10 of the most popular dog breeds

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Every year the American Kennel Club releases its list of the most popular dog breeds, based on registration data they receive throughout the year. The top spot has been held by the labrador retriever for many years, but previous years have seen the rise of the poodle, which hasn’t been seen in the top five since 1997. 

Whether you’re choosing a breed for your first dog, or are just interested to see which dogs America is loving this year, this list will tell you the most popular dog breeds in the USA and we’ll be updating it as soon as the American Kennel Club releases its latest results too. Or, if you’re looking for the longest lasting dog chews or the best dog toys, we’ve reviewed our favorites so you know your dog is getting the best of the best.

1. Labrador Retrievers

Topping the American Kennel Club’s list of most popular dog breeds consistently for the past 31 years, the Labrador Retriever is a family favorite, with a fantastic personality and affection to spare. These lovely dogs come in golden, chocolate, black, and the rare color red and are known for being gentle and loyal pets.

2. French Bulldogs

The second most popular dog breed according to the American Kennel Club is the French Bulldog, a toy breed with oodles of affection and adorable personalities that are great for families. These are a breed with a squashed face, so you need to be careful about common French Bulldog health issues, such as breathing problems and skin issues. However, if you are prepared to care for your bulldog through these potential problems, they make great family pets, particularly if you have a smaller home.

3. Golden retrievers

Very similar in temperament to the Labrador Retriever, the Golden Retriever is another of the American Kennel Club’s top breeds, with a gorgeous, long coat that sets it apart from the rest. Golden retrievers are known for being sociable, intelligent, and loyal, as well as being suitable for families with small children.

4. German Shepherd dogs

The German Shepherd dog is highly intelligent and maybe not the best choice for a first-time dog owner, but they are consistently in the top five most popular breeds registered with the American Kennel Club each year. They are working dogs at heart, popular with the police and military, and are particularly quick to learn new things. They were heroes of the first world war, able to assist wounded soldiers, carry supplies and detect enemy movements, and are still used by the police due to their intelligence and adaptability.


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5. Poodles

Poodles are notoriously bred with other breeds to make hypoallergenic ‘doodles’ due to their short, curly coats. Poodles come in a standard (big), miniature (medium), or toy (small) size, and are historically retrievers, believe it or not, which is why the traditional continental poodle cut involves ‘pom-poms,’ which serve to help them swim. Regardless of their size, poodles are remarkably versatile dogs, known for being athletic, trainable, and great for families. 

6. Bulldogs

Coming in at number six, the slightly larger version of the French Bulldog, the Bulldog is another popular breed according to the American Kennel Club. Another wrinkly dog breed, the bulldog has a thick-set body and a squashed face. They are fairly low energy and small but sturdy, making them good dogs for small homes and apartments. You have to be careful to ensure your bulldog doesn’t overheat in the summer months, as this can cause breathing problems, so they are generally better suited to cooler climates.

7. Beagles

Beagles are another top American Kennel Club breed, beloved by children and adults alike. Traditionally hunting dogs, Beagles have a super sense of smell, do well with other dogs, and tend to be quite vocal. If you’re not a fan of a vocal dog, the beagle may not be for you, but their lovely hazel eyes and trainability make them a good family pet.


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8. Rottweilers 

Traditionally a cattle dog, the Rottweiler makes a great babysitter, guard dog, and family pet. These popular guardian dogs are highly rated by the American Kennel Club, descended from mastiffs; they are easily one of the top ten American breeds. They can be quite territorial, so aren’t a beginner’s dog, but they are generally calm, confident, and brave, making them a friend for life. 

9. Pointers 

German Shorthaired Pointers are one of the best hunting dog breeds, consistently chosen as a hunting companion and family dog by Americans. They establish firm bonds with their families and are very energetic, making them great for an active home. Their name comes from their tendency to ‘point’ at prey, with their nose and their general stance to indicate to a hunting owner where prey is hiding. 

10. Dachshunds 

Tiny, adorable, and somewhat grumpy, the Dachshund is one of the most long-lived breeds you can get, according to the American Kennel Club. They come in two sizes (miniature and standard) and three different coat types, with a variety of color options available. Also known as the ‘sausage dog’ they are long in body and short in the leg, but they make up for it with heaps of personality and a loud voice that they tend to use often.

Unsure of your dog's heritage? Check out our vet's guide to answer; what breed is my dog?

Lou is an experienced writer and keen dog lover who works at PetRadar's sister site, LiveScience. When Lou isn't covering health and fitness, she's busy spending time with her family dogs or growing all kinds of veggies and flowers on her allotment.