The Top 10 Most Popular Dog Breeds

Most of us don’t pick a dog breed by fashion or current trend.  We pick the kind of canine that fits our self-image and practical needs.  Still ,it’s nice to know if what we like matches the tastes of others…

“What are the most popular dogs?”

Popularity, of course, varies by region.

Although there is some change from nation to nation, there is a greater change between regions. Because apartment-dwellers often want smaller pets, a list of the Top City Dogs would include such smaller dogs as the Miniature Schnauzer, Pomeranian and the Pug. The Most Popular Country Dogs are larger dogs, including the Collie and Siberian Husky.

When LASSIE COME HOME appeared in the 1940’s, first as a novel and then as a movie, the Scottish-bred Collie became extremely popular as a family pet. In the 1970’s, the movie BENJI became an immediate hit. Starring a lovable mixed breed dog that was adopted from an animal shelter (the original Benji was the dog Higgins who had worked on the TV show “Petticoat Junction”), the movie started a popular franchise: five Benji movies, television programs and specials, comics, and even Benji merchandise. Dog breeders were deluged with requests for “Benji-like” terriers.

Hollywood and celebrities continue to popularize certain breeds.

What, then, are the Ten Most Popular dog breeds overall?

NUMBER 10: The SHIH TZU. The Shih Tzu (pronounced “shidzoo”) has been known and loved as a small companion dog for at least 2000 years. Developed in China, this little “lion dog” is a happy, outgoing and intelligent character. Zsa Zsa and Eva Gabor brought the breed into the public spotlight in the 1960’s, when they were photographed walking through the hot spots of Beverly Hills with their pet Shih Tzus. The breed has had an enthusiastic following ever since.

NUMBER 9: The BOXER. The Boxer originated in Bavaria, Germany, as a medium-sized security dog. The breed combines the blood of the English Bulldog with European mastiff-type breeds. With its deep chest, broad back and smooth coat (white with fawn or brindle) it makes a striking appearance. Introduced to North America by returning soldiers after World War I, the boxer has gained a reputation as a spirited, lively, pugnacious pet, but affectionate with its family and kind with children.

NUMBER 8: The CHIHUAHUA. The Chihuahua is the world’s smallest dog. Named for the Mexican province where it often occurred, this breed may well be the descendant of an ancient toy breed of an earlier culture, perhaps the Mayan. They come in smooth and longhaired breeds. Both breeds are easy to groom and care for. They are bright, inquisitive, affectionate and courageous.

When Madonna was photographed with her beloved Chihuahua, Chiquita, she was just one of many celebrities sporting a pet Chihuahua. Noah Wyle, one of the hot stars of ER, was recently photographed with his Chihuahua while on holiday. Jennifer Lopez has also joined the exclusive club of famous Chihuahua owners. Younger celebrities like Britney Spears, Hilary Duff, Paris Hilton, Christina Ricci, Reese Witherspoon and members of Simple Plan have been seen with their Chihuahuas. The breed just increases in popularity.

NUMBER 7: The YORKSHIRE TERRIER. The Yorkshire Terrier has been a favorite among the ladies of the European aristocracy for almost a hundred years. When Audrey Hepburn was shown with her adored Yorkie, the breed gained popularity in America. The breed was created in the Leeds and Halifax areas of Yorkshire, England, for a much more mundane purpose: to catch rats in the coal pits and cotton mills. Its long coat of dark steel blue and bright tan requires daily brushing, but the results are worth it. With its strong terrier instincts, the Yorkie makes for a courageous, intelligent and lively companion.

NUMBER 6: The POODLE. The Poodle (or Caniche) is a very ancient breed, originally used for hunting water game, such as ducks. Its thick coat was originally given its distinctive trim to aid it in swimming. The Poodle has been bred in three sizes: Toy, Miniature and Standard. Although its thick coat and long, thickly feathered ears make it a high-maintenance dog, its disposition make the Poodle a beloved pet. It is a well-mannered, eager to learn, obedient and happy breed.

NUMBER 5: The BEAGLE. The most famous Beagle, of course, is a cartoon animal: Snoopy. The breed is an old one, its name coming from the Celtic word “beag,” meaning “small.” The smallest version of the hunting hound, it was developed in England to hunt rabbit and hare. The Beagle makes a good family pet, being lively, friendly and affectionate.

NUMBER 4: The DACHSHUND. The Dachshund comes in a number of varieties, including the Longhaired, Smooth and Wire. The Dachshunds were developed in Medieval Germany to hunt otter, badger and fox. They were also used to track wounded game. Their long bodies and short legs made them adept at following a trail through even dense brush. Coming in all colors, these popular house pets, while sometimes willful and disobedient, are intelligent, happy and love their families.

NUMBER 3: The GERMAN SHEPHERD. The German Shepherd (or Alsatian) was little known in North America until the 1920’s, when movie dogs such as Strongheart (THE SILENT CALL, 1921) and Rin-Tin-Tin (THE MAN FROM HELL’S RIVER, 1924) received almost overnight acclaim.

The German forerunners of the breed were originally used to protect flocks of sheep against wolves. In the 1890’s, a German cavalry officer, Captain Max Von Stephanitz, perfected the breed that we know as the German Shepherd today. With their bright, intelligent eyes, large prick ears, broad chest, sloping body and long legs, they have the very appearance of the ultimate versatile breed. Used as military, police and search dogs, they also make excellent family pets.

NUMBER 2: The GOLDEN RETRIEVER. With its beautiful long coat of gold or cream, the Golden Retriever is considered by many to be the most perfect of dogs. The Golden’s dense, water-repellent coat can be wavy or straight. These dogs are of British origin, developed in the mid-Nineteenth Century by Scotsman Lord Tweedmouth as hunting dogs and water fowl retrievers.

The Golden Retriever’s intelligence and gentleness have earned it a well-deserved reputation as the perfect family pet. As well as being a reliable, gentle-mouthed retriever, this breed is obedient and easily trained.

NUMBER 1: The LABRADOR RETRIEVER. This dog originated in Labrador, Canada. Its forebears are the black water dogs which used to swim between boats and the shore carrying supplies. An excellent retriever of fish and game, the dogs became renowned for their intelligence and willingness to please. The coat is short and dense and in solid black, yellow or chocolate. Easy to train, the Labradors make perfect family pets, being trustworthy, obedient, good-tempered and excellent with children.

Every dog, of course, is the “most popular” to somebody!

Brian Alan Burhoe


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About Brian Alan Burhoe

A Graduate of the Holland College Culinary Course, Brian Alan Burhoe has cooked in Atlantic Coast restaurants and institutional kitchens for over 30 years. He is a member of the Canadian Culinary Federation. Brian's articles reflect his interests in food service, Canadian history, imaginative literature, wildlife writing, animal rights, wilderness preservation and our best friends -- our dogs. See his CIVILIZED BEARS!
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