Tuesday, July 23

8 Most Popular Dog Breeds: What Makes Them Special?

Dogs can be a wonderful addition to your life. They are loyal, and many breeds make great family dogs. But what makes a particular dog breed special?

Each year, the American Kennel Club releases its list of the most popular dog breeds based on registration data. This year, the Labrador Retriever came out on top for the 31st time!

1. Labrador Retriever

A family-friendly all-rounder, Labrador Retrievers are intelligent and highly trainable. They love having a task and are a popular choice for service dog work, especially in drug and explosive detection, water rescue and therapy. These dogs have stamina and energy to spare, but can easily channel their energy into activities like swimming or training if they get enough physical and mental stimulation. They are naturally friendly with children and other pets and make good companions for senior citizens, as well.

While the breed’s name derives from Newfoundland, they were actually first bred in England, by English traders or fishermen who brought St. John’s water dogs to the region and crossbred them with their hunting dogs. Eventually, these Labs found their way to America, where they’ve become one of the country’s most popular breeds.

Labs are available in black, yellow and chocolate colorings and can sometimes be born with both show and field lines. While they’re a breed that excels in all types of working jobs, they’re particularly popular as gundogs, field trial competitors and agility competitors.

2. Golden Retriever

Known for their lustrous, medium-length golden coats, golden retrievers have a warm expression with perfectly symmetrical features. Their playful, devoted nature makes them easy to train and the definition of man’s best friend.

As a breed bred for hunting, golden retrievers have a powerful physique and are active dogs. They excel at a variety of dog sports and activities and also make excellent service dogs.

While they’re the perfect companion for families, these gentle giants are also serious workers. They’re often seen serving as guide dogs for the blind and helping people in search-and-rescue missions and police work.

With their wrinkled faces, large bat ears, and irresistible puppy eyes, it’s no wonder that Frenchies made the top 10. While these sweet, playful pups are a joy to have around, they can be prone to health issues like gastric dilation and volvulus and should be carefully monitored by a veterinarian. They also require moderate to high exercise and need to be groomed on a regular basis to keep their tangled, hypoallergenic coat healthy.

3. German Shepherd

Often called the Alsatian, this tough-working breed was developed in Germany as a herding and farm dog, using selective breeding for strength, intelligence, upright ears, and a straight back. A courageous, dependable breed, the GSD is an all-around worker, happiest when given a task and making a great K9 officer, bomb sniffer or search-and-rescue dog. Its fearlessness and devotion to family make it a natural guard dog.

Though serious-looking, GSDs have a playful side and love interactive play with adults and children. It is important to properly socialize them as a puppy and provide plenty of mental and physical activity to keep this highly adaptable dog content and at its best.

4. Poodle

Despite their pampered appearance, poodles are athletic and energetic. They can excel at dog sports and are often seen strutting their stuff at dog shows. They have a low-allergenic coat that needs regular grooming from a professional to stay healthy and tangle-free. Poodles have a high energy level and should receive ample daily exercise to prevent boredom or destructive behaviors.

They have a strong work ethic, so training should begin early. They are also very intelligent and respond well to positive reinforcement training. Poodles make great companions and are often obedient. They thrive in environments with a lot of activity and socialization.

As the name suggests, poodles originated in Germany and were originally used as water retrievers. Their dense, curly coat allowed them to swim through water with ease and retrieve game for their human partners. As the demand for poodles as hunting dogs diminished, they found new roles as fashionable companions and impressive show dogs. Today, the poodle is a cherished member of many households and an unmistakable symbol of elegance and versatility.

5. Dachshund

The sausage dog (also known as a doxie, wiener dog, or hot dog) is famous for its courage and spunk. But don’t be fooled by its adorable appearance—these dogs were originally bred as ferocious hunters. Their long bodies, short legs, and fearless personalities made them ideal for digging into badger dens and flushing out or killing these burrow-dwelling predators.

Despite their independent personalities, dachshunds are good family dogs. They love to play and are fairly energetic but require plenty of exercise and entertainment to stay happy. They also need to be socialized at a young age to prevent territorial barking or becoming aggressive when confronted by unfamiliar people.

These hounds are available in smooth, wirehaired, and longhaired varieties. They can also come in different coat colors and patterns, including dapple (merle), sable, brindle, and piebald. Whether a Dachshund is smooth, wirehaired, or longhaired, it will shed moderately and needs weekly brushing. They are also prone to back problems like spinal disc herniation and slipped disks. The dachshund is an intelligent breed but can be stubborn, and it requires patience and training.

6. German Shorthaired Pointer

GSPs are versatile, multi-talented gun dogs that excel in hunting, pointing, tracking, and retrieving. They’re also great family companions and make loyal, loving pets. They have exceptional stamina, a keen sense of smell, and good instincts. And they’re extremely intelligent, making them easy to train.

Because they’re bred to hunt, GSPs need lots of exercise. They’re best suited for active families with plenty of outdoor space. If they don’t get enough exercise, they can develop hyperactivity and destructive chewing. They’re usually friendly with children but may be aggressive toward other dogs. And they can be determined cat chasers.

To find a well-bred German Shorthaired Pointer, look for a breeder who raises the pups in a clean, safe environment and takes them to a veterinarian for regular medical checkups. Also ask about a parent’s health history and the puppy’s lineage. And be sure the breeder has a written health guarantee and can provide you with copies of the puppy’s veterinary records.

7. Beagle

Beagles are curious, friendly and intelligent dogs that have a special affinity with children. They require plenty of exercise, however, and are not recommended for sedentary lifestyles. Like other hunting hounds, Beagles have a strong sense of smell, which can lead them to wander off in pursuit of an intriguing scent. To help keep them from getting lost, Beagles should be taught to respond to voice commands and should be kept on leash at all times. For those seeking a unique blend of qualities, the Australian Shepherd Beagle mix combines the Beagle’s friendliness with the Australian Shepherd’s intelligence and herding instincts.

Beaglers excel in Obedience trials and Scent Work events, which allow them to showcase their remarkable olfactory abilities. They also do well in treibball, which is a dog sport that involves herding.

Beagles are a popular choice for pets due to their friendly nature and charming expressions. They’re even known to be a bit stubborn at times, so early training is essential. Some Beagles are predisposed to ear infections and may require routine cleaning to prevent them from flapping their ears in frustration or scratching at their ear canal with their back paws. Other common health issues include hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism and epilepsy.

8. Weimaraner

The sleek silver Weimaraner is a beauty to behold. It’s also smart as a whip, earning them the nickname “dog with a human brain.” But that smarts needs to be channeled for good, and this independent thinker does best in an experienced owner who is consistent with training.

This hunting breed is loyal to its people and does well with older children. They are typically good with other dogs but may not get along with cats. They are active and require plenty of exercise, including daily walks. They enjoy participating in dog sports like agility.

The Weimaraner has a short, smooth coat that’s easy to groom. They were originally bred to hunt bear and boar in Germany’s forests. Their exceptional tracking abilities and athleticism helped them succeed. Their skills have remained true to this day. This hunting breed is a popular choice for police departments and military units, too. They are known for their incredible sense of smell, helping scientists track missile parts during the Cold War. They’re also able to see in the dark and are highly sensitive to sound.