America’s Top 20 Favorite Dog Breeds of 2020

Here’s a fun fact: dogs outnumber children in US households. In fact, 89.7 Million American households have dogs, as compared to only 73 Million homes with children under 18. Last March 16, 2021, the American Kennel Club published a list of the most popular dog breeds of 2020 based on their registration statistics. So, which breed made it to the top 20? Read on to find out. 

20. Shih Tzu

Breed Group: Companion Shih Tzu standing on grassy field outdoors

Average Size: 9 to 16 lbs

Grooming: Difficult 

Trainability: Moderately Easy to Train

Energy Level: Low

About the Breed: The Shih Tzu is one of the oldest dog breeds. Many believe that Tibetan Monks created them as a gift to Chinese royalty. Some believe that the Chinese developed them by crossbreeding the Lhasa Apso or Pekingese with other breeds. No matter their origin, it’s clear that this breed is a cherished companion from past to present. 

Shih Tzus are companion dogs, so we shouldn’t really expect them to guard their homes, protect their family from intruders, or retrieve game. Being affectionate is their dominant personality, and you’d often find them in the same room with their hoomans, often curled up beside them. That doesn’t mean that they’ll be on your couch snoozing the entire time though. They’ll be up and about, playing with their toys or barking at strangers to alert you. But they will eventually warm up to your guests as soon as they walk inside. 

19. Miniature Schnauzer

Breed Group: Terrier

Average Size: 11 to 20 lbs

Grooming: Difficult 

Trainability: Very Easy to Train

Energy Level: High

About the Breed: During the middle to late 19th century, Germans needed ratters and guard dogs on their farms. Thus, they created the Miniature Schnauzer by crossbreeding the standard Schnauzer with smaller breeds like the Affenpinscher, Miniature Pinscher, and probably the Pomeranian or Poodle. This breed is always in the top 20 list of most popular dog breeds, not only in the US, but in Germany and England as well. 

They love their hoomans, are very affectionate towards their owners and would choose to hang out with them rather than do anything else. It’s no surprise that they’re incredibly loyal and protective of their families as well. They’re quite suspicious of strangers and are often unwelcoming until you let them know that they’re welcome. Being terriers, they can be a handful, but with proper training and socialization, you’ll understand why they’re one of America’s favorite dog breeds.

18. Doberman Pinscher

Breed Group: Working

Average Size: 60 to 80 lbs

Grooming: Easy 

Trainability: Very Easy to Train

Energy Level: Moderate

About the Breed: Louis Dobermann was the town dogcatcher and money collector in 19th-century Germany. He created the exceptionally intelligent and active Doberman (Dobermann in some countries) Pinscher to become his protector and companion while collecting money. Although there are no records of what breeds he used, experts theorize he used the Rottweiler, German Pinscher, and Black and Tan Terrier. 

This breed might not be as ancient as the others, but the Dobie, as they’re affectionately called, have always been included in the popularity contest. They might look stoic and have the reputation of being vicious. It’s a misconception as Dobies are affectionate, trustworthy, and playful. Of course, they’re bred to be protective of their people. They’re never aggressive without a reason. The Doberman Pinscher is not a dog for everyone. They’re large and also need a lot of exercise and mental challenges to keep boredom at bay. 

17. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel 

Breed Group: Companion

Average Size: 13 to 18 lbs

Grooming: Easy

Trainability: Easy to Train

Energy Level: Moderate 

About the Breed: Although this breed is relatively new, the Cavalier’s ancestors are the Toy Spaniels that famous artists like Van Dyck and Gainsborough illustrated during the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. These tiny spaniels were a favorite of royalty, including Mary, Queen of Scots, King Charles I and II. One of these dogs even accompanied Mary as she walked to her beheading. King Charles II never went anywhere without these adorable furkids at his heels. Cavaliers won’t make very good watchdogs or guard dogs as they’ll greet anyone, strangers included, with enthusiasm. 

One distinct personality of the Cavalier is its wagging tail. Breeders always strive to retain the constant tail wagging. It’s absolutely the cutest! Add in their large, round eyes and the sweetest expression, and your heart will instantly melt and you’ll just have to give in to whatever they want. They’re super attached to their hooman, so it’s not a good idea to leave them alone for long periods of time. This breed is prone to separation anxiety. But if your heart is set on adopting or getting a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel from a reputable breeder, check out our post on How to Help Your Dog with Separation Anxiety. 

16. Siberian Husky

Breed Group: Working

Average Size: 35 to 60 lbs

Grooming: Difficult 

Trainability: Difficult to Train

Energy Level: Very High

About the Breed: Though it’s not clear where Huskies are from, DNA tests confirmed they are among the oldest dog breeds. Experts believe they originated from one of the Siberian nomad tribes, the Chukchi, who used them as a mode of transportation. They were family dogs who slept with the children and kept them warm. In 1908, Alaskans imported them and used them as sled dogs during the gold rush. Huskies are clearly pack dogs and need an alpha owner who can establish themselves as the pack leader. This will make training easier, as this breed will constantly test your capabilities and will try their best to take control from time to time. The bad news is they’re destructive when bored or anxious. They will destroy everything in the house, including your sanity. The good news is they’re loyal, affectionate, playful, friendly, and most of all, they hardly bark. They howl, though. The best way to stop their destructive nature is to train them properly, take them out for daily exercise, and buy them dog treats for large, aggressive chewers

15. Great Dane

Breed Group: Working

Average Size: 100 to 200 lbs

Grooming: Very Easy 

Trainability: Very Easy to Train

Energy Level: High

About the Breed: The “Apollo of Dogs” has been around for the longest time, with artifacts showing illustrations of Dane-like dogs that date back to thousands of years ago. Greeks and Romans developed the breed by crossing them with other breeds, including the ancestors of the English Mastiff. They started as boar hounds, bred to hunt boars. Then, German nobles spoiled them by keeping them as Kammerhunde (chamber dogs), complete with gold-covered collars lined with velvet. 

The Great Dane might look imposing, but they’re one of the most gentle dog breeds to raise. Although they haven’t lost the courage they had when they were boar hounds, they’re sweet and love to play with children. We classify them as working dogs, but they seem to be companion dogs at heart! It’s not surprising for a Great Dane to think they can simply hop on your lap and snuggle as if they’re small pups. They have a powerful bark, but they’re not usually vocal. Despite their size, they can thrive in apartments and small spaces as long as you take them out for daily walks. 

14. Boxer

Breed Group: Working

       Tyson, Our Chief Canine Officer

Average Size: 60 to 70 lbs

Grooming: Easy 

Trainability: Easy to Train

Energy Level: High 

About the Breed: The German Bullenbeisser and the Bulldog are the Boxer’s ancestors. George Alt from Munich, Germany, first bred the Bullenbeisser with a local dog. Then he picked the fawn-and-white male from the litter called Lechner’s Box and bred him with his dam. One of the latter’s pups, a female called Alt’s Schecken was later bred with an English Bulldog who produced the first Boxer registered in the German Stud Book, Flocki. Boxers are handsome dogs with a sense of humor. They’re known for their patience and gentle behavior around children, but they can be very stubborn, especially if you don’t know how to handle them well.

They love their hoomans very much. Their instinct is to protect their loved ones, so they are very distrustful of strangers. One distinct thing about boxers is that they aren’t fully mature until the age of three. They have a tendency to think they’re lap dogs, and would readily climb up your lap if given the chance. They’re quite playful and have unlimited energy! If you’re a boxer parent, make sure that they have adequate exercise to keep undesirable behavior at bay. 

Have you met our Chief Canine Officer? If not, head over to Pawstruck’s website and get to know Tyson! He’s available on live chat if you have questions about the best dog treats for boxers like him. 

13. Yorkshire Terrier

Breed Group: Companion

Average Size: 4 to 6 lbs

Grooming: Difficult 

Trainability: Moderately Easy to Train

Energy Level: High

About the Breed: This feisty toy dog breed is from England and their ancestors are the much larger Clydesdale Terrier or Paisley Terrier. Scottish workers used them primarily to catch rats in the mills during the Industrial Revolution. They bred these terriers with other terrier types, possibly the English Black and Tan Toy Terrier and the Skye Terrier. The Yorkie, as they’re fondly called, is a terrier through and through.

They’re loyal to their pet parents and distrustful of strangers. And they’ll bark to alert you of strangers or anything that catches their attention, and they have this tendency to be yappy, which can be really annoying to neighbors. But Yorkies also have a range of personalities. Some like to follow you from room to room. Others are independent, outgoing, and often get into trouble. Setting limits is important for this pup to stop bad habits. Training should start early and make sure never to spoil them!

12. Australian Shepherd

Breed Group: Herding

Average Size: 40 to 65 lbs 

Grooming: Very Hard 

Trainability: Very Easy to Train 

Energy Level: Very High

About the Breed: The name can be misleading. But the Australian Shepherd is not from Down Under. They are originally from the United States, and were bred to herd livestock for farmers and ranchers. It isn’t clear how Aussies came to be, but it’s possible that their ancestors are collie and shepherd-type dogs that came from Australia during the 1840s. The Australian Shepherd has a dominant attitude, so they need a firm and confident handler as well. 

They are best suited for homes where their intelligence and high levels of energy are put to good use. It’s important that they join competitive dog sports or have a job to prevent boredom and destructiveness. If they don’t, they’ll either create their own jobs (herding children and pets, destroying your home, chasing anything that catches their attention) or become loud and obnoxious. You can even teach this breed to help you with household chores! Although they get along fine with small children, they have a tendency to “herd” the tiny ones. 

11. Pembroke Welsh Corgi

Breed Group: Herding

Average Size: Up to 30 lbs

Grooming: Easy

Trainability: Very Easy to Train 

Energy Level: High

About the Breed: Welsh Corgis come in two different types: the Pembroke and Cardigan, with the latter being more big boned than the Pembroke. Pems are from Pembrokeshire, Welsh. If you love fairytales, then we could simply tell you that these adorable pups are a gift from field fairies, according to the legend. But if you want hard facts, we’ll tell you that historians say that they are descendants from Vallhunds, Swedish cattle dogs the Vikings brought to Wales during the 9th and 10th centuries.

Few people know this, but Pems are working dogs. They’re AKC’s smallest dogs in the herding group. Many who know the breed’s background still use them to herd livestock. You can mostly spot them as companion dogs these days. They’re wonderful pets because they’re happy, affectionate, active, intelligent, and make wonderful watchdogs. They’re a challenge for first-time pet owners because they’re stubborn, bark at anything, prone to obesity, and often require lots of exercise to keep the weight off. 

10. Dachshund

Breed Group: Hound

Average Size: 16 to 32 lbs

Grooming: Moderate

Trainability: Difficult to Train 

Energy Level: Moderate

About the Breed: The 10th most popular dog breed in the United States is the Dachshund, originally created in Germany to hunt badgers. Dachs means badger, and hund means dog. As far back as the 15th century, there were illustrations of dogs that look similar to the modern day Dachshund. They also hunted boars and foxes. During the early days, the doxies, as they’re fondly called, varied in size. People used the bigger ones to hunt badgers and boars. Smaller Dachshunds hunted weasels and hares. In the 20th century, they also used 5-lb Doxies to hunt cottontail rabbits. It was only in the 1800s when breeders started breeding them as pets, mostly in Great Britain.

Doxies have a reputation for being stubborn. But their affectionate and lively nature outweighs the frustration of having to deal with the breed’s stubbornness. Literary critic and humorous journalist H.L. Mencken described them as “half a dog high and a dog and a half long.” Don’t let their adorable look fool you though. They are pretty tough creatures that can take on badgers and boars. 

9. German Shorthaired Pointer

Breed Group: Sporting

       Photo Credit: Raegan Falvey

Average Size: 45 to 70 lbs

Grooming: Easy

Trainability: Very Easy to Train

Energy Level: High

About the Breed: The early versions of this breed date back to the 17th century, but the modern German Shorthaired Pointer we know today was created around the middle to late 19th century. Dr. Charles Thornton of Montana imported the first GSP in 1925 to breed the dogs. Five years later, AKC recognized the breed. When it comes to aggression, the only time they’re aggressive is when they’re hunting. Male GSPs are more aggressive and outgoing than female  GSPs. Although GSPs are smart and eager, they can’t be left alone for too long. They’re one of the dog breeds that are prone to separation anxiety.

Unfortunately, they can become destructive if no one is at home most of the time. They like being around their humans and are good around children. You just have to supervise them around small children as they can get a bit rough for the small ones. GSPs are versatile sporting dogs that hunt feathered and furred game, so aside from being a superb hunting dog, they can be a wonderful companion dog. Although they are distrustful of strangers and will bark at them, they’re not aggressive. 

8. Rottweiler

Breed Group: Working

Average Size: 85 to 130 lbs

Grooming: Easy

Trainability: Easy to Train

Energy Level: High

About the Breed: The Rottie’s ancestors are the Molossus, a mastiff-type dog that traveled with the Romans as they marched to Germany. They passed by Southern Germany where they set up their colonies. They built villas with red tiles and a new town was born. They named it Rote Wil (the red tile). The Molossus mated with the native dogs, creating a new breed. The Romans used the Rottweilers for driving cattle, keeping their money safe from thieves, and pulling carts filled with meat. Because of their massive size and fierce looks, people usually think that Rotties are aggressive doggos.

It’s the complete opposite! This breed may be confident and courageous, but they’re also calm and not a highly excitable dog. They’re not friendly towards strangers but would usually wait and observe. Rotties are also protective of their people and homes. However, they shouldn’t be aggressive at all. They need a confident and experienced handler who can clearly establish themselves as the pack leader. Since they require extensive training and socialization from puppyhood, Rottweilers are not a suitable match for people who don’t have the patience and time to train them.

7. Beagle

Breed Group: Hound

Average Size: 18 to 30 lbs 

Grooming: Easy 

Trainability: Difficult to Train 

Energy Level: Active 

About the Breed: There are several theories on the meaning of the breed’s name. It might be from the French word begueule which means open throat. It can also be from the Old English word beag meaning small. Others think it’s from another French word buegler or to bellow. And for some, it’s from the German word begele which means to scold. Their history is just mysterious. There are Greek documents dating back to 400 B.C. that describe Beagle-like dogs. Romans might also have bred them, using small rabbit-hunting hounds and local hounds. Beagles are known to be very naughty and stubborn. They’re also famous for looking at you with their pleading expression after they’ve done something naughty.

Although they’re not yappy dogs, many pet owners still consider them as noisy. They have this half-howl vocalization that’s a cross between a bark and a bay that’s endearing (but really annoying to neighbors). Beagles are intelligent creatures, they’re just strong-willed. An experienced handler would be able to bring out the best in a Beagle. We’re sure you’ve seen Beagles at work at airports in the US. They’re called the Beagle Brigade and the U.S. Department of Agriculture uses them to sniff out agricultural products hidden in luggage. They’re very food motivated; treats and positive reinforcement will help in training this rambunctious breed. 

6. Poodle (Standard)

Breed Group: Non-sporting

Average Size: 40 to 70 lbs

Grooming: Difficult 

Trainability: Very Easy to Train 

Energy Level: High 

About the Breed: The Poodle is one of the oldest breeds created for waterfowl hunting. They originated in Germany, but historians give credit to France for the development of the breed. Depictions of dogs that look like Poodles are on Egyptian and Roman tombs and artifacts from the First centuries B.C. This breed is regarded as one of the most intelligent breeds. In fact, many people say that their intelligence is almost human-like. They can quickly learn practically anything.

It’s important to give them tasks to keep them busy as Poodles are destructive when bored or anxious. Many fans of this breed say that despite their dignified air, they’re also mischievous and always up for play time. Because of their high energy levels, you’ll quickly realize that daily exercise is much needed to keep them from destroying your home and personal items. Poodles are very affectionate towards their family and aloof with strangers. They will bark to alert you that there’s an intruder, making them very good watchdogs.

5. Bulldog

Breed Group: Companion

Average Size: 40 to 50 lbs

Grooming: Easy

Trainability: Moderately Easy to Train

Energy Level: Low

About the Breed: Also called the British Bulldog or the English Bulldog, this breed has a heartbreaking, bloody history. Their ancestors are mastiff-type fighting dogs used by the Romans to participate in a sport called bull baiting. These well-built and ferocious dogs would grab the bull’s nose and shake it roughly. Sadly, many people back then believed that bull baiting also tenderizes the bull’s meat. Many areas in England would even require bull baiting before slaughtering them. They were well-built and ferocious.

Today’s Bulldog, however, are no longer savage. They have mellowed down to become sweet and sociable despite their tough appearance. They’re still courageous, especially when it comes to protecting their humans. They’re not barkers, and they don’t need to be. Their looks alone can scare any intruder. What many don’t know is their easy going and friendly nature. They’re best described as “lovers, not fighters,” and get along with everyone! If you’re a new pet parent, you may have a challenging time training them as they are slow learners. But once they got it down pat, you never have to worry about repeating yourself. 

4. Golden Retriever

Breed Group: Sporting

Average Size: 55 to 75 lbs

Grooming: Difficult 

Trainability: Very Easy to Train

Energy Level: High

About the Breed: Fourth on the list of America’s Most Popular Dog Breeds is the Golden Retriever. No one is hardly surprised that they’re included in the top 10! Goldens are descendants of Russian sheepdogs bought from a circus and developed in Scotland in the estate of Lord Tweedmouth. Like many people in the upper middle class, he bred animals of any kind and wanted a highly talented retriever who was attentive and loyal to their hunting companions. Not only are they excellent hunters, they’re also talented in sniffing contraband and have a reputation for being wonderful therapy and service dogs.

Goldens are one of the nicest dogs with a sweet disposition. They’re always eager to please their humans, usually tolerant of children of all ages, and happy-go-lucky. It’s a known fact that breeders created them to work with humans, whatever their tasks may be. They excel in dog sports, specifically in competitive obedience and agility. Best to prepare for three to four years of having a big doggo who’s always up for games and silliness. Because of their high energy and active mind, it’s important that Goldens get their daily exercise. They’re family dogs, so make sure they always have someone to keep them company. 

3. German Shepherd Dog

Breed Group: Herding

Average Size: 75 to 95 lbs

Grooming: Easy

Trainability: Very Easy to Train

Energy Level: High

About the Breed: The German Shepherd Dog is among the top three favorite dog breeds, and also one of the most recognized breeds around the world. Compared to other breeds on this list, they’re relatively new, created around 1899 by Captain Max von Stephanitz. He wanted a breed that would become a superior German herding dog. He saw a lot of athletic, intelligent, active, and capable dos. But didn’t see one that had all these traits. When he saw a wolf-like dog at the dog show, he bought it and developed the breed. GSDs are popular with everyone: from law enforcers who need them to chase down criminals to farmers who are looking for herding dogs.

Although they have the best dog traits, this breed is just not for everyone. They need a lot of exercise and mental stimulation. Low energy hoomans and couch potatoes might have a hard time keeping up with this energetic doggo. They will thrive where there’s always someone at home. When there’s no one around for long periods of time, they usually become bored, especially if they can’t find anything to entertain them. Aside from daily exercise, giving them lost lasting treats like Himalayan Yak Chews will help calm them down. GSDs are affectionate towards their family, but aloof and quite suspicious of strangers. 

2. French Bulldogs

Breed Group: Companion

Average Size: 16 to 28 lbs

Grooming: Easy 

Trainability: Easy to Train 

Energy Level: Moderate

About This Breed: During the 1800s, lace makers made French Bulldogs their mascots during the industrial revolution. When these lace makers moved to French countryside, they took their mini bulldogs with them. They quickly became popular where the lace makers settled. They were soon bred with other breeds, possibly terriers and pugs, and got their renowned bat ears.

The toy size version of the Bulldog is second on the list of favorite breeds, and it’s not only because of their super adorable looks. Frenchies are highly intelligent and crave for human companionship. They might have been ratters in the past, but they’re now excellent companion dogs that will suit everyone, including small space dwellers and first time parents. 

1. Labrador Retriever

Breed Group: Sporting

Average Size: 55 to 80 lbs 

Grooming: Easy 

Trainability: Very Easy to Train 

Energy Level: High 

About the Breed: Labrador Retrievers began as helpers for fishermen in Newfoundland in the 1700s. Back then, locals called them St. John’s Dogs after the capital city of Newfoundland. Labs mostly spent their days retrieving fishes that got away from hooks and towing in lines. Much of this breed’s history is unknown, but many speculate that they are descendants of the Newfoundland Dog and small water dogs. So, why are they America’s number one favorite dog breed since 1991? They’re sweet, eager to please, and hardworking.

They get along well with other animals and love their families, especially the little ones. Everyone knows these adorable furkids, even those who don’t own dogs. When it comes to grooming, they don’t shed a lot and their coat is easy to care for. A lot of Labrador Retrievers are still working and helping out their hoomans. But most dog parents simply let them enjoy their dog years, loving them and pampering them immensely. Aside from being top notch hunting companions and search and rescue dogs, they also make excellent therapy dogs and service dogs that help the differently abled. 

What’s your favorite dog breed and why? Let us know in the comments section below. We would love to hear your thoughts! 

The post America’s Top 20 Favorite Dog Breeds of 2020 appeared first on Pawstruck Press.

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