20 Most Popular Dog Breeds 2021 – Ultimate Guide

Dog lovers, perk up your ears. The American Kennel Club in Conjunction with Skyenet just revealed the Most Popular Dog Breeds 2021, and lots of favorite companions are back on top. Labs have reigned supreme as the number one pick for more than quarter of a century now, but there are a few surprises among the ranks.

Chances are you know someone who’s gotten a French Bulldog in the past few years — and it’s easy to see why. Those cute pups have ridden their wave of popularity all the way to the fourth place.

20 Most Popular Dog Breeds 2021

Check out the 20 most popular dog breeds 2021 below, and head over to the AKC website to see more about the list.

1. Australian Shepherd

australian shepherd, dog, animal

The name of this dog breed is quite misleading, as they didn’t come from Australia at all. They were actually bred on US ranches in the 1800s.

But at least the second part of their name is true — they’re one of the best types of shepherd dogs. Aussies are excellent at herding and are most commonly known to help cowboys drive sheep and cows.

The Australian Shepherd is quite popular in the US, holding number 13 on the AKC’s list.

If you’re searching for types of dogs that are extremely intelligent and energetic, look no further. Also, they love playing with kids and other pups.

However, they aren’t the best pet for people who live sedentary lives. If you’re not ready to run around with your dog, look into some low-energy dog breeds.

The ideal setting for Aussies would be the countryside, or at least a big fenced-in yard where they can spend most of the day running around.

2. German Shepherds

schäfer dog, german shepherd, old german shepherd dog

These trusted companions often work as police dogs and service dogs because they’re fiercely loyal to their main caretakers.

When people think of German Shepherds, they immediately associate them with police dog representative species. This breed is extremely protective, brave, and intelligent, which is probably why they’re chosen for such serious jobs.

German Shepherds have been number two on the list of the AKC’s popularity list, and the world, for years.

These canines are great with people and other pets. However, they need to be trained and socialized at an early age. Otherwise, they might become overprotective and even aggressive.

The good news is that German Shepherds are incredibly smart. They take third place in the top 20 smartest dog breeds list. And they can be trained to do almost anything.

3. Brittany

brittany spaniel, dog, pet

Brittanys are the perfect dog for active people who adore outdoor sports and activities.

Brittanys love people and are very sociable. They’re also incredibly active and agile, requiring a lot of exercise—without it, they might become prone to restlessness and roaming.

This dog is also known for its sensitive temperament and good response to positive reinforcement. Placed in tense environments, they might become timid and distant.

Britannys are one of the more popular dog breeds used for hunting. They’re excellent in pointing and retrieving birds, both in open fields and dense covers.

Brittany is currently ranked 26th on the popularity list of dog breeds in the US.

4. Bulldog

english bulldog, dog, sweet

On the AKC’s popularity list of all kinds of dogs, the Bulldog is number five.

However, according to Google Trends, this dog breed is the most popular in the world. In fact, the term “Bulldog” is searched on Google 1.5 million times a month across the globe. Talk about winning a popularity contest!

Looking after this breed isn’t hard, as they have very low exercise and grooming needs. Plus, they’re friendly, gentle dogs who love cuddles and snuggles.

But what really sets Bulldogs apart and makes them one of the most popular breeds of dog is their courage and tenacious spirit, which is almost unmatched in the world of dogs.

With their easily recognizable flat faces, the loose skin around the head and jaws, and their constant smile, there’s no denying that Bulldogs are adorable.

5. Bernese Mountain Dog

bernese mountain dog, puppy, animal

The popularity of the Bernese Mountain Dog has been growing in the US. The breed is in the top 20 family dogs lists everywhere and takes 23rd place in the most popular breeds.

The Bernese Mountain Dog is one of the large dog breeds used for herding cattle on the Swiss pastures. Their enormous size and tricolor coat give this dog a majestic and noble look.

Despite their massive size, these pooches are quite serene and make good pets. Berners are eager to please, and they get along best with one person in the family. They love having chores and doing exercise.

They also love human companionship, making them one of the more common dog breeds for people who like to take their pet on long walks.

6. Alaskan Malamute

alaskan-malamute, malamute, dog

Alaskan Malamutes are big, strong dogs bred for their endurance and strength. One of the all-American top dog breeds, they have a thick coat, specifically created for the cold of Alaska. But their most distinctive feature is their furry tail and loving eyes.

If trained properly, Malamutes can be a great family pet.

However, their innate stubbornness doesn’t make them the right choice for a first-time owner. Mals are pack animals, and unless their guardian establishes themselves as the alpha, they’ll end up getting pushed around.

However, keep in mind that they’re one of the strongest dog breed, so they need a lot of exercise. They’re made to work, without it they can get bored and even destructive.

7. Boston Terrier

boston terrier, pet, dog

According to data on the favorite American dog breeds, Boston Terriers were very popular in the 1960s. However, their popularity has since declined. They were ranked 21st on the AKC’s list of the most popular canines last year.

Boston Terriers are all-American dogs. In fact, they were the first dog breed to be developed in the US.

Nicknamed the American Gentleman because of their tuxedo-like markings, these dogs are energetic pets that love running and fetching.

They’re also one of the best small to medium dog breeds suitable for urban living. But keep in mind that they can run fast, so always have them on a leash, especially on busy city streets.

If you’re looking for a cheerful pup, you won’t go wrong with a Boston Terrier.

8. Cocker Spaniel

cocker spaniel english, spaniel, cocker spaniel

Cocker Spaniels have been one of the best dog breeds for families for many years.

These are easygoing, energetic, and happy pups. With their long floppy ears and fluffy coat that comes in almost any color, there isn’t much not to like.

Cocker Spaniels were primarily bred to retrieve birds and small game. But today, they’re companion animals suitable for living with small children and other pets. They’re actually one of the best dog breeds for other dogs.

This dog breed is highly adaptable and can live almost anywhere, provided they get a lot of exercise.

Spaniels love affection from their owners and can get sulky and grumpy if left alone for too long.

9. English Setter

dog, english setter, animal photography magdeburg

Not one of the best dog breeds, but also not one of the worst either, this breed is ranked 98th on the popularity list of dog breeds in the US.

English Setters are one of the oldest gun dogs in the world dating as far back as the 14th century. They are gentle and serene canines that love the company of people and other pets.

One of the most magnificent things about these dogs is their coat, which is long, soft, and wavy and comes in brown, lemon, and orange speckles.

These are one of the top dog breeds for first-time owners because of their straight-forward personality and tendency to bond with their pet parents.

10. Afghan Hound

afghan, greyhound, afghan hound

One of the defining traits of Afghan Hounds is their demeanor. Their beautiful coats and their regal stature emphasize and elevate their elegance.

However, their classy good looks hide a strong and agile animal. A long time ago, they served as a source of comfort and protection in the harsh climate of Afghanistan.

Afghan Hound, one of the ancient dog breeds, is 27 inches tall. The species have lean muscles and huge paw-pads acting as natural shock absorbers. These beautiful animals were life-saving, stalwart companions to the Afghan people for centuries.

However, the Afghan people aren’t the only ones who appreciate this gorgeous hound.

Afghan hounds were incredibly popular in Australia during the 70s. In fact, Afghanistan-hailing pups dominated the pageant shows of Australia for an entire decade.

11. Akita

akita, akita inu, japanese akita

Akitas, one of the most popular dog breeds from Japan, is so beloved in their native country, they even have a whole museum dedicated to them.

Imposing and striking, Akitas are large, sturdy animals. Their thick double coat serves to ward off the cold since this pup is happiest when running and rolling around in the snow.

This type of dog is affectionate, incredibly loyal, and protective, which makes them one of the best dogs for families.

Akitas are also very territorial and known to be wary and aloof with strangers, making them one of the best kinds of dogs to act as guards. However, they’re also dominant and will not be happy sharing their family with another pet.

These pooches want to be top dog and aren’t a suitable pet for everyone. Maybe that’s why they’re ranked 47th on the American Kennel Club’s list of popular canines.

But if you want a dog that is completely devoted to you, there’s none better than the Akita.

12. Beagle

beagle puppy, beagle, hound

With their cute puppy eyes and floppy ears, it’s easy to see why Beagles are so popular and lovable. They’re among the best family dogs because of their small size and simple grooming needs.

Beagles are friendly, playful, and curious pups. They’re a real joy to have in the house and one of the reasons they rank seventh among the top 10 most popular dog breeds in the US.

Beagles are scent dogs, primarily bred for hunting and tracking. Their powerful sense of smell makes them perfect for sniffing out contraband at airports.

One downside is that they need a lot of attention. If you leave them alone for too long, they will bark and howl and even start attacking your shoes and other personal items.

13. Pekingese

pekingese, dog, pet
Photo by No-longer-here on Pixabay

Of all the different dog breeds out there, Pekingese are probably some of the oddest, but also some of the most lovable dogs.

With long, elegant coats, they are famous for the “lion’s mane” that graces their shoulders — a mane they wear well. Pekingese dogs are confident and charming little things, born and bred to grace palaces and mansions.

Pekingese was also featured on the AKC’s list as one of the most popular small dog breeds.

Pekingese are one of the rare breeds of dogs that are very independent at their own size. Excellent watchdogs, they are also fiercely loyal and are good with kids.

Just keep in mind that they won’t enjoy a rough play, and might retaliate if pushed over their (short) limits.

14. Poodle

poodle, the poodle, dog

The poodle used to be America’s most popular dog for 20 years, and although the breed is number six today, they’re still well-loved in the US. And it’s not surprising.

When you see a well-groomed poodle with their lively gait at a dog show, it’s easy to understand why they’re one of the most awarded breeds ever.

Anyone who has seen a poodle, and their fancy hairstyles, probably thinks they’re the socialites of the dog world. In fact, Poodles take second place on the top 20 smartest dog breeds list. They’re renowned for their intelligence and trainability.

Poodles need a lot of grooming. Besides being trimmed almost every day, they also require regular baths.

Another issue is attention. Poodles can be very protective of their owners, but they also want the same kind of affection. They need to be socialized from an early age to avoid problems later.

15. Siberian Husky

husky, siberian husky, dog

Ranked between Boxers and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels on the list of the most popular dogs, Siberian Huskies are among the most graceful and dignified dogs in the canine world.

Seeing as they were bred for pulling sleds across the frozen plains of Siberia, it’s no wonder that these dogs live to run.

Huskies are famous for their endurance, stamina, and extraordinary metabolism. They can survive in extremely cold climates and sprint for hours on very low quantities of food without feeling the least bit tired.

The most striking feature about these pups, however, is their eyes. If you’ve seen a Husky, then you know what dog breeds have blue eyes.

In addition to being exceptionally loyal and friendly, this breed of dogs makes for very low-maintenance pets because they’re clean and have almost none of that doggy smell.

16. Yorkshire Terrier

dog, yorkshire terrier, small dog

Yorkies are known for being energetic, feisty, and marvelously active. They might be one of the top smallest dog breeds, but don’t let their tiny and delicate look fool you. These doggies are great at catching vermin and other small rodents.

This is the best breed for people who live in small apartments and want a pet for a lifetime. Yorkies are ranked second in terms of which dog breeds live the longest—most of these canines can reach a mature age of over 17.

They can be a little quick-tempered, particularly around strangers and small children. But they’re never overly aggressive. These features just make them excellent watchdogs.

They might not intimidate intruders, but they will certainly alert you to their presence.

Although the constant grooming of their long, silky coat can be a bother, Yorkies have always ranked well in the best small dog breeds category.

17. Shar-Pei

shar pei, dog competition, dog training

Ranked 65th among the US’s most common dog breeds, the Chinese Shar-Pei is a challenging but very interesting breed of dog.

The most recognizable feature about this breed is its coat. The name Shar-Pei means “sand skin,” or more loosely translates to “sandpaper-like coat.” In fact, a Shar-Pei’s coat is rough and short but still manages to look well-groomed.

Another characteristic is their purple tongue and the folds on their body and face, making them look like they’re wearing a wrinkled suit that’s much too big.

Considered one of the best dog breeds to serve as guards and fighters in the past, the breed still retains some of those features. The Shar-Pei is a very territorial dog, usually attached to one person in the family.

They can be very protective and sometimes even aggressive to strangers and other dogs. So early training, socialization, and a firm hand in raising them are crucial.

18. Samoyed

dog, samoyed, white

Bred to survive in –60° weather, Samoyeds have a thick and fluffy coat you can’t help but pet.

Another delightful feature of these dogs is their upturned mouth, giving them the famous “Samoyed smile.” But don’t think that these canines are smiling for our amusement.

Their facial expression has a practical purpose: it stops this type of dog from drooling and prevents icicles from forming.

Still asking yourself, What kind of dog should I get? Be aware that as herding dogs, Sammies are used to following a leader, so they need strict discipline.

They also want a lot of affection and attention. This means that if you leave yours alone for long periods of time, be prepared to find a messy backyard, or see them turn into a constant barker.

19. Rottweiler

rottweiler, purebred dog, animal

Rottweilers were ranked second on the AKC’s dog breed list but dropped to eighth place as a result of smaller breeds pushing their way up. However, for the past few years, Rotties have been climbing the list of the best breeds of dogs in the US.

Rottweilers may look fierce and dangerous, but in fact, they can be a very gentle playmate and cuddly companion if trained properly and early.

These dogs are extremely brave and protective. If you need the strongest dog, this breed is among the strongest. This makes them the best kinds of dogs to work as guard dogs, as well as search and rescue and police dogs.

Rotties are also very confident and do well on their own. However, they can display signs of aggression and overprotectiveness. This is why training and socialization is a must with these canines.

20. St. Bernard

dog, st bernard, pet
Also known as “gentle giants,” Saint Bernards are intelligent, loyal, and friendly dogs. They’re one of the big dog breeds, ranked fifth on the list of largest dog species in the world.

This dog breed is incredibly eager to please its owner, making the training very easy, although it should start from puppyhood. St. Bernards are the best dogs for kids. They’re protective, yet, gentle with kids, despite their size.

Best known as search and rescue dogs, these canines have been a welcome sight to mountaineers for three centuries. During that time, St. Bernards have saved over 2,000 lives.

They may be some of the best family dogs, but Saint Bernards aren’t the best kind of dog for a long-term commitment. They have shorter lifespans and generally live no more than 8–10 years.

Which breed of dog makes the best pet?

The answer depends on many factors.

  • What kind of character are you looking for in a dog?
  • Do you have other pets?
  • Do you live in a small, cramped apartment, or do you have a lot of outdoor space?
  • Do you live alone or with small children?
  • How much time can you dedicate to your dog every day?

These are some of the questions all potential owners should consider when choosing the right breed for them.

The three bottom-ranked dog breeds in the AKC’s list of most popular canines in 2021 include Sloughis, Norwegian Lundehunds, and English Foxhounds.

But just because these breeds of dogs aren’t ranked higher on the list doesn’t mean that they aren’t loveable or adoptable.

Their ranking could simply be because there aren’t that many of them or they weren’t recognized as a breed by the AKC until very recently. For example, the Sloughi wasn’t acknowledged until 2016.

What is the #1 dog breed in 2020?

The same as last year and the year before, in fact ever since 1991, Labrador Retrievers have been the most popular dog in America.

They may hold the title in the US, but the Lab is third in the UK, where the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is king.

In the rest of Europe, on the other hand, it seems that the huge Cane Corso and the loyal Rottweiler are the most popular canines.

How many dog breeds are there?

The global governing body of dog breeds, the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI), or World Canine Organization, recognizes a total of 344 different breeds of dogs.

However, because recognition standards differ from country to country, the American Kennel Club (AKC) only recognizes 193 breeds of dogs.

What dog breeds are considered aggressive?

Pit bulls, though technically not a dog breed, are considered to be the most aggressive dogs out there. This is most likely because over 70% of dog bites are attributed to Pit Bulls. However, aggression should not be confused with danger.

Case in point, Chihuahuas, the smallest dogs, are ranked second on the list of most aggressive canines. Dogs can display aggressive behavior for a variety of reasons, such as abuse, mistreatment, and pain. It isn’t always an innate instinct.


Dogs come in all shapes and sizes, but the one thing they all have in common is their unconditional love and loyalty. As long as you have that from your pet, it doesn’t matter if your doggie is one of the most popular dog breeds or not.

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