MANNY @ MOUNTAIN DEMOCRAT February 27 2014
Dog talk with Uncle Matty: Meet the Frenchie
Olympians aren’t the only ones setting and breaking records. Let’s hear it for the Lab.
On Jan. 31, the American Kennel Club announced that for the 23rd year in a row, the Labrador retriever has been elected “most popular dog breed” in the United States, shattering the old record. OK, maybe shattering isn’t the word. Once upon a time, the poodle held court over the American public, a love affair that lasted 22 years. Admirable runs, both. If only our elected humans could retain such popularity.
What’s to love about the Lab?
Smart, congenial, playful, the Lab wears many hats: searcher, rescuer, faithful companion, loving nanny, K-9 cop, intuitive hunter of game and fastidious player of fetch. The better question, clearly, is what’s not to love.
But what about the competition?
Bulldogs, beagles, goldens and Germans complete the Fab 5. Boxers, poodles, Yorkies, Rotties and dachsies round out the Top 10. A diverse group, to be sure — big, small, low, tall, fluffy, sleek, docile, rambunctious — further proof that while there may be a “most popular” dog, there is no one “perfect” dog.
While the Big 10 hasn’t changed much from last year, there is a new kid on the block, and he’s rising fast in the ranks.
Meet the Frenchie.
Ranked 58th in popularity in 2002, the French bulldog held the No. 14 spot last year, and now, at No. 11, is sniffing at the door of the Top 10.
According to the AKC, “the French bulldog originated as, and continues to be used as, a companion dog. The breed is small and muscular with heavy bone structure, a smooth coat, a short face and trademark ‘bat’ ears. Prized for their affectionate natures and even dispositions, they are generally active and alert, but not unduly boisterous.”
Inspiring photo blogs titled “Frenchie Fever” and descriptions like “a clown in the cloak of a philosopher,” the French bulldog is that character actor we all love to love but can’t necessarily name.
Unless his name is Manny.
Manny the Frenchie is the world’s most famous French bulldog, snapped up for modeling gigs by major brands like American Apparel, Converse and Martha Stewart’s PetSmart and bringing inspiration and smiles to both White Sox fans (Manny’s from Chicago) and his quarter-million Instagram followers.
But Manny’s humans, Jon Huang, 35, and Amber Chavez, 30, say Manny’s good fortune wasn’t a given. “He was actually the unwanted one in his litter,” Huang told the Huffington Post. “The breeder was like, ‘we’ll give you a discount if you take him.’ He’s the bootleg special dog.”
Once an overlooked underdog, today Manny’s giving as good as he gets.
His famous mug is also being used in fundraising efforts by the ASPCA and the French Bulldog Rescue Network. With great fame comes great responsibility — and even greater demand.
Popular breeds tend to be bred. And bred. And bred. Inevitably, when demand ebbs, supply stagnates.
Remember the Taco bell dog? Between Taco Bell, Paris Hilton and “Legally Blonde,” it was only a matter of time before the Chihuahua dominated the popularity charts. Today, the toy breed reigns at the nation’s shelters.
So while we’re cheering on the Frenchie, congratulating the Lab and consoling the poodle, let’s keep in mind the fickle nature of popularity and, in choosing our own dogs, elect the breed that best represents our individual interests — not the whims of a nation.
Dog trainer Matthew “Uncle Matty” Margolis is co-author of 18 books about dogs, a behaviorist, a popular radio and television guest, and host of the PBS series “WOOF! It’s a Dog’s Life!” Read all of Uncle Matty’s columns at www.creators.com, and visit him at www.unclematty.com. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to Uncle Matty at P.O. Box 3300, Diamond Springs, CA 95619.
Copyright 2014 Creators Syndicate Inc.