Smiling corgi in the grass

Most popular dog breeds of the 21st century

Written by:
August 14, 2020

Most popular dog breeds of the 21st century

Dogs are still our best friends, and there's no sign of that changing. Half of U.S. households have pets, and that includes some 77 million dogs.

Nearly all dog owners consider their dogs to be family members; four out of five say dogs get included in family occasions like vacations and holiday cards. Research shows more than one in four people have brought their dogs on dates, and more than half would consider ending a relationship if their dogs did not like their partners. More than half also celebrate their dogs' birthdays.

Studies show that at times, humans can be more empathetic to dogs than they are to other people, and petting a dog can cause a person to feel relaxed and at-ease. For some, cherishing dogs as pets is an intrinsic part of human nature.

Dogs hold up their end of the bargain, as well. Studies have shown that with their acutely sensitive smell receptors, dogs can pick out blood samples of people with cancer with astonishing accuracy, opening up possibilities for screening and early detection. More recently, research is underway for using dogs to sniff out coronavirus in public places.

Dogs come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from 2 pounds to 200. Each plays a special role in the household, whether enjoying playtime with the kids out back, snuggling on the couch in a city apartment, or simply providing companionship on a long, healthy walk.

To compile a list of the most popular dog breeds of the 21st century, Stacker examined numbers from the American Kennel Club's most popular dog breeds list for each year since 2000 and ranked each breed by its average 20-year popularity. The most recent rank was used as a tiebreaker when needed.

Among other factors, we've included the lowest rank each breed has held over the last two decades, for all breeds except for one. That's because the #1 most popular breed on this list has held that slot every year since 2000.

Read on to find out who is the top dog. Any guesses?

#50. Border Collies

- Average rank: 49.3
- Highest rank: #33 (2019)
- Lowest rank: #65 (2003)
- 2019 rank: #33

Border collies are considered to be one of the most intelligent dog breeds. This trait allows them to excel at sheepherding, which these dogs were originally bred for. Though they may seem happy-go-lucky and adorable to owners, border collies are known for staring down a flock of sheep to intimidate them into obedience.

#49. Bloodhounds

- Average rank: 47.9
- Highest rank: #43 (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010)
- Lowest rank: #52 (2016)
- 2019 rank: #51

Bloodhounds are big dogs with distinctive wrinkly faces, loose jowls, and long ears. They have powerful legs for chasing scents for miles and can be relentlessly single-minded when following their noses. This breed is affectionate, stubborn, and prone to giving slobbery kisses. But be forewarned: Bloodhounds are also big droolers.

#48. Rhodesian Ridgebacks

- Average rank: 47.7
- Highest rank: #39 (2013, 2014)
- Lowest rank: #57 (2000, 2001, 2002)
- 2019 rank: #42

Rhodesian ridgebacks, or Rhodies, are known for the distinctive line of hair growing in the opposite direction along their spines. The dogs were bred in Africa not only to track lions but to fend off predators, accompany hunters on long treks, and chase and bring down game. They are muscular and maintain a powerful prey drive. The first U.S. breeder was Hollywood star Errol Flynn, who in the 1930a raised them on a ranch in Hollywood.

#47. Akitas

- Average rank: 46.8
- Highest rank: #38 (2000)
- Lowest rank: #53 (2006)
- 2019 rank: #47

Akitas are originally from Japan, where they were called "snow country dogs," and first used as hunters. The dogs have thick, heavy fur to keep them warm in even the lowest temperatures, and webbed feet to help them walk on snow. In their native country, akitas are a symbol of luck, and represent longevity and good health.

#46. Cane Corso

- Average rank: 45.0
- Highest rank: #30 (2019)
- Lowest rank: #67 (2011)
- 2019 rank: #30

The Cane Corso is descended from an ancient Roman breed once used during wars. Today it's known as a loving companion and skilled hunter. While the dog can be quiet and reserved, they are also obedient.

#45. Bullmastiffs

- Average rank: 44.9
- Highest rank: #39 (2008, 2012)
- Lowest rank: #52 (2000, 2019)
- 2019 rank: #52

Bred in 19th-century England to guard landed estates and chase game, bullmastiffs descend from mastiffs and bulldogs, combining size and strength with speed and agility. They tend to be fearless, loyal, protective, and stubborn, and they love companionship and praise.


#44. Retrievers (Chesapeake Bay)

- Average rank: 44.9
- Highest rank: #41 (2000, 2001, 2003, 2014)
- Lowest rank: #50 (2006)
- 2019 rank: #46

Distinctive to Chesapeake Bay retrievers, or Chessies, is curly, oily, water-repellant coat. The breed was started byu duck hunters in the 19th century who needed dogs to brave icy water to retrieve fowl. Chessies are powerful swimmers with broad chests, strong hind legs, and webbed feet. They have also proven to be skilled therapy dogs and skilled at drug and bomb detection and in search-and-rescue operations.

#43. St. Bernards

- Average rank: 43.7
- Highest rank: #36 (2000, 2001)
- Lowest rank: #51 (2014)
- 2019 rank: #48

The gargantuan St. Bernard can weigh up to 200 pounds and measure up to 27 inches tall. The breed is known for its especially strong sense of smell, and can supposedly detect a person buried under 20 feet of snow. Though their size may be intimidating, St. Bernards can be gentle giants and are protective of loved ones.

#42. Newfoundlands

- Average rank: 42.8
- Highest rank: #35 (2016)
- Lowest rank: #53 (2000)
- 2019 rank: #40

A Newfoundland might be bigger than you are—a male can weigh up to 150 pounds—but don't be fooled by their size. The dogs' most prominent trait is a gentle temperament, which makes the breed an excellent fit for kids and families. Despite its heavy coat, the Newfoundland is an excellent swimmer, and has partially webbed feet.

#41. Papillons

- Average rank: 41.2
- Highest rank: #35 (2004, 2005, 2006, 2010)
- Lowest rank: #54 (2018)
- 2019 rank: #53

The papillon is named after the French word for butterfly, reflective of the breed's wispy winged ears. At one point, the dog was also referred to as the "squirrel spaniel," because of its bushy tail. Though the papillon is tiny, its demeanor is generally friendly and energetic.

#40. Miniature Pinschers

- Average rank: 41.0
- Highest rank: #17 (2000, 2001)
- Lowest rank: #74 (2019)
- 2019 rank: #74

The miniature pinscher, also called a "min pin," is a breed of dog originally from Germany. Breed historians generally believe the miniature pinscher is a cross of the dachshund and Italian greyhound. Despite their size, these dogs are protective and fearless, but also fun-loving.

#39. Vizslas

- Average rank: 39.0
- Highest rank: #30 (2017)
- Lowest rank: #47 (2000)
- 2019 rank: #34

The Vizsla is a Hungarian dog originally bred for hunting. They're known to be especially affectionate, and enjoy being around people at all times. They do tend to bark a lot, although that was not a deterrent for former all-star pitcher Mark Buehrle, who owned a trio of Vizslas and was an advocate for shelter dog adoption.

#38. Havanese

- Average rank: 38.7
- Highest rank: #22 (2019)
- Lowest rank: #86 (2000)
- 2019 rank: #22

Havanese were companion dogs for Cuban royalty in the 1800s, but today they'll be just about anyone's friend. The breed is known to be affectionate and gets along well with other dogs, children, and even cats—perhaps because of their similarity in size. Havanese weigh only seven to 13 pounds.

#37. Bernese Mountain Dogs

- Average rank: 38.1
- Highest rank: #22 (2018)
- Lowest rank: #58 (2000)
- 2019 rank: #23

Bernese Mountain Dogs are gentle giants, who often measuring more than 27 inches tall. They originally worked in the farmyards of Bern, Switzerland as drovers, watchdogs, or draft dogs. Bernese Mountain Dogs tend to grow attached to one person, but can be fond of strangers, as well. In 2015, one of these formidable animals rescued a couple caught in a riptide in the Pacific Ocean.

#36. Collies

- Average rank: 36.2
- Highest rank: #32 (2002, 2003)
- Lowest rank: #40 (2017)
- 2019 rank: #38

Thank Queen Victoria for popularizing collies. During a visit to Scotland in 1860, the queen fell in love with the breed and brought a few back to England. Collies are quiet and non-aggressive, and the movie and TV series "Lassie" made the breed a staple in the United States.

#35. West Highland White Terriers

- Average rank: 35.6
- Highest rank: #30 (2000, 2001)
- Lowest rank: #44 (2019)
- 2019 rank: #44

While West Highland white terriers (or Westies) may seem prim and proper today, they were actually used by farmers on the British Isles to catch rats. Because of this lineage, the breed is much stronger and sturdier than it looks. Westies are also highly intelligent and easy to train.

#34. Bichons Frises

- Average rank: 35.4
- Highest rank: #25 (2000, 2001)
- Lowest rank: #46 (2017, 2018)
- 2019 rank: #43

Bichons frises are a small, white, fluffy, hypoallergenic breed sure to get along with almost anyone they meet. The dogs love to play and are almost always happy if they're around people, but dislike being left alone for long periods of time.

#33. Miniature American Shepherds

- Average rank: 33.5
- Highest rank: #29 (2019)
- Lowest rank: #36 (2016)
- 2019 rank: #29

Miniature American shepherds resemble Australian shepherds, but are smaller, weighing up to only 35 pounds. Because they are active herding dogs, these shepherds require multiple daily walks and other regular exercise. Miniature American shepherds often two different-colored eyes.

#32. Basset Hounds

- Average rank: 33.3
- Highest rank: #22 (2000)
- Lowest rank: #42 (2014)
- 2019 rank: #37

The Basset Hound is unmistakable for its long, droopy ears, and remarkable sense of smell, said to only be matched by a bloodhound. The breed comes from France and Belgium, where they were enjoyed by nobility. Though they may be stubborn in nature, Basset Hounds are remarkably loyal and agreeable.

#31. Weimaraners

- Average rank: 32.0
- Highest rank: #29 (2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005)
- Lowest rank: #39 (2019)
- 2019 rank: #39

Weimaraners are famous for their unique silvery-gray coat and light-colored eyes. The German breed was originally bred as a hunting dog, but eventually became a loving pet choice. President Dwight Eisenhower had a Weimaraner named Heidi, who lived in the White House with the first family.

#30. Mastiffs

- Average rank: 30.0
- Highest rank: #25 (2015)
- Lowest rank: #39 (2000)
- 2019 rank: #32

Mastiffs are one of the largest dog breeds. Their instinct to protect can be intimidating, but under the surface, this breed is quiet and playful. Weighing in at 200 pounds, the mastiff can be a challenge to train, as they are known to be stubborn. But the obstacle is ultimately worth it, and mastiffs quickly become fiercely protective of their families. Maybe that's why the "Transformers" franchise featured a mastiff—Mason.

#29. Brittanys

- Average rank: 29.0
- Highest rank: #25 (2016)
- Lowest rank: #31 (2000, 2001, 2006, 2012)
- 2019 rank: #26

Originally bred for hunting, Brittanys are popular for their reddish-brown coat and high-set ears that can be an indicator of how excited they are to see their owners after a long day. Brittanys hail from France, but popped up in the United States starting in the 1930s.

#28. French Bulldogs

- Average rank: 27.6
- Highest rank: #4 (2017, 2018, 2019)
- Lowest rank: #71 (2000)
- 2019 rank: #4

Though the French bulldog first popped up in England, lacemakers emigrated with these pups to France, where the breed earned its name. These dogs are happy just being companions, and don't ask for too much exercise or space from their owners. They're known for being particularly quiet, which some people find ideal in an apartment setting.

#27. Spaniels (English Springer)

- Average rank: 27.5
- Highest rank: #26 (2000, 2006, 2016)
- Lowest rank: #29 (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012)
- 2019 rank: #27

The English springer spaniel was bred a hunting dog and show dog, but it makes an excellent addition to any family. Just be ready to keep your sneakers on—the mid-size breed is high-energy and requires daily exercise. The dogs also have fluffy ears and a longer coat that experts recommend owners brush every few days.

#26. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

- Average rank: 26.5
- Highest rank: #16 (2019)
- Lowest rank: #54 (2000)
- 2019 rank: #16

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are just as royal as their name suggests: these dogs were a fixture in royal courts in France, Spain, England, and Scotland. The breed enjoys constant companionship, and follows its owners around all day. That is why this sweet, placid dog is a favorite among children and families.

#25. Australian Shepherds

- Average rank: 26.0
- Highest rank: #13 (2019)
- Lowest rank: #35 (2000, 2001, 2002)
- 2019 rank: #13

Despite its name, the Australian shepherd originated in the western United States in the 1840s and was bred to herd livestock. Perhaps because of their work ethic, these dogs require space to run around for at least an hour each day. Australian shepherds are steadfastly loyal to their family, but can be suspicious of strangers.

#24. Maltese

- Average rank: 24.6
- Highest rank: #18 (2006)
- Lowest rank: #37 (2018)
- 2019 rank: #36

You can count on a Maltese to snuggle right up in your lap after a long day at work. These dogs are said to embrace a puppy's attitude throughout their adult lives, and have a happy and energetic temperament. Their white coats do require frequent professional grooming, because longer hair can get tangled or matted. Some of the biggest names in show business have owned this breed, including Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, and Barbra Streisand.

#23. Spaniels (Cocker)

- Average rank: 22.4
- Highest rank: #14 (2000, 2001, 2003)
- Lowest rank: #30 (2014, 2015, 2018)
- 2019 rank: #28

Cocker spaniels are known for their luscious, long coats, and are also closely associated with Disney's "Lady and the Tramp." This breed generally has a gentle, eager-to-please temperament, which makes it an excellent family dog. Because they were originally bred as hunting dogs, don't be surprised if your cocker spaniel sets off chasing birds—it's just their nature.

#22. Pembroke Welsh Corgis

- Average rank: 22.0
- Highest rank: #10 (2019)
- Lowest rank: #27 (2000, 2010)
- 2019 rank: #10

Known for their tiny legs, Pembroke Welsh corgis were originally bred to herd sheep, cattle, and horses in Pembrokeshire, Wales. According to legend, the Welsh believed these dogs were gifts from fairies. These corgis are stubborn yet intelligent, and have a habit of barking at almost anything. Queen Elizabeth II is a noted fan of the breed, having owned many.

#21. Pugs

- Average rank: 21.9
- Highest rank: #12 (2003, 2004, 2005)
- Lowest rank: #33 (2014, 2015)
- 2019 rank: #31

A pug is easy to identify thanks to its round, wrinkly face and doe-eyed expression, as well as its fun-loving behavior. These dogs are relatively quiet and their small stature lets them thrive in almost any space. Pugs aren't keen on extreme weather, however, and can easily overheat.

#20. Great Danes

- Average rank: 20.6
- Highest rank: #14 (2016, 2017)
- Lowest rank: #28 (2000, 2001, 2002)
- 2019 rank: #17

While Great Danes are known for their size—they can weigh up to 175 pounds—lovers of the breed also know these dogs to be friendly and dependable. Despite its name, the Great Dane has no connection to Denmark but actually came from Germany, where the dogs were used to hunt wild boars. The famous comic strip character Marmaduke is a Great Dane.

#19. Shetland Sheepdogs

- Average rank: 20.1
- Highest rank: #16 (2000, 2001, 2002)
- Lowest rank: #25 (2018, 2019)
- 2019 rank: #25

A Shetland sheepdog, also known as a sheltie, is an easily recognizable dog that have a herding history tracing back to Scotland's Shetland Islands. The sheltie is considered to be one of the most obedient breeds. Though they appear similar to collies, shelties are much smaller, weighing at most 25 pounds.

#18. Boston Terriers

- Average rank: 19.5
- Highest rank: #15 (2006)
- Lowest rank: #23 (2012, 2013, 2014)
- 2019 rank: #21

As its name suggests, the Boston Terrier originated in Boston, Massachusetts. It's descended from a dog named Judge, who experts think was a mix between a bulldog and a white English terrier. This breed is friendly and enjoys relaxing at home or playing outside—just happy-go-lucky all around. The nickname for Boston University students and sports teams is, you guessed it, the Terriers.

#17. Siberian Huskies

- Average rank: 18.5
- Highest rank: #12 (2015, 2016, 2017)
- Lowest rank: #25 (2005, 2006)
- 2019 rank: #15

Siberian Huskies come from Asia, where they were kept as treasured companions and used as sled dogs. They have a storied history of being hard workers, and even served in the United States Army's Arctic Search and Rescue unit during World War II. Siberian Huskies have brightly colored eyes, which can be pale blue or amber-brown, or even one of each.

#16. Doberman Pinschers

- Average rank: 17.8
- Highest rank: #12 (2012, 2013)
- Lowest rank: #24 (2001)
- 2019 rank: #19

Doberman pinschers were originally bred in 19th century Germany as guard dogs, and their protective spirit endures today. These dogs are very intelligent and need copious amounts of exercise in order to avoid boredom. Dobermans also love taking part in family activities, and would much rather be in the company of loved ones than alone.

#15. Chihuahuas

- Average rank: 17.7
- Highest rank: #8 (2000)
- Lowest rank: #35 (2019)
- 2019 rank: #35

Millennials might remember chihuahuas as the tiny dogs that hawked tacos in a string of fast food commercials, but these canines have a rich history. Chihuahuas originated in Mexico, where were are the subject of local folklore. At one time, Chihuahuas were believed to guide and protect spirits as they journeyed to the underworld. These tiny dogs can sometimes weigh just 2 pounds, but are tenacious and can be high-strung.

#14. Pomeranians

- Average rank: 16.6
- Highest rank: #12 (2000, 2001, 2002)
- Lowest rank: #24 (2019)
- 2019 rank: #24

Though Pomeranians weigh less than 7 pounds, don't count on carrying this breed around in your purse. These dogs have the mentality of a much bigger dog and are constantly curious about their surroundings. A Pomeranian's fluffy coat is sure to attract attention from onlookers, but it needs to be brushed regularly to avoid tangles. Elvis Presley, a noted dog-lover, gifted one to his aunt.

#13. Pointers (German Shorthaired)

- Average rank: 16.0
- Highest rank: #9 (2018, 2019)
- Lowest rank: #24 (2000)
- 2019 rank: #9

German shorthaired pointers are hunting dogs and pursue game birds, possum, rabbits, and even deer. This breed is also an adept swimmer, thanks to its webbed feet and slim structure. German shorthaired pointers love physical activity, which makes them a perfect sidekick for any outdoors enthusiast.

#12. Miniature Schnauzers

- Average rank: 13.5
- Highest rank: #10 (2005, 2006)
- Lowest rank: #19 (2018)
- 2019 rank: #18

The Miniature Schnauzer is one of the most popular breeds in not only the United States, but in Germany and England as well. The breed was originally used as a guard dog and rat-catcher on German farms. Today, this intelligent dog requires daily exercise and loves protecting their families.

#11. Shih Tzu

- Average rank: 12.9
- Highest rank: #9 (2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007)
- Lowest rank: #20 (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019)
- 2019 rank: #20

Shih Tzus were the lap dogs of Chinese nobility for hundreds of years, doted on by friends and family. Their playful personality has only gotten cuter since. This breed is famous for its long, beautiful coat, which requires frequent professional grooming.

#10. Rottweilers

- Average rank: 11.5
- Highest rank: #8 (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019)
- Lowest rank: #17 (2006)
- 2019 rank: #8

The Rottweiler is a German breed originally used to drive cattle and pull carts for farmers and butchers—an appropriate task given their impressive strength. Today, the Rottweiler makes a great family dog, even though it can appear intimidating. In reality, these dogs just want to spend time with people, and dislike being left alone.

#9. Bulldogs

- Average rank: 9.4
- Highest rank: #4 (2014, 2015, 2016)
- Lowest rank: #21 (2000)
- 2019 rank: #5

Though bulldogs were bred to be brawlers, this tough breed has found its way into the homes and hearts of families around the world. In fact, two presidents have owned bulldogs: Calvin Coolidge and Warren Harding. These dogs enjoy cooler weather as they can get overheated. They're also a popular nickname for college mascots around the country, from the hallowed halls of Yale to the southern hospitality of the University of Georgia.

#8. Dachshunds

- Average rank: 8.4
- Highest rank: #4 (2000, 2001, 2002)
- Lowest rank: #13 (2015, 2016, 2017)
- 2019 rank: #11

There's certainly no mistaking a dachshund. Its short legs and long body originally made it useful for hunting tunneling animals like rabbits and foxes. Because of its stature, the breed is affectionately referred to as a "weiner dog." President John F. Kennedy and Andy Warhol are among the best-known dachshund owners.

#7. Boxers

- Average rank: 8.1
- Highest rank: #6 (2007, 2008, 2009)
- Lowest rank: #14 (2019)
- 2019 rank: #14

Boxers trace their roots to the war dogs of the Assyrian Empire, but the breeds around today originated in Germany. These dogs are recognizable for their muscular bodies and tight coats, as well as their signature wrinkled foreheads. Boxers are playful in nature, making this dog a great family pet.

#6. Poodles

- Average rank: 7.7
- Highest rank: #6 (2000, 2019)
- Lowest rank: #9 (2008, 2009, 2010)
- 2019 rank: #6

Poodles are most often noticed for their kinky, curly coats, which require monthly professional grooming. They're often mistaken for prim and proper dogs, owing to their history of competing in dog shows. King Louis XVI of France was a noted poodle aficionado.

#5. Yorkshire Terriers

- Average rank: 5.8
- Highest rank: #2 (2006, 2007, 2008)
- Lowest rank: #12 (2019)
- 2019 rank: #12

The Yorkshire terrier, often referred to as a "Yorkie," packs a punch despite its small size. Though this breed weighs no more than 7 pounds, Yorkies are always in the mood for adventure, and have a reputation for being clever and curious. They're also known to be suspicious of strangers.

#4. Beagles

- Average rank: 4.8
- Highest rank: #3 (2003, 2011)
- Lowest rank: #7 (2019)
- 2019 rank: #7

Little is known about where the beagle comes from, or even what its name means. Some historians believe this breed originated in England, and was used to track deer and rabbits. Beagles are loving, compassionate, and playful to anyone fortunate enough to meet one. These dogs also love to play and require daily exercise. The world's most famous beagle, Snoopy, enjoyed lounging on top of his dog house.

#3. Retrievers (Golden)

- Average rank: 3.1
- Highest rank: #2 (2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005)
- Lowest rank: #5 (2010)
- 2019 rank: #3

Golden retrievers are known by to be dedicated, loyal, lifelong companions. This breed descended from the Scottish Highlands in the 1840s, but took off in the United States in the 1970s with President Gerald Ford's golden retriever, Liberty. These easy-to-please dogs are a great fit for almost any family.

#2. German Shepherd Dogs

- Average rank: 2.6
- Highest rank: #2 (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019)
- Lowest rank: #4 (2003, 2005)
- 2019 rank: #2

German shepherds soared to popularity with Rin Tin Tin, a dog found in a World War I battle zone who became the first canine movie star. Today, the German shepherd has held plenty of other occupations: guide dogs, search and rescue dogs, and detector dogs among them. German shepherds are highly intelligent and physically active, but love children and being a part of a family.

#1. Retrievers (Labrador)

- Average rank: 1.0
- Highest rank: #1 (2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019)
- Lowest rank: #1
- 2019 rank: #1

The Labrador retriever has been America's most popular dog breed for decades. The famous dog from "Marley & Me" was a Labrador, as is one of the heroes on the popular children's cartoon "PAW Patrol." These dogs are friendly and kind, with a happy-go-lucky personality, and a lot of energy to match. Labs originally retrieved fish in their homeland of Newfoundland, but today, they'd be just as happy to retrieve a tennis ball.

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