This map reveals the most popular dogs across Sydney


If you've noticed a sudden infiltration of small, well-groomed pooches with perms in certain pockets of inner Sydney, you're not going crazy.

The rise in apartment living has seen small dog breeds punching above their weight in the city's inner-city suburbs, with toy poodles now making up a third of all dogs in high-rise-heavy Zetland

Microchip data from the Australasian Pet Registry, one of five national databases, provides a snapshot of dog ownership across Sydney over the past 15 years.

It revealed Staffordshire terriers are the most popular breed in Sydney, closely followed by poodles and labradors.

In Guildford, one in every four dogs is a staffy. They are also the most popular breed in Bexley, at 20 per cent, and Bondi, at 17 per cent.

According to dog behaviour specialist Nathan Williams the popularity of staffies could be explained by their all-rounder nature.

"You get a dog that's not overly big, they've got a short coat, and they're very affectionate, sweet dogs that connect with their owners on quite a high level," he said. "They're better with kids than a border collie or a labrador."

Labradors are top dog in Holsworthy at 22 per cent, as well as Engadine and Northbridge, both at 19 per cent.

But in apartment-heavy suburbs like Zetland, Ultimo, Rhodes, Mosman and Cronulla, poodles and poodle crossbreeds are the clear favourites. Petite pooches like pomeranians and Maltese terriers also prove popular.

"We do see some connection between stereotypes of areas and the dogs in the areas," said social researcher Mark McCrindle.

"You've got the poodles in Mosman ... which has an older population and has far more females than other areas," he added. "[Then] in Fairfield and Guildford, which as far as areas go are considered pretty tough, you've got German shepherds and staffies.

"Certainly, smaller dog breeds are more common in built-up areas, and larger breeds in places further out with bigger yards."

Julie Tuckwell, who runs Puppy Playground Dog Day Care in Zetland with her partner Anthony Petrilli, says her clients are drawn to poodles, as well as popular "designer" crossbreeds such as cavoodles, due to their suitability to apartment life.

"Poodle breeds don't shed hair, so they are an easier apartment dog," Ms Tuckwell said.

In Zetland, where 91 per cent of people live in apartments and 56 per cent of residents work 40 or more hours per week, demand for her services is high.

"A lot of people who live in Zetland are young professionals," she said. "They're wanting their dogs to have some kind of socialisation or stimulation in the day, so they're not stuck at home alone all day not being able to run around and play because they're in apartments."

Despite poodles taking out the top position in Zetland, Ms Tuckwell said cavoodles, a hybrid of a poodle and cavalier King Charles spaniel, were rapidly growing in popularity.

Although cavoodles only represent 2.7 per cent of Sydney's dog population, registration data shows the proportion of the designer breed has doubled in the past five years.

In Bella Vista, one in five dogs is a maltese terrier and in Ashfield they are similarly popular (18 per cent). Cavalier King Charles spaniels were the top breed in Naremburn at 18 per cent.

Multicultural Marrickville was a mixed bag of breeds, with maltese terriers (13 per cent), staffies (11 per cent), poodles (8 per cent), pomeranians (9 per cent) and kelpies (5 per cent) leading the pack. Neighbouring Newtown revealed similar results.

"Newtown and the inner west is kind of the exception to all rules," Mr Williams said. "There's a mixture of really expensive dogs and rescue dogs."

Stanmore-based veterinarian Anne Fawcett said mixed-breed dogs had become increasingly common in her area.

"One of the most popular dogs now is the rescue dog, there has been a palpable shift in the canine demographic and getting a rescue is seen as the ethical thing to do," said the University of Sydney veterinary science lecturer. "It's why the 'bitsa' has become one of the most popular breeds I see."

The average cost of a pure-bred dog is $674, according to the Pet Ownership in Australia 2016 report by Animal Medicines Australia, with some popular breeds costing thousands of dollars.

That could explain why the rare and expensive Akita, which costs up to $4500, is most prevalent in well-heeled Mosman where the median income is 44 per cent higher than across the greater Sydney area.

Mr McCrindle said he felt there was a strong link between pet ownership trends and social values.

"It's not just appropriateness for their lifestyle that people think about, but how does this dog fit with my personal brand," he said. "It's not just cars and what we wear that can help define us now, but our dogs."

This story This map reveals the most popular dogs across Sydney first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.