Paw's Corner: Do big dogs signify a stronger economy?

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The Golden retriever makes the top five breeds of dog to own consistently. The Golden retriever makes the top five breeds of dog to own consistently. Is our growing preference for larger dog breeds a sign that the economy is recovering? According to the American Kennel Club, that's a possibility.

”Owning bigger breeds -- an economic indicator of sorts -- have been on the rise during the past five years,” said Lisa Peterson, an American Kennel Club representative. “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.”

That's an odd statement to make, considering the most popular large dogs have never been out of the AKC's annual top 10 breeds. The Labrador retriever has held the No. 1 spot for 23 years, and the German shepherd and Golden retriever consistently make the top five. The Dachshund and the Yorkshire terrier are the only small breeds to consistently break into the top 10.

It raises questions about what the AKC thinks of dog owners. What were we doing when we were supposedly out of love with big dogs six years ago? What about owners who prefer smaller dogs?

While financial problems are often cited as a reason for owners to neglect or abandon their dogs, the size of the dog isn't the biggest cause. Smaller breeds can cost just as much or more to care for, and I've met many owners who would gladly go hungry to make sure their pet has food.

Owners have many reasons for choosing the pet they bring into the family. Economic concerns are an important consideration, but responsible owners consider a lot of factors, such as the breed, its size, potential behavioral or health issues, apartment or homeowner association rules, and local pet ordinances.

It's irresponsible of the AKC to correlate breed size with growth or dampening of the economy, and it smacks of bias by the organization. Send questions or comments to  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . c. 2014 King Features Syndicate Inc.

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