Bully for us.
The French bulldog — the wide-eyed dog with the beseeching expression and Dumbo ears that some believe inspired the character “Yoda” — is the most popular dog breed in NYC for the second year in a row, according to the American Kennel Club.
The 2015 rankings, obtained by counting AKC registrations, showed the regular, larger bulldog in second place locally, the Labrador retriever (the nation’s most popular dog) in third place, the Golden retriever in fourth and the little Yorkshire terrier tailing the pack as the fifth most popular dog in the city.
The popularity of the playful, portable French bulldogs reflects the gentrification of the city: French bulldogs, like other “Brachycephalic” or smooshed-face breeds, often cost a fortune in vet bills and are now, by neighborhood, not only the most ubiquitous breeds in Chelsea, Murray Hill and Park Slope and the Financial District, but also in Washington Heights.
“Bulldogs and bull breeds in general are some of the most expensive breeds: They have lots and lots of congenital health problems,” said Dr. Sarah Sullivan, associate veterinarian at Uptown Veterinary Associates in Morningside Heights. Sullivan has seen a big uptick in all bulldogs in the last decade, but no breed, she noted, comes close in numbers to what is truly the most popular canine pet in NYC that is not included in AKC counts: Trusty old garden variety mutts.
“Frenchies” are notorious for allergies, skin rashes, cartilage, joint and orthopedic problems, and often cannot give birth without a cesarean section due to the size of their heads, noted Sullivan. But busy city dwellers love them because “they are extremely friendly dogs and have a lot of personality,” and don’t require the exercise of the more hyper — and often, larger — working breeds, Sullivan explained.
“They’re bred to be companion animals,” Sullivan said.
“They are perfect apartment dogs: They don’t bark and they don’t disturb the neighbors,” said Jen Meehan, a digital marketing director in Chelsea — the city’s apparent Frenchie epicenter.
Typically weighing in at under 30 pounds, Frenchies are also easy to tote on trains, planes and automobiles.
“I can hop on the subway with him and take him in a cab,” Meehan said of her 5-year-old Frenchie, Toro.
The French Bulldog NYC Meet Up group has grown from 500 members six years ago to 900 members today, said its top dog, Joy Macheda, a 34-year-old sales rep who guesstimates her 8-year-old Frenchie rescue, Toby, costs her $3,000 a year in vet bills and another $2,000 in special foods. “My dog has a neurologist, a dermatologist, an ophthalmologist and a dentist,” she said.
The NYC MeetUp stages “pawties” in which people dress up their Frenchies as political figures, health care professionals and other species such as lobsters. Frenchie owners are known to anthropomorphize their pets and celebrate their shenanigans, mischief and outfits relentlessly on social media.
“Kona has his own Instagram account — and all the Frenchie owners we know have dogs with Instagram accounts. I don’t know if that is bad or pathetic,” said Kona’s co-owner, Kathryn Haavik, 34, of Chelsea, who sought permission from her coop board, and was given it, before buying Kona from an upstate breeder. Since the expressive, often naughty “Stella” (played by two different dogs) debuted in the second season of the hit ABC show “Modern Family,” the French bulldog has become fur-ociously popular on social media.
“The Rock has a French bulldog: I know that because of Instagram,” said Haavik, a city employee.
While Instagram’s Manny_the_Frenchie in Chicago has 975,000 followers, ChloetheminiFrenchie here in NYC has 118,000 Instagram admirers.
Many people involved in animal rescue aren’t thrilled by the fetishization of specific breeds, however, which almost always have more physical problems than dogs of mixed ancestry. They also don’t see the point of buying an expensive dog when so many are killed for lack of a home. (The Animal Care Centers of NYC euthanized 1,759 dogs last year.)
But Macheda points out that rescue organizations such as frenchbulldogrescue.org now exist specifically for unwanted Frenchies. “They are not as common as the other breeds but we do get them,” said Tiffany Lacey, executive director of Animal Haven, a downtown animal shelter.
Read on to see the 20 most popular breeds in NYC.