Dog size as a proxy for living standards

The lab has topped the American Kennel Club’s list of registered canines for 12 years straight. How did it happen?

Its ascent may have something to do with the supersizing of the American home. Prior to the Labrador’s reign, the cocker spaniel held the AKC’s top spot for eight years; before that, the poodle was No. 1 for a remarkable quarter-century. Labs, which can weigh more than 80 pounds and measure 25 inches from paw to shoulder, are Goliaths compared to these breeds. Even the standard poodle, which is bigger than the miniature or toy poodle and can be almost as tall as a Lab, usually weighs 15 to 20 pounds less. And Labs are an infamously rambunctious breed; they need more space to frolic and flourish than poodles or cocker spaniels. Which is why the Labrador’s increasing popularity may be tied to the advent of exurbs and McMansions. Since 1971, the average size of an American home has risen 55 percent, to 2,320 square feet. Families aren’t having more children to fill up the extra space, so there’s plenty of room for a Labrador to romp around.

Keep your eyes peeled for an upsurge in English Mastiffs (180 lbs).