The Most Popular Large Dog Breeds in the United States
Adopt one of these sizable breeds—including the Labrador Retriever, Bernese Mountain Dog, and Great Dane—and you'll find your new best friend, according to the American Kennel Club.
America loves a big dog—after all, there's so much to love about these breeds. While smaller dogs are ideal for people who live in equally small apartments or who don't have access to larger space for the dog to run around and play, dogs of a larger stature appeal to many people. The numbers prove it: Every year, the American Kennel Club releases their list of "most popular breeds," based on registration statistics. Unsurprisingly, many types of big breeds rank at the top of the list.
People adopt these dogs because of their athleticism, their temperament, and the ease in training them like the Siberian Husky or German Shepherd Dog. Other people enjoy the protection that a big dog can provide as well as their warm affection such as the Rottweiler. Plus, many large breeds are great with families and children like the Labrador Retriever. They're loyal, sweet, and highly intelligent animals that are eager to please and be given familial affection in return. Well-trained large dogs have impressive self-control, tolerant of a little child trying to climb on them or an overeager kitten playing with their tail. Big dogs are not for everyone, of course, but those who adopt a big dog find that their love and devotion is worth the extra effort.
To learn more about these top breeds, we talked with Gina DiNardo, American Kennel Club's Executive Secretary, for her insight into which breeds were the most popular and why they are loved today.
The Labrador Retriever ranks at number one—not just among large breeds—but dogs of all size. According to DiNardo, this is due to "their wonderful, friendly and versatile temperament," as she explains. "It is a breed that can adapt to the situation at hand; learning to play gently with small kids while also being excellent hunting companions for adults. They are companionable housemates who bond with the whole family, and they socialize well with neighbor dogs and humans alike."
Second on the list is the German Shepherd. "They are considered to be one of the most intelligent breeds and have a great ability to ignore distractions and focus on the work at hand," says DiNardo. German Shepherds originally became popular in the United States in the early 1900s but briefly fell out of popularity during World War II. Today, these dogs rank second as the most popular dog and are also used as K-9 workers in the military and police departments.
Why does the Golden Retriever rank number three on the list of most popular dogs? "Golden Retrievers are very people-oriented, friendly, sociable and trustworthy," says DiNardo. "They are serious workers at hunting and field work." Because of this, they serve as guides for the blind and excel in search-and-rescue operations. Golden Retrievers are gentle dogs that get along particularly well with children and other pets.
The Rottweiler—or "Rottie," as they're often called—are powerful companions. "Rottweilers are intelligent, compassionate animals despite the outdated generalization that they are aggressive dogs," says DiNardo. "A well-bred and properly raised Rottweiler will be calm and confident, courageous, and a protector within the family circle."
German Shorthaired Pointer
The German Shorthaired Pointer is an athlete's companion. "Extremely intelligent and willing to please, the German Shorthaired Pointer is a versatile hunting dog for trailing, pointing, and retrieving on either land or water," says DiNardo. They love swimming, running, and competing in organized sports because it helps them to burn off their boundless energy. These dogs are also very trainable and build strong bonds with their families.
It's no wonder why the Poodle is popular. Poodles come in three sizes—standard, miniature, and toy—and as tall as 15 inches in height. And while they belong to the Non-Sporting Group of dogs, these dogs are very sleek, muscular, and athletic. Poodles have a regal bearing and graceful movements that give them appearance of royalty, hence why they make great show dogs and wonderful companions.
Although it was recognized by the AKC in 1904, the Boxer did not really gain popularity in the United States until after World War II, when returning soldiers brought the dogs home with them from Europe. Boxers have a strong work ethic (which means they thrive on vigorous exercise), and are bright and alert, even sometimes silly.
Bred as a sled dog, the Siberian Husky is known for striking icy-blue eyes and colorful coats. Siberians love being part of the pack and enjoy the company of other dogs. They're very friendly and maybe not the best as a guard dog; however, they are very lovable and outgoing. They have lots of energy to work off, too.
The Australian Shepherd is dog that's familiar with the cowboy lifestyle, often working on ranches and herding cows. Known for their high intelligence and desire to herd anything and everything, people who adopt them should be prepared to be on the move. They are so smart that they have been known to outsmart their caretakers on more than one occasion.
The Great Dane is the largest of dog breeds. Males can reach 32 inches in height and weigh up to 175 pounds while females measure up to a height of 30 inches and can weigh between 110 and 140 pounds. But while their size may be intimidating, these dogs make great family companions. They are sweet and loyal and great home guardians.
The Doberman Pinscher is an iconic breed of guard dog. They are fast and muscular, and stand at an imposing height (24 to 28 inches). Dobermans, according to the American Kennel Club, are known as "royalty in the canine kingdom." And it's easy to see why: Their regal bearing is enhanced by their dignified temperament.
Bernese Mountain Dog
The Bernese Mountain Dog could easily be described as a friendly giant. The Bernese love their humans and want to please them, but they will also have a favorite human who gets even more of their ultimate devotion. Cold weather is perfect for the Bernese Mountain Dog, and these dogs love lots of space in which to run.