Origins of the 50 most popular dog breeds

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August 26, 2020
Angyalosi Beata // Shutterstock

Origins of the 50 most popular dog breeds

Dogs have long been known as man's best friend. Science tells us why: European scientists studying the DNA of prehistoric dogs in Germany concluded in 2017 that all modern dogs have the same geographic origin and can be traced back to a single instance of domestication about 20,000 to 40,000 years ago. This makes them the first animal domesticated by man. The mutually beneficial relationship between human and dog became inseparable from there, as dogs provided safety and security to their nomadic hunter-gatherer owners and humans returned the favor with food and shelter. And in each other, both parties found loyal companionship.

Modern dogs likely came from prehistoric humans domesticating gray wolves. Over time, people began selectively breeding domesticated wolves for different traits to become better hunting partners or protectors. As humans migrated to different areas of the world, they brought their furry pals with them, and different climates and ways of life led to the selective breeding of even more traits. This began to create the variety of breeds we know and love today.

Four hundred dog breeds roam the planet today that can be separated into 23 distinct types, or "clades." Even more different canines are likely to be created as breeding continues—although it will take more than a few dog years to do so.

Stacker researched the origins of the 50 most popular dog breeds using 2019 data from the American Kennel Club, released on May 1, 2020. Together, these pups originated from every corner of the world from Japan to the U.S. East Coast.

Read on to find out how these pooches have withstood the years in a dog-eat-dog world.

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#50. English cocker spaniel

- Origins: England

The English cocker spaniel emerged in the 19th century when Victorian England designated several spaniel breeds (spaniels in general had existed hundreds of years prior). Bred to assist in hunting, the English gundog is adept at retrieving birds and assisting in field work. But the tireless loyalty in the field translates to the home, where the English cocker spaniel makes an ideal, agreeable home companion.

#49. Portuguese water dog

- Origins: Portugal

Bred to assist fishermen, the Portuguese water dog once could be found throughout the nation's coast. The waterproof, non-shedding coat is integral in their history of entering frigid oceans and herding fish into nets. The powerful, rugged breed can be used for water rescue, its tail a natural rudder.

#48. St. Bernard

- Origins: Switzerland

While little is known about the exact origin of the St. Bernard, its mastiff ancestors were likely brought to Switzerland from Rome during periods of war. Around 1700, the St. Bernard as we know it today began accompanying monks at the Great Saint Bernard Hospice and Monastery during their winter periods of isolation, eventually joining monks on patrols or rescue missions to assist travelers after dangerous snowstorms. Male dogs were sent out to dig through the snow and find travelers or lie on top of fallen travelers to provide warmth from the frigid temperatures.

#47. Akita

- Origins: Japan

Akitas first popped up in the early 17th century in the Akita district of Japan, where they were the product of generations of selective breeding to create a hardworking hunting dog. For a period, only the imperial family and their court were permitted to own an Akita, but eventually, the whole country fell in love with the loyal breed, and people of all social classes began adopting the dogs. Helen Keller received an Akita as a gift on a trip to Japan, and she was responsible for bringing the first Akita back to the U.S. An Akita from the 1920s named Hachiko is world-famous and one of the most popular symbols of Japan today.

#46. Chesapeake Bay retriever

- Origins: Maryland, USA

The Chesapeake Bay retriever originated from two dogs that were rescued from a shipwreck off the coast of Maryland in 1807. The dogs, named Canton and Sailor, were thought to have been Newfoundland and duck retriever dogs. The resulting new breed was originally used for hunting ducks, as the dogs were able to withstand the frigid waters of the Chesapeake Bay. The Chesapeake Bay retriever was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1885, making it one of the oldest breeds on record.

#45. Shiba Inu

- Origins: Japan

The Shiba Inu is Japan's oldest dog breed, one of six original native Japanese breeds. The dog results from thousands of years of selective breeding with the original purpose of hunting small game, as the Shiba could use its diminutive size to its advantage. Samurai used Shiba Inus during the 12th century to hunt wild boar and deer.

#44. West Highland white Terrier

- Origins: Scotland

The West Highland white terrier—more commonly known as “Westies”—made its debut in Scotland, most likely in the former county of Argyll. The Malcolm family bred the small white dogs for a number of years before the Westie went public at a London dog show in 1907. The breed was officially registered with the American Kennel Club in 1908 under the name of “Roseneath terrier,” but the name didn't last long, and the following year the breed was officially called the West Highland white terrier. A popular children's book series by Rosemary Wells features a Westie named McDuff.

#43. Bichon Frise

- Origins: Spain

Bichon Frises originated from the Bichon Tenerife, a breed named after a Spanish island. Historians have suggested that the dogs accompanied Spanish sailors during their travels and could have been used for bartering. Between the 14th and 15th centuries, Bichon Frises became wildly popular in Italy and France, especially among nobility and middle-class merchants. King Henry III of France was said to adore his Bichon Frise so much that he carried his pup around in a basket fastened around his neck with ribbons.

#42. Rhodesian ridgeback

- Origins: Africa

The Rhodesian ridgeback likely originated from Khoikhoi dogs native to southern Africa. When European settlers arrived in the 16th century, they bred their own dogs with these hunting dogs to create a breed that would fare well in extreme temperatures and be fiercely loyal. These dogs were taken to Rhodesia—a territory that is now Zimbabwe—to hunt lions in the 1800s.

#41. Belgian Malinois

- Origins: Belgium

As its name suggests, the Belgian malinois originated in the northwest region of Belgium, around the city of Malines. These dogs were first bred to be livestock herders and were the preferred dog breed for Belgian sheepherders and cattlemen. Today, the dogs are still sometimes used as herders, and they are also increasingly used by police forces as K-9s and protection dogs. Most of the dogs that work for the Navy SEALS are Belgian malinois, including a dog named Cairo that helped SEAL Team 6 capture Osama bin Laden.

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#40. Newfoundland

- Origins: Newfoundland, Canada

Although the exact origin of the Newfoundland is a mystery, the breed is thought to descend from dogs brought from the island of Newfoundland to England in the early 1800s. Prior to that, some suspect that Vikings might have brought a similar breed of dog to Newfoundland around 1000 A.D. By 1824, as many as 2,000 Newfoundlands worked to haul milk and other large deliveries in St. Johns, Newfoundland. Today, many recognize the Newfoundland from its appearance as the “nurse” dog Nana to the children in “Peter Pan.”

#39. Weimaraner

- Origins: Germany

The Weimaraner can trace its origins to the early 19th century in Weimar, Germany, where the breed was created from a mix of Bloodhounds, English Pointers, German Short-haired Pointers, and the blue Great Dane. These dogs originally hunted big game—such as deer—as well as birds, rabbits, and foxes. Weimaraners sharply rose in popularity after World War II, when many service members brought the dogs back to the U.S. with them. During the Cold War, Weimaraners were used to track and find missile parts.

#38. Collie

- Origins: Great Britain

While we know little about how collies came to exist, the breed was used as a sheepdog in the Scottish Highlands in the 18th century. Collies are more often associated with England: the breed rose to prominence south of Scotland after collies were featured at an 1860 dog show in Birmingham. In 1879, the first collie came to the U.S., and the Collie Club of America was founded in 1886. The world's most famous collie is probably Lassie, a popular character from books, movies, and television.

#37. Basset Hound

- Origins: France and Belgium

“Basset” comes from the French word for low, which makes sense given how the basset hound's ears and body hang low to the ground. The breed can trace its origins to France and Belgium, where many believe the friars at the Abbey of St. Hubert crossed strains of French breeds to create a dog that was close to the ground, so it could better track rabbit and deer. The breed's proclivity for hunting made basset hounds a popular choice for French aristocrats. Reportedly, the Marquis de Lafayette—the French diplomat-turned-revolutionary—gifted George Washington with basset hounds after the American Revolution.

#36. Maltese

- Origins: Malta

There are numerous theories about how the Maltese breed came to be. One speculates that these pip-squeak dogs are descended from a Swedish Spitz-type dog. Another posits that they originated from the Tibetan terriers of Asia. However the dog came to be, the breed was officially established on the Mediterranean island of Malta. By the 1300s, the Maltese had gained popularity in Great Britain as well, where they were among the favorite pets of kings and queens.

#35. Chihuahua

- Origins: Chihuahua, Mexico

As its name suggests, Chihuahuas were developed in the Chihuahua region of Mexico, the largest of the country's states. According to historians, American tourists took an interest in the tiny pup in the 1800s, often bringing the dogs back to the United States. It is thought that the breed we know today is descended from another small companion dog found in ancient Central American civilizations or Native American tribes. Today, many associate the popular fast-food chain Taco Bell with Dinky, the Chihuahua featured in advertisements.

#34. Vizsla

- Origins: Hungary

Vizslas call Hungary home. There, they were originally the prized hunting dogs of the Magyar tribe in the 8th century. Historians have even found ancient stone etchings featuring Vizslas and their prey. The breed declined as the years wore on, however, and after World War II, when Russia occupied Hungary, many feared that the breed would be completely eradicated, since owning a Vizsla was a symbol of royalty. As a precaution, some people smuggled the dogs out of the country and into Austria and the U.S. Though the breed suffered a decline, dedicated owners built the breed back up, and the Vizsla officially gained American Kennel Club recognition in 1960.

#33. Border collie

- Origins: Great Britain

The name of this breed comes from the fact that border collies were first developed on the border between England and Scotland, in an area called Northumberland. Border collies, which were originally used for herding sheep, were officially recognized as a breed in 1915 for the purpose of distinguishing the dogs from other collie breeds. In the beloved Oscar-winning movie “Babe,” a border collie named Fly adopts the pig Babe and teaches her to herd sheep like him.

#32. Mastiff

- Origins: Great Britain

The enormous mastiff has been popular around the world for centuries, but the dogs we know today—sometimes called “Old English mastiffs”—trace their roots back to Great Britain. When Julius Caesar invaded Great Britain in 55 B.C., he was reportedly taken aback by the size and strength of the mastiffs in the area and brought back several to Rome to fight wild beasts and gladiators. At the end of World War II, mastiffs were all but extinct, with just an estimated 14 surviving dogs. Thanks to the hard work of U.S. and British breeders, the mastiff has recovered and is cherished for its courageous and friendly temperament.

#31. Pug

- Origins: China

The pug's history spans more than 2,000 years, back to when the breed was a favorite of Chinese emperors. Later, around the 16th century, Dutch traders brought the pug to Europe, where the dog was later said to save the life of a Dutch prince by barking to warn him of an impending attack from the Spanish army. It is thought that the name of the breed, "pug," originated from the Latin word for fist, "pugnus," meant to refer to the breed's flat, scrunched face. The dog in Disney's classic "Pocahontas," is a pug, and he represents the companionship that the breed offers for many people across the world.

#30. Cane corso

- Origins: Italy

The cane corso breed originated from Greek mastiff-type dogs that were bred with Italian pups. The resulting dogs were used in military battles, sometimes with buckets of flaming oil strapped to their backs. After the 5th century, the dogs found a new lifestyle at home, serving as guard dogs and working on farms. The breed was almost driven to extinction, but in the 1970s, a group of Italians committed to bringing the breed back. The first corso came to the U.S. in 1988; the breed was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 2010.

#29. Miniature American shepherd

- Origins: United States

Miniature American shepherds are a relatively new dog, developed through the selective breeding of smaller Australian shepherds beginning in 1960. In fact, the breed was originally called the miniature Australian shepherd and is still sometimes mistakenly called so. The name was changed to avoid confusion with the original breed. Miniature American shepherds quickly became known as excellent traveling partners and frequently accompanied their owners to equestrian shows. Now they are loving family dogs for many.

#28. Cocker spaniel

- Origins: Spain

Cocker spaniels are part of the larger spaniel breed, which is originally from Spain. Cocker spaniels rose to particular prominence in England, however, and by the 19th century, they had established themselves as excellent hunting dogs, with deft abilities both in water and on land. Today, the breed has largely been split into two varieties: the English cocker spaniel and the American cocker spaniel, with the American version generally appearing smaller. The most famous Cocker spaniel of all-time is arguably Lady from “Lady and the Tramp,” the beloved star of the classic Disney animated film.

#27. English springer spaniel

- Origins: Spain and England

Though the larger spaniel breed originated in Spain, it was a fixture in English society as far back as 300 A.D. Similar to other spaniels, the English springer spaniel was primarily used as a hunting dog. The English springer spaniel is larger than its cocker spaniel cousin, however, and was used to “spring” larger game, such as hawks. In 1913, the breed was exported from England to Canada, and it eventually rose to prominence in North America. The Bush family famously owned English springer spaniels; President George H. W. Bush cherished his spaniel Millie, and President George W. Bush had an English springer spaniel named Spot.

#26. Brittany

- Origins: France

Brittanys are thought to have developed in the 19th century when English hunters left their dogs in the Brittany region of France after the hunting season had ended. Many theorize that native spaniel dogs were bred with English pointers and setters to create the Brittany breed. Records show that a Brittany was displayed at a Paris dog show in 1896, and the breed was officially recognized in the country in 1907. Brittanys arrived in the U.S. in 1928 and in the U.K. in 1982.

#25. Shetland Sheepdog

- Origins: Shetland Islands, Scotland

Shetland sheepdogs—often called “Shelties”—are most likely descended from Scandinavian Spitz-type dogs that were imported to Scotland's Shetland Islands in the 1700s and bred with collies. By the 1800s, native Shetland Islanders sold the new breed to tourists who had become enamored with the small dogs. Though the breed closely resembles a collie and was even called the Shetland collie for a period, the name was eventually changed to the Shetland sheepdog in order to placate collie breeders who had grown frustrated with the new breed's classification.

#24. Pomeranian

- Origins: Poland, Germany

Though the Pomeranian today is known for its small size, its ancestors were actually large sled dogs from Scandinavia. In Pomerania—which is today part of Poland and western Germany—smaller Spitz-type dogs were bred with native dogs to create the Pomeranian. While visiting Italy, Queen Victoria fell in love with the dogs, and is actually credited with breeding the dogs to an even smaller stature to create the dog's size today. To date, Pomeranians have popped up in several popular films including “To Die For,” “Dumb and Dumber,” and “Harlem Nights.”

#23. Bernese mountain dog

- Origins: Bern, Switzerland

Bernese mountain dogs originated in Bern, Switzerland, where they originally drove cattle, protected farms, and hauled supplies. By the late 1800s, mechanized farming had driven down the breed's numbers, but Swiss breeders worked tirelessly to bring the population of gentle giants up again. In 1926, a Kansas farmer imported two Bernese mountain dogs and the breed became a hit stateside. The breed has gained attention in news reports for rescuing people in danger: in 2015, a Bernese mountain dog named Nico saved two people from being swept to sea by a rip current in California.

#22. Havanese

- Origins: Cuba

The Havanese is Cuba's only native breed, but the dog's worldwide fame makes up for it. The earliest Cuban settlers likely brought small dogs from the Spanish island of Tenerife with them, and the dogs eventually grew and adapted to Cuba's tropical climate. In fact, the Havanese's long coat actually insulates and protects it from the hot sun, making the breed extremely heat-tolerant. By the 18th century, European tourists in Cuba fell in love with the tiny yet energetic Havanese and began bringing the dogs back home. The Havanese became extremely popular, with Queen Victoria even owning two of her own.

#21. Boston Terrier

- Origins: Boston, United States

The Boston terrier can trace its origins to a specific dog that a Boston resident purchased and imported from England in 1865. This dog, named Judge, was a cross between an English bulldog and a white English Terrier. Judge was bred with a white female dog (whose breed has been lost to history), and thus created the Boston terrier. The pup was officially named the Boston terrier in 1891, and from 1905 to 1939, it was the most popular dog in the United States. Today, a Boston terrier named Rhett is the official mascot of Boston University.

#20. Shih Tzu

- Origins: China

Shih Tzus are thought to have been bred by Tibetan monks, who gave the dogs to Chinese nobility as far back as 2,000 years ago. Empress Tzu Hsi, who ruled China from 1861 to 1908, was reportedly gifted a pair of the dogs, and she went on to consider the breed especially sacred. From there, Shih Tzus were given to English and Dutch nobility as presents and gained popularity in the West. By the late 1930s, the first Shih Tzus had arrived in the U.S., where Americans grew to adore the small dogs' gorgeous coats and loyal companionship.

#19. Doberman pinscher

- Origins: Germany

The Doberman Pinscher was pioneered in Germany in 1890 by Karl Friedrich Louis Dobermann, who combined several breeds of dogs to create this new dog. The pups were bred to be “police-soldier dogs,” and were primarily used for that purpose up to World War II. Doberman pinschers played an especially important role in liberating Guam, where they served as sentries, messengers, and scouts. Today, there is even a memorial statue in Guam honoring the Dobermans that assisted the U.S. These dogs are also known for starring in the 1970s series of movies “The Doberman Gang,” which followed six dogs named after famous bank robbers.

#18. Miniature schnauzer

- Origins: Germany

German farmers created miniature schnauzers by breeding the standard schnauzer—which has roots in the country from the 15th century—down to miniature size to catch rats. This was accomplished by crossing small standard schnauzers with Affenpinschers and poodles. Former U.S. Senator Bob Dole was famous for his love of miniature schnauzers, and even held a birthday party for his 13-year-old dog, Leader.

#17. Great Dane

- Origins: Germany

The Great Dane is actually not a Danish breed. Instead, it hails from Germany, where the dogs have been bred for at least 400 years. Great Danes were developed by German nobles to hunt wild boar and were later used to protect homes and serve as fiercely loyal companions. Two of the most famous cartoon dogs today are also Great Danes: Marmaduke and Scooby Doo.

#16. Cavalier King Charles spaniel

- Origins: England

The Cavalier King Charles spaniel is descended from other toy spaniels, who were popular pets for women during Tudor times. Under King Charles II of England—the namesake of the breed—the dogs became akin to royalty. King Charles even wrote a decree that the King Charles spaniel would be permitted in any public place at any time, including the Houses of Parliament. The breed eventually went out of fashion, but dedicated breeders redeveloped the dogs from other toy spaniels. In 1928, the standard of the breed was created in England. President Ronald Reagan had a Cavalier King Charles spaniel named Rex.

#15. Siberian husky

- Origins: Siberia

Siberian huskies were created by the Chukchi people of northeastern Asia, who used the dogs for hunting and sledding in the Siberian Arctic about 4,000 years ago. North American fur traders eventually brought the huskies to the continent at the turn of the 20th century and to Alaska in 1909 for sled dog races, where the dogs excelled. In 1925, Alaskan huskies ran from Anchorage to Nome to deliver a diphtheria antibiotic for children, becoming nationwide heroes. The famous Iditarod sled race in Alaska today takes place every year and traces the same path the dogs followed in 1925.

#14. Boxer

- Origins: Germany

The ancestors of the boxer were most likely Assyrian war dogs that existed as far back as 2,500 B.C., but the boxer breed itself originated in Germany in the late 1800s. Some theorize that the boxer was bred down from a larger German breed called the Bullenbeisser. The Bullenbeisser was used to hunt large game, such as bears and bison, but the modern day boxer is much sleeker and smaller. Boxers became especially popular in the U.S. in the 1950s, after a successful Westminster dog show.

#13. Australian Shepherd

- Origins: Europe

Despite its name, the Australian shepherd has roots that can be traced back to Europe's herding dogs. In the early 1800s, many people from the Basque region traveled to Australia in order to try their luck at farming, and brought their shepherd dogs with them. While in Australia, these dogs were often crossed with collies, and before long, the Basque people moved onto California, where their dogs were admired by Americans who assumed that the dogs were native to Australia. Australian shepherds were readily incorporated into western “cowboy” culture and even today are still part of rodeo shows.

#12. Yorkshire Terrier

- Origins: England

The Yorkshire terrier is descended from many other different types of terrier dogs, but historians do not know the exact breeds because breeders at the time were not accustomed to keeping detailed records. We do know that the Yorkshire terrier was used as a ratting dog by the mid-1800s to keep control of the rat and vermin populations in mills and mines. The dog was also used by hunters to intimidate small game. In 1872, the Yorkshire terrier made its way to the U.S., and two short years later, the breed was officially given its name.

#11. Dachshund

- Origins: Germany

Dachshunds were originally developed in Germany as hunting dogs, specifically targeting badgers with their body shape—which was ideal for digging and entering tunnels—and floppy ears that kept dirt and debris out. The dogs were first brought to the U.S. in 1885 but didn't gain considerable popularity until the mid-1930s. During World War II, the breed was temporarily referred to as "badger dogs," in order to prevent the American public from shunning it over its German name and ancestry. Picasso famously had a dachshund named Lump.

#10. Pembroke Welsh corgi

- Origins: Wales

Pembroke Welsh corgis originated in Wales like their close cousin, the Cardigan Welsh corgi. In fact, the two were considered to be the same breed until 1934. Reportedly, the Pembroke came to Wales around the 10th century and was named after the area of Pembrokeshire. Both breeds of corgis were used to work with cattle because their small stature allowed them to nip the heels of livestock. Eventually as laws and policies changed, farmers switched to using more traditional herding dogs, but corgis had earned a place in the larger public's heart. Queen Elizabeth II of England has owned more than 30 corgis over the course of her reign.

#9. German shorthaired pointer

- Origins: Germany

Most historians believe that the German shorthaired pointer was created by crossing traditional continental pointers with old Spanish pointers around the 1860s. The breed was subsequently perfected by German hunters, who wanted an animal with a sharp sense of smell and eagerness to retrieve. By the late 1800s, the breed grew quickly in popularity across Europe but didn't land in the U.K. until after World War II. The sportswriter Mel Ellis famously wrote a memoir about his German shorthaired pointer called “Run, Rainey, Run.”

#8. Rottweiler

- Origins: Germany

Rottweilers can trace their ancestry to the mastiff-style dogs that ancient Romans used in war. After periods of war, the dogs were put to work in the German town of Rottweil, laboring on farms as herding dogs or protection dogs. Amid the 1800s, when railways were becoming more popular, Rottweilers began serving as police dogs or heavy-duty working dogs. The German breed standard for the Rottweiler was drawn up in 1901, and astoundingly, the breed has changed little since then.

#7. Beagle

- Origins: England

The first dogs to be called beagles were just eight or nine inches tall, and even called “pocket beagles.” When larger hunting dogs came into fashion, this breed eventually became extinct. In the 18th century, several new hound breeds were created in England, and by 1840, there were four different beagle varieties in the country. In the early 1870s, an Illinois man brought beagles back to the U.S., and these dogs are said to have created the standard for American beagles today. The world's most famous beagle is likely Snoopy, the cherished comic star created by Charles Schulz.

#6. Poodle

- Origins: Germany

Though many associate poodles with France, the breed is actually believed to have originated in Germany, but the exact history has been lost to time. One theory suggests that poodles are related to an ancient Asian herding dog, while another posits that poodles traveled with the Moors to Portugal. Regardless, poodles were used as hunting dogs in Germany and made excellent hunting partners thanks to their curly, water-resistant coat. Poodles were eventually standardized in France. The poodle has had a lasting mark on pop culture and is famously recognized on "The Muppet Show" as Miss Piggy's dog Foo-Foo.

#5. Bulldog

- Origins: England

Bulldogs were pioneered in England in the 13th century for the grim practice of “bullbaiting.” In 1835, England banned violent blood sports, and the practice went underground, which led to pit-dog fighting. Eventually, the sport became much less popular and all but vanished, and breeders determined to keep the bulldog around refined the breed to make it more mellow with softer features. The bulldog breed was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1886, and today is the mascot of Yale University, which is said to be the first animal mascot in all sports.

#4. French bulldog

- Origins: France

French bulldogs are descended from England's bulldogs, and they gained their French roots when Nottingham workers moved to France and took miniature bulldogs with them. These dogs are thought to have been crossed with native terriers to create the beloved French bulldog, which became a popular fixture of the Parisian working-class society in the late 1800s. The breed gained even more success when a group of French Bulldog breeders and admirers began organizing weekly meetings in 1880.

#3. Golden retriever

- Origins: Scotland

The golden retriever came to be in the Scottish Highlands in the mid-1800s when Dudley Marjoribanks created the dog after years of crossing breeds in order to develop a suitable gundog. Marjoribanks was said to have mixed his “yellow retriever” with a now-extinct spaniel breed, as well as the Irish setter and bloodhound. In 1908, the golden retriever debuted at a British dog show, and the dogs began arriving in North America around the same time. Ever since, golden retrievers have been a fan-favorite in pop culture, with guest spots on hit TV shows such as “Full House,” and the starring role in the “Air Bud” film series.

#2. German shepherd

- Origins: Germany

As its name suggests, German shepherds originated in Germany, and they resulted from German farmers crossing breeds to obtain a dog that excelled at herding, yet also had a keen sense of smell and a sharp mind. The breed gained international recognition after soldiers returned home from World War I and spoke highly of the dogs' intelligence. The popular television character Rin Tin Tin also led to the breed's rise in popularity in the United States.

#1. Labrador retriever

- Origins: Newfoundland, Canada

The ever-popular labrador retriever can trace its roots to Newfoundland, Canada, where the dog was used as a duck retriever and companion for fisherman—as its short yet dense coat allowed the dog to withstand colder temperatures. The breed started becoming well-known as early as the 1800s, when English nobles visiting Canada took an interest in the dogs. In the coming century, British breeders worked to refine the breed, while it became steadily recognized for its kind and friendly temperament. The cherished book and film "Marley and Me" cemented the labrador retriever's place in the hearts of many dog lovers.

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