The 2009 list of the most popular breeds, released in late January by the AKC, places Labrador Retrievers at the top for the 19th year.
The German Shepherd bumped the Yorkshire terrier from the second most-popular spot. This is the first time German Shepherds have earned the number two position on the favorite breed list in more than 30 years, according to the AKC.
Rounding out the top ten:
|3rd: Yorkshire Terrier||7th: Bulldog|
|4th: Golden Retriever||8th: Dachshund|
|5th: Beagle||9th: Poodle|
|6th: Boxer||10th: Shih Tzu|
In case you’re wondering how the American Kennel Club (AKC) decides which breeds are most popular each year, it uses its own registration statistics to compile the list.
More people sent in AKC registration paperwork for Labrador Retrievers than any other breed of dog during 2009 (and the 18 preceding years), followed by the number of Yorkies registered, and so on.
Why Certain Breeds are Favorites
There are good reasons why particular breeds are popular.
Labrador Retrievers, for example, are known to be gentle, intelligent, and eager to please. They make good family dogs and are generally easy to train. Labs aren’t typically aggressive, they don’t bark excessively (compared to other breeds), and are always ready for a game of catch or Frisbee.
Golden Retrievers are very similar in size and temperament to Labs, however, Goldens require more grooming , which might be why they are lower on the list than their retriever cousins.
Yorkies and Shih Tzus tend to be popular with people who believe they don’t have the space or time required to exercise a larger dog. Smaller breeds generally have longer lives. They’re very portable for dog owners who like to take their pets with them wherever they go. And both these breeds qualify as lap dogs, a trait many owners find appealing.
Beagles are friendly and playful.
Boxers are faithful to their owners, and are brave without being menacing.
You will find that dog owners devoted to a particular breed have discovered – often through trial and error -- that a canine companion of a certain size, build, coat and temperament suits their personality and lifestyle better than other breeds.
It’s quite common for pet owners whose beloved canine companion has passed away to get another dog of the same breed when the time is right. It’s also common to see two or more of the same breed of dog in one household or family.
What About Mixed Breeds?
Many people who favor mutts over purebred dogs appreciate the middle-of-the-road nature of a mixed breed. Some mixed breed owners feel their pets have avoided the extremes in temperament and behavior that purebred dogs can exhibit.
An example would be a first generation “goldendoodle,” which is a dog bred from mating a Golden Retriever with a Poodle.
Goldendoodle fans believe they’re getting the best of both breeds by combining the genes of a highly intelligent dog with a dog that is extremely eager to please.
In addition, Poodles are non-shedding while Goldens shed quite a bit, so the combination can bring about a reduction in shedding.
Mixed breed dogs are generally thought to be less hard wired for a particular set of genetic tendencies than purebred dogs, which can make them more flexible and adaptable.
A “Good” Dog is Independent of Her Breed
What I mean by this is no matter the breed or mix of breeds, any dog can be a wonderful companion or completely unmanageable based not on her genetics, but on the type of care and training she receives from you.
There are gentle, docile pit bulls, and tiny Chihuahua dogs that growl or bite at the slightest provocation. When it comes to “good” vs. “bad” dogs, how you nurture your pet is ultimately much more important than her nature (breed).
I strongly encourage you to either rescue a dog (many purebreds are available) from your local shelter or research your breeder very well. At all costs, avoid supporting puppymills ….in most cases this means not buying a dog from a petstore.
When you’re choosing a dog that will hopefully become a much-loved member of your family, breed characteristics are merely guidelines. What kind of dog yours turns out to be is almost entirely within your control.
Secrets of Great Dogs
Healthy, balanced, well-mannered dogs have several things in common.
- They eat well. The best diet you can provide your canine companion is one that is species specific and includes raw ingredients, appropriate fatty acids and other nutrients essential for optimal health.
To learn everything you need to know about the best food for your pet and how to prepare simple, nutritious homemade meals, I recommend my book, Real Food for Healthy Dogs & Cats.
- They are well-socialized. It’s best to socialize a dog between the ages of eight weeks and three months, so if you’re planning to add a puppy to your family, you’ll want to start the process on his first day home.
If your dog is older and wasn’t properly socialized, you should discuss any troubling tendencies he exhibits with your veterinarian or a qualified specialist in canine behavior to determine the best approach for rehabilitation.
Behavior problems in dogs over the age of three months require knowledge, patience and consistency to correct. As tough as the going may get, this can be a tremendously worthwhile and rewarding undertaking for you, and can literally save the life of your dog.
- They get adequate exercise. And I’m not talking about playtime, though dogs need that as well. By exercise, I mean aerobic exercise sustained for at least 20 minutes on a consistent basis (a minimum of three times a week). This can be a challenge if you come home exhausted after a long day at work. But I can’t stress enough how important this is.
And remember that your dog’s exercise requirements will not diminish with age -- even geriatric pets need to move consistently. However, you will want to just adjust the duration and intensity for your pet’s level of endurance and agility as she ages.
- They are well-groomed. Your dog’s health begins in his mouth with the food you feed him and the dental care he receives.
Your dog may need to be bathed frequently – probably more often than you’ve been led to believe. Regular baths rid your pet of allergens and potential toxins he’s exposed to outdoors that cling to his fur and paws when he comes inside. And a clean, fresh smelling dog is just easier to be around for the whole family.
- They get regular at-home wellness exams and visit the vet at least once a year.
No matter the breed or genetics of your dog, with proper care she can take her rightful place as the most popular four-legged member of your family.