5 of the most popular dog breeds in the world

Think of all the kinds of dogs there are in the world. Besides the plethora of mixed breed “mutt” dogs, the Fédération Cynologique International officially recognizes 344 breeds. So, let’s narrow it down and see what 5 of the most popular dog breeds in the world are.

Labrador RetrieverLight colored Labrador Retriever pup

Did you guess that this lovable canine would make it to the top of the list? They originated in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada and are a strong favorite in the U.S., U.K., Canada and Australia. These dogs are good-natured, playful, intelligent, love humans and are great family pets. People bred them as working dogs and they assisted fishermen on their ships by hauling in nets and fetching ropes. You’ve probably noticed that Labrador Retrievers love the water. So, next time you’re at the beach and see a dog swimming out to fetch a stick, there’s a good chance it will be the gentle Lab! By the way, they have webbed feet!

These days they’re still working but in a different capacity. People employ them as assistance dogs for the disabled, therapy dogs and for search & rescue.

Take this dog jogging, hiking, boating and on just about any family activity you can think of. And make sure they have adequate exercise, mental stimulation and companionship! Without these things, a Lab can become bored and destructive.

This breed stands from 21.5″ to 24.5″ tall and weighs anywhere from 55 to 80 pounds. They have a wide head and eyes that sparkle with kindness. They possess a dense, hard, water-resistant double-coat that comes in yellow, black and chocolate. This served an important purpose when they worked in the icy waters of the North Atlantic. Their tail is thick, tapering and is called an “otter tail.” This makes a powerful rudder that aids in swimming.

Labradors started their steady climb to the top of popularity in the early 1800s when English nobles visiting Canada spotted them. The Kennel Club (England) recognized the Lab as a breed in 1903 and the American Kennel Club registered the breed in 1917. In just the U.S. alone, the American Kennel Club registers more than 100,000 new Labrador Retrievers each year. However, there are likely many others who are registered with another organization or not registered at all.

German ShepherdYoung German Shepherd

This breed descends from the family of German Herding dogs that varied in type until the late 19th century. The officially recognized name for the breed is German Shepherd Dog or GSD.

As the 1800s came to a close, a German Calvary officer, Captain Max von Stephanitz, had a goal. He wanted to develop the ideal German herder. He and like-minded breeders crossed various strains from the northern and central districts of Germany. This resulted in the ancestors of the German Shepherd. Von Stephanitz spent 35 years promoting and refining the breed.

German Shepherds gained popularity in the US in the early 1900s thanks to the adventures of canine movie stars like Rin-Tin-Tin and Strongheart.

Although we first bred German Shepherds as herding dogs, we now know them for their ability to perform a variety of tasks. And, as you’ve likely noticed, they are the preferred dog for use in the military and law enforcement

This popular and immediately recognizable dog stands from 22″ – 26″ tall, weighs 50 to 90 pounds and presents an outline of strong, smooth, graceful curves.

Their defining characteristics are loyalty, courage, confidence and the ability to learn commands for many tasks. And don’t forget their willingness to put their lives on the line for loved ones. They’re choosy in their friendships and thus display a certain degree of aloofness. German Shepherds are gentle family pets and guardians of the home.

German Shepherds were bred specifically for their intelligence and this is a trait for which they are famous. As a matter of fact, in his book, The Intelligence of Dogs, author Stanley Coren ranked them at number 3 for intelligence behind Border Collies and Poodles. He found that they were able to learn tasks quickly and obey the first command given 95% of the time!

Golden Retriever

The most complete development records of the Golden Retriever are included in the books kept by the gamekeepers at the Guisachan Estate of Lord Tweedmouth of Inverness-Shire, Scotland from 1835 to around 1890. They were originally bred to retrieve waterfowl and game birds.

Nowadays, the Golden Retriever is popular as a guide dog for the blind and deaf. We also employ them as detection and search & rescue dogs. However, you probably shouldn’t use them to guard your property as they possess a friendly, gentle temperament.

We first saw them at a British Dog Show in 1908 and about that time the breed started arriving in the US. This dog was popular right from the beginning of its US history. Then the breed’s popularity really took off in the 1970s when President Gerald Ford and his family had a Golden named Liberty.

Goldens are eager-to-please family dogs who are relatively easy to train. They’re also outgoing, trustworthy and take a joyous and playful approach to life. These energetic dogs enjoy playing outside and are another one of those breeds that really takes to the water. They’re well-suited in both suburban and country environments.

This is a sturdy, muscular dog of medium size and famous for a dense, long, lustrous and water-repellent coat that gives the breed its name. This dog features a broad head with friendly, intelligent eyes, short ears and a straight muzzle. They stand 20″ to 24″ and weigh 55 to 75 pounds. They shed a lot and require fairly regular grooming.

PoodleStandard Grey Poodle in profile

Poodles come in 3 recognized sizes: Standard, Miniature and Toy and all varieties show the same build and proportions. The Standard stands 15″ and taller and weighs 45 to 70 pounds. The Miniature stands 11″ to 15″ tall and weighs 15 to 17 pounds. The Toy stands up to 10″ tall and weighs 6 to 9 pounds.

Forget that old stereotype of Poodles as a “sissy” dog that we don’t take seriously. Poodles are among the smartest of all breeds and a dog of remarkable versatility. The elaborate coat styling that many of us see was developed for practical purposes: the trimmed areas lightened the weight of the dog so the hair wouldn’t catch on underwater debris and the long hair around the joints and vital organs protected them from the cold water.

The Standard Poodle began developing as a retrieving water dog more than 400 years ago. Although it’s the national dog of France (by the way, there is no such breed as a “French Poodle”), the breed originated in Germany as a hunting dog where the word “Puelin” refers to splashing in water. And splashing in water is an accurate term in that poodles are excellent swimmers! As a matter of fact, people use the Standard Poodle to this day as a water retriever.

Poodles are known for their playful but dignified personality and keen intelligence. When it comes to training, rate this breed very high as they excel at agility and obedience.

Although they carry a regal air, Poodles are people-friendly dogs who want to stay close to their families and get lonely if you leave them alone for a length of time.

Poodles can easily become the alpha dog of the family so make sure they get lots of training and show them that you’re the leader of the pack.

Their coat needs a great deal of upkeep so keep that in mind if you’re considering bringing a Poodle into your family. Expect to take her to a professional groomer every 3 to 6 weeks. This can get expensive, so you might want to put in the time and effort and learn to groom her yourself.

BulldogBrown and white Bulldog

We also know the Bulldog as the British Bulldog or the English Bulldog. You can see one a mile away with his muscular, hefty body, wrinkled face and pushed-in nose. What a distinctive look!

Unfortunately, however, that pushed-in snout can cause labored breathing in hot weather.

This breed has a longstanding association with English culture. As a matter of fact, the BBC wrote “To many the Bulldog is a national icon, symbolizing pluck and determination.” During World War II, they were often associated with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (Quite a resemblance, I must say!)

The Bulldog stands at 14″ to 15″ and weighs from 40 to 50 pounds. Their coat comes in a variety of patterns and colors and is smooth, short and glossy. They enjoy brisk walks and moderate exercise. As an owner, make sure to keep them on a careful diet to avoid weight gain.

History suggests that Bulldogs were created in 13th Century England, during the reign of King John, for the horrific blood-sport of “bull baiting.” (Always leave it to humans to find some hideous way to exploit animals). Anyway, in this “sport” a bull is staked to the ground and a pack of dogs fights him. Spectators would bet on the outcome.

These ancestors of today’s Bulldogs were ferocious with huge jaws and apparently impervious to pain.

A humane and positive turning point came in 1835 when England banned blood sports with animals. Unfortunately, since some brutal people still wanted to see animal suffering, the activity found itself literally underground as pit-dog fighting cellars were created. This activity required quicker more animated dogs than their bull baiting predecessors. Thus, people crossed their dogs with various Terriers to create the early prototypes of today’s Pitbull.

With bull baiting obsolete, the Bulldog faced extinction. So, admirers of the breed started the process of transforming them from fierce fighter to companion. They refined the physical appearance to make a more attractive dog, extracted their ferociousness and reinvented the breed to be sweet, mellow and fond of children.

Today, the Bulldog is widely represented. In the US, they are the mascot of myriad sports teams. They are also the logo for the US Marine Corps and Mack Trucks!


Are you thinking about bringing a new dog into your family? In my opinion, always consider a dog from an animal shelter. Many dogs in these shelters are mixed breeds but in my opinion, mutts make the best pets!

If you absolutely must have a pure breed dog from our list of 5 of the most popular dog breeds in the world, consider adopting from a breed-specific rescue agency.

We love comments so be sure to leave yours below. Do you have one of 5 of the most popular dog breeds in the world? If so, tell us about your experiences together!



10 comments on “5 of the most popular dog breeds in the world

  1. Sujandar Mahesan

    It is always cute and lovely for me to read about dogs. Just like I said I also loved reading this wonderful article about the five most popular dogs breeds in the world. I was actually surprised to see Poodle there. I never thought much people owned that dog.

    Thank you so much for this post. It was really lovely to read about it.

  2. Kira Price

    I have owned four out the the five top dog breeds and I loved them so much! I am a all around dog person in general, the relationship is so human-like. They’re for therapy and families so I can definitely see how they made the five most popular list!

    Learning about the ancestry on the bulldog was really interesting. How were they impervious to pain? I never owned a bull dog but now I cant wait to. Thanks so much for the fun facts on our doggos!

    1. Christopher Mitchell Post author

      Hi Kira:

      Wow, you really are a dog lover!

      As far as the Bulldog being impervious to pain; my guess is that they were so pumped up on adrenaline they couldn’t feel the pain that was actually there. What a terrible thing that people would fight these lovely animals!

  3. Tim

    Excellent and accurate list! I agree with this since I recently had a Labrador Retriever from the animal shelter as did many others I noticed at the time. In the area I live in, two of the most popular dogs are definitely Pit bulls and Chihuahuas, but not on a global scale.

    I’m curious to know what the 6th, 7th, 8th most popular dogs in the world are since it seems like there’s so many breeds out there. Fantastic stuff!

    1. Christopher Mitchell Post author

      Hi Tim:

      You can’t go wrong with a Labrador Retriever! And, you’re right, Pit Bulls and Chihuahuas are everywhere!

      According to the American Kennel Club, the next most popular breeds are Beagles and French Bulldogs.

      Thanks for your comments!

  4. Jerry

    Thanks you for your interesting article on dog breeds. Certainly the Labrador is one of my favorites and reading the fact that they need exercise, I am thinking of one in particular. Our not so next door neighbors have one, but they are mainly away at work. So what does this dog do? Every day she goes to swim in some of the ponds around our estate and subsequently comes to our house where always somebody is present. You are spot on!

    On the very top of my list would be the Golden Retriever, of which I have encountered many and without exception they are the kindest dogs I ever met. I personally dislike the German Shepherd, because of bad experiences whilst being a child.

    We are looking for a good 24 hour guard dog for around our house, one that will chase snakes, monitor lizards and yes thieves. Can you recommend a good dog breed?

    1. Christopher Mitchell Post author

      Hi Jerry:

      Are you in Southeast Asia? I asked that because you mention Monitor Lizards.

      Of course, a great guard dog is a German Shepherd. But, like you said, you had some negative experiences with them. Great Pyrenees is another good guard dog.

      As far as chasing snakes and Monitor Lizards – I really can’t recommend one for that because that would likely put the dog in danger.

      And yes, the Golden Retriever – what a wonderful dog!

      Thanks for your comments!

  5. GVporras

    Thank you for sharing this great information about this beautiful dogs.

    Two of my favorite dogs are in your list which are the German shepherd and the Labrador retrievers. My was chololate and I named him charly what a nice and beautiful dog. Is good to try first a shelter when we are looking for a new pet my a get it from my friend who owns one which are chocolate as well. 

    People ask my friend for his dog so he can have babies with their dogs since is hard to get the color chocolate.

    1. Christopher Mitchell Post author

      Hi GVporras:

      Do you still have your Chocolate Lab?

      Yes, getting a dog from a shelter is a wonderful idea because there are so many that need loving homes.

      Thank you for your comments!


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