Retrievers, shepherds top dogs in Charleston, AKC says

A Labrador retriever demonstrations its fetching skills at the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition this month. The breed is tops in Charleston, according to a popularity poll conducted by the American Kennel Club.

Dylan Mauerhan threw a ball over and over again for a dog to fetch at James Island County Park. It seemed there was no end to the game for the middle-age Labrador retriever.

“That’s all she wants to do,” he said. “She is completely obsessed.”

Boundless energy and enthusiasm for play is characteristic of the most popular dog in Charleston, South Carolina and the nation. The top ranking is based on canines registered with the American Kennel Club. Labs became America’s top breed in 2013, breaking the poodle’s decades-long run, according to the AKC.

Labs are smart and have a laid-back personality, but they tend to bark a lot. They need plenty of exercise and sometimes become more than an owner can handle, said Brenda Naylor, president of the Charleston Kennel Club.

Charleston is full of Labrador and golden retrievers as well as German shepherds, said dog trainer Owen Kokinda.

“The most popular dog I work with is definitely the German shepherd by far,” Kokinda said.

The golden retriever and German shepherd are at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, on this year’s AKC ranking for Charleston dogs.

The AKC doesn’t release raw numbers, only rankings. They reflect puppies and other newly registered dogs.

Christina Hendrix, of Summerville, was at Maybank Animal Hospital on James Island with Kya, a German shepherd.

“She’s an excellent family dog, great with kids, smart,” Hendrix said.

But when it comes to intelligence the poodle can’t be beat, said Kokinda, owner and founder of K9 Control Training on Folly Road.

“The poodle is the No. 1 smartest dog ever,” he said.

The poodle makes the Charleston AKC list at No. 8 followed by Rottweilers and Vizslas. The middle of the most-popular AKC line-up includes cavalier King Charles spaniels, French bulldogs, German shorthaired pointers and Yorkshire terriers.

Beagles are not on the Charleston AKC Top 10 list, but they are No. 2 for popularity in South Carolina. This month, a beagle won the Westminster Kennel Club Show. Because of the exposure, beagles will probably start selling well, Naylor said.

Although popular here, the cavalier King Charles spaniel is not on the Top 10 statewide list. It’s the same situation for the French bulldog, Vizslas and German shorthaired Pointer.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Reach Prentiss Findlay at 937-5711.