Scooby Dooby down! 'Mystery' of Great Dane popularity plunge

Kennel Club releases statistics showing decline of iconic breed and other bigger dogs as new Scooby Doo film, Scoob!, premieres in UK

The popularity of the iconic Great Dane, the breed on which the enduring character Scooby Doo is based, has steadily declined since its heyday in the 80s, corresponding with the cartoon’s primetime TV slot.

Statistics released today by the Kennel Club, coinciding with the UK release of Scoob!, the computer-animated reboot of the 50 year-old classic, show that registrations of Great Dane puppies have plummeted by 69 per cent since 1980, with last year seeing a popularity nose dive – just 855 puppies – the lowest figure in over 50 years.

The peaks and troughs of the Great Dane’s popularity can be traced alongside the Scooby Doo franchise – in 1969 when the animation aired for the first time on television, the breed jumped by 24 per cent in popularity. Numbers then steadily increased and Great Danes enjoyed their peak in 1980, as the Scooby Doo and Scrappy Do spin off series first appeared on screen, with nearly 3,000 puppies registered that year. Following this ‘puppy power’, the breed steadily began to drop in numbers.  

It’s a similar story across the UK’s ‘top dogs’, as small dogs surge in popularity and other larger breeds tail behind.

Compared to 20 years ago, of those large breeds in the top ten most popular dogs, all but the Labrador have declined in popularity: the German Shepherd Dog (was number 2, now number 7) by -62 per cent, the Golden Retriever (was number 5, now number 6) by -34 per cent and the Boxer (was number 9, now number 15) by -69 per cent. Meanwhile, the top three ‘quickest risers’ in the 2020 top ten – which have seen the biggest popularity increases since 2000 – are small breeds.

“Dog breeds certainly do go in and out of fashion and ups and downs can be impacted by what people see on television or in films,” commented Bill Lambert, spokesperson for the Kennel Club. “Great Danes, just like Scooby Doo, can be gentle giants when raised in the right environment. But with the increase in busy lifestyles and city living in the last few decades, there does seem to be a trend towards people wanting smaller dogs – so perhaps it isn’t such a ‘mystery’ why the breed has become less popular.

“Of course, nobody should be buying a dog simply because they’ve seen them on TV or they’re suddenly popular – thorough, extensive and responsible research should drive any decision to ensure the breed is right for you. Great Danes certainly need space, experienced owners and a lot of exercise. Scooby Doo for example might be a very well-trained sniffer dog sidekick and companion for Shaggy, but he also probably eats too many ‘scooby snacks’, and of course we have seen how he can scare easily! Each breed has different needs and traits that must be understood by their owner, or potential owner, to make sure you’re a perfect match.”

Read more information on finding the right breed for your lifestyle on our Breeds A to Z.