As of 2012, there were just fewer than 70 million million pet dogs in America and more than two-thirds of American households had a dog. Of the 10 most popular breeds in America in 2012, half originated in Germany, three in Britain, one in Canada and one of unknown origin. Americans favor larger dogs, with European breeds making up the majority of the top 10 most popular list.
The Labrador originated in Canada and takes his name from his home region. This breed is universally regarded as the ultimate family dog, great with kids, intelligent and eager to please his owner. He originally was bred for bird hunting, where his soft mouth and strong retrieving instincts ideal for bringing back felled birds.
The German shepherd has a checkered history in America. After the World War I, his popularity waned as anti-German sentiment swelled. But starring roles for the breed in the media as Rin Tin Tin and Strongheart saw this intelligent and popularity of this protective breed grow once again.
Golden retrievers were first registered by the American Kennel Club in 1925. Prior to that, they were relatively rare in the country, while exceedingly popular as a game retriever in Britain. The golden retriever’s happy-go-lucky character and intelligence make him a firm favorite among dog-loving Americans.
Beagles are America’s most popular hound. The specific origins of the beagle were never established, however the breed first became established in England during the Middle Ages. This breed loves to track scent. His adorable floppy ears help him, by trapping scent around his head while his nose is to the ground.
This quintessentially British breed loves children, has boundless affection and likes nothing better than being close to his owners. Although originally bred for bull-baiting, his fiercer traits have diminished over the generations.
Bucking the trend of big dogs, the Yorkshire terrier might be tiny but he has a big personality. These dogs are declining in popularity, but have a dedicated army of admirers that should see them keep their place in the top 10 for years to come.
Quirky, energetic, strong and loyal, the boxer makes an excellent guard dog, watch dog and assistance dog but is equally happy to chill out in front of the fire. The boxer is part of a national trend that shows Americans are beginning to increasingly favor mastiff type breeds.
Another German import, this water dog is admired for his tightly curled coat and his high intelligence. The poodle comes in three sizes -- toy, miniature and standard -- and despite placing eighth in the 2012 list, it ties with the Labrador for the longest consecutive reign as one of America's most popular breeds.
The biggest breed in the top 10, this powerful yet affectionate dog makes a formidable guard dog. His reputation as a menace is undeserved and with proper training, he makes a loyal and trustworthy companion.
This German hound has an army of famous admirers, including John F. Kennedy, Queen Victoria and Picasso. The rising popularity of big breeds means that in 2012, this playful and friendly breed was bumped down a place in the top 10 by his compatriot the rottweiler.
- American Veterinary Medical Association: U.S. Pet Ownership Statistics
- American Kennel Club News: Living Large! Bigger Breeds Shake Up Top 10 On Most Popular List
- American Kennel Club: Labrador Retriever
- Nova Scotia German Shepherd Club: Breed History
- American Kennel Club: Golden Retriever History
- Dog Channel: History of the Beagle
- American Kennel Club: Get to Know the Bulldog
- World Wide Boxer: History and Purpose
- American Kennel Club: Get to Know the Rottweiler
- Daily Dachshund and Dog News: Famous Dachshunds
Simon Foden has been a freelance writer and editor since 1999. He began his writing career after graduating with a Bachelors of Arts degree in music from Salford University. He has contributed to and written for various magazines including "K9 Magazine" and "Pet Friendly Magazine." He has also written for Dogmagazine.net.