The American Kennel Club’s list of the most popular dog breeds this year features your usual lovable suspects, as well as some cutie-pie surprises
Each year, the American Kennel Club (AKC) releases a list of the most popular dog breeds recognized by the AKC. But how do they arrive at these results when they have 197 adorable breeds to choose from? The ranking is purely based on AKC registration statistics for the previous year, and not subjective categories like the most loyal dog breeds, calm dog breeds or best dogs for kids, although you’ll see representatives from those categories on the list, since those characteristics are why they’re so popular. Did your faves make the list? Read on to find out if your furry friend is here—or to help you find the next adorable addition to your family!
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Most popular dog breed in the U.S.: Labrador retriever
For 31 consecutive years, the Labrador retriever has been America’s favorite dog. You probably see Labrador retrievers everywhere—in town, on the trail, at the beach and at the dog park—because they’re one of the most common dog breeds to own. You might even see them working as rescue, guide and therapy dogs, jobs that seem tailor-made for them. They’re happy and outgoing and love to retrieve balls, frisbees and just about anything you toss out—especially if it means jumping into the lake to retrieve it. Labs often top these most-popular lists because of their great nature; they’re the family members who get along with everyone and are some of the best dogs for first-time owners. They are blissfully content to cozy up to one family member or plop down in the middle of the kids sprawled out on the floor.
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2. French bulldog
You had us at salut (that’s “hello” in French) with your adorable little wrinkled face and bat-like ears. But there’s so much more to the Frenchie than its good looks: Frenchies are all-around lovers of their people, new people and other animals. They’re also dogs of few words—or, more accurately, few barks. As an alert four-legged guard dog, a French bulldog will let you know if someone is at the door, but it will usually communicate with you nonverbally and show affection with licks and little shimmies. We love the Frenchie’s face, but short-nosed breeds need special care in the summer heat. And if you own one, you should be intimately familiar with these warning signs of heat stroke in dogs.
3. Golden retriever
“Hopelessly devoted to you” is what the golden retriever’s profile might say if it had one. One of the best dogs to own, golden retrievers love humans of all ages and have reservoirs of empathy and compassion. They’re blissfully content in a family with young, energetic children, yet so adaptable that they are also one of the best dogs for seniors. That said, they like to be active and, like all dogs, need their exercise, but they’re open to just about anything—long walks or retrieving balls in the backyard. When you have a golden retriever, you have a furry member of the family that is notorious for being friendly, outgoing, goofy, relaxed, eager to please, playful and intelligent, to boot!
4. German shepherd
Words we associate with German shepherds: intelligent, protective, athletic, versatile and active. Now let’s add a few more you might not know about. For starters: scent-driven. German shepherds are highly valued K-9 members of the police force, and they detect drugs and bombs with their sniff-sleuthing skills. They’re wicked smart and easy to train. And another word that will be more relevant to your life: devoted. German shepherds are also one of the most popular dog breeds because they show 100% unconditional love to their human families and pet siblings. And did we mention how gorgeous they are? They’re especially one of the cutest dog breeds as puppies.
One reason people love poodles? Their cute, curly locks of hair. Yep, hair. Poodles have hair, not fur, which may help lower allergic reactions in some people. We’re not going to sugar-coat it for you—those curlicues aren’t without maintenance. Poodles require brushing and combing every other day and a clipping every six weeks. But they are one of the sharpest breeds on the block, as well as eager to please, playful and loving. They also come in three sizes: standard, miniature and toy. But if you’ve always dreamed of having puppies that look like teddy bears, you might want to choose the miniature or toy size, so you can easily scoop them up and carry them around.
There are plenty of different dog breeds of bulldogs, but we’re specifically talking about the “English” bulldog that originated in the British Isles. Like many other distinctive flat-faced dog breeds, they’re immediately recognizable by their adorable wrinkles, “sour mug” and stout bodies. Temperament-wise, bulldogs have a chill vibe going for them. They’re undeniably sweet, predictable and dependable. They’re fond of loafing around but enjoy short, brisk walks, as long as it’s not too hot or cold outside. Bulldogs easily overheat, have trouble breathing in hot weather and get chilled in cold weather. They’re people-oriented and seek attention, but they won’t bark to get it. As heavy breathers and snorers, they’ll always make their presence known.MORE FROM READER’S DIGESTIf You Don’t Eat Blueberries EveryDay, This Might Convince You to StartBy: Kiersten Hickman
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Originally bred to hunt in packs, the beagle has always loved to be around other dogs: a win-win for hanging out with the other most popular dog breeds on this list. Today, they love to be around people just as much, which makes them ideal family pets. Beagles are playful and have a nose for fun and adventure—literally. Once they get a whiff of something interesting, they take off after it and will likely ignore your calls to come back. They also tend to be vocal and bark, howl or bay frequently. Why do dogs howl? There are many reasons, like they miss you or aren’t feeling well, but beagles are often vocal because they’re sniffing out a “story” and alerting everyone to what they find.
At first glance, these guard dog breeds hardly give off a warm and fuzzy vibe, yet in reality they are exceptionally chummy and loyal with their human family. They’re often aloof with strangers, but that’s because they’re dedicated to their family and want to protect them. Continuous socialization and slow introductions to new people help a rottweiler makes new friends. As one of the smartest dog breeds, they’re not content to rest on their hindquarters. They need a job to do, whether that’s training exercises, playtime in the backyard or keeping a watchful eye on the kids.
9. German shorthaired pointer
If you love the great outdoors and running on the trails, the German shorthaired pointer (GSP) is the most faithful sidekick you could ever hope for. GSPs are striking, with their toned bodies and distinctive coloring and ticking, also known as “fur freckles.” As you can imagine, this athletic breed needs to move. They don’t know the meaning of “couch potato”—at least not until the end of the day, when they chill with their humans. The daytime routine must include a substantial dose of daily exercise and wide-open spaces to run and play. GSPs can live 12 to 14 years and have a lower risk for illness, making them one of the healthiest dog breeds.
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Besides being one of the most popular dog breeds, the peppy and headstrong dachshund has a tail-wagging honor that you might not know about. According to the AKC, a dachshund named Waldi was the first official mascot of the Olympics, in 1972. Even more fascinating, the Olympic marathon route was in the shape of a dachshund! While these lovable dogs with short legs will never run a marathon (or even run down the block, for that matter), they do love to hunt and dig. As far as companions go, you get a lot of bark for your buck, as they are one of the cheapest dog breeds and tend to be a one-person kind of dog.
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11. Pembroke Welsh corgi
We know why Queen Elizabeth II owns so many corgis—they are adorable, clever and affectionate companions with an irresistible fluffy loaf (although the Queen might not be the first to point out their cute butt, there’s no shame in that game!). If the Queen’s stamp of approval isn’t enough, you’ll be won over by these adorable corgi pictures. Aside from being super cute, corgis fit right in with other low-maintenance dog breeds in that they are relatively easy to care for. They’re quick to train and content to be homebodies, although they won’t turn down a walk outside. Their short and agile legs help them expertly navigate the furniture to play fetch and other games.
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12. Australian shepherd
The Australian shepherd isn’t actually from Australia. It’s a long story, but the gist is that the Basque people of Europe brought them to Australia (and, later, to California) to herd their flocks of sheep. Yet, these Aussies have a lot in common with other Australian dog breeds that are always on the go. They’re protective and loving to their “flock” or human family and love to be around children—but also need creative and energetic outlets to keep them busy and out of trouble. That’s precisely why active pet parents love Aussies: They’re a tireless partner for playtime and adventures.
13. Yorkshire terrier
The Yorkie is the poster pup for the terrier breed. It has the hallmark trademarks of being feisty, tenacious and gutsy in spades. Back in the day, Yorkies started as working-class dogs, bred to hunt rodents. By late Victorian times, Yorkies became fashionable lapdogs for proper English ladies. They’re keenly alert, aware of their surroundings and aloof with strangers, which makes them great watchdogs. Yorkies are spunky and lively, and they happily communicate by barking. But if you prefer pets who are quieter, you might want dogs who don’t bark too much instead.
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Boxers are loyal and alert companions, and they’re very protective of their humans. There’s nothing boxers want more than your companionship. They are utterly lost without it and don’t relish being alone. They’re playful and gentle with kids, and they tolerate dogs they know but might not be all that keen on dogs they don’t. Boxers thrive with pet parents who are willing to put in the time for consistent obedience training. It’s not that boxers aren’t intelligent, it’s just that they can be stubborn and sensitive. Boxers also like to stay busy with long walks and active playtime. But when you’re busy, they like to do dog puzzles for bored dogs and play with indestructible dog toys.
15. Cavalier King Charles spaniel
Cavalier King Charles spaniels are not only one of the most popular dog breeds, but a perennial favorite as one of the best dogs for seniors to own. And why not? They’re famously known for their gentle, sweet dispositions, soulful eyes, adorable expressions and intuitive nature. If you need a hug, they come in for a snuggle. Need cheering up? They’ll provide comic relief. Need to take a walk to clear your head? They’ll quietly walk alongside you. Yet “Cavs” aren’t clingy. As one of the dog breeds that can be left alone, they don’t mind some time apart from their human. And can you blame them? They’re so attentive to our needs, they could use a little “me time.”
16. Doberman pinscher
If Dobermans had a resume, it would be filled with admirable qualities. These German dogs are instinctively protective, trustworthy, highly intelligent and excellent guard dogs. It’s no wonder the military and police enlist their services. Yet Dobermans aren’t all business: As one of the most popular dog breeds, they also possess some of the touchy-feely qualities not associated with “fearsome” guard dogs. Yep, these long-nosed dogs were actually bred as companions. So while they are always aware of their surroundings, the non-working part is shamelessly cuddly and goofy. They often bond with one person but are good with children when they’re raised together.
17. Great Dane
Undeniably the tallest dog in the world, the Great Dane towers over the other most popular dog breeds and most humans when they stand on their hind legs. It was a Great Dane named Zeus who in 2012 took the Guinness World Record for the tallest male dog ever, standing an astonishing 44 inches tall at the shoulder (the current tallest living dog is also coincidentally a Great Dane named Zeus). While other giant dog breeds might appear big and clumsy, the Great Dane is nothing like its oafish cartoon counterpart, Marmaduke. Great Danes are poised and elegant with a regal gait. Aside from their towering height, Great Danes are widely known for being patient, affectionate and calm with their humans, and they usually make good furry siblings with other family pets.
18. Miniature schnauzer
As you can see, the most popular dog breeds come in all sizes. Interestingly, there are three schnauzer breeds—the miniature, the standard and the giant. The miniature is just over a foot tall and weighs up to 20 pounds. Maybe portability is part of their appeal, but who are we kidding? These adorable bearded dogs would be just as irresistible at any size! Their fluffy beards, mustaches and scowling eyebrows emit human expressions that are uncanny. They’re fearless and feisty, but also friendly and affectionate, and they want to be a part of whatever you’re doing. You might think they would shed a lot with all that facial hair and their furry legs, but miniature schnauzers are one of the dogs that don’t shed that much.
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19. Siberian husky
It’s no shocker the Siberian husky made the most popular dog breeds list. These gorgeous Russian dog breeds garner a second look. They carry themselves in a dignified and confident manner yet are totally approachable with their inviting and friendly eyes. By the way, their eyes can be brown or blue, or they can have one of each. They’re high-spirited and adventurous, and they need lots of mental and physical stimulation. One issue: The same soft and dense coat that keeps them warm in cold climates (which they love) also sheds a lot. But one of these handy pet hair removers makes managing the fluff a lot easier. On the plus side, they’re super clean and don’t emit any “doggy smells” like some other breeds.
20. Bernese mountain dog
Resistance is futile when you come across sweet and fluffy dog breeds that are so huggable and cuddly. And the Bernese mountain dog is oozing with lovey-dovey affection: They have a calm disposition and are exceptionally patient with children. But beneath all that fur lies a brave and strong dog that, like other mountain dogs breeds, still serves humans in mountainous regions. For the Bernese mountain dog in the suburbs, they enjoy “working” with herding and pulling activities. They might be rugged and tough enough for mountain life, but they actually prefer to be house dogs as a member of a close-knit family.
21. Cane corso
This large-and-in-charge doggo is known as the “bodyguard” of Italian dog breeds. The cane corso, also known as an Italian mastiff, is enormous. Their huge heads and jowls, paired with their 100-pound-plus frame and above-average height of 28 inches, definitely give off a scary, imposing vibe. Yet, as most guard dogs, they are aloof and wary of strangers but warm and affectionate with their families. Still, this breed isn’t for the first-time dog owner. Though they are loyal and eager to please, they can be assertive and stubborn, and given their eventual size, training and socialization are essential. Otherwise, the cane corso could be running the household.
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22. Shih Tzu
Lock eyes with a Shih Tzu and you might as well call it a day and drop all your plans—after all, it feels good to look into a dog’s eyes, especially this cutie’s. They draw you in by somehow being sweet, cheerful and slightly mischievous all at once. You won’t even care that these pups are constantly trying to divert your attention back to them, because they’re so darn cute. Shih Tzus are famously great with kids, and they love to entertain and be entertained by learning new dog tricks. When it’s rest time, you can assume that if your lap is empty, a Shih Tzu will soon occupy it. And we don’t mind, because these pint-size cuties are toy breeds that stay small forever.
23. Boston terrier
Can you hardly stand it? The Boston terrier is one of the most popular dog breeds—and the best dressed, looking so dapper in their tuxedo coats. Since we’re handing out accolades, let’s add one more: They’re one of the best short-haired dogs for families. These little pups pack a lot of spunky personality and energy in their small frame. They’re fantastic with kids and heap loads of affection on the whole family, and when guests come over, they’ll probably race you to the door to greet them. Well-mannered and determined to please, Boston terriers are perfectly suited for city life, which means they make for good apartment dogs.
It’s surprising how much feistiness and affection are rolled up in seven pounds of fluffy furball goodness. Like other dogs that look like foxes, the Pomeranian is part of the spitz family, which means they have built-in features to protect them from cold weather, such as thick coats and bushy tails that help keep their body warm when they’re all curled up—next to you. Unlike its larger spitz cousin, the Siberian husky, the Pom doesn’t like the cold and wouldn’t mind being carried in a cozy dog bag, lapping up the attention of adoring fans.
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Whether they’re sporting a cute and shorter puppy cut or a long, flowy coat, the Havanese is one darling and delightful little pup. They are uber friendly—strangers (including furry ones) are simply friends they haven’t made yet. They bestow a unique balance of mellowness and playfulness, and they’re calm yet alert, one of the most affectionate dog breeds you’ll ever cuddle and super affectionate, to boot. No one will ever accuse a Havanese of being shy: They love to socialize and woo everyone with their comical antics and cool dog tricks. Their charming disposition pierces the heart of everyone they encounter, which also takes the focus off you in awkward or uncomfortable social situations, making them the ultimate emotional support dog.