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History of the 10 Most Popular Dog Breeds in the United States

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 3 12

The dog is the most popular household pet in the world.  However, human interaction with dogs has existed for thousands of years before pets became a norm of society.  The following 10 dogs are believed to be the most popular dog breeds in the United States according to the American Kennel Club (AKC).  Each one of these dogs has a different history that influenced their behavior, personality, and appearance.  The development of these unique traits gave each of these dogs a certain character that greatly contributes to their popularity in the world today.


Yellow Lab Puppy
Credit: http://labradorretriever.name/
Black Lab
Credit: www.breederretriever.com/photopost/pindex/507/

1. Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retrievers originated in Newfoundland during the 16th century through ad-hoc breedings by English settlers.  The resulting dogs were referred to as “St. John’s Dogs” and were used to help fishermen retrieve fish that had fallen off their hooks and haul in fishing lines through the water.  St. John’s dogs were extremely loyal to English settlers and very eager to please.  Their talented retrieving abilities made them the ideal dog for sporting and hunting companions.  It was often said that the dogs enjoyed their work so much that they would gladly work beyond their physical abilities and, as a result, should be watched carefully during summer months so that they did not overheat.  Other stories by English settlers claimed that the dogs would break ice to retrieve birds only to return and wait for the next one to appear.  After working long hours with fishermen in the cold waters, the dogs would frequently be taken home afterwards to play with the fishermen’s children.  During the early 1800s, the first Labradors were imported to England where they became popular with aristocratic British sportsmen.  As years passed, strong efforts emerged by individuals in English to keep the Labrador breed alive.  However, despite efforts to continue breeding, Labradors almost entirely died out in England by the 1880s, but continued to be bred in order to preserve the true blood lines.  In Newfoundland, St. John’s became entirely extinct for political reasons.  The breed lived on in England and the dogs continued to grow significantly in number.  By the early 1900s, Labradors became popular in many areas on the world, most notably in the United States and Canada, where they were bred for a variety of purposes.  Although many hundred years have passed since these days, Labrador Retrievers still remain as some of the most loyal, intelligent, and compassionate dogs in the world.  In addition, Labradors have a unique physical appearance.  They have a dense, short coat that repels water and provides great warmth during winter months.  Also, they come in three different colors: black, yellow, and chocolate.  By the early 1990s, the Labrador Retriever took first place as the most popular dog registered by the AKC.  Today, Labs make devoted family members and excellent hunting companions.  They are also widely used as guide dogs, police dogs, and rescue dogs.


German Shepherd(55491)
Credit: http://www.germanshepherdflorida.com/

2. German Shepherd

During the 1800s, sheep herding dogs were randomly bred in order to create a breed that worked best.  As the 20th century approached, Germany began a strict breeding program to develop the current ideal shepherd dog into a more uniform herding dog with greater intelligence and obedience.  However, during the outbreak of World War I, the fate of the German Shepherd was in doubt.  In order to save the breed, the American Kennel Club registered the breed in 1912.  During the 1950s and 1960s, Americans became more and more interested in German Shepherds and large numbers of the breed were imported from Germany.  Since German Shepherds are intelligent and easy-to-train, the breed is commonly used today as police dogs for search and rescue missions.  In addition, due to their loyal and affectionate personality, German Shepherds make excellent pets for families with young children and are frequently used as watch dogs.  Furthermore, German Shepherds have become useful as guide dogs for the blind, deaf, and handicapped.


Yorkshire Terrier(55492)
Credit: http://dog-breeds.dogpage.us/yorkshire-terrier-dog-breed-information.php

3. Yorkshire Terrier

This small dog breed originated in Scotland during the 19th century.  As Scottish weavers migrated to England during the mid 1800s, they brought along various terriers to hunt rats.  Over time, these different terriers were bred together to create the Yorkshire terrier.  The breed was originally called the “broken-haired scotch terrier.”  However, in 1870, it was decided to rename the dogs “Yorkshire Terriers” since most of the breeding was done in the town of Yorkshire.  During the late 1800s, Yorkshire terriers were used as working dogs.  They did not become a popular pet in England until the late Victorian era.  Soon later, Yorkshire terriers arrived in the United States and once again became extremely popular.  Today, Yorkshire terriers make great watchdogs since they immediately alert families when strangers approach.  Although Yorkies are not very tolerant of children, they do well if they are raised with them.  They tend to be affectionate and loyal toward families but aggressive toward strangers.  However, Yorkshire terriers are intelligent and can easily be trained to become more obedient.


Beagle(55493)
Credit: http://www.petfinder.com/dog-breeds/Beagle
Beagle(55494)
Credit: http://www.free-pet-wallpapers.com/Free-pet-wallpapers/Dog/Beagle-love-small-dog-in-grass.html

4. Beagle

Beagles originated in England during the mid 1800s.  It is believed that the beagle is one of the oldest dog breeds and among the closest in appearance to the original hounds.  In fact, they were used by people for many centuries to hunt rabbits.  The origin of the name “Beagle” is believed to come from the old English word “begele” or Celtic word “beag,” which both mean “small.”  The breed was developed in England during the 1800s and was a favorite dog of Queen Elizabeth.  The beagle was officially recognized by the British Kennel Club in 1873 and brought to the United States soon later.  Despite the beagle’s widespread popularity, they have become one of the most common dog breeds to be used in medical research.  Today, beagles are very popular household pets.  They look like small hounds with long hears and a multi-colored coat of tan, black, and white.  In addition, they are generally lovable and friendly.  Beagles are great dogs for families with children due to their favorable personality, but can also develop destructive behavior if left alone for extended periods of time.  Although beagles do bark and like to dig, they do have many good qualities.  Some benefits of beagles are that they do not drool, shed little, and have minimal odor.


Golden Retriever(55499)
Credit: http://www.englishretrievers.eu/bristol%20blue%20de%20hareswith.html
Golden Retriever(55501)
Credit: http://www.englishretrievers.eu/bristol%20blue%20de%20hareswith.html
Golden Retriever Puppy
Credit: http://goldenretriever.trainingcare.net/essential-golden-retriever-breeder-information/

5. Golden Retriever

The Golden Retriever originated in Scotland during the late 1800s.  The breed was developed by Lord Tweedmouth as an excellent retriever for hunting in a Scottish climate.  When the breed arrived in the United States and Canada many years later, the dog immediately became very popular.  Today, the Golden Retriever is one of the most intelligent, loving, and eager to please dog breeds in the world.  Golden Retrievers make great hunting companions and excellent search and rescue dogs.  They are also frequently used as guide dogs for the blind, death, and handicapped.  Golden Retrievers’ gentle, loving, and compassionate personality make them a great dog breed for families with young children.  In addition, Golden Retrievers can adapt to many different living conditions but perform best with daily exercise.  Although their fur coat can range dramatically in shade, they have a beautiful appearance with a striking golden color.


Bulldog
Credit: http://www.petfinder.com/dog-breeds/Bulldog
Bulldog(55505)
Credit: http://www.justdog.org/Bulldog-14.html

6. Bulldog

Bulldogs originated in England as a dog that was both courageous and insensitive to pain.  When dog fighting became illegal in England, individuals tried to preserve bulldogs by eliminating their undesirable characteristics.  The dog got the name “bull” from its connection with bull baiting.  Today, bulldogs have become extremely popular family pets in the United States.  They are widely recognized as excellent family pets since they have a tendency to form strong bonds with children.  Despite their harsh appearance, bulldogs are almost always kind, gentle, and protective.  Other positive aspects of bulldogs are that they generally require minimal grooming and exercise.


Boxer
Credit: http://s291.photobucket.com/albums/ll292/blogodorium/?action=view&current=boxer.jpg&mediafilter=images
Boxer(55507)
Credit: http://bayareadogs.net/boxer/

7. Boxer

Boxers were developed in Germany during the 1800s for dog fighting and hunting.  Hunters would rely on boxers to run down and hold large game so that they would have time to arrive.  The breed is known for standing up on its hind legs while fighting opponents.  Despite this harsh nature, boxers were imported to the United States during the 1920s and have become very popular household pets.  They have a tendency to greatly desire human affection and are patient and loving with children.  In addition, boxers are also highly protective and, therefore, make a great watchdog for families.  Boxers generally require little grooming and maintenance but need daily exercise.


Dachshund(55508)
Credit: http://www.dachshund-puppy.info/category/cute-dachshund

8. Dachshund

Dachshund, meaning “badger dog” in German were first bred in Germany during the early 1600s.  They were intended to act as a fearless, elongated dog that could dig up badgers and fight to death with them.  They are eager hunters that perform well both above and below ground.  The breed is generally lively and friendly and has a keen sense of smell.  Dachshunds became popular in the United States during the early 1900s.  As their popularity continued to grow, American breeders began to import more and more Dachshunds from Germany.  Dachshunds are generally loving and playful dogs and make great family pets.  They require moderate exercise and can adapt well to most living conditions.  Furthermore, dachshunds typically require moderate to regular grooming and maintenance.


Standard Poodle
Credit: http://www.gotpetsonline.com/pictures/gallery/dogs/top-100-dogs/standard-poodles/standard-poodle-0046/
Toy Poodle(55511)
Credit: http://www.dominopoodles.com/

9. Poodle

Poodles are believed to have originated in Germany hundreds of years ago.  The name “poodle” comes from the German word “pudeln” which translates to “splashing in the water.”  The original purpose of the poodle was to act as a water retriever.  Soon after its development, Poodles became popular in France and became their national dog.  Today, the poodle is one of the most popular dog breeds in the world and stands as a symbol of elegance and luxury.  Most people tend to associate the poodle with France, despite its different origin.  The poodle comes in three different sizes: standard, miniature, and toy.  The standard poodle in the oldest type and was historically used to retrieve ducks from the water.  The miniature and toy poodles were developed a couple years later and have been commonly used for hunting and digging for truffles in French forests.  The toy poodle is the smallest type and was developed in England as a show dog for circuses and dancing.  Poodles are generally pleasant dogs that enjoy company.  They make great pets for families and are good with children.  In addition, poodles can adapt to a variety of environments and can be trained quickly and readily since they are so intelligent.


Shih Tzu
Credit: http://petlittle.com/dogs/shih-tzu-care-puppies-and-pictures-dogs.html

10. Shih Tzus

Shih Tzu is an ancient breed that has existed in China since 624 A.D.  In China, the dogs were selected and bred with great care.  During the 1930s, interest in the breed spread to England, where they became very popular.  During World War II, U.S. military personnel greatly admired the dogs in England and took them back to the United States with them.  Following World War II, Shih Tzus became bred in the United States and became increasingly popular.  The dogs are generally small and have a long and dense hair coat that requires daily care.  The Shih Tzu is bred to be nothing other than a pet.  As a result, their personality is gentle and playful.  In addition, the dog can adapt to any family situation but is typically considered to be nothing more than an indoor dog.  The breed is loyal and gentle enough to be a good choice for both children and the elderly.


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Comments

Aug 20, 2011 7:29am
nojacko
I had a Shih Tzus as a child. They have such personality and lovely nature. Mine did suffer from small dog syndrome as she would always bark at dogs 10 times her size.
Aug 20, 2011 11:26am
godfather25
I have a beagle, wonderful dogs. He's a sweetie. But beagles are quite aggressive when it comes to food. If he sees a plate of food, he's going right at it.
Aug 21, 2011 10:46am
Catherine_Daly
I love cross breeds, you seem to get all the good points and none of the bad of a breed. Especially when you get a Heinz 57 and you have no idea what mix of breeds you've got!
Great article and some gorgeous pictures too!
Aug 25, 2011 2:08am
raybansun
Actually, i like pug the most.=)
Sep 1, 2011 1:51am
RapidDash
I like dogs and cats. Saddly I cant have pets where I am living right now. :( Awesome article by the way.
Sep 2, 2011 5:20pm
danmont
The Labrador Retriever is my favorite.
Sep 3, 2011 9:26am
drugics3
Very nice pictures.:) I like dogs. But the poodlie is not dog, he is something other...:)
Sep 3, 2011 9:27am
drugics3
Shih Tzus is not dog. He is rat... The german shepherd, and labrador is dog.:)
Sep 4, 2011 9:35pm
joystickenvy
Interesting that so many of the most popular breeds originated in Germany. We have golden retrievers, a german shepard and an english bulldog in the family. All excellent pets :)
Sep 22, 2011 5:51am
rdevansii
Great article! My alltime favorite is the Golden Retriever. If I had to go with a second dog, it would be a split between the Labrador or the German Shepherd.
Nov 8, 2011 5:07pm
oxfordian
Who could not give a 'thumbs up' to such adoreable faces? Your article really brightened my day. Thanks.
Apr 5, 2012 7:03pm
stagnetto
What a fantastic article. Couldn't agree with you more that these are the most popular dogs (well at least with me they are!!). Love the photos you have chosen as well.
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