AKC Most Popular Dog Breeds

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According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), the top ten AKC most popular dog breeds have varied a good amount during this century so far. However, the Labrador Retriever always comes out on top. See the trends over the years, including 2002, 2007, 2011, 2014 and 2018 in the U.S.:

Labrador Retriever11111
German Shepherd22233
Golden Retriever33442
French Bulldog49183458
German Shorthaired Pointer912151822
Yorkshire Terrier106526

AKC Most Popular Dogs Infographic

We thought it might be helpful to get to know the ten most popular breed types better, including their personalities, size and energy level. So we created this handy infographic for you to reference based on the top breeds in 2014 (which have not changed much over the years except for the new love affair with Frenchies and German Shorthaired Pointers!). Feel free to share or pin it with others who you think would find it useful too!

AKC Most Popular Breeds Infographic

Source: American Kennel Club

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About The Author:

Michelle holds an MBA from Vanderbilt University and has worked in marketing at Bank of America, Mattel and Hanes. Her expert advice and opinions have appeared in many outstanding media outlets, including The New York Times' Wirecutter, Forbes, People, Reader's Digest and Apartment Therapy, among others.

She is the proud co-founder of Canine Journal and a dog lover through and through. Since the day she was born, she has lived in a home full of dogs. Her adult home is no exception where she and her husband live with Lily and Barley, their two adorable rescue pups.

In addition to her love for snuggling with dogs, she also has enjoyed working professionally in the canine field since 1999 when she started her first dog-related job at a dog bakery.

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March 9, 2019 8:59 pm

People forget labs are multi tasking breed excellent family dogs! Great with children and other animals. Also they are rated the best for helping people with visual impairments and also highly recommended for assistance with other dissibalities. They are also the most recommended choice of hunters of water fowl and upland game so it’s easy to see why Labs remain the most popular breed for 27 years.

May 2, 2012 9:37 am

Indeed, it seems as though the most popular dogs are the most amicable and easily-trained breeds.  It is also clear that none of these are specialty dogs but in fact are pretty general family dogs, most of them being known for being exceptionally good with children. 

Actually, as I examined this list, I found many interesting things to ponder. For example, I was not aware that this annual list has been published since at least 1935. I was not really able to determine when it first began, but I can say for sure that this is one of the longest running annual lists in the country.

Something that  I found very interesting is the fact that the Labrador retriever is the top ranked dog once again. This is not really that surprising, since they are an amazing breed and very friendly, kind and gentle to everyone. I was a little amazed to learn that they have remained in the top position for the last 17 straight years. It amazes me that a single breed can so totally dominate the competition.

It was also a bit of a surprise to me to notice that the list was very evenly divided. In fact exactly half of this list was large breed dogs. I had always thought that the majority of dogs in the USA were of the small breed variety. I tend to actually favor the larger breeds, which made me happy to see the trend over the past years has actually been in favor of the larger breed dog types.

This list was compiled based on the number of dog registrations throughout the country. The AKC is one of the most well known and respected groups in the country. They have an incredible amount of data. These reports are also actually very thorough and detailed. You can even drill deeper into the data and take a look at the top breeds by city. Seriously, they actually list out this data for 50 selected US cities which are known for high dog registrations.

I did indeed drill down and examine a fair amount of this content, just because I was curious. The AKC even reports that there are no real trends here. There is no reason which can be identified to determine why one dog is ranked much higher in a particular city than another, especially when this is unusual based on their national rankings.

Still, the fact remains that training your dog is of utmost importance, no matter which breed you choose.  And train your dog right and early in life if possible.  All dogs will benefit from that immensely. Training a dog is based on consistency. You need to establish a routine and then follow this. This may mean taking your dog for a walk outside at the same times each day. Sooner or later, your dog will get used to whatever type of schedule you have established. At this point, you can rightly claim that you have a well trained dog.

April 30, 2012 4:54 am

I thought that it was interesting that Dalmatians did not make it onto the list, although in this case that may not be a bad thing since I read about how Dalmatians are mistreated quite often.  Dalmatians can also be difficult to train and do not like following commands, which can be frustrating to many owners.

Collies, also known as the Lassie dogs, did not make the list either.  These are very mild-mannered dogs that are good with children and do not bite,    and are easily trained, as well.  Collies are also known for being gentle and are a great choice for a first family dog.

Bulldogs were a good one to see on the list.  They are good rough-housers and are comfortable in city apartments, and are very adaptable.  They are also good with children and will play without getting frustrated, and are docile and friendly, too.  Bulldogs have a reputation for being ugly, but I say, do not pay attention to the hype.  These dogs are quite cute, and personality will make them even cuter.

Rottweilers are smart dogs, and I think it is interesting that they are not more popular.  They have a bad reputation for being vicious, but this is usually the result of poor training.  Rottweilers are loyal and courageous, and although they are higher maintenance than other dogs, they are beautiful and great dogs to have as part of your family.

Papillons are another dog breed that I was surprised was not on the list.  They are much smarter than Shih Tzus, the only toy breed on the list.  They are also spunky and energetic and have very good hearing.  Plus, Papillons are just very cute and spunky little dogs.

The list was not specified whether any of the Poodles were toy sized, but I imagine that the Poodle category includes all of the sub-categories of poodle, of which there are many.  Poodles are smart and active and quirky, but I find it interesting that a dog that does not like to be left alone and that is known for being destructive when bored would make the list.  Still, Poodles are also very sensitive dogs and I think that makes them a perfect fit for some owners.

April 29, 2012 6:30 am

Interesting to watch how trends change.

On one level, I am not surprised in the least by the dogs on this list.  After all, Laborador Retrievers made the number one spot and they make great pets, being well-mannered, intelligent, obedient, easily trained mid-size dogs who are in general good with children and can get along with other pets.  Same with the Yorkshire terriers, only they are smaller, yet similarly mild mannered and friendly.  In fact, that seems to be the general consensus for most of the dogs on this list.  Golden retrievers, of course, are quite intelligent and patient yet playful dogs and in addition to being friendly they can learn commands very well.

It was nice to see that the German Shepherd made the list.  These dogs are hard-working and can be trained to do almost anything, which I think is what makes them so useful as police and military dogs.  Yet just because they have that reputation of working for law and order does not mean that they are not good family dogs as well, and as is evident from the top breeds list, others agree with me on this too, it seems.

I was surprised to not see more guard dogs or larger dogs on the list such as Doberman Pinschers.  Dobermans are very smart and very loyal guard dogs, although they must be trained and treated carefully early on to bring out their best temperament.  

It was interesting that Shih Tzu breeds made the list, as they are a toy dog and cannot go running with you like a Golden Retriever or hunt and play endlessly like Beagles do.  Toy dogs have made an appearance in certain circles, since they are cute and easy to carry around, although I imagine that many of the smaller dogs have temperament issues as well as being unable to walk or jog with you, or to learn commands as well.  Shih Tzus do seem to have fierce loyalty and are relatively quiet compared to other toy breeds, as well as trainable and patient.