Each year, the American Kennel Club (AKC) takes a look at its registration statistics to determine which dog breeds Americans love best. Their list of most popular dogs in the U.S. for 2012 contained few surprises, with popular breeds like the Poodle and Beagle remaining favorites. But there was one telling pattern: “Bigger breeds are making their move,” said Lisa Peterson, a spokesperson for the AKC. The sturdy and family-friendly Bulldog, Golden Retriever, and Rottweiler moved up in the list this year, showing that many Americans are starting to see big breeds as “more dog to love.”
Read on to see which breeds made the list—and which dog claimed the title of America’s most popular.
The Dachshund’s name (German for “badger dog”) might come from its long and low body or its excellent sense of smell. But the breed's popularity probably comes from its friendly and eager personality.
The Rottweiler wasn't a part of the most popular list until last year. But it’s not hard to see why it made the cut: Rottweilers are intelligent, self-confident and hard-working dogs. Their endurance makes them great police dogs, herders, and service and therapy dogs. Their devotion makes them great companions.
For the Poodle, looks may have a lot to do with its popularity: It comes in three size varieties and is known for a thick, curly coat that appears in a variety of solid colors. But it is just as exceptional in smarts, excelling in obedience training.
Boxers are instinctively protective and love being with people. Those qualities, combined with its powerful build and acute intelligence, made Boxers excellent couriers in war time and helpful seeing-eye dogs today.
6. Yorkshire Terrier
The tiny Yorkshire Terrier, also known as a “Yorkie”, is a Toy Group dog in size but all terrier in personality. What makes it a consistent favorite in the U.S.? It could be anything from the Yorkie’s “long, luxurious” coat to its “brave, determined, investigative and energetic” nature.
Based on the Bulldog’s sustained popularity, many find its “loose-jointed, shuffling gait and massive, short-faced head” completely endearing. The Bulldog is as well-known for its gentle disposition as its jowly appearance.
Though it didn't quite make it to number one, AKC Spokesperson Lisa Peterson said that “this year clearly belongs to the Beagle.” The spunky Beagle, known for its cheerful personality and love of the outdoors, makes a wonderful family pet. After moving up a spot from last year’s rankings, it could be headed for the top of the list.
3. Golden Retriever
The eager-to-please Golden Retriever has continued to do so, remaining one of the most popular breeds in the U.S. and moving up a spot from last year’s rankings. The intelligent and hard-working breed makes as great a search-and-rescue, guide, or assistance dog as it does a hunting companion, though it may be best known for its hallmark golden coat.
2. German Shepherd
The German Shepherd is the world’s leading police, guard and military breed by occupation, but an approachable and loving family dog by nature. It is consistently one of the most popular breeds in the U.S., known for a dependable and fearless personality.
1. Labrador Retriever
It’s no surprise that the Labrador Retriever was America’s favorite dog in 2012: The loyal family favorite has topped the list for 22 years now. Their intelligence makes labradors great police and search-and-rescue dogs, but they’re best known as playful and trusted companions.
For more, visit the American Kennel Club's website.