According to American Kennel Club (AKC) breed registration data, the most popular breed for the past 26 consecutive years has been the ever lovable Labrador retriever, and that holds true for 2017.
Most years, there’s a great deal of movement on the AKC list—some breeds becoming incredibly trendy, or dropping 20 or 30 notches in popularity—but that’s not the case this time around.
For several consecutive years now, the German shepherd holds on to second place. And the same is true for the golden retriever, which is America’s perennially third most popular breed.
At number four since 2014 is the bulldog, which has enjoyed a top-10 ranking since 2009, but for years before that was far less popular. For example, in 1994, the bulldog was the 33rd most popular AKC breed.
The fifth most popular breed is a perpetual favorite, the beagle. In fact, from 1953 to 1959, beagles were the most popular breed in the U.S.
At number six are the fun-time French bulldogs, who may also be called the clowns of the dog world. Frenchies are the sillies of the dog world, and they seem to know it. What a difference 10 years can make—in 2007, the French bulldog appeared at number 36 on the AKC popularity list.
Another top-10 perennial are the poodle varieties. In part, it’s because their numbers include all three varieties: standard, toy, and miniature. It seems the three poodle varieties have always ranked in the top 10, and in fact, poodles were at number one from 1960 through 1982, when American cocker spaniels took over the top spot.
Today, the American cocker spaniel is at number 29, and less popular than the English springer spaniel (number 26) and the Cavalier King Charles spaniel (number 19).
At number eight on the list, the rottweiler is enjoying somewhat of a resurgence. In the mid to late 1990’s, rotties were typically in the top five in popularity. But after some bad PR and a general decline in the attractiveness of large dogs, the breed fell out of the top 10 for a short time, but in the past few years appeared at number nine or ten on the chart.
The boxer had an interesting ride as a regular among the AKC top 10 back in the 1980’s, then fell in popularity in the 1990’s. The breed eventually worked its way back to the top 10 over the past several years, enjoying the number-six spot in 2007. This year, the boxer stands solidly at number 10.
Rounding out the top 20:
11) German shorthaired pointer
12) Siberian husky
14) Great Dane
15) Doberman pinscher
16) Australian shepherd
17) Miniature schnauzer
18 Pembroke Welsh corgi
19) Cavalier King Charles spaniel
20) Shih tzu
The Shih tzu is an interesting example of public opinion being fickle for no discernible reason. The breed was number 9 in popularity back in 2006. I doubt anyone can say why they dropped so much in popularity over the past 10 years.
Among the breeds that increased the most on the chart, the cane corso, also known as the Argentinian mastiff, is now the 40th most popular breed, moving up from last year’s rank at number 50. It’s a mystery as to why this breed—weighing 88 to 110 pounds—became more popular. This is a breed—still used for guard dog work—that requires a more experienced owner.
Another breed taking notice with a bump in popularity from last year is the Belgian Malinois, up from number 60 to currently the 47th most popular breed. Likely this surge happened because of the increase in need from law enforcement for working dogs.
The Australian shepherd is now the 16th most popular breed, up from the 20th most popular last year. Its “mini me,” the miniature Australian shepherd, is a new breed to the registry and appeared for the first time on the AKC list as the 36th most popular breed—an impressive rookie spot.
Also debuting on the list, the American hairless terrier (derived from the rat terrier—a fun, curious, and energetic breed) at number 106, and the lagotto romagnoti (a medium-size Italian water retrieving dog, with a coat somewhat resembling a Portuguese water dog).
There are 189 AKC registered breeds. Here are the bottom five on the AKC list:
#185: Sloughi (resembling a small greyhound)
#186: Harrier (hound breed resembling a foxhound)
#187: English foxhound
#188: Norwegian lundehund (a spitz-type dog with six toes on each paw, once used to hunt puffin birds)
#189 American foxhound
Even with this said, it’s likely the most common dogs in America today look like what most people would say is a pit bull or pit bull mix.