The American Kennel Club (AKC) has been keeping track of dog registrations since 1884. Over time, they have developed a ranking system to help them evaluate which breeds are most popular with American dog owners. This list is based on their rankings and is updated every year.
Most Popular Dog Breeds
The American Kennel Club (AKC) is the largest dog registry in the world. Every year, they release a top 10 list of the most popular dog breeds in America. The list is based on registration data from the previous year and it's always a good way to get an idea of which breeds are enjoying greater popularity at any given time. In some cases, the most popular dog breeds change from year to year, although you may notice several continue to remain in the top 10 regardless of the year.
Labrador Retriever is Still No. 1
According to the AKC, the Labrador Retriever is the most popular dog breed for 29 years in a row. They are also one of the most popular breeds around the world. Labs are known for their loyalty, intelligence, and friendliness toward both children and adults. It's no surprise they're so adored; this renowned breed makes a wonderful family companion.
Many people who get a Labrador Retriever say it was love at first sight. These athletic, intelligent dogs are easy to train and enjoy spending time with their owners, whether they're going on a long hike, jogging, or relaxing at home.
No. 2: French Bulldog
The French Bulldog has been climbing higher in popularity. The breed hit the No. 4 spot in 2019, but dethroned the long-time No. 2 German Shepherd Dog in 2020. French bulldogs are small, stocky dogs with a short nose and bat-like ears. They have webbed feet, which makes them good swimmers. They are friendly, affectionate dogs who like to be around their family. They need regular exercise and playtime outside to maintain their health and happiness.
Frenchies have an independent personality that makes them perfect for apartment living. They don't require much exercise so they can be kept in an apartment without causing too much trouble for neighbors or other residents. They're also very sociable towards humans and animals, making them great pets for families with children or other pets.
No. 3: Golden Retriever
Golden Retrievers are a very popular breed, and have appeared within the top three spots on the AKC's list for several years. They get along well with children and other animals, are energetic and loyal, and are easy to teach. Most importantly, Golden Retrievers like being active outside. Look no farther than this breed if you want a dog who will spend hours outside with you playing. They require daily activity to keep their weight in check, but fortunately, this isn't difficult: Once you get them out there running around, they'll be as happy as can be for hours.
No. 4: German Shepherd Dog
The German Shepherd Dog is a highly intelligent, versatile working dog. The breed's popularity has been slipping somewhat lately, as GSDs held the No. 2 spot in 2019, but fell to No. 3 in 2020. These dogs are still very popular, however, and remain high on the list.
German Shepherds were bred to be loyal dogs and enjoy being around people and other dogs. Because the German Shepherd is a large dog who requires a lot of space, they aren't a breed recommended for apartments or small homes with little space to run. They are, however, regarded as being excellent family dogs due to their loyalty, charm, and protective nature.
No. 5: Poodle
The Poodle is gaining popularity, breaking into the top 5 in 2021. This popular breed is perennially in the top 10 on the AKC's ranking list. The poodle is a very intelligent, loyal, and playful dog who works well with children. This breed can be trained to do many things like tricks and agility.
Poodles are an ancient breed, first developed in Germany in the 1500s. They were originally used as water dogs and retrievers for hunting, but are now more likely to be found in the show ring or at obedience trials than on the hunt. Poodles come in three sizes: standard (19 to 22 inches tall), miniature (12 to 15 inches tall), and toy (less than 12 inches tall).
No. 6: Bulldog
The Bulldog has held strong at No. 5 for several years, but fell off in 2021. These are powerful yet affectionate dogs. They enjoy being around people and children, but they also need to be trained when young to socialize with other dogs and cats. Bulldogs are patient, loyal companions that make great family pets for their calm demeanor and tolerance of children. They love affection from their owners, but due to their stubbornness, they may not do well with new people or places at first.
Bulldogs are easygoing and don't require much exercise beyond walks or trips outside in nice weather. Their short snouts make them prone to overheating when exercising outdoors on hot days. However, because they have little need for vigorous exercise anyway, it shouldn't be difficult preventing heatstroke if your Bulldog spends most of their time indoors during warmer months. If you want a dog that won't get in your way while you work or play outside, the Bulldog might be for you!
No. 7: Beagle
The Beagle has held strong at the No. 7 spot for several years. This is an old breed, with roots dating back to the Roman Empire. They were used for hunting rabbits and other small prey, but today they are known for their friendly temperament and their ability to track scents.
The AKC attributes the beagle's popularity as a family dog to their small size, standing only 16 to 19 inches tall at the shoulder, and good nature with children. However, beagles are prone to separation anxiety if left alone for long periods of time, so it's important to keep this in mind if you're considering adopting this breed.
Beagles need regular exercise that involves running around outside, such as chasing after tennis balls or Frisbees. If your Beagle doesn't get enough exercise, they may develop bad habits like digging holes in your yard or chewing on items around the house! Overall, though, these dogs make excellent companions who will love spending time with you no matter what activities you do together!
No. 8: Rottweiler
The Rottweiler has held the No. 8 spot on the AKC's list since 2016. These dogs have been consistently popular for decades and continue to be so today, despite their reputation as a "dangerous" breed. The rottie's calm demeanor and loyalty make them an ideal family pet; they're also quite protective of their owners, which makes them good guard dogs.
Rottweilers were first bred in the early 20th century by crossing German herding dogs with mastiffs from England. They became popular throughout Europe after World War I, when many soldiers returned home with Rottweilers they had trained on the battlefields of France and Belgium to work as police dogs or attack dogs for military use during wartime. After World War II, the popularity of these large-breed war dogs declined because people began associating them with aggression rather than protection or companionship.
No. 9: German Shorthaired Pointer
The German Shorthaired Pointer broke into the top 10 in 2017, and has stuck around ever since. This breed is a versatile hunter, popular companion, and keen competitor in field trials and dog sports. Eager to please, affectionate and loyal, these medium-sized dogs are good with kids and other dogs as well as cats. They love being active; they're great swimmers, and runners, indoors or out, and their intelligence means they excel at training.
Their coats come in shades of red, liver & black (liver), orange & white (orange), tricolor (black/brown & tan coat), or mahogany merle. Though German Shorthaireds are high-energy dogs, they are also affectionate and intelligent. These dogs are great for engaged families who have experience training dogs and who live active lifestyles.
No. 10: Dachshund
The Dachshund made it into the top 10 in 2020, bumping the Pembroke Welsh Corgi out of the spot. This is an adorable, small dog with a big personality. Originating in Germany, the Dachshund was bred to hunt badgers and other burrowing animals. Today, this affectionate breed makes an excellent companion for families with children and seniors alike.
The Dachshund is a long-bodied dog with short legs. They have a distinctive appearance that seems to have been designed by a cartoonist: big eyes, long ears, and a long body that gives them an almost comical appearance. Despite their short legs, Dachshunds can climb stairs and jump up onto beds or couches with ease, though owners have to be careful they don't injure themselves in the process. They tend to be friendly and outgoing towards people they don't know well, but are cautious around strangers until they get to know them better.
See Which Breed Ranks Top in Your Area
Although the AKC compiles all of its registration info into one master list, the actual breakdown of favorites is also sorted by geographic area. These additional lists aren't necessarily the same from city to city and are likely influenced by the number of breeders in a given area working with specific breeds. You can see the list for the major city closest to you by visiting the AKC's Top Dogs by City page. Interestingly, the French Bulldog has climbed to the No. 1 spot on many major metropolitan lists.
What's Your Favorite Breed?
When choosing a dog, there's more to consider than just size and color. Your dog's temperament and energy level are critical factors in determining whether or not your family is ready for a new canine member. This list of the top 10 most popular dog breeds will aid you in your search for the best dog breed for your family, but make sure to do research of your own prior to choosing.