The Top 10 Most Popular Dog Breeds

The average dog lover can recognize 25% of dog breeds. Why not more? While there are 190 dog breeds to choose from, most pet owners favor a select few types. Here they are: the top 10 most popular breeds by ownership and why we find them so loveable.

#1 Most Popular Dog Breed: The Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retriever

The Labrador Retriever.

Lead a Labrador to a body of water and it will retrieve all day: balls, sticks and even children who might happen to go for a swim.

Descended from dogs found in Newfoundland by explorers, fishermen and settlers, the Labrador Retriever evolved by natural selection. Today it is consistently the most popular dog in the US, Canada and the UK.

The coat is short, dense and hard in colors of black, yellow or chocolate. A good brushing three times a week will remove dead hair and keep the coat shiny.

The Labrador is easy to train and excels as a field dog and in obedience trials. Labs enjoy outdoor exercise and are especially fond of swimming.

This medium-sized, high-energy dog is best suited to a suburban or country home with a yard and a family that can provide it with the activity it loves.

#2 Most Popular Dog Breed: The German Shepherd

German Sheperd

The German Shepherd.

The German Shepherd Dog today is a true working dog: protective, loyal and highly intelligent.

The most popular breed for military and police service, they are also often chosen for search-and-rescue work, as well as a guide and hearing assistance dog. Bred specifically to work with humans, the breed is easy to train and will learn commands at record speed.

Training should begin at an early age provided the more strenuous exercises are not overdone. If you don’t provide him with a job, a German Shepherd might find his own employment like patrolling for squirrel invasions...

Given their size and high activity levels, German Shepherds are best suited to homes with yards. Lots of daily outdoor exercise is a must.

#3 Most Popular Dog Breed: The Golden Retriever

Golden Retriever

The Golden Retriever.

Golden Retrievers are used in many capacities including serving as guide dogs and therapy dogs.

His classic good looks and sunny temperament make the Golden Retriever the quintessential dog for many pet owners. Easy to train with a biddable nature, Goldens are typically happy with just about any activity their owners choose – from agility and rally to therapy or obedience.

The one exception may be watch dog or guard dog training; few Goldens can be convinced the world isn't all fun and games. Goldens enjoy interaction of almost any kind – from socializing at the local dog park to family walks or backyard romps.

Although gentle and typically good with children, Goldens aren't meant to sit around; they thrive on exercise such as swimming or ball-chasing.

#4 Most Popular Dog Breed: The Bulldog


The Bulldog.

Today's Bulldog has a much softer personality than his intense ancestors, who guarded and controlled bulls and fought in sporting arenas. Nowadays, Bulldogs would rather cozy up on a couch.

The modern Bulldog is gentle, intelligent, affectionate, strong and determined. All that's left of the tough reputation is a classic under-bite and an amusing streak of stubbornness.

The devoted Bulldog is naturally patient with children and good with other animals, especially if socialized early. The breed doesn't tolerate extreme temperature variances and is happiest in a climate-controlled home.

The Bulldog will thrive on short walks rather than strenuous outings. If you decide to try your Bulldog out in the water, make sure he has a life-vest as their short legs and heavy frames do not make them natural swimmers.

#5 Most Popular Dog Breed: The Beagle


The Beagle.

Beagles have a long history, but the most famous of them all is Snoopy, whose delight in food and travel exemplifies the breed.

Today's Beagle is more typically a companion dog than a hunting dog. The Beagle's extraordinary sense of smell, however, continues to be used by humans, but not to sniff out rabbits. Instead, the Beagle or Beagle mixes are valued for sniffing out illegal drugs and banned agricultural contraband. After all, Beagles do great scent work in airports and don't alarm the passengers as a bigger working dog might simply by presence.

A Beagle makes a good family dog, friendly with children and usually ok with other dogs if socialized early.

Daily outdoor exercise is important to the Beagle, but he should be leashed or confined to a securely fenced yard when outdoors or his nose could lead him into trouble.

#6 Most Popular Dog Breed: The French Bulldog

French Bulldog

The French Bulldog.

French Bulldogs are great companions, making no apologies for choosing rest over exertion.

The breed's laid-back nature blends well with children, other dogs and even cats if socialized. His exercise requirements are minimal—a short daily walk will do. He might bark to alert owners of newcomers, but he's typically too friendly for guard dog duty.

Because of their lovable nature and desire to be close companions, many French Bulldogs lack a sense of personal space. It's not uncommon to find your Frenchie crawling over your newspaper, laptop, or other pets in order to get the best placement in your lap.

Training a French Bulldog requires patience; a Frenchie often has his own agenda. The breed's stubborn streak is best addressed with a sense of humor.

Also requiring a sense of humor is the French Bulldog's tendency to snore, pass gas, and make a variety of unusual noises. They have a flair for dramatics and will constantly look for new ways to express their sensitive natures and wide range of emotions.

#7 Most Popular Dog Breed: The Poodle


The Poodle.

Beneath the Poodle's air of distinction and dignity, beneath that curly coat, beats the heart of a good-natured dog whose versatility makes it at home in any arena, from the show ring to the field to the home.

The Standard Poodle is the original from which the Miniature and Toy breeds were developed. The coat has a dense, harsh texture and may be in any solid color: black, brown, gray, apricot, cream or white, with dark pigmentation of nose, lips and eye rims.

To keep the coat mat-free, it should be brushed daily and clipped regularly, at least four times a year. Special care should be taken to keep the Poodle's long, thickly feathered ears clean and free from infection.

With its well-mannered demeanor, clean habits, non-shedding coat and desire to please, the Poodle makes a superior house pet for town or country. The Standard needs plenty of outdoor exercise, is an excellent watchdog and loves playing with children.

#8 Most Popular Dog Breed: The Rottweiler


The Rottweiler.

Dating back to the Roman Empire, early Rottweilers guarded and protected the cattle of the moving armies.

Rottweilers today thrive on working, protecting and keeping active. Extremely loyal, a Rottie must be socialized and trained early to keep his protective drive in check (keeping burglars out is great, but you may want him to let your new friends come in!)

Strong and athletic, a Rottweiler needs vigorous workouts, not a mere walk around the block. Along with exercise, a Rottie needs daily interaction with the family. A properly-trained Rottweiler will adore and protect his own children, but his sheer size may be an issue with very young children.

While Rottweilers are typically good with animals in their family, they should be closely supervised with others. After all, a wary Rottie may resist following the "everyone's my new best friend"" philosophy at his local dog park.

#9 Most Popular Dog Breed: The Yorkshire Terrier

Yorkshire Terrier

The Yorkshire Terrier.

The Yorkshire Terrier was developed in the north of England about the mid-19th century, chiefly for the job of controlling the rat population in the coal pits and cotton mills.

If this seems a far cry from the dainty little glamour breed of today, it should be remembered that in those days the dogs weighed about 15 pounds, or twice the weight of the modern breed.

Today, Yorkshire Terrier puppies are almost black at birth, with the coat clearing to steel blue with tan head and legs by one year. Daily brushing is essential.

This is not a breed for children but rather an ideal choice for stay-at-home people who can give the dog the attention it loves.

Yorkshire Terriers have a big dog attitude, strong terrier instincts and a self-assured, important manner. He makes an alert watchdog and his exercise needs are minimal.

#10 Most Popular Dog Breed: The Boxer

Boxer Dog

The Boxer.

The Boxer was developed in Germany as a medium-sized security dog. The breed combines the blood of a mastiff-type breed that was used for hunting, herding and protection with that of the Bulldog.

The result is a smooth-coated, agile dog measuring up to 25 inches at the shoulder. Color may be shades of fawn or brindle with white markings, which must not exceed one-third of the ground color to meet the official breed standard.

The breed was introduced to America after World War I, when it was brought home by returning servicemen. Since then, the Boxer's popularity has grown enormously.

The breed is valued as a spirited pet and guardian of home and family. Its sleek coat is easily maintained; a weekly rubdown with a bristle brush keeps it clean.

Strong and exuberant, this breed appreciates a couple of daily runs outdoors. As long as it gets plenty of exercise, the Boxer can adapt to most living quarters.

Bonus Mention

Wondering where our dear friend, the Sheltie, features on the AKC's most popular dog breeds list? The Shetland Sheepdog comes in at... #24! What the heck?! Nope, we can't understand that either! Maybe it has something to do with all that fur?