what neighborhoods have the most barking dog complaints, too.

One wonders what would happen if those two interactive maps were to interact. Would that reveal large dogs named Brutus leave bigger droppings than Chihuahuas named Princess? That Sparky barks more than Snoozy?

Somewhere we have to draw line on all this interactivity with our computers — especially that share of it that’s presenting information that’s just everyday knowledge or common sense or entirely bogus.

In those cases, your time would be better spend interacting with the dog.

Labs still tops; beagles, bulldogs rising

For the 20th year in a row, the Labrador retriever is America’s top dog.

While America’s three most popular dog breeds remained the same — Lab, German shepherd and Yorkshire terrier – the American Kennel Club’s annual list of most oft-registered purebreds had some surprises.

The beagle overtook the golden retriever for the No. 4 spot.

And the bulldog, who has been steadily rising up in rank, took 6th place away from the boxer.

“Not since the early 20th Century has the bulldog enjoyed such sustained popularity,” said AKC Spokesperson Lisa Peterson. “‘Bob’ was the first AKC registered bulldog in 1886, and today the breed enjoys its highest ranking in 100 years at number 6.”

The AKC numbers are based on the numbers of purebreds registered with the organization.

Baltimore’s top five breeds reflected the national averages, except for the presence of the Rottweiler at No. 5.

Chihuahuas, ranked 13th nationally, were the sixth most popular breed for Baltimore.

Some other national highlights from the AKC’s count:

  • The French bulldog made the largest leap in the past decade, jumping 50 places from 71st to 21st. Other breeds with the biggest increase in rankings over the last decade include the Havanese (from 86th to 31st) and the Cavalier King Charles spaniel (from 54th to 23rd).
  • Closing the gap this year, a couple of breeds that had been on the decline over the past decade made double digit increases over the past year — Keeshonden (from 102nd to 87th) and Anatolian shepherd dogs (from 115th to 109th).
  • Three new breeds entered AKC’s registry in 2010, and the larger the breed, the higher they appeared in the rankings. The Leonberger, the largest of the new breeds, was ranked 33rd; the Cane Corso ranked 51st; and the smallest of the new breeds, the Icelandic sheepdog, came in at 82nd.

Ephemera is here to stay

It was a windy day, with patches of rain that came and went as I drove from Bangor, through western Maine, New Hampshire and into Vermont on Highway 2 – a rolling ribbon of smooth (mostly) blacktop, dotted with flea markets, farms, campgrounds and more than a few antique stores.

It’s the same road John Steinbeck took 50 years ago with his poodle Charley on the trip that would lead to the book “Travels With Charley” – a book whose place is firmly cemented as a timeless American  classic.

The high winds were blowing leaves, at the peak of their color, off the trees, and sending them swirling across the highway like swarms of bees – signaling that nature’s most beautiful and all-too-transitory season would soon be coming to an end.

As I whizzed along through the drizzle, one particular antique store caught my eye — though not in time to stop — because, among the other things its sign advertised, was: “Ephemera.”

As the antique barn disappeared in my rearview mirror, I kept repeating the word aloud, which I tend to do when I confront an unusual word while driving alone with Ace. He responds with head tilts and funny looks, and he did so especially with “ephemera,” probably because it sounds, to him, vaguely like “dinner.”

I had a fair notion what ephemera was — just as I have a fair notion of what curios, trinkets, knick-knacks and bric-a-brac are. I knew ephemera was not a perfume, though it sounds like one; or a prescription drug, though it sounds like one; or a skin condition, though it sounds like one.

What, I fantasized, if I had stopped at the shop? The door, I’m sure, would have had a bell on it that jingled when I entered, and a friendly proprietor would have approached, who would have reminded me of one of the characters on the Bob Newhart Show (the one where he had an inn).

“Can I help you with anything today?”

“Yes,” I’d say. “I understand you have ephemera.”

“Indeed we do,” the proprietor would say, rubbing his dry, chapped hands together. “What particular type of ephemera are you interested in – what genre?”

“Oh,” I’d say, “I guess some basic ephemera, run of the mill ephemera.”

“What is it you collect?”  he’d say.

“It varies,” I’d answer. “Unemployment. Plastic bags to pick up dog poop. Dust. Dog hair. Fast food coupons. My thoughts.”

“I see, but what exactly are you looking for today, ephemera-wise?”

“Well, I’m pretty open,” I’d say. “But I want some good, sturdy ephemera — something that lasts.”

At that point, he’d look puzzled and begin pointing out items on his dusty shelves – defunct board games, old movie posters, paper dolls, airsickness bags, cigar boxes, bookplates, old fashioned Coca-Cola bottles, baseball cards, lunch pails, seed company advertisements, old maps and calendars from years past.

“And there’s this,” he’d say, picking up a Life magazine with Marilyn Monroe on the cover. “This is classic ephemera.”

“Do you have any more modern-day ephemera?” I’d question.

“Only this Justin Bieber CD, this Kentucky Fried Chicken sandwich that uses slabs of chicken in lieu of bread, and these Kindles – but we’re not totally sure yet they will be ephemeral.”

“I guess we can only hope.”

He would smile only slighty, and it would quickly fade from his face. “Ephemera is tricky stuff,” he’d say.

“But if people are preserving it, is it really ephemeral?” I’d ask. “By collecting it, or selling at high prices, as you do, these things that no longer have much use, does not that run counter to their very ephemerality – taking something intended to be transitory and short term and preserving it for eternity?  Isn’t ‘classic ephemera’ a contradiction in terms?”

“Yes and no,” he’d say.

With that, I would take my leave, more confused than I was when I entered. I’d turn on my wipers to shoo the fallen leaves off my windshield. I’d check my gas tank – gas, now there’s something that’s truly ephemeral – give Ace a pat on the head and keep heading west.

Tibetan mastiffs all the rage in China

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China’s hottest dog won’t fit in your lap, drools copiously and was once banned by the Communist party.

With pet ownership booming in China, the must-have dog for the ultra-rich is the Tibetan mastiff — a breed the Communist Party once deemed bourgeois, the Associated Press reports.

How much times have changed was evident at the 6th annual China Tibetan Mastiff Expo this past weekend, where hundreds of the massive dogs were on hand, parading down catwalks like fashion models and strutting their high-priced stuff.

Some carried the names of wealthy Americans like “Warren Buffett,” while others were called “God,” ”Prince,” and “King”  – the latter so prized that one breeding session with him costs $40,000.

“I used to invest in German shepherds, but Tibetan mastiffs are what’s hot right now,” said King’s owner, Sui Huizheng, a businessman who has about 20 of the dogs.

Breeders in China say adult Tibetan mastiffs sell for tens of thousands of dollars, and can even go for more than $100,000.

One of them sold for more than half a million dollars last year to a woman in northern China who then sent 30 black Mercedes-Benz and other luxury cars to fetch the dog from the airport, according to a report in the state-run China Daily.

Tibetan mastiffs, most recognizable by their mane-like hair, can grow to 180 pounds.

After splurging on real estate in Australia, American thoroughbreds and European designer fashions, China’s rich see the Tibetan mastiffs as a new status symbol, the Associated Press reported, and among the must-haves for rich men in northeast China, the official Xinhua News Agency recently said, are a young beautiful wife, a Lamborghini and a Tibetan mastiff, “the bigger and more ferocious the better.”

(Photo: A Tibetan mastiff in South Korea — one who happens to be a clone. By John Woestendiek /ohmidog!)

Spotting trends in the AKC’s breed count

lg_havanese10In the process of tallying the numbers of purebred dogs in America — or at least those that are registered — the American Kennel Club detected some interesting trends, such as how the nation’s most popular dog, the Labrador retriever, is losing ground in some towns.

The fastest climbing breed, meanwhile, in terms of popularity, is the Havanese.

According to the AKC figures, more U.S. cities featured a breed other than the Labrador Retriever in the top spot this year than in 2008.

The German shepherd took over as No. 1 in Columbus, Detroit, Honolulu, Memphis, Miami, Providence and West Palm Beach.

The Yorkshire terrier bumped the Lab in Oakland, Tampa, New York City and Philadelphia.

And the bulldog became top dog in Los Angeles (despite other surveys that say Chihuahuas are the most predominant breed there). The AKC says celebrity bulldog owners — Adam Sandler, Kelly Osborne and John Legend among them — might be a reason behind the bulldog’s rise.

In what strikes me as a particularly odd tidbit, the bull terrier — 57th nationally — is the most popular breed in Newark, N.J. (Please feel free to explain that to me if you know the story behind it.)

To find out where your dog ranks nationally (keeping in mind the nation’s most popular dog isn’t a breed at all, but the mutt), click here.

There was only one city in America where the Labrador retriever didn’t factor into the Top 5 – Providence, R.I. In 2008, the Lab was No. 2 in Providence.

Over the past 10 years, the AKC says, the fastest growing breed nationally is the Havanese, having risen from 92nd to 32nd. Also rising quickly in national popularity have been the bulldog (from 21st to 7th); the French bulldog (from 73rd to 24th); and the Cavalier King Charles spaniel (from 58th to 25th).

Working K-9 breeds favored by law enforcement and the military have shown modest gains as pets over the same period, with the Belgian Malinois seeing its popularity rise from 95th to 81st, the border collie going from 71st to 52nd, the bloodhound rising from 51st to 43rd, and the Doberman pinscher climbing 23rd to 15th.

The AKC suspects easy-to-groom breeds are becoming more popular, as evidenced by the mastiff climbing from 39th to 27th and the Rhodesian ridgeback going from 56th to 48th. Higher maintenance breeds, meanwhile, such as the  Komondor, the Puli, the Irish terrier and the Sealyham terrier, have all seen their AKC popularity ranking drop in the past 10 years.

Even pre-Bo, the AKC, the Portuguese water dog was on the rise in popularity. The breed chosen by the First Family ranked 80th a decade ago and climbed to 60th in 2009.

(Photo: The Havanese, America’s fastest growing breed/Courtesy of AKC)

Labs rule in Baltimore, Yorkies are second

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The Labrador retriever remains the most popular breed in Baltimore, but the Yorkshire terrier jumped three spots to become the city’s second most popular breed in 2009.

The top five breeds of Baltimore, according to American Kennel Club figures released today, are:

1. Labrador Retriever
2. Yorkshire Terrier
3. Boxer
4. Golden Retriever
5. German Shepherd/Poodle/Rottweiler (tied)

“In 2009, the Top 5 also saw the rise of two hard-working breeds with jobs – the poodle and the Rottweiler – perhaps reflecting the nose to the grindstone nature of Baltimore,” AKC spokesperson Lisa Peterson noted.

To see the top breeds in your city (or at least 50 cities), click here.

As for you Baltimore readers, you can return to your grindstones now.

(Photo: Yorkshire Terriers jumped to No. 2 in Baltimore/By John Woestendiek)

Labs still #1, but German shepherds are rising

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For the 19th consecutive year, the Labrador retriever is the most popular purebred dog in America — but its lead is slipping, according to the American Kennel Club.

The AKC released its 2009 registration statistics today during a press conference in New York City, and they show the German shepherd overtook the Yorkshire terrier last year to become the second most popular breed in the nation for the first time in more than three decades. 

Should it continue its climb, the German shepherd would return to the position it held in the 1920s, before slipping in popularity until after World War II.

“Labs have been America’s top dog for nearly two decades due to their loyal and gentle nature,” said AKC spokesperson Lisa Peterson.  “But the German shepherd dog has gained ground recently, quite possibly due to the increased attention they receive for their security efforts at home and abroad.  Hailed as the world’s leading police, guard and military dog, this energetic and fun-loving breed is a loyal family pet, ideal companion and dependable K-9 partner when duty calls.”

(The AKC, and many others, insist on calling German shepherds “German Shepherd Dogs,” apparently to avoid confusion with those who watch sheep in Germany.)

Here are the AKC’s top ten, with links to AKC pages with information on those breeds.

2009 Most Popular Dogs in the U.S.
1. Labrador Retriever
2. German Shepherd Dog 
3. Yorkshire Terrier
4. Golden Retriever
5. Beagle
6. Boxer
7. Bulldog     
8. Dachshund
9. Poodle      
10. Shih Tzu 

(Photo: The German shepherd is No. 2 and rising fast/by John Woestendiek)

Heigl helps relieve L.A.’s Chihuahua surplus

heiglTwenty-five west coast Chihuahuas were flown to the east coast in hopes of finding new homes, courtesy of actress Katherine Heigl.

The dogs were transferred from Kinder 4 Rescue in Los Angeles, where there is a surplus of Chihuahuas, to the Humane Society for Greater Nashua in New Hampshire, where the breed is in greater demand.

Humane society executive director Karen Bill and Kinder 4 Rescue director Laurel Kinder had been trying for about three months to move the dogs from Hollywood to the northeast. They contacted the Jason Debus Heigl Foundation — founded in honor of the “Grey’s Anatomy” star’s late brother — and it offered $25,000 to fly the dogs to Boston.

“It was amazing,” Bill told PEOPLEPets.com. “The ideal situation come true.”

Bill called the abundance of Chihuahuas in California a ”Hollywood-made crisis …From ‘Beverly Hills Chihuahua’ to Paris Hilton, people see these dogs and think they’re cute accessories, but they’re not. They’re living beings that need attention.”

Before the dogs even arrived, more than 40 people contacted the humane society in New Hampshire about adopting the dogs, who range in age from about 1 to 4 years old.

ohmidog! Having fun with Google Analytics

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Based on my Google Analytics — the service that tells me how many people are reading ohmidog!, where they come from and what they have in their refrigerators — I thought it might be fun to make some gross, unfair and highly non-scientific generalizations.

(I don’t really know what you have in your refrigerators, though a certain someone in Dayton, Ohio might want to check the expiration date on that raspberry yogurt on the lower left hand shelf, behind the dill pickles.)

Looking at the past two months, I see that ohmidog! has had 57,912 visits. Of those, 47,547 were “absolute unique visitors,” meaning, I figure, that more than 10,000 visitors who stopped by were not unique at all. That’s OK, you are welcome here, anyway.

Together, our unique visitors and our run of the mill ones perused 78,153 pages. Most of you landed on our main page. As for specific entries, Baxter the therapy dog (featured in our “best of” section, above) drew the most views.

Outside of the U.S., Canada (2,574) and the UK (1,097) sent the most visitors, along with some place called Not Set (1,434). More than 100 visitors each came from Australia, Japan, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Philippines, New Zealand and India.

As for the good old USA, looking at the last two months, I was surprised to see that Californians (5,394) are the most frequent visitors to ohmidog!, holding a slight edge over residents of Maryland (5,385), our home base.

After California and Maryland, the states most prone to visiting ohmidog! in the past two months were, in this order: Texas (3,398), New York (3,251), Pennsylvania (2,927), Florida (2,159), Virginia (2,089), Illinois (1,874), North Carolina (1,721, but most of those were probably my mother, who is absolutely unique) and Ohio (1,685, and, you in Dayton, don’t forget to check that yogurt.)

From our Google Analytics figures, we are able to extrapolate  (always keep an extrapolate, in case you lose your original polate) the following  conclusions about our readership:

Most loyal readers: Maryland.

Bounciest: Florida.

Most depth (meaning they stay on the website the longest, and I’m pretty sure it’s because they read more, as opposed to more slowly): Maryland.

Shortest attention span: California, New York, Florida.

Least likely to read ohmidog!: South Dakota.

Dirtiest refrigerators: South Dakota.

Behind, strung out between them a pain in his peopleevery song thathad ever been made, even the little pottery and wiped out before ever it opened its mouth.