The 10 Best Dog Breeds: Ranked

Written by AZ Animals Staff
Published: February 3, 2021

What is the best dog breed? It’s a loaded question. After all, one person’s best is another person’s worst. To state it differently: Papillon enthusiasts are very different from the Australian Cattle Dog crowd. For our list, we surveyed the AZ Animal team and readers — and then went with our gut instincts.

#10: Bichon Frise

They’re peppy, playful, and stars of the dog park. They’re Bichon Frises! The curious little pups look a lot like Toy Poodles, but Bichon Frises are usually a bit more outgoing with strangers. They’re known as “personality dogs” among fanciers and generally do well on the competition circuit.

The Bichon Frise made our list because they look like an animated bag of cotton balls!

Click here to learn more about Bichon Frises, which are widely described as happy-go-lucky.

A Bichon Frise laying in the grass.
Bichon Frises are happy-go-lucky dogs that are friendly with strangers.

#9: Border Collie

Border Collies are one of the most popular dogs for active folks. The ultimate herding hounds, Border Collies cannot live their best lives with lazy people. The athletic pups need lots of action and attention. But for those with the time and inclination to keep their four-pawed pal happy, there are few dogs more enthusiastic than the Border Collie.

The Border Collie made our list of best dogs because they are widely considered the smartest dogs on the planet.

Click here to learn more about Border Collies, which originated on the England-Scotland border.

A Border Collie paying in the grass with its tongue out.
Border Collies are an enthusiastic breed with lots of energy.

#8: Basset Hound

With their big ears and droopy eyes, Basset Hounds are a highly recognizable breed. And thanks to their low-key natures and propensity to chill on the couch, they’re super dogs for busy families that are constantly running from dance class to soccer practice to school and don’t have loads of time during the day to hang out with the family pet.

The Basset Hound made our list of best dog breeds because they’re iconic. Even Lieutenant Columbo had one!

Click here to learn more about Basset Hounds, which are considered the most charming of all dog breeds.

A Basset Hound laying in the grass.
Basset Hounds are an easily recognizable breed that don’t require a lot of attention.

#7: Basenji

Basenjis are one of those dog breeds of which most people have never heard. Great for city living, Basenjis aren’t that large, don’t have many grooming requirements, and famously don’t bark. In some ways, Basenji behavior is more catlike than doglike.

The Basenji made our list of best dog breeds because they don’t get enough public love, and they’re incredibly graceful and smart.

Click here to learn more about Basenjis, which are hypoallergenic and need lots of exercise.

A Basenji standing in the grass with yellow flowers in the background.
Basenjis are great for city living because they don’t shed or bark.

#6: Saint Bernard

Saint Bernards are large and in charge — and they also rank among the sweetest dog breeds on Earth. A “nanny dog,” Saint Bernards love being a part of families with children of all ages, and they have no problems snuggling up with whoever is around. However, Saint Bernards can be a little stubborn. But let’s be honest, we all can be if the mood strikes!

The Saint Bernard made our list because gentle giants are always welcome.

Click here to learn more about Saint Bernards, which keep their puppy outlook for longer than most breeds.

A Saint Bernard standing in the grass near a body of water.
Saint Bernards are a large, gentle breed that can be stubborn at times.

#5: Alaskan Malamutes

Alaskan Malamutes are big, muscular, and loyal. But perhaps most of all, they’re dignified and have a royal air. The original sled dog, Alaskan Malamutes don all-weather coats that need constant care. So if you don’t have time to give a good brushing at least three times a week, you may want to look elsewhere.

The Alaskan Malamute made our list of the best dogs because they can be hilariously independent and manipulate their owners.

Click here to learn more about Alaskan Malamutes, which are very social.

An Alaskan Malamute running through the snow with its tongue out.
Alaskan Malamutes were originally bred as sled dogs and have a thick coat that requires constant grooming.

#4: Toy Poodle

Toy Poodles are gorgeous and self-confident. They’re the cool and elegant person in your crew who never settles for less — but not in a snobby way! Because Toy Poodles are also affectionate and fun-loving with their people.

All Poodles — from toy to standard — expect to be treated as well as humans. But that’s OK, right?

The Toy Poodle made our list of the best dog breeds because there’s a lot to say for being beautiful and smart and knowing it!

Click here to learn more about Poodles, which are the second smartest dog breed.

A brown Toy Poodle standing in the grass with trees in the background.
Toy Poodles are affectionate and fun-loving with their humans.

#3: Portuguese Water Dogs

For water lovers, a Portuguese Water Dog could be the perfect companion. The medium-to-large dogs sport curly hair and sweet faces. These aquatic masters are also ideal for people with allergies, as their coats are hypoallergenic and rarely shed. Portuguese Water Dogs may be a bit aloof with strangers, but they love having a chosen human with whom to pal around.

The Portuguese water dog made our list of the best dog breeds because they top the list of swimming pups!

A Portuguese Water Dog's face near a body of water.
Portuguese Water Dogs have a hypoallergenic coat and love to swim.

#2: Labrador Retrievers

The American Kennel Club lists Labrador Retrievers as the most popular dog in the United States. And there’s little wonder why. The iconic pups are great with kids, perfectly sized, and have loads of love and compassion to go around. Plus, you can easily teach them tricks, and their grooming needs are minimal.

The Labrador Retriever made our list of the best dog breeds because the AKC ranks them #1!

Click here to learn more about Labrador Retrievers, which come in many colors.

A brown lab and a yellow lab laying in the grass with their tongues out.
The American Kennel Club lists Labrador Retrievers as the most popular dog in the United States.

#1: Mixed Breed Dogs

Our pick for the best dog breed is the Mongrel — aka dogs that are a mix of types. These singular animals make up the majority of pups in shelters. They’re looking for homes and just as eager as you to find a best friend with whom they can share unconditional love and affection. Plus, mixed breed dogs have neat looks and personalities.

The Mongrel topped our list of the best dog breeds because adopting pets from shelters is a wonderful thing to do and something every dog lover should consider!

A close up of a grey and white mixed breed dog.
Mixed breed dogs have great personalities and make up the majority of dogs in shelters.

Top 10 Best Dog Breeds

  1. Mixed Breed Dogs
  2. Labrador Retrievers
  3. Portuguese Water Dogs
  4. Toy Poodle
  5. Alaskan Malamutes
  6. Saint Bernard
  7. Basenji
  8. Basset Hound
  9. Border Collie
  10. Bichon Frise

That’s our list of the best dog breeds. Next up: A Complete Guide to Presidential Dogs.