Good looking, soft, gentle and affectionate - labrador retrievers are hard to resist.
So much so that 1261 people in Palmerston North own at least one, and that's not counting 182 golden retrievers as well.
A census of the city's 7698 registered dogs detailing breeds, names and ages has just been updated by the city council, with labrador retrievers topping the list for most popular breed.
That is no surprise for head of environmental protection services Wayne Jameson, who said Palmerston North dog lovers were in step with national tastes.
"They are the most common choice for working with the blind, they have a reputation for being gentle, and are nice, friendly dogs when they are well behaved."
Blake, aged 5, which is incidentally the most common age for Palmerston North's dogs, is the pampered pet of Claire and Simon Coom.
Registered as a labrador retriever, with a touch of golden retriever, he has been with Claire since he was 6 weeks old.
Her parents, who went along for the ride when she went to buy him, could not resist offering a home to litter mate Ben.
The pair are still great playmates.
Claire thinks Blake is beautiful, a fantastic family pet, he loves people, and is quite intelligent.
"We do have to exercise him quite a lot, because he is so big."
Jameson said exercise and control were important in making sure labrador retrievers lived up to their positive reputation.
"In our statistics, we have more labradors than pit bulls classified as menacing.
"They don't look dangerous, but they are big and have sharp teeth and can bite like any other dog."
They are a country mile ahead of the next most popular dog breed in town, which is the fox terrier, on 431, followed by jack russells (346), border collies (344) and bichon frise (336).
Staffordshire bull terriers, german shepherds, huntaways, rottweilers and shih tzu round out the top 10.
There is one dog registered as a dingo, one bloodhound and one white swiss shepherd.
Five-year-olds are the most common dogs in the city, with 105 puppies registered less than 1 year old, and two elderly dogs making it to 20 years.
Bella and Max top the list of popular dog names, in a giddying array of the common, the imaginative, spelling mistakes and desperate labels.
There are no rules or legal limits on what people can call their dogs: "But you are still likely to be arrested for calling out obscenities from your back door step."
Once famous dogs have few followers left, with just a couple of Lassies, one Beethoven, and no Rovers.
A couple of classics have been honoured, but as spelling mistakes - Shakespare and Motzart.
Dotcom has a follower, as does Charlie Brown, while Denem Diamonds Are Forever could be the longest title on the list.
- Manawatu Standard
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