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Lab is Top Dog Once Again
The Labrador retriever is the most popular purebred dog in America for the 19th year in a row, according to 2009 registrations with the American Kennel Club (AKC). The AKC announced the top dogs in a press conference at New York’s Grand Central Terminal, to highlight the role that many of these breeds play in keeping people safe.
If you are choosing a dog for yourself or your family, you should do plenty of research before you buy. Understand not only the characteristics of the breed you are considering, but also the responsibilities that come with dog ownership. And don’t forget about a mixed-breed pound puppy.
The AKC’s top 10 purebred breeds of 2009 are:
#1: Labrador retriever. The lab—which comes in yellow, black and chocolate color—was bred as a hunting dog, and the breed is still very popular with sportsmen. However, its playful, fun-loving nature makes it a great family dog. And its intelligence and trainability have earned it an important role in service and rescue work.
Labs are large, blocky dogs. Females are about 22 inches high at the shoulders and weigh about 55 to 70 pounds; males are about 23 inches tall and weigh about 65 to 80 pounds, according to the AKC. They are short-haired, with a thick, stiff tail, called an otter tail, that is almost always wagging.
Despite its long tenure at the top of the heap, the lab seems to be slipping slightly in popularity, the AKC says. Fewer cities listed the lab as #1 in 2009 than had in 2008. However, in its survey of 50 major cities, only Providence, R.I., did not list the lab among the top 5 breeds.
#2. German shepherd. The German shepherd seems to be seeing a major rebirth in popularity; it was the top breed in the 1920s. In fact, the AKC says the German shepherd could bump the lab from the top spot soon.
The AKC thinks the German shepherd’s popularity spurt could be due in part to its high visibility as a police and rescue dog; its intelligence and trainability also make it an excellent choice as a service dog. And German shepherds make great family dogs, because they are smart, loyal and protective of their families.
German shepherds are very popular in South Florida, according to the AKC. They have held the top spot in Miami at least since 2002, when the AKC started collecting registration data from specific cities. The breed also is the top dog in West Palm Beach, as well as Columbus, Ohio; Detroit; Honolulu; Memphis, Tenn.; and Providence, R.I.
#3. Yorkshire terrier. The Yorkshire terrier, or Yorkie, is a tiny dog with a big personality. Like most terriers, Yorkies are feisty with lots of determination. Because of their small size, they can adapt well to city or apartment living. However, they are not a good choice for families with small children, because the children could accidentally hurt the dog.
Yorkies truly are toy-size. According to the AKC, they should not weigh more than 7 pounds. Their long coat requires regular brushing. Yorkies are the top breed in Oakland, Calif.; Tampa, Fla.; New York City; and Philadelphia.
#4. Golden retriever. Like the lab, the golden retriever was bred as a hunting dog, and it is very popular in the field. It also is an excellent service and rescue dog. And its intelligence and sweet disposition make it a wonderful family dog. The golden is a larger dog, with a long, lush coat that requires regular brushing.
#5. Beagle. The beagle, made famous by the lovable “Peanuts” character Snoopy, was also bred as a hunting dog. But while labs and goldens retrieve game, the beagle finds game with its nose. That powerful nose has created a new career for the beagle as a bomb- and drug-sniffing dog. But its lovable personality makes it a good choice as a family dog.
# 6. Boxer. This handsome, medium-sized, short-haired dog, has come a long way from its roots as a fighting dog. Now it is a popular family dog, known for its loyalty and protective nature, especially with children. The boxer is a very strong and athletic dog, and it thrives with proper exercise.
#7. Bulldog. The bulldog is funny to look at, with its huge head, underslung jaw and squat body. It is very popular in California, especially Los Angeles, where it is a favorite with celebrities. These dogs are gentle and loyal, forming strong bonds with their families. They require very little grooming or exercise, but they are prone to overheating and health problems.
#8. Dachshund. The dachshund, or “weiner dog,” is instantly recognizable because of its short legs and long body. It comes in short-haired and long-haired varieties. They are playful and make good family dogs, although small children should be cautioned not to be too rough.
#9. Poodle This elegant dog comes in three size: toy (10 inches or less at the shoulder), miniature (10 to 15 inches), and standard (taller than 15 inches). They are very intelligent, and are often used as circus or performing dogs. They also shed very little, making them a popular choice for people with pet allergies; however, the AKC notes that no dog is truly allergen-free. They require regular exercise and professional grooming.
#10. Shih Tzu. The Shih Tzu was prized by ancient Chinese royalty, and it is similarly loved by many Americans. It is a small, portable dog with a long, silky double coat that requires regular care. Like most toy dogs, it is easily adaptable to apartment living but is not a good choice for families with small children.