Special Report

America’s Most Popular Dog Breeds

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Pet ownership is climbing in the United States, with families that own dogs leading the way, according to the National Pet Owners Survey, conducted by the American Pet Products Association. The 2019-2020 edition found that 67% of households, or 85 million families, had at least one pet — the highest level ever reported. Of them, 63.4 million homes have a fuzzy member.

There are many different breeds to choose from — the American Kennel Club (AKC) now recognizes 196. The latest breed to gain recognition is the Belgian Laekenois, pronounced lak-in-wah. The Laeken, which is the rarest of the four Belgian herding breeds, was added in July 2020.

To identify the 50 most popular breeds in the United States, 24/7 Tempo reviewed data from the American Kennel Club released on May 1, 2020, based on 2019 AKC registration statistics.

Some breeds have been consistently popular over the years, with golden and Labrador retrievers and German shepherds regularly dominating popularity rankings. 

In fact, the Labrador retriever reigns No. 1 and has been since 1991. Golden and Labrador retrievers are especially popular among families, and for good reason. They are among the best family-friendly dogs.

Americans’ love for their pets is apparent in grooming parlors and dog parks. The ratio of dog parks to residents reflects a place’s attitude toward dogs and their owners. These are the most dog-friendly cities in America.

Click here to read about America’s most popular dog breeds

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50. English Cocker Spaniels
> 2017 rank: 52 out of 192
> 2007 rank: 69 out of 136

The English cocker spaniel is a compact dog with a silk coat that comes in striking colors and patterns. It is famous for its mellow personality and its ability to flush out and retrieve gamebirds. The English cocker spaniel is larger than its cousin, the U.S. cocker spaniel.

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49. Portuguese Water Dogs
> 2017 rank: 54 out of 192
> 2007 rank: 65 out of 136

Described as medium sized and robust by the AKC, this breed has an advantage above the other water-loving pups – a waterproof coat. Easily the most well-known of the breed is former “first dog” Bo, who belongs to President Obama and his family. Malia, President Obama’s daughter, is allergic to dogs, which led to Bo’s “appointment.”

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48. St. Bernards
> 2017 rank: 48 out of 192
> 2007 rank: 39 out of 136

Named after a monk who aided pilgrims crossing the Alps on their way to Rome, the St. Bernard is famous as a rescue dog. It is very big — males can weigh up to 180 pounds — and very strong, but has a very gentle and winning expression. Unfortunately it has a relatively short life expectancy of 8 to 10 years.

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47. Akitas
> 2017 rank: 47 out of 192
> 2007 rank: 51 out of 136

The Akita is a large, powerful breed that originated in Japan. Two distinguishing features are its trademark curling tail and its alert expression. It is wary of strangers, has little tolerance for other animals, and is protective of its owners.

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46. Chesapeake Bay Retrievers
> 2017 rank: 43 out of 192
> 2007 rank: 47 out of 136

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is the official State Dog of Maryland, its home state. This family-oriented dog has a waterproof coat that’s oily to the touch. It’s protective of its owners and determined, making it a great watchdog.

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45. Shiba Inu
> 2017 rank: 45 out of 192
> 2007 rank: 67 out of 136

The shiba inu originated in Japan and is a muscular dog once used as a hunter. It is that country’s oldest, smallest and most popular breed. The shiba inu was first brought to the United States after World War II and has been growing in popularity ever since.

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44. West Highland White Terriers
> 2017 rank: 42 out of 192
> 2007 rank: 35 out of 136

Known as the Westie, this breed originated as a hunting dog in Scotland where the tenacious dog pursued vermin and has retained a strong prey instinct. It has an all-white double coat and an inquisitive expression. It is smart, independent, and energetic, and needs careful training and lots of exercise.

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43. Bichon Frises
> 2017 rank: 46 out of 192
> 2007 rank: 32 out of 136

Bichon frise translates into English as curly dog. This breed’s most distinctive feature is its white coat, which accentuates its dark, inquisitive eyes. It has been described as a fluff ball of a dog and as a canine comedian, reflecting its winning personality.

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42. Rhodesian Ridgebacks
> 2017 rank: 41 out of 192
> 2007 rank: 53 out of 136

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is named for its land of origin, now Zimbabwe and Zambia, and for the distinctive ridge that runs along its back, which is formed by hair growing in the opposite direction from the rest of its coat. Bred to hunt lions, but not kill them, it’s an imposing looking dog. They are devoted to family and affectionate toward children.

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41. Belgian Malinois
> 2017 rank: 44 out of 192
> 2007 rank: 79 out of 136

This dog was bred to herd livestock around the Belgian city of Malines. It is versatile and hard working and is also used as a military and police dog. It makes for a great pet but needs more exercise than most dogs. Belgian Malinois bears a resemblance to a German shepherd dog.

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40. Newfoundlands
> 2017 rank: 36 out of 192
> 2007 rank: 44 out of 136

Newfoundlands were originally bred as working dogs for fishermen in the Canadian province after which they are named. Newfoundlands are big, strong, loyal, and excellent swimmers, with lifesaving instincts in the water. The breed is easy to train and eager to please. It is an excellent companion and is even referred to as “the nanny dog.” Novelist J.M. Barrie specified that the beloved “Nana” in “Peter Pan” was a Newfoundland.

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39. Weimaraners
> 2017 rank: 34 out of 192
> 2007 rank: 30 out of 136

The Weimaraner is named after the German city of Weimar, where it was bred as a hunting and retrieving dog. It has distinctive silver-gray coloration and bright blue eyes. The Weimaraner is an excellent pet known for its friendliness and obedience, but needs to be kept active.

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38. Collies
> 2017 rank: 40 out of 192
> 2007 rank: 38 out of 136

Collies have tremendous herding abilities and protective instincts, as generations who have seen Lassie in films and on television know. They are strong, loyal, affectionate, and elegant dogs and respond well to training. Collies are a good fit for families with an active lifestyle, and they can thrive in the city as well as in the country.

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37. Basset Hounds
> 2017 rank: 39 out of 192
> 2007 rank: 31 out of 136

Originally bred in France, the basset hound is known for its droopy features, hunting ability, and keen sense of smell, which is second only to that of its cousin, the bloodhound. Bassets are great with kids and, despite their size, think of themselves as lap dogs.

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36. Maltese
> 2017 rank: 33 out of 192
> 2007 rank: 19 out of 136

The Maltese is an ancient breed — images of Maltese can be found on Egyptian artifacts — and a classic lapdog. It’s small, like the island from which it got its name, dainty, and proud. It also has a fairly long life expectancy — up to 15 years — and a reputation for being affectionate and perky.

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35. Chihuahuas
> 2017 rank: 32 out of 192
> 2007 rank: 12 out of 136

Originating in the Mexican state of Chihuahua, these dogs are intelligent, loyal, and loving – but they are distrustful of strangers. Because they were bred for a warm climate, they don’t do well in the cold. Their tiny size makes them easy to carry around.

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34. Vizslas
> 2017 rank: 30 out of 192
> 2007 rank: 42 out of 136

Also referred to as the Hungarian Pointer, the Vizsla may date back over 1,000 years. There are depictions of the Vizsla being used as hunting dogs from the early 10th century, when Magyar tribes invaded Central Europe.

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33. Border Collies
> 2017 rank: 38 out of 192
> 2007 rank: 54 out of 136

The border collie is widely considered to be the most intelligent dog breed. In fact, it was bred for its intelligence and obedience and has tremendous herding abilities. It is trainable and has protective instincts. However, it also needs more physical exercise and mental stimulation than many other breeds.

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32. Mastiffs
> 2017 rank: 28 out of 192
> 2007 rank: 28 out of 136

Mastiffs weigh up to 160 pounds and are a massive breed developed to guard livestock from predators such as wolves. There are also accounts of them being used for entertainment as fighting dogs in ancient Roman arenas, where they were pitted against lions and tigers. Despite their fierce history, mastiffs are good-natured dogs and surprisingly docile.

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31. Pugs
> 2017 rank: 31 out of 192
> 2007 rank: 14 out of 136

Pugs have a lot of personality in a small package, and they like attention and affection. They are intuitive dogs and sensitive to the moods of their owners, which makes them good companions. They can be strong-willed but are not aggressive. They like to play with children but some supervision may be needed.

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30. Cane Corso
> 2017 rank: 37 out of 192
> 2007 rank: 0 out of 136

Originating in Italy and bred as guard dogs, cane corso are described by the AKC as “peerless protectors.” Notwithstanding their intimidating appearance – they are among the biggest dogs in the world (100 pounds for males) — cane corso are also intelligent, loyal, and docile in the company of their owners.

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29. Miniature American Shepherds
> 2017 rank: 35 out of 192
> 2007 rank: 0 out of 136

The miniature American shepherd was developed in California in the 1960s and was originally called the miniature Australian shepherd. It has been used to herd small stock such as sheep and goats, and its own small size and temperament makes it a good household pet and travel companion.

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28. Cocker Spaniels
> 2017 rank: 29 out of 192
> 2007 rank: 17 out of 136

The cocker spaniel is the smallest of the sporting dogs and packs a lot of cuteness into a small package. With a handsome face, big soulful eyes, and a tail that wags the dog, it’s no surprise it always does well in the AKC popularity rankings.

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27. English Springer Spaniels
> 2017 rank: 27 out of 192
> 2007 rank: 27 out of 136

This breed is named for its hunting style — it “springs” birds, flushing them into the air, and then points and retrieves them. As well as being a great hunter it is a friendly and playful pet and considered a hunting buddy of hunters. English Springer Spaniels are highly trainable and bred to work with humans.

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26. Brittanys
> 2017 rank: 26 out of 192
> 2007 rank: 29 out of 136

Brittanys gets their name from their native French province. According to the AKC, the Brittany didn’t officially become recognized as a breed until 1907, when an orange and white colored pup named Boy in France was registered as the first Brittany Spaniel. Prior to this point, the breed was registered as one of many miscellaneous French Spaniels.

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25. Shetland Sheepdogs
> 2017 rank: 24 out of 192
> 2007 rank: 20 out of 136

This breed was originally bred to tend the small sheep of the Shetland Islands northeast of Great Britain. Because of its intelligence, Shetland sheepdogs are quick to understand and obey commands. While it’s loyal and affectionate, which makes it a great pet, it also tends to be reserved towards strangers, which makes it a great watchdog.

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24. Pomeranians
> 2017 rank: 22 out of 192
> 2007 rank: 13 out of 136

The Pomeranian is the smallest of the spitz breeds, weighing 3 to 7 pounds. It was made popular by Queen Victoria, who was smitten by its puppy qualities. She had as many as 35 Pomeranians in her kennels and died with one by her side.

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23. Bernese Mountain Dogs
> 2017 rank: 25 out of 192
> 2007 rank: 41 out of 136

The Bernese mountain dog hails from the Swiss Alps. It was used to herd cattle and haul carts filled with farm produce. The Bernese was the perfect fit for such work because of its muscular build and was known to haul loads weighing more than 1,000 pounds.

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22. Havanese
> 2017 rank: 23 out of 192
> 2007 rank: 37 out of 136

The Havanese, as its name might suggest, is the national dog of Cuba. It’s small and sociable. A distinguishing feature is its long, silky coat. The Havanese has a long life expectancy of up to 16 years and manages to look like a puppy – even when it has an old-man beard.

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21. Boston Terriers
> 2017 rank: 21 out of 192
> 2007 rank: 16 out of 136

Just as Boston is a historic city with a young population, this dog is a relatively old breed with a young heart. Nicknamed “The American Gentleman,” it’s compact and classy. It excels at canine sports and is eager to please and so is popular as a therapy dog.

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20. Shih Tzu
> 2017 rank: 20 out of 192
> 2007 rank: 9 out of 136

Shih Tzus originated in China many centuries ago. Although diminutive in size, they take their name from the Mandarin word for lion. They began appearing in the United States after World War II, when veterans brought them back to America, and they were recognized by the AKC in 1969. They have a long flowing coat and a proud bearing. Among their owners are Queen Elizabeth II and pop star Miley Cyrus.

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19. Doberman Pinschers
> 2017 rank: 16 out of 192
> 2007 rank: 21 out of 136

The Doberman pinscher was first bred in Germany in the mid-1800s by Karl Friedrich Louis Dobermann, a tax collector and night watchman. He wanted a dog to protect him in his sometimes dangerous line of work. As well as being one of the smartest breeds, the Doberman ranks high in obedience and trainability. This makes the animal popular with police and military forces around the world.

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18. Miniature Schnauzers
> 2017 rank: 18 out of 192
> 2007 rank: 11 out of 136

In the United States, the miniature schnauzer is treated differently from other schnauzer breeds in that it is not classified as a working dog and is judged as a terrier. It is intelligent and alert, which makes it a good watchdog, and it excels in obedience trials and agility competitions. The miniature’s eyebrows and beard make it easily recognizable.

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17. Great Danes
> 2017 rank: 14 out of 192
> 2007 rank: 23 out of 136

The great Dane was developed in England and Germany as a boar hound, its long ears often left shredded by the sharp tusks of the wild boar. Today’s great Danes lead much less hazardous lives and can make for great pets. They are dependable, patient, and friendly. But as their name implies, they are huge. Standing on its hind legs, a great Dane can be taller than its owner and weigh up to 200 pounds.

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16. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
> 2017 rank: 19 out of 192
> 2007 rank: 0 out of 136

This breed has been popular since the days of King Charles II in the 17th century. It is small for a spaniel and goes through its puppy stage slowly, staying frisky even when older. It also has big eyes and a big heart.

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15. Siberian Huskies
> 2017 rank: 12 out of 192
> 2007 rank: 24 out of 136

Bred as a sled dog, the Siberian husky is known for its endurance. Huskies have a great work ethic and love to run, preferring that to walking. In fact, the husky is so energetic that it has to be kept leashed or it will run away. In 1925, a relay team of huskies and other sled dogs saved Nome, Alaska, from a diptheria epidemic by running for five days to bring medicine to the town.

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14. Boxers
> 2017 rank: 11 out of 192
> 2007 rank: 6 out of 136

Although it was recognized by the AKC in 1904, the boxer did not really gain popularity in the U.S. until after World War II, when returning soldiers brought the dogs home with them from Europe. Its popularity may also have received a boost when actors Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall were given one as a wedding present.

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13. Australian Shepherds
> 2017 rank: 17 out of 192
> 2007 rank: 33 out of 136

The Australian Shepherd is a very cosmopolitan dog. It started out in the Pyrenees Mountains between France and Spain, was brought to Australia to herd sheep, and then became popular with U.S. ranchers, who thought it originated down under — hence the name. It is an intelligent breed with a strong herding instinct and work ethic. The Australian Shepherd is closely associated with the cowboy lifestyle.

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12. Yorkshire Terriers
> 2017 rank: 9 out of 192
> 2007 rank: 2 out of 136

The Yorkshire terrier’s confidence and courage make it a good pet to keep in bustling cities, and those qualities have earned the dog the nickname “the tomboy toy.” It is also known for its beautiful silky coat, which has a texture similar to human hair. The Yorkshire terrier requires a lot of care and attention.

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11. Dachshunds
> 2017 rank: 13 out of 192
> 2007 rank: 7 out of 136

The dachshund was developed in Germany centuries ago to hunt badgers, and its short legs and long body make it good at below-ground work. The dachshund is intelligent and should be kept busy or it will get bored. It comes in miniature or standard size and can have a smooth, wirehaired, or long-haired coat.

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10. Pembroke Welsh Corgis
> 2017 rank: 15 out of 192
> 2007 rank: 22 out of 136

The Pembroke Welsh corgi is popular with English royalty as well as American pet owners – it’s Queen Elizabeth II’s favorite. The corgi is a working dog, strong and athletic. And despite its little legs, it excels at many sports. The corgi is an easy pet to have, and its short coat needs little maintenance.

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9. German Shorthaired Pointers
> 2017 rank: 10 out of 192
> 2007 rank: 18 out of 136

The German shorthaired pointer is a great gundog and a great pet, although it likes a lot of exercise. It is a natural retriever on land and water, and is one of the finest swimming dogs, aided by webbed feet.

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8. Rottweilers
> 2017 rank: 8 out of 192
> 2007 rank: 15 out of 136

The Rottweiler is one of the oldest working breeds and may have been herding livestock since the days of the Roman Empire. The breed combines intelligence, strength, and endurance. Unfortunately, the Rottweiler has sometimes been portrayed in the media as aggressive, but according to the AKC, it is “a calm, confident, and courageous dog.”

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7. Beagles
> 2017 rank: 6 out of 192
> 2007 rank: 5 out of 136

Bred to live and work in packs, beagles are sociable dogs and like the company of their human families, as well as other dogs. They are scent dogs, which can sometimes get them into trouble and means they should not be left off-leash unless in a secured area.

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6. Poodles
> 2017 rank: 7 out of 192
> 2007 rank: 8 out of 136

Poodles come in three sizes – standard, miniature, and toy – and a variety of solid colors. They are smart and eager to please. They are also energetic and are good runners and swimmers. They require regular clipping and grooming of their hypoallergenic coat.

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5. Bulldogs
> 2017 rank: 5 out of 192
> 2007 rank: 10 out of 136

The bulldog has long been associated with British culture (note the resemblance to Winston Churchill!), but it’s also one of the most popular breeds in America. Its name belies a friendly personality and gentle disposition.

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4. French Bulldogs
> 2017 rank: 4 out of 192
> 2007 rank: 34 out of 136

Contrary to its name, the French bulldog actually comes from Nottingham, England — not France.These sturdy little dogs with their bat-like ears are playful, good with small children, and intelligent. They don’t need much exercise or grooming but shouldn’t be left alone for long as they can suffer from separation anxiety. Like other “flat-faced” breeds, French bulldogs are prone to snoring, which can add to their charm – or not.

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3. Golden Retrievers
> 2017 rank: 3 out of 192
> 2007 rank: 4 out of 136

Golden retrievers aren’t just intelligent, they are hard workers, too. They are often used as guide dogs, in search and rescue, and – as their name suggests – for hunting. Their many other endearing characteristics, including patience and playfulness, make them great pets.

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2. German Shepherd Dogs
> 2017 rank: 2 out of 192
> 2007 rank: 3 out of 136

The German shepherd is the second most popular dog in the U.S., but is the first choice for many roles because of its intelligence, trainability, and obedience. German shepherds are used for disability assistance, search and rescue, and as police dogs.

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1. Labrador Retrievers
> 2017 rank: 1 out of 192
> 2007 rank: 1 out of 136

The Labrador retriever has topped the AKC’s list of most popular breeds in the U.S. since 1991. Labs are friendly, outgoing, and eager to please. They are also one of the most sought-after breeds for challenging work, whether as guide dogs or for search and rescue. When lives are in danger, you want a dog that is smart and dependable.

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