London-based data journalist and information designer David McCandless has created some of the most thought-provoking data visualizations of the past few years. Now, he turns his hand to a decidedly more lighthearted (but every bit as important) topic: What dog breed is quantitatively the best?
The data viz world loves analyzing dogs. We’ve seen guides to niche dog breeds, explanations of dog evolution and a poster of every dog breed out there. But none of them tell you which dogs are mathematically proven to be better than others.
The graphic breaks down like this: Dog breeds are rated by beneficial traits (intelligence, longevity, lack of genetic ailments) and negative ones (cost, grooming, size of appetite). Using their combined ranking, McCandles plots them on a chart with their ranking along the X axis and their popularity on the Y axis, using this to determine whether they’re “inexplicably underrated,” “rightly ignored” or otherwise. The size of the transparent dog forms match the breed’s respective intelligence (which explains why French bulldogs appear similar to German shepherds). Then they are color coded by type of breed.
The verdict: more people should own border terriers and Welsh springer spaniels, and bulldogs are highly overrated. Sorry, bulldog owners.
While this is a fun graphic, it’s not entirely useful for those who are actually looking to pick out a dog. It’s hard to imagine anyone turning down a dog based on his or her appetite. And the whole logic of the visualization goes out the window for anyone living in a city. Border collies might be one of the highest ranked dogs on this chart, but they’d be a disaster in a tiny New York apartment. And ultimately, of course, all dogs are perfect just as they are.
The visualization appears in McCandless’s book Knowledge Is Beautiful. Buy it here.