The French Bulldog, a breed favoured by celebrities like the Beckhams and Lady Gaga, is set to overtake the Labrador as the UK’s most popular dog.
The popularity of the breed has seen an unprecedented rise in recent years, with registrations increasing 47% from 14,607 in 2015, to 21,470 in 2016, Kennel Club figures reveal.
It is thought the pointy-eared canine could be top on the rankings by 2018, the first time the Labrador Retriever will have been knocked off the spot for 27 years.
Since 2007 the number of Kennel Club registrations for French Bulldogs have increased from 670.
The Labrador has been the most popular dog breed in the UK since 1990 – the year it overtook the Yorkshire Terrier.
French Bulldogs are set to overtake the current second most popular breed, the Cocker Spaniel, which is ahead by only 384 puppy registrations, within a couple of months.
However, the Kennel Club is concerned the increase is due to people choosing the breed because it is considered fashionable, rather than because it is the most suitable for their lifestyle.
Kennel Club secretary Caroline Kisko said: “While the French Bulldog is a lovely breed, it is very unwise for anyone to buy one simply because they think it looks cute or is a fashionable choice.
“Anyone doing so could inadvertently be contributing to an impending welfare crisis.
“The breed is a favourite with celebrities, who often flaunt them on their Instagram and Twitter accounts for people to coo over.
“While it’s normal to want to show off your dog, when celebrities do it, it usually results in a surge in the popularity of certain breeds, which is not a good thing as it opens the doors to unscrupulous breeders who see it as an opportunity to breed lots of them without due care to health and welfare.”
She added that it was crucial for anyone intent on owning a French Bulldog to go a responsible breeder, such as a Kennel Club assured breeder.
The UK’s largest dog welfare organisation is urging people to consider buying other similar breeds that may be better suited to their lifestyle and environment. These include the Miniature Schnauzer, Beagle, Border Terrier and Welsh Terrier.