NEW YORK (AP) -- America's fondness for Labrador retrievers is still setting records, but bulldogs are breaking new ground.
Labs reigned as the nation's top dog last year for the 24th year after breaking poodles' decades-old record in 2013, according to American Kennel Club rankings set to be released Thursday. But bulldogs have hit a new high -- No. 4 -- and their bat-eared cousins, French bulldogs, sauntered into the top 10 for the first time in nearly a century.
German shepherds, golden retrievers and beagles are holding their own in the top five, with Yorkshire terriers, poodles, boxers and Rottweilers filling out the top 10. Dachshunds slipped from 10th to 11th.
Bulldogs' rise is no surprise to fans who extol their unmistakable, push-faced expressions and generally calm demeanors.
"They just have such character," says Bulldog Club of America communications chairwoman Annette Noble. The breed is known for being gentle but resolute - given direction, a bulldog may well want "to think about it first and decide whether it's worth it," as Noble puts it.
The smaller, less jowly French bulldog - sometimes dubbed "a clown in the cloak of a philosopher" - has surged from 49th to 9th in a decade.
Frenchies were No. 6 in the decade of the 1910s, but their prevalence later waned. Then appearances in movies, TV shows and advertising raised their profile in recent years.
Labrador retrievers hit the top 10 in the 1970s and haven't left since.
Originally bred to fetch game, Labs have proven able and willing to play virtually any canine role: search-and-rescue and police work, agility and other dog sports, guide and therapy dog work, and sensitive family companion. Breeder Micki Beerman recalls one of her Labs winning over a hesitant child by gradually moving closer, until the child began to pet the dog.
"They're just very intuitive," said Beerman, of Brooklyn. "They kind of know when you need them."
The AKC doesn't release raw numbers, only rankings. They reflect puppies and other newly registered dogs.
Dog breeding draws criticism from animal-rights activists who feel it ends up fueling puppy mills, siphons attention from mixed-breed dogs that need homes and sometimes propagates unhealthy traits.
The AKC says that its breed standards and recommended health testing help responsible people breed healthy dogs and that knowing breed characteristics helps owners choose a pet that's right for them.
Man's best friend making the most of winter:
Dogs In Snow
Labs extend record as US top dog, but bulldogs make waves
NOTTINGHAM, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 21: Freddy the Boston Terrier plays in the snow on January 21, 2013 in Nottingham, United Kingdom. The United Kingdom has suffered a weekend of heavy snowfall with many transport routes affected. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Snow rests on the face of the dog, Camper, during a midday walk by the Hounds on the Hudson dog day care center in Albany, N.Y. on Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014. The National Weather Service is warning of 8 to 16 inches accumulating by Friday morning and near white-out conditions at times. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
Sarah Appleman of Washington and her dog Frankenstein take a walk near Capitol Hill in Washington during the start of a major snowstorm, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014. Many government offices and schools closed before the first flake of snow, but there were signs Tuesday that significant winter weather was moving into the mid-Atlantic region as heavy snow began falling.(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Snow collects on the fur of a dog as he is taken for a walk Monday, Feb. 3, 2014, in New York. The National Weather Service says the storm could bring up to 8 inches of snow Monday to New York. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
FILE - In a Feb. 8, 2010, file picture, a stray dog with snow on its fur looks on in Bucharest, Romania. The stray dog population of the Romanian capital is around 64 thousand according to city hall sources. The Matei Bals hospital for infectious diseases says it has treated 9,760 people for dogs bites this year, of which a quarter were children. It was the death of the 4-year-old boy that sparked a new debate over killing strays. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda, File)
Local resident Silvia Parigger enjoys a walk through the snow with her goat Charly, her donkey Kenobi and her dog Murphy in Lofer, in the Austrian province of Salzburg, Friday, March 1, 2013. The weather forecast predicts sunny weather for the upcoming days in Austria. (AP Photo/Kerstin Joensson)
Dog Kari runs through the snow on the Wurmberg mountain in Braunlage, northern Germany, Sunday Feb. 3, 2013. Weather forecasts predict colder temperatures for the next days. (AP Photo/dpa, Philipp Schulze)
A dog runs through the fresh snow at the Loferer Alp in the Austrian province of Salzburg, on Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012. Snow fell down to 600 meters altitude in several parts of the alpine country. (AP Photo/Kerstin Joensson)
A stray dog peers through the enclosure fence a shelter in Glina, Romania, Monday, Jan. 30, 2012. Inmates from the neighboring Jilava prison were mobilized, in temperatures below minus 15 Centigrade, (5 degrees Fahrenheit) to clear the snow after the shelter was snowed in following blizzards at the end of last week. Temperatures plunged to minus 27 Centigrade (-16,6 degrees Fahrenheit) in parts of Romania, four people died due to cold related causes according to local media. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
A dog named Muldoon waits in the snow for its owner, Tess Taylor, who stopped for coffee on Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2011 in Barre, Vt. Schools, business and municipal offices are closed across Northern New England as the storm-weary region braces for what forecasters say could be more than a foot of snow in some places. Early Wednesday snow was falling heavily across much of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont after a smaller storm dropped a few inches across the region on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot)
A Portuguese Water Dog named Zephyr tries to navigate the deep snow while playing with its owner, Joe Stamp, during a winter storm in Hartford, Conn., Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
A dog named Kira, dressed with a pullover, stands in the fesh snow in Saalfelden, Austrian province of Salzburg, on Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2010. Heavy snowfall caused traffic problems all over the country. (AP Photo/Kerstin Joensson)
A little dog enjoys the fresh snow on a snow covered meadow in Lofer, in the Austrian province of Salzburg, Monday Nov. 29, 2010. The snowfall caused traffic problems all over the country. (AP Photo / Kerstin Joensson)
FILE - In this Feb. 10, 2010 file picture a dog looks on as men shovel snow from a cage at a stray dog shelter in a field outside Bucharest, Romania.The mayor of the Romanian capital said Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013, there will be a referendum on whether thousands of stray dogs should be euthanized after a 4-year-old boy was fatally mauled by a stray on Monday. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda, File)
"Rocket" wears a dog coat and snow booties during a morning walk in the falling snow in Washington, Saturday, Feb. 6, 2010. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Ein Hund wird am Sonntag, 20. Dezember 2009, auf einem Schlitten in Gelsenkirchen, Nordrhein-Westfalen durch den Schnee gezogen. Der starke Wintereinbruch mit viel Schnee und Rekordtemperaturen hat am Wochenende das Land fest im Griff. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)--- A dog is pulled on a sledge in the snow in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, Sunday, Dec. 20, 2009. Winter reaches Germany with record low temperatures and many snow this weekend. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
A dog runs in the snow in Bucharest Romania Thursday Jan. 3 2008. Thousands of passengers were stranded after Bucharest's two main airports were closed due to heavy snowfall. The snow also blocked many roads in the south of the country, forcing the closure of at least one border crossing with Bulgaria and prompting train delays.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
Eine Hund waelzt sich am Mittwoch, 21. Maerz 2007, bei St. Maergen im Schwarzwald im Neuschnee. Zum kalendarischen Fruehlingsbeginn gab es auf den Bergen neuen Schnee und Minus-Temperaturen. uch in den naechsten Tagen ist mit winterlichen Bedingungen zu rechnen. (AP Photo/Winfried Rothermel) ---A dog enjoys the fresh snow in St. Maergen near Freiburg, southern Germany, Wednesday, March 21, 2007. For the next days meteorologists predict cold temperatures and more snowfall in the mountains. (AP Photo/Winfried Rothermel)
Dog Zorro jumps as he plays in the fresh fallen snow in Wildhaus, Switzerland, Saturday Dec. 9, 2006. (AP Photo/Keystone, Eddy Risch)
A German Shepherd puppy experiences snow for the first time during a snowfall January 21, 2014 in Manassas, Virginia. The Washington, DC area and much of the Northeast is under a winter storm warning for Tuesday, with the National Weather Service forecasting 6 to 11 inches of snow by the end of the day. The snow will also come with bitter cold, and the area is also under a wind chill advisory for Tuesday into Wednesday. AFP PHOTO / Karen BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 22: English foxhound 'Braxton' wears boots to protect his paws from ice melting chemicals during his morning walk as the temperature hovers in the single-digits Fahrenheit January 22, 2014 in Washington, DC. After four inches of snow fell on some places in the capital area, the federal government delayed the start of the work day by two hours as most schools remained closed. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
A little dog who is blowed by strong wind is watched by a big one during the first snowfall of this year in Bucharest on January 25, 2014. A thick blanket of snow covered Saturday southern and eastern Romania causing the closure of three highways , canceling twenty rail links and disruptions in air traffic. Dozen roads were also closed to traffic Saturday after heavy snowfall since Friday night. . AFP PHOTO DANIEL MIHAILESCU (Photo credit should read DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty Images)
Two pug dogs are walked in the snow in Travemuende, northern Germany, on March 29, 2013. Meteorologists forecast temperatures around freezing pont for the coming week in Germany. AFP PHOTO / Ole Spata GERMANY OUT (Photo credit should read Ole Spata/AFP/Getty Images)
A Beauce Sheep dog covered by snow is pictured on March 12, 2013 in Godewaersvelde, northern France, after a heavy snow storm. Overnight on March 12 nearly 500 cars were blocked near Cherbourg where snowdrifts piled up 60 centimetres (almost two feet) as winds reached 100 kilometres (more than 60 miles) an hour. Twenty-six regions in northwest and northern France were put on orange alert because of heavy snowfalls, which Meteo France said were 'remarkable for the season because of the expected quantity and length of time'. AFP PHOTO PHILIPPE HUGUEN (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images)
ST MORITZ, SWITZERLAND - JANUARY 25: A pug dog is seen during the Polo World Cup on Snow match between team Ralph Lauren and team Cartier on the frozen Lake St Moritz on January 25, 2013 in St Moritz, Switzerland. (Photo by Lars Baron/Bongarts/Getty Images)
LAUDER, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 21: Tim Coulson huntmaster and Victoria Walton at the Lauderdale Hunt exercises the hounds in the snow at Scarce Law on January 21, 2012 in Lauder, Scotland. Widespread snowfall is affecting most of the UK with school closures and transport disruption. The Met Office has issued a red weather warning for parts of Wales, advising against all non-essential travel as up to 30cm of snow is expected to fall in some areas today. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
A dog named 'Lucky' runs through the snow on the frozen lake Helenesee near Frankfurt (Oder), eastern Germany, on February 12, 2012. Temperatures remain cold in Germany as the death toll from Europe's big freeze rose past 550. AFP PHOTO / PATRICK PLEUL GERMANY OUT (Photo credit should read PATRICK PLEUL/AFP/Getty Images)
Dogs play in the snow on the Sandringham estate in Norfolk on February 5, 2012. AFP PHOTO/BEN STANSALL (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)