Brown and white pointer tilts head to the left in close-up

Which of These Most Popular Dog Breeds Is Your Favorite?

See if your dog made the list!
By Kristi Valentini
Updated March 16, 2021

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The stats are in: Americans love dogs. Nearly 40% of homes have at least one pup, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. But which breed is the favorite? Well, that’s a much tougher question. Ask one person and they’ll tell you there’s no better dog than a cocker spaniel while another swears that Russell terriers are truly man’s best friend. 

But according to the American Kennel Club (AKC), who tallies breed registrations each year, some dog breeds have stolen the top spots in pet lovers' hearts. These are the most popular dog breeds in the United States and a great place to start your search for a new four-legged friend!

One brown lab and one black lab sit with tongues out
Credit: Tara Gregg / EyeEm / Getty

1. Overall Most Popular Dog Breed: Labrador Retriever (Lab)

For the 29th year in a row, Labrador retrievers have claimed the top spot as America’s most  beloved breed and it’s easy to see why. These happy-go-lucky dogs are always up for a good time. Game of fetch? Yep. Swim in the lake? Heck, yeah. Go for a hike? Let’s do it. Cuddle on the couch? For sure. 

Labs were originally bred in Canada to work alongside fishermen on land and sea. But these days, you're more likely to find them working as service dogs or as family companions. Labs make instant friends with everyone they meet—kids, strangers, and other pets—which makes them a pleasure to be around.

fawn french bulldog
The French bulldog's compact, muscular frame makes them look quite formidable, but they are generally not an aggressive breed.
| Credit: Fernando Trabanco Fotografía / Getty

2. Most Popular Apartment Dog: French Bulldog

Let's be honest: Seeing a French bulldog walking down the street could put a smile on anyone's face. Their burly little bodies coupled with big bat ears make them one of the most recognizable breeds anywhere. And Frenchies welcome the attention, easily making friends with people and other pets. In the 1800's, these jaunty dogs were favored by the Parisian elite, and today, continue to be loved by city dwellers. They rarely bark, don't need a lot of exercise, and their small size means they won't take up too much space on the couch!

German shepherd laws on dock by a lake
Credit: Jody Trappe Photography / Getty

3. Most Popular Protector: German Shepherd

German Shepherds often work as police and military dogs for good reason. They’re loyal, brave, and incredibly smart. Alert dogs, German shepherds watch over their people just as their ancestors did with flocks of sheep—the job the breed was originally developed for. But they’re happy to play with kids, too, especially during their puppy years. Their calm demeanor and patient attitude makes a well-socialized German shepherd an excellent family pet. Just make sure you’ll be able to give them plenty of exercise!

Golden retriever running through grass toward camera
Credit: Bigandt_Photography / Getty

4. Most Popular Family Dog: Golden Retriever

The people pleasers of the dog world, golden retrievers have long been an American favorite. Originally bred to be duck hunters in Scotland, these pups are easy to train and share their countrymen’s same jovial attitude. They love to play fetch, and even better if it’s in the water. Because of their mellow friendliness, goldens are particularly popular among families looking for a dog to be an all-around awesome pal.

English Bulldog stands off to the side in grassy field, tongue out
Credit: liliya kulianionak / Adobe Stock

5. Most Popular Couch Potato: Bulldog

Bulldogs may look intimidating, but you’re more likely to get a sloppy kiss than a snarl from these guys. Often associated with Winston Churchill and England’s steadfast perseverance during World War II, bulldogs are perfect if you’re looking for a super-chill companion. They don’t ruffle easily and also love to lounge, making them an ideal pet for anyone who has time for shorter jaunts rather than long walks.

two rust-color miniature poodles
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6. Most Popular Low-Allergen Dog: Poodle

Poodles have a long resume having served as duck hunters, truffle sniffers, performers, and companions of French aristocrats. Probably best known for their poof-ball haircuts—developed by hunters who wanted to make it easier for poodles to stay warm while swimming—poodles are some of the smartest dogs around. These sharp pups are easy to train and a favorite among those with allergies since their hair doesn't shed like other dogs. And, you can take your pick of how big of a poodle you want since they come in standard, miniature, and toy sizes!

tri-colored beagle standing on cobblestone
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7. Most Popular Hound Dog: Beagle

You’d be hard-pressed to find a face more adorable than a beagle’s mug. But when it comes to hunting rabbits or squirrels, it’s serious business to this breed. Because beagles were bred to sniff out wild game for hunters, their spectacular sense of smell means they're obsessed with following scent trails, so a fenced yard and on-leashed walks are an absolute must for these eager pups. The curiosity of these clever hounds can sometimes get them in trouble inside the home, too, since they'll follow their nose wherever it takes them. But these sensitive souls are loyal and lovable like none other—and when a beagle gives you those famously sad puppy eyes, it’s impossible to stay mad!

Rottweiler dog lays in grass
everydoghasastory / Adobe Stock
| Credit: everydoghasastory / Adobe Stock

8. Most Popular Big Dog: Rottweiler

Rottweilers are popular dogs with roots going back to the Roman empire. Devoted to their people, Rottweilers are sometimes slow to warm up to strangers. They're hard workers with a history as herders and protectors, but at the end of the day, they definitely enjoy a good cuddle. Because of their size and strength, this breed is best for experienced dog owners who have the time and patience for continued training and socialization throughout their lives—both essential activities for keeping these intelligent pups happy and healthy.

Brown and white pointer tilts head to the left in close-up
Credit: Westend61 / Getty

9. Most Popular Hunting Dog: German Shorthaired Pointer

Outdoorsy folks couldn't ask for a better furry friend than a German shorthaired pointer (GSP). This pup lives for adventure, from swimming to hunting to going for a run around the neighborhood. GSPs have a ton of energy, so they pair best with active households, especially those who like to spend a lot of time in nature.

black dachshund standing in the forest
Credit: Vsevolod Vlasenko / Getty

10. Most Popular Small Dog: Dachshund

It's everyone's favorite weenie! The dachshund may be small, but they're spunky, boasting an energetic attitude. Although they're a more independent breed, they make a great pet in nearly every type of home with the proper accommodations (the fewer stairs, the better). But don't leave doxies alone for too long—they have a loud bark and are not afraid of being vocal. Owners of dachshunds should have patience and a sense of humor to match their little guy or gal.