By Ann Sullivan
The American Kennel Club recently reported on the top 10 most popular dogs in America. These favorites are AKC registered breeds and many have earned top honors in other canine clubs as well. The AKC has maintained purebred dog registries in the United States since 1884. It also promotes and oversees other kennel organizations and events, such as the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, and various other championship competitions. Many dog breeds gain their popularity in the U.S. from winners of these competitions, which showcase the best of the best in these prized breeds.
1) Labrador Retriever
For 26 years in a row, the beloved Labrador Retriever has won the coveted top spot for favorite breed. This family friendly dog is not only cute, they’re talented as well. They excel in sports, partners of K-9 units, and have been successfully used in rescue missions. Labrador’s are in the Sporting Group family of canine breeds. This is what you might call a “Frisbee dog” as they love activity and are experts at retrieving; hence the latter part of their name. The origins of this playful breed don’t come from Labrador, however. They originate in Newfoundland, Canada. At the time, the area was populated with a smaller breed called “St. John’s Water Dog.” These waterdogs were then bred with the larger Newfoundland dog, to create what’s known today as the Labrador Retriever. They’ve been a recognized breed with the American Kennel Club since 1917.
2) German Shepherd
The second spot for popularity in the AKC rankings is the intelligent and courageous German Shepherd, who are part of the Herding Group of working canines. Their superior intelligence combined with strength, agility and a gentle nature makes them well-suited for everything from therapy dog to K-9 companion. They are extremely confident and loyal to their “pack” and will defend with all their might. This remarkable breed took home Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Show this year. Considered an all-purpose working dog, these majestic beauties are muscular with keen intelligence and a graceful spirit. Considering their size, they are quick and nimble, and have a naturally free flowing gait. They can be mellow until called into action, where they are extremely quick on their feet to respond to any call to duty. Their gentle, loving nature makes them wonderful family pets, as well as great protectors and companions.
3) Golden Retriever
This gentle beauty has long been a favorite among American households. The Golden Retriever is a silly, playful and lovable breed. They are, however, very serious and dedicated when put to work. They’re the most popular breed among guide dog organizations, and excel at hunting, retrieving, and search-and-rescue as well. They are very strong and intelligent, and can adapt to virtually any living situation. Being so smart and active, these golden beauties need both physical and mental stimulus daily. They require regular training as well as play time to maintain their emotional wellbeing. If you have a Golden that is inside all day, they will need an equal amount of play time and outdoor exercise. These lovable fluffy happy go lucky dogs are content when they have a balance of their requirements met. So, make sure you give equal work and playtime to your faithful companion.
Ranking fourth, a Non-sporting breed, these courageous, friendly and calm mannered dogs are very dignified with an amusing nature. They are quick to form loving bonds with their family, especially children. Originating in Britain, they were first recognized by the AKC in 1886. Commonly known as the English Bulldog, this breed requires minimal grooming and are not super active. They do need regular walks and will indulge in the occasional frolic. They may not necessarily solicit a petting, but will want to sit right next to you on the couch and will greet every visitor in their imperial manner. Bulldogs are generally a healthy breed, but do require good nutrition from puppyhood through adulthood and senior years. One of their most distinguished characteristics is their undeniable underbite, which is more obvious when they’re taking a snooze. They love to nap and are often referred to as “the sleepy dog.”
Happy go lucky, friendly and curious describes the fifth most popular breed. This miniature foxhound will endure the length of any good chase. They’re excellent family dogs, as they love to play, play, play. Beagles are clever and quick, with quite a sense of humor as well. They’re favored for their compact size and ease of care. Originating as a pack animal used for hunting rabbits, they enjoy the company of other dogs as well as their humans. Belonging to the Hound dog group, they can, however, be stubborn and require patient and creative training methods. Beagles are extremely social, and think everyone is their new best friend! They don’t like being alone or inactive. They’re happiest when they’re hot on the trail of an interesting scent, especially one of food. Being a scent hound, they’ve been used successfully at airports to sniff out contraband food items.
6) French Bulldog
Also known as “The Frenchie,” the most distinctive characteristic of this compact breed is its “roach back” – a term referring to its pear-shaped arch. Known for its wrinkly pushed in face and bat-like ears, this breed’s nature is affectionate and playful. This cute, cuddly little lap dog is big in the personality department. Sometimes viewed as stubborn, they do require an initial period of proper training, including learning to socialize with people and other dogs. They are, however, eager to please when they know what’s expected of them. While bred primarily as pets, they are intelligent and quite adept at being a good watchdog and alerting their owners to danger. They are incredibly loyal make a great family pet, as well as single pet owner companion. Frenchie’s are not very active by nature, so it’s a good idea to walk them regularly to keep them in shape.
The Poodle comes in a variety of sizes: Standard, Miniature and Toy. No matter the size, these intelligent dogs are considered the same dog breed and are part of the Non-sporting group. Their distinguishable personality traits are proud, very smart and active. When groomed in the traditional style, these wonder dogs are often perceived as the snobby brainless beauty. In reality, they excel in training and activities. They are eager to please and work closely with their humans. They can master all kinds of tricks and sports. Any of the sizes are highly trainable. An interesting tidbit about the poodle’s grooming style is that it was originally designed not for looks, but to protect the dog’s joints and vital organs in cold water. Poodles are great swimmers and their coat is adapted to water. If left to grow on its own, the coat will cord naturally.
“Rotties,” as their affectionately called by those who know them, are extremely loyal, loving guardians. They’re also very affectionate, playful and intelligent. They’re part of the Working Dog group, and are at their happiest when they have a job to do. Endurance and eagerness to work make them a perfect police dog. They’re also used in military canine units. They’re suited, however, for a variety of other positions and make great companion and therapy dogs as well. A protector by nature, the Rottie will guard his position with confidence and take a “wait-see” attitude while he investigates. They look fierce, but underneath, they are extraordinarily sweet, and you may have to break the news to your gentle giant that he is, in fact, not a lap dog! They require training, and you’ll need to establish that you’re in charge; but you will have a loyal and loving friend for life.
9) Yorkshire Terrier
“Yorkies,” originally became a “fashion breed” during the Victorian era. These sassy little tomboyish pooches are affectionate and energetic. Big personality in a small package is what you’ll get with this petite member of the Toy Group. Being terriers by nature, they are brave and curious. Their origins began as a working-class dog in Yorkshire, England, where they were used to catch rats in clothing mills in the nineteenth century. One trait you’ll find in your Yorkie is they don’t know how small they are! If left without strong leadership, they tend to get bossy. So, you’ll need to establish who’s in charge with this mighty tyke. Yorkies make suitable pets for just about any type of home. They’re very adaptable and easy to travel with. In recent times, they’ve become known as “the purse dog” among celebrities because they’re small enough to carry in a handbag.
Fun-loving, bright and active describes this member of the Working dog group. Boxers were one of the first breeds selected to work with German police, where the breed was perfected. Their name stems from the athletes because their moves are smooth and graceful, yet powerful. These patient creatures are high-spirited and wonderful with children. They are great protectors, intelligent and excellent problem solvers. These traits make them a popular choice as a family dog. They do, however, require consistent training and correction to teach them not to jump on people. Being so smart, they consider repetitious commands boring, so training needs to be combined with other activities to keep them interested. Highly energetic, Boxers need regular exercise. Smart, alert, fearless and friendly, these playful dogs need to stay busy. They also prefer the company of their own family to that of strangers; loyalty is another one of their natural traits.