What America's most popular dog breeds look like as puppies
Cats versus dogs. It’s an age-old argument that has broken relationships, turned roommates against each other, and even spurred an anatomically questionable Nickelodeon show. But even the most hardened cat enthusiasts can’t deny there is one trump card in this classic debate: puppies. Competing head-to-head with babies for the top spot on the list of “cute things everyone loves,” puppies bring an earnest playfulness to any room, as well as the capacity to transform a mediocre moment into something to smile about.
Interestingly, the extent to which we find dogs, and puppies, cute could be tied to those babies more than we think. Characteristics like large heads on small torsos, big round eyes, soft body parts, and propensity to stumble are universally cute; that's to say, the same harmless, childlike "cuteness factors" as the human babies we intrinsically care for. Another common perspective hold that dogs appear cute as an evolutionary response, so the more domesticated they became over time, the more they needed human care, and thus needed to trigger our cuteness receptors that make us nurture.
We can agree on, and perhaps fall victim to, the undeniable fact that black lab puppies (as pictured), French bulldogs and golden retrievers are extremely cute. But at least we can assure ourselves there is some science to it.
To honor these sultans of sweetness, Stacker compiled photos of the American Kennel Club's 50 most popular dog breeds when they were just pups, using the 2019 popularity rankings released on May 1, 2020. For good measure, we've also included details about what exactly these furbabies are like, from temperament and energy level to obedience.
But let’s be honest, you didn’t come here for our explanation. You came here for the puppies. So without further ado...
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#50. English cocker spaniel
The happy, affectionate, long-eared English cocker spaniels are excellent companion dogs. They need plenty of exercise as puppies, since they are extremely energetic as they mature. Though they can be difficult to train, the key is providing enough playtime and walks—from as young as nine weeks old until one year, at which point they can join you on jogs.
#49. Portuguese water dog
Portuguese water dogs, bred as aids to fishermen in ice-cold water (rugged non-shedding, waterproof coat) are tireless activity fiends; from the time they are puppies they need ample exercise and stimulation—be it walking, running or, of course, swimming. DogTime.com recommends "early socialization" to expose your puppy to a range of sights, sounds, smells, people, and experiences. But don't worry, they can adjust to apartment life and grow up alongside your children. Just make sure there's a pool or lake nearby.
#48. St. Bernard
The '92 film "Beethoven" offers a pretty accurate portrayal of a St. Bernard puppy: big, happy, mischievous, and slobbery. These giant pups have a penchant for chewing and eating weird things, like tube socks.
Akitas are fiercely loyal and consider themselves to be the guardians of their families. That also means they can be wary of strangers. Be sure to train and socialize Akita puppies well so they learn that friends are welcome. Also, look out for another trait of young Akitas: They will grab your hand with their mouth and pull you to where they want you to go.
#46. Chesapeake Bay retriever
Commonly known as the Chessie, Chesapeake Bay retrievers can be a bit difficult to train. They want to do things their own way (especially headstrong puppies), and will find a way to do so. They do make excellent support animals, though, as they are perceptive and sensitive.
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#45. Shiba Inu
Keep your Shiba Inu puppy on a leash as often as possible until it’s trained—these guys love to chase after what they think is prey and are very fast runners. The puppies also need a bit more socialization than other dogs, so consider getting one if your kids aren’t too young.
#44. West Highland white Terrier
Westies can be noisy as puppies, as they’re bred to alert owners to something suspicious—even if that something is as small as a bug. But because they’re easy to train (ideally with the clicker method), that can be eliminated quickly. Housetraining is almost never an issue, either.
#43. Bichon Frise
Bichon frisé is a breed best for families with active kids or people who have a lot of time to spend with a puppy. These dogs require a lot of playtime. The puppies are high-energy and always looking for a fun time. They’re also easy to train, so playtime could be used to teach them new tricks.
#42. Rhodesian ridgeback
It can be pretty difficult to train Rhodesian ridgeback puppies. They’re bred as hunting dogs and will set their sights on something and go after it without notice of what’s around them—like cars, people, or yards. But if you make them feel like a part of the family pack when they’re young, they’ll grow up to be loyal and loving family dogs.
#41. Belgian Malinois
Police forces love Belgian malinois dogs because of their desire to work and ability to be trained, both qualities that emerge when the dogs are puppies. They also have a lot of stamina and a strong chase drive, that sometimes can never be trained away.
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