One of my favorite pastimes as a proud, card-carrying dog geek is playing “Guess the Breed”.* Since National Dog Day is coming up on August 26, I thought I’d give you a rundown of the top ten most popular dog breeds in the United States (as determined by the American Kennel Club).
#10 – Rottweiler (Working Group)
I love Rotties. I love the look, the size, and the interesting history. Most people associate this breed with junkyard guard dogs, but they were originally bred as herding dogs in Germany (they got the idea from the Romans). Rottweilers later went on to work as guard dogs for our military and police departments around the county. Very distinguished, and so very handsome.
#9 – French Bulldog (Non-sporting Group)
Who doesn’t love a good Frenchie? With their adorable face and squatty stature, it’s no wonder they are one of the most popular breeds on the list. In fact, French Bulldogs are also known as clown dogs, generally because they tend to be playful and silly. Plus – look at them! They became their own breed after bull baiting was retired as a sport and people wanted a smaller version of a Bulldog as a companion. Also – cutest puppies ever. EVER.
#8 – Boxer (Working Group)
This is another breed with an irresistibly adorable mug – it’s not surprising to see them so high on the list. Originally bred to hunt large game like deer, boar, and bear, the current boxer tends to be fairly active, strong, and driven. They generally need daily exercise and are excellent problem solvers. I love to give a puzzle toy to a Boxer and let them work it out for themselves. It’s a great way to feed them their meals and keep their brains busy.
#7 – Poodle (Non-sporting and Toy Groups)
The poodle is one of my absolute favorite breeds, not least because they tend to be total smartypants pups, regardless of size. Most people think that the poodle is French, but they are actually German in origin. Poodle or Puddeln, in German, means “to splash in water”. They were originally bred as water retrievers, which is also where that traditional Poodle cut you sometimes see comes from. It is designed to keep their joints warm in the water.
#6 – Yorkshire Terrier (Toy Group)
Terriers have been bred to hunt pests and burrowing animals, and the Yorkie is no different. This small breed was originally bred to hunt rats in clothing mills, but has since become a really popular pet, landing them in the toy group and number six on this list. Yorkies usually become very attached to their people and are quite trainable. They have Big Dog personalities in Toy Dog packages.
#5 – Beagle (Hound Group)
I personally think there is nothing cuter than a Beagle puppy. A popular dog with families, Beagles are used to hunt in groups, so they tend to be friendly with other dogs as well as people. They love to use their noses and can be relentless hunters (and eaters, which is why you see quite a few – ahem – stout beagles out there). Their adorable floppy ears also help to capture scents and waft them to their super-sniffers.
#4 – English Bulldog (Non-sporting Group)
These compact, heavy, short dogs used to be determined, powerful and ferocious bull baiters – hence the name. They’re now companion dogs, but they retain their ancestral tenacity and energy, so they tend to be happy go lucky and playful. They don’t need a lot of exercise and make great apartment dogs.
#3 – Golden Retriever (Sporting Group)
As a dog trainer, I can say that there is nothing better than a healthy Golden Retriever. My favorite thing about them is their “soft mouth”. Since their main job is to bring back animals without damaging them in any way, they have gentle mouths, which also makes them ideal as pets. They are generally everything one wants in a family pet, so it’s not surprising to see them this high on the list.
#2 – German Shepherd (Herding Group)
A lot of people are surprised to learn that these guys are actually in the Herding group. We usually don’t think of them as being farm dogs, but German Shepherds were originally bred to herd sheep. They make a great, devoted partners and do amazing work for the police and military.
#1 – Labrador Retriever (Sporting Group)
And the #1 dog breed in the United States is…the LABRADOR RETRIEVER! Though, reallyl, this isn’t much of a surprise because they’ve been the top ranking breed for the last 25 years. Labs were bred as gun dogs (meaning the hunter shoots and the dog retrieves), and in the field they often waiting patiently for hours in small spaces like boats with other dogs. Their patience and tolerance make labs great family pets, service and therapy dogs, and search & rescue teammates.