Pit bull terriers have seen a big rise in the rankings.
“People have figured out they are good dogs,” said Kirsten Knight, executive director of Adopt A Pit Rescue, which is a local network of foster homes. “People like the loyalty ― we call them Velcro dogs for a reason.”
“If you are looking for a dog that wants to spend the entire afternoon on the couch with you watching Netflix, you are going to find it in a pit,” she said. “Some other breeds are more stand-offish and aren’t going to be as cuddly.”
Meet Rigs. He is 8 to 9 years old and is up for adoption through Adopt A Pit Rescue. He is "sassy" and "spunky" and loves treats, toys and naps. CONTRIBUTED
But it comes as no big surprise that Labs retained their top spot as they have been the most popular dog breed across the nation for 29 consecutive years, according to dog registrations with the American Kennel Club (AKC).
Labs are medium- to large-sized dogs that are friendly, outgoing and active ― perfect for families, especially those who want an affectionate pal, says the AKC.
Emily is a Labrador retriever in Dayton. She is 8 years old. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF
The auditor’s office recorded 3,216 dog licenses for Labrador retrievers this year, compared to 3,172 for pit bull terriers.
The number of registered pit bull terriers has more than doubled since 2014. The number of registered Labs has declined by more than 12% during that time frame.
Pit bull terriers caught up and passed Chihuahuas in popularity in 2017 and have held the second spot ever since.
Jeff Green and his long-haired Chihuahua, Squeak. Green lives in the Wright Dunbar neighborhood. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF
There’s no way to know for sure what explains the growth in pit bull registrations, said Mike Brill, communications and community engagement manager for the Montgomery County Auditor’s Office.
He said it’s possible more people own pit bulls or more people are identifying their dogs as pit bulls. It’s also possible that more pit bull owners are licensing their dogs than in the past, he said, or it could be a combination of factors.
“Whatever reason, this data could indicate that the stigma surrounding pit bulls is decreasing,” he said.
The AKC does not recognize “pit bull” as a specific breed. But other groups do, like the United Kennel Club (UKC).
The American pit bull terrier has a long history as a physically active, muscular and agile breed, UKC says. The dogs are medium-sized, solidly built, short-coated, athletic and powerful, the organization says.
Baby, a 4-year-old American bulldog mix, plays at Deeds Point Dog Park on Christmas Eve. CONTRIBUTED
Many people who are looking to adopt a furry companion want a social pet who will snuggle with them, and pit bulls fit the bill because they are sweet, cuddly and good with kids, said Knight, with Adopt A Pit Rescue.
The rescue organization has been able to get about 2,800 dogs adopted since its founding less than eight years ago, and the vast majority have been pit mixes, Knight said.
Pit bulls have gotten a bad rap because of news stories about rare incidents of attacks and other problems, Knight said.
Critics claim pit bulls are inherently more aggressive and vicious than other types of dog and more likely to cause seriously harm. Some communities have put special restrictions on pit bull ownership.
But Knight said pit bulls are wonderful pets. Unfortunately, she said, pits and pit-mixes account for a very large share of the dogs in shelters.
“They are the dog that needs rescued the most,” she said.
She said irresponsible backyard breeding is the main reason for this. Breeders, she said, have large litters and get rid of dogs they can’t sell.
Every dog is different, Knight said, and it’s important to be matched with a pooch whose personality is compatible with people’s living situations and lifestyles.
2021 dog licenses are on sale at the Montgomery County Auditor’s Office through Feb. 1 and can be purchased online at www.mcohio.org/dogs.
People interested in adopting or fostering through Adopt A Pit Rescue can visit http://www.adoptapitrescue.org/.
The 25 most popular dog breeds and types in Montgomery County
1. Labrador retriever, 3,216 (dog licenses)
2. Pit bull terrier, 3,172
3. Chihuahua, 2,055
4. German shepherd, 2,043
5. Shih Tzu, 1,378
6. Golden retriever, 1,317
7. Yorkshire terrier, 1,248
8. Boxer, 1,218
9. Beagle, 1,075
10. Dachshund, 1,050
11. Poodle, 1,040
12. Australian shepherd, 912
13. Jack Russell terrier, 765
14. Pomeranian, 614
15. Golden doodle, 575
16. Siberian husky, 515
17. Rottweiler, 452
18. Cocker spaniel, 445
19. Boston terrier, 423
20. Pug, 420
21. Husky, 416
22. Bichon frise, 398
23. Maltese, 377
24. Miniature schnauzer, 365
25. Miniature dachshund, 358
SOURCE: Montgomery County Auditor’s Office