Most Popular Dog Breeds In America

About 50% of households in the United States have at least one dog, according to the Humane Society of the United States, which means that there are almost 90 million pet dogs in the country.

With 197 breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club and countless other variations and mixed-breed dogs, there are a lot of options to choose from when bringing a dog into the home — and since most Americans consider their pets to be family, this is not a decision to be taken lightly.

A lot of factors affect which dog is right for what person, from preference about size and appearance to the dog's temperament and how well they get along with children and other animals. All dogs need regular exercise, a healthy diet, and plenty of attention, but different types of dogs have different needs. Some are better suited to running around on a big farm, while others are perfectly happy walking around the block twice and going home. Need some help identifying what breed might work for you? These are the most popular dog breeds in the United States.

Mutts and mixed breeds

According to the Humane Society of the United States, about half of all American pet dogs are some type of mixed breed. This includes many, many dogs, so it's no surprise that the majority of pet dogs fall into this category. They can be mutts, which are dogs with many different breeds in their lineage, but the mixed breed category also includes crossbreeds, hybrid dogs, or designer dogs, which are all different terms for a dog whose parents were two different types of purebreds, like the labradoodle or the cockapoo. They can also be indigenous dogs, which is the name for dogs who have genetic lines that have never been selectively bred.

It wasn't until the mid-1900s that most families in the United States were able to have a purebred dog, so until then almost all family dogs were mutts. According to Veterinary Centers of America having a purebred dog became a kind of status symbol in the United States. Despite this, "mixed breeds continue to be the most popular dog in the world."

It can be difficult to know what the temperament or needs of a mixed breed will be without knowing what types of breeds are in their genetics. They may be less prone to certain medical conditions than purebreds, however. The Institute of Canine Biology found that purebred dogs were significantly more likely to have certain genetic disorders, including bloat and cataracts.

Labrador retriever

The American Kennel Club, which keeps track of all registered purebred dogs in the United States, has listed the Labrador retriever as the most popular dog 29 years in a row, which is the longest any breed has held the top spot. In YouGov's Most-Liked Dogs in America survey, which asked respondents to choose their preferred dog in "head-to-head match-ups," the Labrador retriever won 83% of the time, which was more than any other dog. 

Despite being a coveted breed, Labrador retrievers aren't only available from breeders. Chewy Editorial lists these beloved dogs as one of the top 10 most frequently available breeds available for adoption in shelters.

It's easy to understand why these dogs are so popular. The American Kennel Club rates them as one of the most playful and affectionate breeds, and they are good with both children and other animals. Originally waterdogs, they were particularly good at retrieving ducks for hunters without damaging the birds because of their soft mouths. They are extremely energetic and require a lot of exercise every day to keep them healthy and happy.

German shepherd

German shepherds first became popular in America in the early 1900s due to multiple films starring them, such as "Rin Tin Tin." They were briefly less popular during both world wars because they were associated with Germany. As such, some preferred the alternative name for the breed: Alsatian. However, one decorated war dog – Chips, who received a Purple Heart for his efforts in World War II — was a German shepherd mix.

President Joe Biden continued the traditional of presidential dogs when he entered the White House with two German shepherds, Champ and Major. Unfortunately, Champ passed away in June 2021.

The American Kennel Club calls German shepherds the "finest all-purpose worker." They are highly intelligent and trainable, which is why they are often used as police dogs. Civilian German shepherds may not have those types of responsibilities, but they make excellent watch dogs, and are highly protective of their family.

This loyal breed is ranked the second most popular dog, both in the United States and internationally, according to Finances Online. Like Labrador retrievers, they are not only often registered as purebred dogs, but are also frequently available in shelters.

German shepherds enjoy being active, and need daily exercise to stay healthy. They are usually hardy dogs, but purebred German shepherds are more susceptible to hip dysplasia. These clever dogs are also loving companions and good with children.

Golden retriever

In the 19th century, when golden retrievers were first bred, the fashion was for black sporting dogs, which made these golden dogs undesirable. Now they are some of the most popular dogs in the United States.

Golden retrievers are currently in the top five most popular purebred dogs. Participants in a YouGov survey to find the most-liked dogs in America chose golden retrievers 79% of the time, second only to Labrador retrievers.

It's easy to see why golden retrievers are such popular pets. They are highly affectionate with their family, including kids and other dogs, and are friendly with new people. According to the American Kennel Club, the first golden retrievers were called "the ultimate gentleman's hunting dog," probably because they are eager to please, which means that they are easily trainable. Many specially trained golden retrievers work as guide dogs.

As sporting dogs, they need a lot of exercise to burn off their massive amounts of energy. They were once used to retrieve waterfowl, and golden retrievers particularly enjoy swimming and playing fetch.

French bulldog

The French bulldog has had a massive burst of popularity in recent years. In 2016, Forbes reported a 245% increase in new French bulldogs being registered with the American Kennel Club over 10 years (with each of those puppies usually costing between $2,000 to $7,000) and they have only gotten more popular since then. In 2020, they were the second most popular purebred dog in the United States. Politician Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez joined the Frenchie club in January 2020, when she introduced the world to her puppy, Deco.

These cute little dogs may be on a meteoric rise at the moment, but the breed dates back to the late 1800s. Back then, they were "convenient icebreakers" in French brothels, according to the American Kennel Club, and were even pictured "alongside their scantily clad mistresses in risqué postcards". Later, they became extremely popular with professional lacemakers, possibly because "these miniaturized bulldogs ate less food and took up less room in the tight quarters that were all the women could afford."

According to the American Kennel Club, they still make good apartment dogs, only requiring a short walk a day to be healthy. While their loving owners may save some time on walks, French bulldogs still require a lot of attention and care. They may struggle at high temperatures, are more likely to experience breathing issues, and need constant supervision around water because while their large heads are adorable, they also prevent them from being able to swim. Given proper care, however, these dogs will reward their owners by being highly affectionate, playful, and friendly.


Americans voted beagles in the top 20 most liked dogs, and that is reflected in the number of new beagles registered by the American Kennel Club — they are in the top 10 most popular breeds. They aren't only available from breeders, though. According to Chewy Editorial, they are also one of the top 10 breeds most often found in shelters. This might be because of their bark. Like most hounds, they have a loud baying bark, which can be heard from all around. While this may make them unpopular with upstairs neighbors, it has served them well in the past.

Beagles were apparently being kept as pets "long before the Roman legions arrived [in England] in 55 B.C." This small breed came to the United States after the Civil War and was used in packs to hunt rabbits. Unsurprisingly, that means this breed is very active and playful, and needs at least an hour of exercise daily. 

These social dogs were bred for pack living, so it's no surprise that they need to be around humans or other dogs to be happy. If left alone, they can become destructive. As long as they're given the attention they need, though, their owners' houses stay neat and tidy, as beagles don't shed heavily and hardly ever drool.


Internationally, bulldogs rank as the most popular dog in the world. While that honor goes to the Labrador retriever in the United States, bulldogs aren't far behind nationally either. According to Finances Online, bulldogs are in the top five favorite dogs in the United States.

While it's hard to imagine these mellow dogs as fighters, bulldogs got their name by being bred for the violent entertainment known as "bull baiting." After blood sports were made illegal, breeders began "the process of transforming the breed" into household pets. These beloved companions have come a long way from their fighting days in Medieval England, with Presidents Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge both owning bulldogs.

These funny grumpy-faced dogs are considered easygoing, and are called "docile loyal companions" by the American Kennel Club. They are at risk of overheating, and may need occasional soaks in cool water on hot days. They generally prefer lounging around to running in the park, but should still have regular walks to stay healthy and fit.


The tiny chihuahua may be a national symbol of Mexico, but it is also one of the top 50 most popular purebred dogs in the United States according to the American Kennel Club.

Chihuahuas may be owned by movie stars (and some have even had starring roles in Taco Bell ads and films such as "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" and "Legally Blonde") but they aren't only available from breeders. According to Chewy Editorial, they are among the most available dogs to be adopted from shelters, especially on the West Coast.

The miniature chihuahua has been called "the ideal city dog," because their abundant energy can be satisfied by running around in small spaces. They do still enjoy short walks as long as their owner takes it slow — their legs are too short to keep up on a jog! While they may be associated with being carried around in a purse like an accessory, these dogs are highly intelligent. They are also sweet and affectionate, but not recommended for families with children because they are "fear biters," which means they are likely to bark or bite when startled.

Pit bull terrier

American Staffordshire terriers, also known as AmStaffs, are usually called pit bulls in the United States. Outside of the breeding world, pit mixes account for a large percentage of the pit bull population. explains that the name can even refer to dogs that have no Staffordshite terrier DNA, but simply resemble pit bulls.

Pit bulls and pit mixes are estimated to account for 20% of the dog population in the United States, and, according to the ASPCA, they are the third most popular dog to adopt from shelters (with the first most popular being the chihuahua, and the second, the ever-popular Labrador retriever).

These loyal dogs are very protective of their families. That combined with their high intelligence, makes them excellent watchdogs. They are good natured and extremely affectionate when well cared for. According to the American Kennel Club, they are also neat dogs, rarely shedding or drooling. These sweet dogs are hardy and require a lot of exercise, but prefer "long play sessions" with their owners to just being let outside to run around.


The stereotypical image of a poodle with elaborate puffs of fluffy fur (known as the continental clip) doesn't tell the whole story of these remarkable dogs. The cut may seem extravagant, but it dates back to their time as working dogs rather than show dogs.

According to the American Kennel Club, they were bred in Germany to assist duck hunters by retrieving birds. The shaved areas on these poodles allowed them to move easily, even in the water, while the areas where their curly coats grew out kept them warm. Today, the majority of poodle owners prefer to keep their dog's coat cut short outside of dog shows.

Poodles are highly active and intelligent, so they need to be kept engaged to stay healthy. Even though they aren't working with hunters anymore, they still enjoy swimming and fetching.

You may have heard the term French poodle, because poodles are France's national dog, but they're also extremely popular in America. They are among the top 10 most popular purebred dogs registered in the United States.


Boxers have been very popular in the United States since the late '90s. Today, they are in the top 15 most registered purebred dogs in the United States as well as being one of the most available dogs in local shelters (though according to Chewy Editorial they are sometimes mistaken for pit bulls in shelters because of their square head shapes.)

These playful dogs need a lot of daily exercise and love to run, but they also need supervision or they might jump a fence to pursue small animals. This tendency dates back to their ancestors.

According to the American Kennel Club, these sociable dogs may actually be descended from the German Bullenbeisser, which was used by German nobility to hunt down massive animals like wild boar and bears. Modern boxers may be smaller, but they are still up for a variety of challenges, even serving as war dogs in both world wars. They may have a bloody history, but the boxer is considered one of the best dogs for families with young children –- as long as they don't accidentally knock them over in their exuberance.


Adorable and upbeat dachshunds are sometimes affectionately known as weiner dogs thanks to their long and low shape, but their real name means "badger dog." This is because their unique body shape was bred so that they could dig into badger dens. Their bark is incredibly loud for such a small dog, but it too serves a purpose. When they were deep underground fighting a badger, they could bark loud enough to be heard by the hunter above.

Today, dachshunds are far more likely to be adored members of the family than hunting than deep underground. Fortunately they are playful and extremely affectionate towards their owners, so they're up for this task, too.

Dachshunds are among the top 15 most popular purebred dogs. The American Kennel Club even calls them "the superstar of the canine kingdom." They have the temperament to match. These are smart dogs, but they are also "independent and often stubborn," which means it may take extra effort on the part of new owners to train them. This may contribute to how commonly they are found in shelters, looking for forever homes. Chewy Editorial refers to the dachshund as a "one person dog," because they will reward those who put in the work with endless loyalty.