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Dog popularity Canine cuddlability trumps pet patriotism

What is the most popular dog breed in Switzerland? Not the big hairy Swiss natives like the Bernese Mountain Dog or the St Bernard. Instead, the Swiss opt for small, social media favourites like the Chihuahua and Bolonka Zwetna.

For years the large, long-haired Labrador held the top spot, but in 2018 it was unseated by a dog that couldn’t be more different: the Chihuahua.

The handbag-size, bat-eared Chihuahua, originally from Mexico, is the most common dog breed in Switzerland with 24,793 of the 551,412 dogs registered in the country, according to the Swiss pet database Amicusexternal link. The only native Swiss breed to make the top 12 is the Bernese Mountain Dog in ninth position with 7,228.

Practical and cuddly

Small dogs are more popular than ever, according to the SonntagsZeitungexternal link. One of the rising stars in 2018 is the Bolonka Zwetna, a member of the Bichon dog family, which came in 12th place. The small, furry breed gained international fame when Prince George received one from his parents, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, for his third birthday.

Only one Bolonka was registered in Switzerland in 2008, but ten years later 5,050 are running around. The breed is gaining popularity because it is small and practical but also loves to move and play, the paper said. What’s more, it doesn’t shed much hair, loves attention and enjoys cuddling, making it popular among families and allergy sufferers. A purebred Bolonka with pedigree papers costs from around CHF2,000 ($2,005) to CHF2,500.

Chihuahuas outnumber Bolonkas in Switzerland almost five to one, but Chihuahuas often end up in shelters. In fact, no other breed is given away as often.

Another difference is that while both are often toted by social media influencers or stars, it is rare to see a Bolonka dressed in costumes or glitzy accessories. As one dog owner explained, Bolonkas might wear a raincoat but that’s it.

All images Keystone-ATS and AFP

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