For the second year in a row, the Labrador Retriever tops the American Kennel Club’s list of most popular dogs in America. The Lab dethroned the poodle as top dog in 2013, and has been in the top 10 most popular breeds for more than a century.
And why not? The Lab is not only an ideal family companion, but a spectacular work dog — perhaps the best water dog in the world. Fearless, tireless, supremely intelligent, enthusiastic — the perfect companion while on the hunt or in camp.
And as this AP article points out, Labs are incredibly versatile:
Originally bred to fetch game, Labs have proven able and willing to play virtually any canine role: search-and-rescue and police work, agility and other dog sports, guide and therapy dog work, and sensitive family companion. Breeder Micki Beerman recalls one of her Labs winning over a hesitant child by gradually moving closer, until the child began to pet the dog.
“They’re just very intuitive,” said Beerman, of Brooklyn. “They kind of know when you need them.”
Incredibly good with children — even small children — the lab is easy to train, affectionate, and hugely entertaining, as this video below shows:
The AKC doesn’t release raw numbers, only rankings. They reflect puppies and other newly registered dogs.
Rounding out the top 5:
Despite their fearsome reputation, the German shepherd is a wonderful family companion — gentle, intelligent, fun-loving.
All the strengths of the Lab, with one disadvantage: its luxurious coat can be problematic when hunting upland game.
Purebred bulldogs make good pets, becoming especially attached to children. But inexpert breeding in the 1980s led to problems with hip dysplasia so that today, nearly 74% of adult bulldogs suffer from the condition.
Perhaps no other dog evokes such strong feelings of protectiveness in humans than the beagle, whose perpetual puppy-face and forlorn eyes make us all weak in the knees when around them. An excellent family pet if your children are over 5 years old, the beagle is also a versatile dog, being employed as a scent dog where larger dogs cannot go.
Rounding out the top 10 are the Yorkshire terrier, the poodle, the boxer, the French bulldog, and the Rottweiler.