Life isn’t a popularity contest, but sometimes it’s fun to know who’s the most popular. When it comes to dogs, the answer is clearly the Labrador Retriever. The American Kennel Club is the major canine registry in the US, and they’ve been releasing a list of the most popular breeds in America every year for decades. Since the 1970s, the Labrador Retriever has been a top-ten contender. With the recent release of the AKC’s most popular breeds list for the year 2020, we can see that the Labrador Retriever has now set a record for its 30th-year straight being at the top of the list.
Of course, with nearly 200 recognized dog breeds, there are far more contenders on the list than just the ever-popular Lab. Here, we’ll take a look at the 25 breeds that are the most popular right now. The breeds on this list change all the time, but as of 2021, these are the top choices for pet owners.
The 25 most popular dog breeds in 2021 are:
1. Labrador Retriever
The most popular breed in America for 30 years straight, the Labrador Retriever is an iconic breed that everyone knows and most people love. Gentle and sweet with an eager disposition, these dogs are some of the most popular canines for service work. They’re part of the sporting group and have also seen much use as retrievers of waterfowl, as their name implies.
2. French Bulldog
Ironically, the French Bulldog was actually bred in England. The breed traveled to France with English lacemakers, which is where they became most popular. Originally made as a miniature version of a bulldog, the French Bulldog is just a companion pet today, though they did once see use as rat hunters.
3. German Shepherd
German Shepherds have long been used for police and military work. Their high levels of intelligence and adaptability make them easier to train than many breeds. Furthermore, they exhibit incredible courage with great physical resilience and athletic ability, making them one of the best working dogs of all time. As you might garner from the shepherd name, this breed belongs to the herding group.
4. Golden Retriever
This Scottish breed has been used for a variety of canine jobs, including search-and-rescue, service work, and hunting. Golden Retrievers are adept learners and can be trained well because they have high levels of intelligence and seem to truly enjoy training and working.
Weighing up to 50 pounds with a compact body that stands no more than 15 inches in height, Bulldogs are muscled, wrinkly, distinct-looking dogs with an appearance that belies their friendly and good-natured temperaments. It’s hard to tell now, but these dogs were originally bred for two main purposes, driving cows to market and bull-baiting, which is a deadly and brutal bloodsport pitting bulls against other animals in combat.
A member of the non-sporting group, Poodles are one of the quintessential show breeds. They sport elegant coats that some owners keep trimmed into very distinct designs. With regal attitudes and such wild haircuts, you might be surprised to find out what a great family dog a Poodle can make. Plus, they’re one of the smartest breeds in the world and can be trained to do just about anything. They might be mostly show dogs today, but long ago, Poodles were used as waterfowl retrievers for hunters. In fact, their French name, Caniche, is derived from another word that means duck dog, chien canard.
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Bred to hunt in packs, Beagles are social animals that do well in groups or as a single dog. They’re top-notch hunters, as they were bred to be. But they make just as excellent family dogs, thanks to their friendly and happy demeanor. These dogs are rather small, as they were initially bred for tracking small game, like rabbits. Though they’re more often kept as pets in America today rather than hunters, the breed is still used heavily for hunting purposes in other countries.
Rottweilers are big pups, with males reaching heights of 27 inches and weighing up to 135 pounds. They’re known to be confident and trustworthy guardians and watchdogs. They also seem to be great with kids and make top-notch family pets. But these dogs are so versatile that they were also one of the first breeds to see use as police dogs or serve in the military. Long before that, Rottweilers were driving cattle and pulling carts, so they’ve got a long history of hard work behind them.
9. German Shorthaired Pointer
The German Shorthaired Pointer is an adaptable and versatile breed that was first made to retrieve and hunt many types of game in multiple conditions, which they excel at to this day. But they also make great companions and family pets that are easy to care for, aside from their ample exercise requirements. These dogs have mottled coats of brown spots and splotches covering a white coat with heads that tend to be mostly brown with some white.
Available in both standard and miniature sizes, the Dachshund is an iconic dog with a very long but low-slung body that’s sitting atop stubby legs. They’re not built for covering distance, but they were bred for hunting down dangerous prey on their own, including badgers and foxes. Their interesting body shape was purpose-built for following tunneling animals into their holes. Still, some hunters used them for larger game, even using packs of Dachshunds to help chase down wild boar!
11. Pembroke Welsh Corgi
With a body somewhat similar to a Dachshund, low to the ground and elongated, but a face that’s all its own and completely adorable, it’s no wonder that the Pembroke Welsh Corgi is such a popular breed. Despite their small size, these dogs are quite strong with muscular bodies that don’t stop them from being swift and agile. Corgis tend to be fearless and independent, traits that were necessary for their original purpose, which was to herd cattle.
12. Australian Shepherd
By its name alone, you’d think that the Australian Shepherd was clearly created in the land down under, but it was actually first bred in the US in the 1840s. Today, these shepherds are still used commonly for their original purpose, which was to herd livestock. They’re a very intelligent and capable breed with exceptional athletic abilities, though they can be quite destructive if not provided with a proper outlet for all of their excessive energy.
13. Yorkshire Terrier
Commonly known as Yorkies, Yorkshire Terriers are tiny dogs with gigantic personalities. They’re known for being quite feisty, though they make loving companion pets. Part of the reason for their popularity is their small size, which makes them great for living in apartments and similar spaces, though their yappiness can make them annoying to the neighbors.
A member of the working group, Boxers were initially created to be guard dogs. Today, they’re still excellent family watchdogs and guard dogs, but their loving demeanor makes them great companions as well. They’re covered in lean muscle and are undeniably sweet dogs, but these dogs are also very high in energy and require a lot of exercise and stimulation to keep them from going crazy!
15. Great Dane
Great Danes are the gentle giants of the canine world, and they’re truly massive. Males can stand up to 32 inches at the shoulder and can weigh 175 pounds, making them as large as the average man! Unfortunately, they have notoriously short lifespans of less than 10 years. Ironically, the breed isn’t even from Denmark, as you might expect from its name. It’s actually an ancient breed, once used for boar hunting under the name of Boar Hound, though the name was changed to English Dogges in the 1500s. The Germans later refined the breed into the dogs we know today, though the breed ended up keeping the name given to it by a French naturalist in the 1700s, which was Grand Danois, which became Great Danish Dog.
16. Siberian Husky
Originating in Siberia, this breed is actually named for the place from which it comes. They have thick coats with blue or multi-colored eyes that make their appearance quite unique. Many consider them to have a wolf-like appearance. Siberian Huskies are known for being mischievous and curious, with incredible escape talents to get out of any backyard or enclosure.
17. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
One of the ultimate companion breeds, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is bred to be exceptionally cute, with established breed traits like a tail that’s constantly in motion anytime the dog is moving. They’re also magnet dogs, sticking to your side everywhere you go. With one of these spaniels in your home, you’ll never get a moment to yourself! If you’re a person who wants your pup stuck to your side at all times, then a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel would probably be a good fit.
18. Doberman Pinscher
Weighing up to 100 pounds at heights up 28 inches at the shoulder, the Doberman is a rather large dog with a deep chest and muscular physique. It should be no surprise that this breed is incredibly athletic, fast, powerful, and agile. The breed’s start was in the 1800s when a tax collector crossed several breeds together to create the ultimate guard dog to keep him safe from bandits who kept attacking him during his collection rounds.
19. Miniature Schnauzer
Miniature Schnauzers are the canine equivalent of wizards. Not that they do magic, they don’t. But they have beards reminiscent of every crazy wizard you’ve ever seen portrayed in a movie. They also have long lifespans of up to 20 years and tend to be quite a bit more popular than their larger standard-variation cousins. These dogs were built for ratting and farm work, so they’re independent, tough, and courageous, though not aggressive.
20. Shih Tzu
Shih Tzus are small but solid dogs with lustrous coats that help them earn many best-in-show titles. They’re a dog bred for royalty, though today, they’re popular with many average families as one of the top 20 most popular pet dogs in America. Because of their small stature, these dogs are great for city living or apartment dwelling. Shih Tzus have been called lion dogs for a long time and the name Shih Tzu even means little lion, but these dogs rarely display any ferocity, unless they’re playing tough with one of their toys!
21. Boston Terrier
Ironically, the small and proper Boston Terrier, nicknamed the American Gentleman, was originally created as a fighting breed! Hard to believe if you’ve ever known a Boston Terrier, as these are sweet and gentle dogs, though they do have a notably feisty side to them. They have the appearance of a dog in a tuxedo, with a black topcoat and white vest, but it’s their adorable expressions and bug eyes that win over so many adoring fans.
22. Bernese Mountain Dog
Large in stature with many uses, the Bernese Mountain Dog is a working canine developed in Switzerland to perform tasks such as herding cattle and pulling carts while simultaneously making great watchdogs and guard dogs. Of the four different types of Swiss Mountain Dogs, only the Bernese Mountain Dog wears a coat of long hair. Males reach weights of 115 pounds and can stand nearly 28 inches tall, though their thick, long coats make them appear even larger.
Pomeranians are funny-looking little puffballs with coats that make them look as if they were just electrocuted and all the hair is standing on end! They’re actually tiny dogs in the toy group, topping out at just 7 pounds in weight and 7 inches in height. That big, puffy coat is no accident though. These little pups are the descendants of much larger sled dog breeds, and you can still see it in their attitude.
Small dogs with long shaggy yet silky coats, the Havanese is a breed that was made to provide companionship for the Cuban royals in the 19th century. The breed has earned the nickname of “Velcro dog” because they never leave their owner’s side, sticking to them like Velcro. But they’re also full of spunk and energy, with athletic abilities that help them excel in dog sports and interesting canine careers including circus and service work.
25. Cane Corso
Large in size and fierce in appearance, the Cane Corso is a working dog that truly loves to be given a job to perform. This breed is smart, confident, and has a very noble feel. The lineage of this breed can be traced back to the time of the ancient Romans, making them an ancient breed. They can weigh 100 pounds standing nearly 28 inches tall, with bodies covered in muscle that make them quite intimidating.
Is your dog on this list, or is one of the dogs on this list a top choice for your next pet? While this list changes every year, the most popular dogs tend to be popular for good reasons. These breeds are generally intelligent, trainable, and good-natured with excellent traits for work and family life, though they come in a wide range of sizes, colors, and shapes. Whether you want a massive dog with a soft and loving heart or a tiny dog with a fierce disposition, one of these popular pooches is sure to have the traits you’re looking for.
Featured Image: Tatyana Vyc, Shutterstock
- The 25 most popular dog breeds in 2021 are:
- 1. Labrador Retriever
- 2. French Bulldog
- 3. German Shepherd
- 4. Golden Retriever
- 5. Bulldog
- 6. Poodle
- 7. Beagle
- 8. Rottweiler
- 9. German Shorthaired Pointer
- 10. Dachshund
- 11. Pembroke Welsh Corgi
- 12. Australian Shepherd
- 13. Yorkshire Terrier
- 14. Boxer
- 15. Great Dane
- 16. Siberian Husky
- 17. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
- 18. Doberman Pinscher
- 19. Miniature Schnauzer
- 20. Shih Tzu
- 21. Boston Terrier
- 22. Bernese Mountain Dog
- 24. Pomeranian
- 24. Havanese
- 25. Cane Corso