Top 10 Most Popular Dogs

Written by Krishna Maxwell
Updated: May 22, 2023
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Key Points

  • Dog breeds often become popular after they star in a movie. This usually leads to disreputable breeding so look for a good breeder when choosing a new canine friend.
  • The sweet, scruffy mutt remains the perennial favorite “breed”.
  • When choosing a pet, it is best to find one that matches your lifestyle. A popular breed may not be the best choice so do your research before diving in.
The mutt is the irresistible dog found at the shelter, the one with uncertain ancestry but is a beloved protagonist.

Choosing a dog for a pet is one of the great pleasures of life, at least for a dog person, but a lot of thought needs to go into the type of dog that is chosen. Does the pet parent live in an apartment or a big house with a lot of backyard space? Do they have young children? Do they have time to devote to their dog? One of the few benefits of the pandemic was that some people had to work from home and could interact frequently with their pets. Like so many things, this has been a mixed blessing. Now that people are returning to offices, many dogs are having a very hard time with separation anxiety. Because of the lock-downs, a lot of dogs born during the pandemic were not socialized or trained appropriately. which is also causing a great deal of trouble for the dogs and their owners. Shelters are now full of these “pandemic puppies” who are struggling to adapt to radical changes in their lives.

While the popularity of a dog breed shouldn’t matter, certain dogs are more popular than others. It may be because they have a calm temperament, or they’re good with children, or they don’t shed a lot. Often, certain breeds become popular after they have been featured in a movie or get a lot of celebrity attention. Breeds usually pay a heavy price for popularity as this encourages disreputable breeders and puppy mills. The results are poorly bred, poorly socialized puppies and an increase in genetic and behavior issues. Many of the most popular breeds are popular for good reason. If you would like one of these dogs, be sure to find a good breeder who has the best interest of their dogs in mind rather than their bottom line.

If you’re thinking of getting a new furry family member, and you’re curious about the most popular, here is a list of the 10 most popular dogs of 2021.

#10. Australian Shepherd

Fiercely loyal, the Australian Shepherd develops a strong bond with its owner.


This lively, enthusiastic dog was actually developed in the United States and has ancestry in the dogs brought to the US with sheep from Australia. It was bred to herd sheep and cattle, and because of that, it loves the rough and tumble and is great with even rambunctious children. Their shepherd nature also makes these dogs loyal, devoted and obedient, which is why it’s often used as a search and rescue dog. Clearly, the Australian shepherd needs a lot of exercise and a job to do otherwise it becomes bored and fractious.

The Australian shepherd stands about 18 to 23 inches tall at the shoulder and weighs between 35 and 70 pounds. It has beautiful, thick, somewhat coarse fur with a ruff around its chest and neck. Using a brush with stiff bristles is recommended regularly. The Australian shepherd lives about 12 to 15 years.

#9. American Pitbull Terrier

The American Pitbull Terrier is active, playful and loyal.


Don’t fear the pitbull! Despite its reputation, a well-trained American pit bull terrier is an intelligent, devoted, and fearless protector of its family. Since it was originally bred, unfortunately, for pit fighting, it is a supremely powerful animal with a broad chest, well-muscled neck, thick skull, and a famously powerful bite. It is a hardy breed and not subject to the sorts of maladies that afflict less robust dogs.

While these dogs have a sweet temper and can make great pets, they are very powerful carnivores. All dogs can become aggressive in certain circumstances. The sheer power, athleticism and strength of these dogs is what makes them dangerous if they do become aggressive. Like all dogs, pitbulls require exercise and appropriate training.

The American pit bull stands between 14 and 24 inches tall at the shoulder and weighs between 22 and 78 pounds. Its coat is shorthaired, sheds moderately, and is a cinch to groom with regular brushing followed by rubbing with a chamois cloth.

#8. Yorkshire Terrier

Despite being dainty, Yorkshire terriers are known for being feisty and bold.

© Pas

The eighth most popular dog on the list is this tiny firecracker from Great Britain. Bred to hunt rats, the Yorkie makes up for its size with its confidence and intelligence. Because it’s so tiny, it’s probably not the best bet for very young and energetic children. On the other hand, it is perfect for a small apartment as long as it is walked every day. Like many diminutive dogs, it’s not as tolerant of cold as larger dogs despite its abundant coat. That coat, by the way, is remarkable for its straight and silky fur, which is tan on the head and muzzle and a lovely steel blue everywhere else.

If allowed to, the Yorkie’s coat can grow until it touches the ground. If the owner lets this happen, the dog will need a great deal of grooming. Even a coat that’s clipped to make it manageable needs to be combed and brushed, and the fur on the face is so long it can be gathered up in a top knot and held with a bow. The dog is only 9 inches high at the shoulder and weighs less than 7 pounds.

#7. Siberian Husky

The Siberian Husky has striking blue eyes and a high level of intelligence.

©Ksenia Raykova/

This dog is known for pulling sleds through forbidding wintry conditions. This is no problem for the Siberian husky, for it is both powerful and comes with a well-insulated coat. Besides the ability to work hard, the dog is playful and sweet-natured. It is a good dog for a family with young children and seems eager to meet new people, which does not recommend it as a watchdog. A dog as energetic as the husky needs plenty of room to run around in and lots of exercise. This makes it a great jogging companion, especially when the weather is on the cooler side.

The husky’s looks reveal its wolf ancestry. It has the wolf’s longish muzzle and triangular, erect ears, its deep chest, long legs and heavy, bushy tail, and eyes that can be blue or brown or both. It even engages in communal howling. But the husky is much smaller than the wolf, standing at between 20 and 23.5 inches at the shoulder and weighing between 35 and 60 pounds.

#6. Chihuahua

Tiny, curious and devoted, the Chihuahua is a very charismatic breed.


Could the chihuahua be a good watchdog? It could, if only it were bigger, for it is fearless and loyal. Many people have discovered to their dismay that this little companion dog can take over if it’s not given a firm but loving hand. This is one reason why the chihuahua isn’t the best dog to have around children because children will pamper it, and it can become snappy if it’s convinced that it outranks them in the pack. But the chihuahua is just the pet for an apartment, though like other small dogs it needs to be kept warm, and like all dogs, it needs to have its daily walk.

Another benefit of the chihuahua is its long life. It can live 15 years or longer, even in the midst of health problems that would have defeated larger dogs. Chihuahuas can come in long or shorthaired, apple head or deer head forms. Shorthaired chihuahuas only need to be brushed now and then, but dogs with long coats need to be brushed daily. Both need to be carefully bathed every month or so. The chihuahua is only 6 to 9 inches high at the shoulder and weighs only 2 to 6 pounds.

#5. Goldendoodle

A mix of golden retriever and poodle, the goldendoodle is also a blend of both breed temperaments.

©Virrage Images/

The Goldendoodle is one of those crossbreed dogs that are becoming more and more popular. In this case, the cross is between a golden retriever and a poodle. They are not always the result of a purebred golden retriever and a purebred poodle but can be the result of a Goldendoodle and a poodle or two Goldendoodles. Breeders claim the golden retriever/purebred poodle mix is healthier, though the puppies in the same litter can have very different characteristics.

People choose Goldendoodles because they blend the affectionate nature of the golden retriever with the poodle’s intelligence as well as its hypoallergenic fur. Since there’s not really a breed standard, the appearance of a golden doodle can vary though they tend to have strong limbs, a deep chest, and a long-haired coat that can be curly, straight, or wavy. They have a broad head, a long, strong body, and a feathered tail. Though they do shed, Goldendoodles are known to not shed as much as other dogs, especially if they have a lot of poodle in them. Depending on the type of coat they have, these dogs may be prone to severe matting and require regular professional grooming to stay healthy. All three coat types require frequent grooming.

They also come in large, medium, and miniature sizes, with the large dog standing 20 to 24 inches at the shoulder, the medium standing 17 to 20 inches, and the miniature standing no more than 20 inches.

#4. German Shepherd

German Shepherds are exceptionally intelligent, making them a common choice for service jobs.

©Diego Cervo/

The fourth most popular dog on the list is a long-time favorite, the German shepherd. Utterly courageous, confident, extremely loyal, and eager to please and to learn, the German shepherd lives for its family, whether it’s a family of four in the suburbs, a military unit, or a squad of rescue workers. As a big dog, it needs plenty of room and plenty of exercise, including a walk at least once a day. It especially loves to learn new tricks, even if it’s a relatively old dog.

The German shepherd stands between 23 and 25 inches at the shoulders and weighs between 75 and 95 pounds, much of its muscle. It is known for its long, down-sloping body, erect, triangular ears, and long muzzle with a black nose. The top coat is hard and covers a dense undercoat, which sheds constantly and heavily at certain times of the year. This means the dog needs daily brushing. German shepherds live for around 13 years.

#3. Golden Retriever

Golden retrievers are known as one of the most good-natured and friendly breeds around … and for good reason!

© Kalmatsuy – License

Another perennial favorite is the golden retriever. Bred to be a hunting dog, this dog is known for its alert and loving nature. It is just about the perfect dog for a household with young children as it is gentle and forbearing. Though some golden retriever parents dispute this, it also makes a good watchdog, as it will at least bark if it sees a stranger. The dog will not see them off, as it loves everybody. As a fairly large dog, it is ideal if it comes to a home with plenty of outdoor space but can do well in an apartment if it’s walked and exercised.

The golden retriever comes in a shorthaired or longhaired form, and since its job was to retrieve waterfowl, its coat is dense and water-repellent. The golden retriever lives between 10 and 12 years, stands 20 to 24 inches high, and weighs between 60 and 80 pounds.

#2. Labrador Retriever

Friendly, loving and tolerant, the Labrador Retriever is a popular family dog.

©Grisha Bruev/

The Labrador Retriever is the second most popular dog on the list. Unlike the golden retriever, which originated in Great Britain, this retriever originated in Canada to help fishermen haul in their nets. Its coat can also come in more colors than the golden’s, including black, yellow, chocolate, and silver. There are two types, the English and the American, with the English dog being more robust. The one trait that separates the Lab from the golden retriever is its tail, which resembles the tail of an otter and has no feathering.

The Lab is also a brilliant family dog, for it is patient, loving, very intelligent, and biddable. It loves to work and play and adores swimming and is just the pet for a family that has a swimming pool. The Lab is a strong dog, with a thick-muscled neck, a wide chest, barrel ribcage, and long shoulders. It stands from 21.5 to 22.5 inches at the shoulder and weighs between 55 and 75 pounds, though some big males can weigh over 100 pounds. Diet is one thing the Lab parent needs to take into account, for the dog is subject to obesity. It lives between 10 and 12 years.

#1. Mutt

While mutts may be ambiguous in terms of breed, they are very popular!


The mutt or mixed-breed dog of uncertain ancestry is number one. It is the irresistible dog found at the shelter, the brave and beloved protagonist of stories and books and movies and TV shows. It can have a smooth coat, a wiry coat, a curly coat or a wavy coat, long hair, or short hair. It can be a big dog or a small one, have pointed, erect ears or droopy ears, a long muzzle or a squashed-in face, a long straight tail, a bobtail, or a tail that curls over its back. It can be all one color or many colors. Hybrid vigor has probably made it healthier than many purebreds and studies have shown that mutts live over a year longer than purebreds, which is a lot for a dog. No wonder the mutt is the most popular dog and probably always will be.

There is a place in the world for both purebreds and mutts. Dogs from good breeders or dogs from good rescues. Whatever your preference, do your homework and get your dog from a reputable breeder or shelter. Don’t get hung up on whether it is better to adopt vs shop as their are both great breeders selling dogs and great shelters/rescues. There are also bad breeders and bad rescue groups. The important thing is to support good dogs and good dog owners of all types.

These are the current most popular breeds.

2.Labrador Retriever
3.Golden Retriever
4.German Shepherd
7.Siberian Husky
8.Yorkshire Terrier
9.American Pitbull Terrier
10.Australian Shepherd

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Kalmatsuy – License / Original

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About the Author

Krishna is a lifelong animal owner and advocate. She owns and operates a small farm in upstate New York which she shares with three dogs, four donkeys, one mule, and a cat. She holds a Bachelors in Agricultural Technology and has extensive experience in animal health and welfare. When not working with her own animals and tending her farm, Krishna is helping other animal owners with behavior or management issues and teaching neighboring farmers about Regenerative Agriculture practices.

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