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French Favourites - Breed Registrations for 2002

The French Official Stud Book has recorded a very good year for breed registrations in 2002, despite the fact that some figures were late coming in, and will now have to be added to the 2003 records. Had those figures been entered, 2002 would undoubtedly have been a historic year, with an estimated 164,000 registrations. In fact only 162,163 went into the official records, a slight decrease from the 163,245 recorded in 2001, which was itself a record year.

It’s interesting to note that whilst the majority of countries which are deeply involved in the world of dog showing and the breeding of pure bred dogs have recorded decreases in the registration figures, the trend is reversed in France.

The breakdown of these figures into the different breeds and groups make fascinating reading. Many dogs that would be considered on the rare side here in the Uk, are far more popular in France and vice versa. A good example of this is the popularity of the (B.S.D) Malinois, and the Berger de Beuce (or Beuceron as it is known in Britain). Both breeds can be found in the UK, but few British dog lovers would know where to find one, whereas in France they are far more widely known and admired. In the Uk the Malinois are vastly outnumbered by the Groenendael & Tervueren varieties of B.S.D, whereas the latter are not even recorded amongst the top 30 in France!

At first sight the French figures seem to be little changed especially in the Top 30. A few remarkable performances are noteworthy, like that of the American Staffordshire Terrier, which has moved up to 10th in the popularity stakes, replacing the Beauceron. Quite amazing when one considers that this is a breed that has been shunned in many lands, because it has been mistaken for the pitbull, which has placed them at the very heart of all anti dog legislation. Powerful? - yes. In need of sensible ownership? - yes; but Pitbulls they are not! The French have perhaps had time to really get to know the breed for themselves, rather than it’s supposed reputation, as shrieked and often exaggerated in the media! They seem to consider the breed an excellent companion, so that it continues to make it’s way to the highest positions in the top 10. It’s critic’s might be surprised to learn that the breed hasn’t suffered any adverse criticism in the nation’s newspapers in recent years despite it’s growing popularity! Like it or not, if one appreciates the lines and build of a balanced, powerful and well muscled dog, they cannot help but admire the Am Staff’s.


There are some surprises when one looks at the registration details for some of the most popular breeds. Many whose popularity has held steady for decades are now facing a decline in registration figures, and it is easy to see that all the top seven breeds listed are suffering a decrease. Even the German Shepherd and the Labrador, who still occupy the two first places in the Top 10, are facing a regular and worrying decrease in registrations. With German Shepherds the decline has been continued over 5 years, although the trend does seem to be bottoming out at last.

Fans of the Labrador’s had been expecting and planning for a healthy increase in numbers, but have been disappointed. The breed was expected to break the 10,000 births a year barrier last year, but it hasn’t happened. Some pundits speculate that one of the main reasons could be related to the number of non registered look alike dogs to be found throughout the country. It remains to be seen whether the decrease continues in future years. However, the labrador has not yielded much ground to its cousin, the Golden Retriever whose frantic growth rate over recent years, seems to have slowed or stopped.

Many specialists had expected the Goldie to take the place of the Labrador, as has happened in other countries, but a glance at the figures for 2002, make this appear most unlikely. The Labrador still holds a healthy lead!

Another breed that has perhaps reached it’s peak after 20 years of continuous growth is the Rottweiler. France is not the only country to have seen such a trend, so it doesn’t seem too surprising if it follows a similar decrease.

Notable are the English Setter and the Brittany Spaniel. With a total of more than 10,000 registrations between them, they remain the most fashionable gun dogs in France. And no other similar breed could pretend to take their place so far, but even they have suffered a slight decrease in new births.

The Yorkshire Terrier was the most sought after toy breed in 2001, and the trend continues. Although it had maintained it’s top ranking, the competition has got tougher in recent years. It’s nearest rival, the Cavalier King Charles is number one in Group 9 (don’t forget the Yorkie is in the Terrier gp 3 in FCI countries), and enjoying increasing popularity, making it look set to take over the top small breed slot within the next few years. Especially so when one considers that out of the 19 breeds in Group 9, the Cavalier King Charles represents almost 25% of the dogs registered with the French Kennel Club. It has long taken over the place of the Poodle, the former star of the 70’s, which has been facing a drastic decrease in numbers over the past 15 years.

In 9th position, is the English Cocker, whose numbers have been growing steadily since 1995. In the 70’s, this breed had climbed way up to the second place, right behind the German Shepherd Dog. Perhaps it is now on the way to recovering its ancient glory, thanks to the devoted and careful work of some serious breeders, and to the wonderful variety of colours found in the breed.

The following is a comparison between the 2001 and 2002, TOP 30 breeds.
The figures in parenthesis are those from 2001.

1- German Shepherd Dog 11484 (11830) 2002/2001 Decrease
2- Labrador Retriever 9059 (9677) Decrease
3- Golden Retriever 6363 (6461) Decrease
4- Rottweiler 6177 (6381) Decrease
5- English Setter 5636 (5749) Decrease
6- Brittany 5604 (5763) Decrease
7- Yorkshire Terrier 4691 (4866) Decrease
8- Cavalier King Charles 4518 (4169) Increase
9- English Cocker 4481 (4104) Increase
10- American Staffordshire Terrier 4049 (3486) Increase 16%
11- Beauceron 3981 (3907) Increase
12- Malinois 3434 (3161) Increase
13- Rough haired Dachshund 2648 (2997)
14- West Highland White Terrier 2572 (3021) Decrease
15- French Bulldog 2440 (1718) Increase 42%
16- Boxer 2411 (2561) Decrease
17- Dobermann 2335 (2323) Steady
18- Beagle 2268 (1969) Increase
19- Bernese Mountain Dog 2110 (2220) Decrease
20- Shih Tzu 2104 (2094) Steady
21- Great Dane 1858 (1790) Increase
22- German Pointer 1671 (1661) Steady
23- Coton du Tuléar 1669 (1509) Increase
24-Poodle 1651 (1653) Steady
25- English Springer Spaniel 1593 (1512) Increase
26- Newfoundland 1557 (1665) Decrease
27- Pointer 1547 (1888) Decrease
28- Cairn Terrier 1543 (1618) Decrease
29- Dogo Argentino 1503 (1513) Steady
30- Collie 1398 (1372) Steady

Comparing popularity within the ten groups during 2002

The Top 30, which only represent 10% of the total number of breeds registered at the French Kennel Club (There are 273 breeds recognised at present). The latter account for about 65% of the total registrations. 104355 out of a total of 162163 dogs.

By looking at the figures in each group, it is much easier to see that the registrations are perhaps more influenced wihin the group rather than individually. Most popular is Group 2 (closely linked with the next highest for Group One) the Herding, Mastiff’s and Mountain Dogs represent almost a third – 35% exactly – of the number of dogs registered in 2002. There follows a summary on each group, with the three most popular breed in each.

Group 1: 42 breeds representing 29657 registrations
1st: German Shepherd Dog: 11 484
2nd: Berger de Beauce: 3990
3rd: Belgian Shepherd, Malinois: 3434

Group 2: 38 breeds representing 27719 registrations
1st: Rottweiler: 6177
2nd: Boxer: 2411
3rd: Dobermann: 2335

Group 3: 32 breeds representing 20026 registrations
1st Yorkshire Terrier: 4691
2nd American Staffordshire Terrier: 4049
3rd West Highland White Terrier: 2572 

Group 4: 3 breeds representing 3793 registrations
1st: Rough haired Dachshund: 2648

Group 5: 25 breeds representing 2909 registrations
1st: Siberian Husky: 706
2nd: Spitz: 534
3rd: Akita Inu: 323

Group 6: 42 breeds representing 12002 registrations
1st Beagle: 2268
2nd Basset Fauve de Bretagne: 1060
3rd Basset Hound: 924

Group 7: 30 breeds representing 21918 registrations
1st: English Setter: 5636
2nd: Brittany Spaniel: 5604
3rd: German Pointer: 1671

Group 8: 21 breeds representing 22827 registrations
1st: Labrador Retriever: 9059
2nd: Golden Retriever: 6363
3rd: Cocker Spaniel: 4481

Group 9: 28 breeds representing 19556 registrations
1st: Cavalier King Charles: 4518
2nd: French Bulldog: 2440
3rd: Shih Tzu: 2104

Group 10: 12 breeds representing 2180 registrations
1st: Whippet: 958
2nd: Borzoï: 245
3rd: Afghan: 235