The Most Popular Breeds of Dogs
Except for those between a parent and their children, there are few emotional bonds as strong as those between pet owners and their dogs. They have been our most loyal friends for thousands of years. In fact, it's believed that dogs first diverged from wolves and started to be domesticated by people from 16,000 to 32,000 years ago. Since then, they've been an indispensable part of so many of our lives.
Of course, when talking about dogs as a single group, that tends to ignore the great variation in dog breeds. The World Canine Organization recognizes 339 distinct dog breeds in the world. They come in a wider variety of sizes and appearances than probably any other mammal on the planet. From toy dogs that practically fit in the palm of your hand up to Great Danes that look like small horses, there's a dog for just about any personal preference out there. Of course, certain breeds of dog have become more popular throughout the years whether due to temperament, appearance or other factors. Below is a list of seven of the most common breeds and why they are so popular.
1 - Labrador Retrievers
The most prevalent dog breed registered with the American Kennel Club, Labrador retrievers are a common sight in American homes. They are renowned for being a happy and lovable dog breed although they're also clumsy and rambunctious. They are fairly large and need a decent amount of exercise to keep them from exerting their pent-up energy in negative ways such as chewing up everything in sight. For this reason, they may be better suited for a house with a yard where they have some time to run free on a daily basis rather than an apartment or condominium. Labs are easy to train, but it's recommended that you start early because they can become a handful when they're bigger if they don't know the basics such as “down” or “stay” yet.
2 - German Shepherds
Another large dog breed that's not ideal for apartment dwellers, German shepherds tend to be self-confident but not as outgoing as Labrador retrievers. They are actually a herding breed, which makes them a favorite for farmers. They'll also bond fairly easily with children, so they're a popular breed for families since they also like to participate in certain family activities such as hiking, running and swimming. German shepherds are highly trainable, which makes them excellent guide dogs for the disabled and is also why they're frequently employed as police K-9 and search-and-rescue unit dogs. While they can be indifferent to strangers, as their owner, they'll show you a lifetime of loyalty.
3 - Golden Retrievers
This friendly, well-mannered breed is very eager to please, and this has made them a popular family companion. Like Labrador retrievers, they display a puppy-like disposition well into adulthood. They enjoy outdoor play including fetch, which is what also makes them a favorite for hunters to use in retrieving downed game birds. Being obedient and easily trainable makes them a popular choice as guide dogs for the blind and to be utilized in search-and-rescue units. They need a fair amount of exercise and definitely like having plenty of room to run around. Being a playful breed that is great with kids has made golden retrievers a staple of many a home in the United States.
4 - French Bulldogs
At under 28 pounds and a height of less than a foot, this is the first small dog breed on this list. As such, they are far better for city dwellers or those renting an apartment than the previously mentioned breeds. Beyond their small size, the fact that they're playful, smart and generally well-behaved dogs also makes them a pleasure to have around. While they can make an excellent family pet, they're also better suited than larger dogs as a companion for the elderly. As far as activity, they often like to chase balls, and they should be good to go from just a couple 15 minute walks each day. While they can be a challenge to train, they are fairly low maintenance compared to larger dogs, and they'll show their owner a lifetime of love and loyalty.
5 - Bulldog
This breed is one of the most recognizable with their generally small size, short legs and droopy face. They need regular but moderate exercise as well as a careful diet to ensure they don't gain weight. They are playful and are also very patient with kids, which makes them an excellent family pet. While Labrador retrievers and golden retrievers frequently have a puppy-like energy well into adulthood, bulldogs mellow out fairly quickly upon reaching adulthood and prefer a nap over running in the park. They can be stubborn, so training them is not easy. They can also be aggressive toward other dogs, so socializing them around other dogs at an early age is recommended. Their relatively small size makes them perfect for apartment or condominium living, and they are an excellent breed for keeping the elderly company.
6 - Beagle
Widely regarded as one of the cutest dog breeds in the world, this fairly small breed is very affectionate, playful and friendly. Their size and personality makes them a favorite dog breed for American pet owners. Despite their relatively small size, they are very energetic and active, so beagles are not as good a companion for the elderly or for couch potatoes as bulldogs or French bulldogs. They are considered difficult to train, so any training done should be started at a young age. Their adorable face and pleasant disposition is probably what makes the image of a beagle come to mind whenever someone thinks of the stereotypical American family dog.
7 - Poodle
This breed comes in standard, miniature or toy sizes. It also comes in black, white or apricot color. Known as an intelligent breed, they are easily trained. In contrast to bulldogs, poodles are very active and are prolific jumpers, so owners of this breed with a yard need to make sure they have adequate fencing. They are fun-loving dogs and thrive on attention. Poodles can live for quite a while with smaller ones often reaching 17 years. They are sociable dogs that like to be with people. This, together with their friendliness and easy trainability, makes them excellent pets.