10 most popular dogs

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Americans love dogs, and for the 27th year straight, their favorite dog is the Labrador retriever.

The annual ranking from the American Kennel Club has found Labs to be the most popular dog in the United States since 1991, when the breed ousted the cocker spaniel for the top spot.

Labradors are widely considered friendly, intelligent and versatile. They are energetic, gentle, cute and outgoing, making them good family dogs. The AKC says Labs are also very athletic and are excellent for providing search-and-rescue or therapy services.

“The Labrador retriever has its paws firmly planted in Americans’ hearts,” said AKC executive secretary Gina DiNardo, in a statement. “It’s such a versatile and family-friendly breed.”

German shepherds are the second most popular dog in the U.S. (Wikimedia Commons)

Which breed might be the next top dog? The AKC said French bulldogs and German shorthaired pointers are fast becoming very popular among dog lovers.

Here are the rest of the 10 most popular dogs in the U.S.:

2. German shepherd

3. Golden retriever

4. French bulldog

5. Bulldog

6. Beagle

7. Poodle

8. Rottweiler

9. Yorkshire terrier

10. German shorthaired pointer

Golden retrievers are the third most popular dog in the U.S. (Wikimedia Commons)

According to the American Veterinary Medicine Association, 36.5 percent of U.S. households had dogs in 2012 — about 43.4 million homes. The average dog owner had 1.6 dogs per household, making the pet dog population at around 70 million.

America’s 10 Most Popular Dog Breeds

When adopting a dog, people often fall in puppy love, choosing younger, peppier pups over the older, more mellow mongrels. But San Francisco-based Muttville is changing that trend by uniting gray-muzzled, cloudy-eyed canines with people who will dote on them for the rest of their days. In 2007, Sherri Franklin founded the nonprofit organization, which rescues senior dogs (ages 7 and up) from all over California.

The organization is doing more than giving senior dogs a second shot at life. In 2013, Muttville launched Cuddle Club, a subsidiary of their Seniors for Seniors adoption program. Two to four times a month, senior humans can visit the shelter’s handicap-accessible Community Cuddle Room and spend time with Muttville’s elderly dogs. The event has become so popular that some senior organizations are on a waiting list.

Muttville Senior Dog Rescue

“This program is a win-win,” Franklin tells Mental Floss. “Our senior dogs get love and attention while our senior citizens, some isolated, have created a community where they get out and socialize and get lots of unconditional love.”

At the Cuddle Club, older people who may not be able to adopt their own dog receive an abundance of tail wags and slobbery snuggles—without the obligation of pet ownership. During the visits, seniors can walk the animals, and even let small ones ride on their walkers.

“I think the dogs are giving some of our guests a sense of value, because sometimes a dog will come down and they’re nervous, and they start shaking, and over the course of 15 or 20 minutes, the dog quits shaking and has fallen asleep on that person’s lap,” Muttville volunteer Beth Hofer told Today. “You can just see how happy and fulfilled that person is that they were able to help that dog.”

Seniors for Seniors, on the other hand, helps elderly people adopt older dogs. In addition to waiving the $200 adoption fee for adopters over the age of 62, Muttville sends dogs to their new homes with an entire kit, which includes a harness and collar, a leash, dog bowls, a starter supply of food and medication, a bed, and, if needed, a doggy gate and stairs. As of October 2018, Muttville has rescued 6000 dogs—some of whom were adopted by Cuddle Club attendees.

In addition to Seniors for Seniors and Cuddle Club, Muttville also has a hospice program, in which dogs near the end of their lives can receive palliative care in someone’s home (Muttville funds most of the cost).

Muttville Senior Dog Rescue

Spending quality time with a dog has proven health benefits for pet parents. “Studies have shown that holding and petting a dog lowers cortisol in your body and lowers blood pressure, and we see stress eased from both the dogs and our visiting humans at our Cuddle Club events,” Franklin says. Taking care of a pet also increases physical activity, lowers depression, and offers an overall sense of well-being.

You can check out all of Muttville’s friendly Fidos who are in need of a forever home here. You don’t have to be a senior to adopt one of the adorable dogs, of course. People of all ages can bring home a canine companion—say, a Chihuahua, a Bichon Frise, or a marvelous mixed-breed—and start their very own Cuddle Club. And for those who want to foster a dog, Muttville offers that option, too.

Every year, the American Kennel Club (AKC) tallies the number of pups registered as each recognized breed. And every year, for the past 28 years, one breed has reigned. Here’s the backstory behind that dog, and 10 of the other most popular purebreds. Of course, it’s important to adopt our new best friends rather than purchase them. According to the World Health Organization, more than 200 million stray dogs roam the world, looking for a family. Puppy mills, commercial, profit-driven breeding facilities, generate many millions of often undersocialized purebred pups that will end up in shelters after not selling out of pet stores, internet sites, or classified ads. That said, if you are invested in acquiring a certain pedigree as a forever friend, there are hundreds of AKC-endorsed breed-specific rescue shelters scattered throughout the country. You can have your preferred kind of animal and save a life at the same time.

11. Boxer

Photo: rebeccaashworth/

Boxers are great fun. They like to playfully box, hitting with their paws while standing on their hind legs, and that joyful action is the source of the breed’s name. According to Jack Wagner’s original 1939 volume, The Boxer, boxers are a German breed, deriving from a long history of hunting dogs. The boxer was first officialized in Munich in the late 1800s to early 1900s. Today, the breed standard remains consistent, according to photographs we have from some of the original boxer stock. In 1951, a boxer named Bang Away won Best in Show at Westminster, and the breed’s popularity skyrocketed. It has stayed high ever since. Today’s breed standard allows for two colors: fawn or brindle. There are white boxers, but they’re genetically inclined toward deafness.

10. Yorkshire terrier

Photo: Marian Weyo/

Yorkies are tiny terriers, with an attitude to match. In the 1800s, Yorkies were bred as ratters to defend textile mills and coal mines. They come from Yorkshire and Lancashire counties in England, bred as a product of terriers introduced from Scotland and a selection of local terriers like the Skye and the Dandie Dinmont. First known as the broken-hair Scotch terrier (not to be confused with the Scottie) and then called the toy terrier, they became known as the Yorkshire terrier in 1874. Yorkies became fashionable doggie accessories to the wealthy classes when the breed was recognized by the British Kennel Club in 1886. Purebred Yorkies got smaller as humans’ hearts grew to love them.

9. Rottweiler

Photo: everydoghasastory/

Rotties are rather intimidating guard dogs but they’re also notorious clowns. The Rottweiler has a fascinating heritage. Soldiers in the Roman Empire presumably bred them from two early mastiff ancestors: the molossus and the Italian mastiff, to guard their stock animals in the Alps. When the Roman Empire collapsed, cattlemen in the town of Rottweil, Germany, adopted their dogs as protectors of the herds, which is why they’re also known as butcher’s dogs. After the railway came through the area, the dogs were repurposed as messenger dogs — like four-legged mail carriers. When the railway came and began delivering packages and letters, Rottweilers almost died out, until some dedicated breeders resurrected the animal in the late 1800s. After this resurgence, the breed came to serve as police and military canines, seeing eye dogs, and search and rescue assistants.

8. Poodle

Photo: everydoghasastory/

Often considered the second-smartest dog breed after the Border collie, poodles have a reputation for being too refined. But poodles love water and are excellent swimmers. They’re wily but highly trainable. Although the poodle is France’s national dog, the breed probably started as a water dog in Germany sometime in the 1600s. (There is, however, an ongoing debate about whether the breed derives from the French Barbet.) We do know that the original poodles were the big ones and were later bred down to miniatures. The toy version was bred in the US in the 1900s to accommodate humans residing in small dwellings. Today poodles are used for everything from truffle hunting to tracking and herding.

7. Beagle

Photo: Mary Swift/

Although we don’t know too much about the beagles’ deep history, we know that there were dogs around their size hunting in Greece as early as the 5th century BC. Breeders trained the dogs to hunt in packs, so they love being with their humans. Rumor has it that the breed was slow, so breeders crossed them with greyhounds, creating a quick, lithe, and small group hunting pack animal. No one knows where the contemporary breed got its name. It may derive from beag, the Gaelic word for “little.” Or, it could be a twist on the old French word for the baying horn sound they make when hunting (something like “be’geule”). The first beagle registered in the US in 1885 and was named “Blunder.” Now beagles are used all over the world for airport security, rabbit hunting, and as pets for cool kids like Charlie Brown. Beagles know how to win friends, too — they’re sweet, loving, cooperative, and funny.

6. Bulldog

Photo: Tatiana Katsai/

Bulldogs can live anywhere, rural estate or urban apartment. They don’t care — they’ll knock down any wall with their head. Maybe all that tenacious head butting is why they’re so mellow (and why their face is flat). Or maybe it’s because they’re too round to get up. They’re an old breed, originating in England as part of a lineage of canines that rounded up farmers’ horses, cattle, and boars. Bulldogs were selected to aggressively participate in the cruel 12th-century sport called “bull baiting.” Bull baiting involved spectators betting on who would win a battle between a staked bull and a slew of dogs, wherein a dog would pin the bull’s nose to the ground and win, or die by bull mauling. From these bull-baiting assailants, breeders selected the most fearless canines with the strongest jaws, and the modern bulldog was born. When bull baiting became illegal, bulldogs went back to herding large animals. Today they’re extremely popular in the US and the UK, serving as sports mascots and friendly companions.

5. French bulldog

Photo: Sbolotova/

Frenchies look adorably quizzical, with their giant bat ears sticking straight up and a veritable look of incredulity in their eyes. Like so many AKC breeds, the French bulldog has its origins in 1800s England. At first, the breed was designed to be a “bull baiter,” a sport that pit dogs against bulls to the death. Frenchies were therefore selected for strength, athleticism, relatively long legs for its body, and a terrier spirit. When bull baiting was outlawed in the UK in 1835, Nottingham lacemakers began to keep them as a sort of factory mascot. The lacemakers took their beloved toy bulldogs when they moved en masse to France. There, they were bred with pugs and a terrier or two, and voila! the Frenchie was born. The breed came to the US, where the “bat ears” became breed standard markers. They rose to popularity in the US in the 1980s because of a newly invigorated French Bull Club of America, and maintained a steady place on the AKC’s top-registered breeds list. Sadly, Frenchies are prone to obesity and respiratory disorders.

4. German shepherd

Photo: Grigorita Ko/

The German shepherd came about in the late 1800s, when, under the leadership of Captain Max von Stephanitz, a slew of German breeders came together to fashion the ideal herding dog. Contrary to popular belief, German shepherds and Alsatians are the exact same dog. Several armies used the dogs in WWI, and the British didn’t want to refer to their canine counterparts as German anythings. Though the misnomer was officially dropped in 1977, German shepherds are still often referred to as Alsatians (after the French-German border city of Alsace) in the UK and other parts of Europe.

In the early days of television and film, German shepherds became popular entertainers, like Rin Tin Tin and Strongheart. Today they’re commonly used as guide dogs and police and military dogs — this fiercely loyal breed is strong and smart enough to accomplish whatever task is asked of it. They’re fearless quick thinkers who will put themselves in harm’s way to protect their humans.

3. German shorthaired pointer

Photo: Linn Currie/

Creeping rather unexpectedly up the AKC’s Most Registered list for the last two years, the German shorthaired pointer is finally being recognized for its physical prowess and loving spirit.

Dogs that went “on point” were first documented in the 1200s. For the first 500 years or so, pointer types ranged in size, coat variety, and shapes. The Germans began breeding this medium-sized agile dog, with its upturned nose, in the 1700s, selecting it for its high biddability — a canine lover’s term that means the GSP is super willing to do its owner’s bidding. Specifically, the GSP was bred to hunt birds but over the years evolved to kill and bring back everything from boars to deer to ducks. GSPs are sometimes referred to as the “triathlete of dogs” because of their keen ability to point, hunt, and retrieve. But they’re even more versatile than that: fast, smart, extremely energetic, excellent sniffers, runners, and swimmers. They even work as falconers.

2. Golden retriever

Photo: Lunja/

Goldens hail from Scotland. Dudley Marjoribanks, the first Lord Tweedmouth, developed the breed. It took him 50 years — from 1840 to 1890 — to come up with what we now recognize as the beloved breed, crossing what he called a yellow retriever and the now-extinct tweed water spaniel, now and again adding bloodhound and Irish setter DNA to the mix. The breed has always been loved, but it became popular in the US in the 1970s when President Ford had his golden, named Liberty.

Goldens are loving dogs who shed a ton while happily bringing the ball back to you, over and over again. They’re nothing shy of joyous as they flounce and frolic, long golden hair flying. All the while, they’re working hard to please their human families and protect their homes. They’re also some of the best dogs to assist people that are disabled.

1. Labrador retriever

Photo: Daz Stock/

This is the breed that has been the number-one most frequently registered in the AKC — and has, for a record-breaking 28 years, every year since 1991. Labrador retrievers were originally bred in Newfoundland, Canada, to serve as a fisherman’s buddy and fish retriever. Their forebearers were short-coated St. John’s water dogs, though no one knows where that breed came from. They were brought to England around 1820, but their hunting prowess and temperament preceded them. The Second Earl of Malmsberry was so impressed that he devoted his entire kennel to stabilize the breed.

Labs are high-energy sporting dogs, intelligent and friendly. Temperament is what makes them most loveable. They’re easy to please, and get along with everyone — including other pups.

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The Top 10 Cutest Puppy Breeds

Puppies, puppies, PUPPIES!!! They are so stinkin’ cute and make just about everyone happy. Everyone has their own personal favorites, but what are the top cutest puppy breeds? We toiled the night hours, went through some heated debates, and finally narrowed down the top 10 list of cute puppies for your viewing pleasure.

Enjoy these cute puppy gifs!

Golden Retrievers

Of course, the “Gerber baby” of puppies made the list. They are adorable little fur babies that you can’t walk by without cuddling them!

Jack Russells

This spunky, cute puppy steals your heart with its tiny size and giant personality.

Shih Tzu


Not much bigger than a dust bunny, Shih Tzus are cute puppies that stay small.



Cute puppy breeds and maybe even cuter dogs. These chubby, playful pups are clumsy and delightful!



We dare you to look at this puppy face and not say “aaahhhhhh” The cutest puppy breeds large and in charge of cuteness.



This is one of the cutest puppy breeds ever! Pawfection is the word that comes to mind, with that silky soft puppy fur and sweet face, surrounded by those floppy ears.

Labrador Retriever


Maybe we spoke too soon with the Beagle puppy being the cutest puppies… You can’t forget about Labs they hold the torch of cute puppy breeds.

German Shepherd


German Shepherds grow up to be incredibly smart working dogs, but they start out as adorably awkward “all paws” cutest puppies.



You think a full grown Corgi butt is cute, have you seen a puppy corgi butt?! This list of cute puppies wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t mention this cute puppy breed! If you love corgis, don’t miss this video of a corgi going down stairs.



Although they are cute puppies that stay small in size their personality grows immensely! Want more dachshunds? Read Meet the Dachshund: Small Dog, Huge Attitude

Cute Puppy Honorable Mentions

It was too hard to pick only 10 cute puppies so we can’t go without mentioning a few of our other favorite cutest breeds…

French Bulldog




Basset Hound








Great Danes






We want to hear what you think! Don’t see your own cute puppy breed on here? Send us why you love your puppy! Pictures of all the cutest puppies out there are always welcome!

Today, the American Kennel Club announced the results of their annual survey of the most popular dog breeds in America, and once again, the Labrador Retriever took the top spot. For 28 years in a row, the Lab has been #1 on the list, which is determined by the AKC based on the number of registrations received. In fact, the top eight breeds are all the same as last year.

The only change from the 2017 list is in the last two spots. Last year’s #9 breed, the Yorkshire Terrier, dropped to #10. Meanwhile, the German Shorthaired Pointer rose from #10 in 2017 to #9 in 2018. That’s the highest rank the GSP has ever achieved since its AKC debut in 1930!

Here’s the full list of 2018’s top 10 most popular dog breeds, starring 12 adorable DogWatch Dogs from across the country!

Labrador Retrievers Maya and Benson, customers of DogWatch of Puget Sound

2. German Shepherd

Frances, a 5 month old German Shepherd puppy from Indian Hill, OH, customer of DogWatch of Greater Cincinnati

3. Golden Retriever

Camo the Golden Retriever puppy from Norcross, GA, customer of Atlanta/Athens DogWatch Hidden Fence

4. French Bulldog

French Bulldog puppies Moo Cow and Cow Pattie, customers of DogWatch of Mid-Alabama

5. English Bulldog

Tyson the English Bulldog from Decatur, TX, customer of LoneStar DogWatch

6. Beagle

Lily the 5 1/2 month old Beagle, customer of DogWatch of Greater Charleston

7. Poodle

Rose the Black Standard Poodle, customer of DogWatch of Northwest NC

8. Rottweiler

Liza the Rottweiler puppy, customer of DogWatch of Montana

9. German Shorthaired Pointer

Brady the German Shorthaired Pointer, customer of DogWatch of Omaha

10. Yorkshire Terrier

Mimi the Yorkshire Terrier, customer of DogWatch by Laughing Labrador

To see the full list, visit AKC.org.

Want your DogWatch Dog to be featured on our blog? We’re always looking for great dog photos and stories to share with our readers. Share your favorite dog photo on our Facebook page and tell us why your pup is the best!

The 50 Most Popular Dog Breeds in America

50 Bloodhound

These hounds possess powerful and peerless scent-tracking. Bred to hunt deer, boar, and, um, people, Bloodhounds—no longer used by sword-and-sandal warriors—have since proven instrumental in tracking down fugitives, escapes prisoners, and missing persons in the centuries since. More recently these sleuths have been seared into our collective subconscious as symbols of piety and law enforcement by the popular mascot McGruff the Crime Dog. Willful and arduous to train, should you be considering a family pet for small children, look elsewhere. Or, for a more family-friendly pet, here are 20 Ways Cats Are Better Than Dogs.

49 Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier

While the name may not be immediately familiar, there’s no mistaking this dog’s profile and type. Bred in Ireland more than 200 years ago as an all-purpose farm dog, its many tasks included hunting vermin and guarding livestock. Wheaten Terriers are lovable, quick, devoted, and affectionate, and keep up the exuberance of a puppy for their entire life. And for more adorable pups, take a look at these 25 Photos Proving Dogs Are the Best Co-Workers.

48 Saint Bernard

To take it from old Warners Bros. flicks, you’d think that these imposing, iconic Swiss rescue dogs are basically born with a bottle of brandy tied around their necks. Sorry to say, but, as fun as it seems, that’s not case. For one thing, Saint Bernards haven’t made any avalanche rescues since the 1950s. And for another, the last reliable account of brandy-bottles-as-collars can be traced to The Percy Anecdotes…which was published in 1823!

47 Akita

This ancient, muscular, and double-coated Japanese breed trace back to the mountainous Akita region of Japan. Known as “Snow Mountain Dogs,” they’re revered as symbols of health, happiness, and vitality. And for more aww-worthy canines, meet The 30 Cutest Hybrid Dogs in the World.

46 Bichon Frise

Pronounced bee-shon-free-zay, these light-hearted, relentlessly merry puffballs require diligent grooming maintenance to be at their best. Wickedly smart and uniquely blessed with a pure white, plush, hypoallergenic coat, Bichons enjoy performing and love to charm everyone they meet. And for more fluff monsters, meet theses 15 Fluffiest Dog Breeds You Need to Look at Right Now.

45 Shiba Inu

At first glance, the precocious Shiba may look like a small Husky, though that face has much in common with a teddy bear. Small wonder, then, that they’re a cornerstone of kawaii, a cultural movement in Japan that celebrates all things cute. (In Japanese, kawaii translates, in the simplest sense, to “cute.”) Like their Akita brethren, sweet-natured Shibas have compact, strong bodies, double coats of fur, and irresistible smiles.

44 Belgian Malinois

Of the most popular dog breeds, the Malinois—derived from German Shepherds—stands out as the single one you’d never, ever want to mess with. So, naturally, they’re preferred among law enforcement, search and rescue, military, and security teams. (They also guard the White House, as part of the Secret Service detail.) These work dogs are exemplary in their athleticism, intelligence, and rugged beauty. Keep in mind, though, that they require professional training and handling to keep them properly exercised and engaged. And if you’re looking to dress up your pet, here are the 33 Most Adorable Dog Outfits You Can Buy Now.

43 Chesapeake Bay Retriever

These Mid-Atlantic Retrievers are known for their waterproof coat and are the perfect companion for duck hunting. Yes, they’re great fetchers. But don’t expect them to help correct any bad aim!

42 West Highland White Terrier

The popular tiny terriers are self-reliant, possibly stemming from being originally bred to hunt rats. Their snow-white fur was an intentionally bred-and-refined trait to ensure they wouldn’t be confused with foxes or rabbits while on the hunt. And if you’re on the fence about bringing home a furry friend, check out these 15 Amazing Benefits of Adopting a Pet.

41 Rhodesian Ridgeback

A cross between Great Danes and indigenous African dogs, Ridgebacks were conceived by colonial European farmers for two reasons: protection, and lion-tracking. Their name derives from the notable ridge of hair running down the middle of their back. Dignified, strong-willed, and independent, the Ridgeback is a worthy specimen for seasoned dog owners who know how to handle a rowdy pup. First-timers are advised to look elsewhere.

40 Collie

Thanks to an illustrious run of Lassie films—six hugely successful entries in the 1940s, plus a surprisingly well-met 2005 remake—Collies are among the most popular dog breeds of all time. (Fun fact: Lassie happens to be just one of three animals who has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.) These majestic dogs come in two coat varieties: rough or smooth. Collies are eager learners with a gentle temperament, which makes the perfect pet for households with children.

39 Basset Hound

This classic droopy-eared, low-rider has a sense of smell second only to bloodhounds in capability. You might think the saggy appearance is just for looks, but that loose elastic skin around the neck and ears actually helps trap the scent of what they’re tracking. (So that’s why they’re so good at catching hare…) Generally, these pups are outgoing and sweet-tempered, though they can be stubborn as well.

38 Border Collie

Behind those famously gorgeous, intelligent eyes, you’ll find an agile, hardworking pup full of energy. Affectionate, athletic, and bred to herd, they need a sense of purpose—like training, or a sport—to feel content. They make great companions for quality game time in the backyard or park.

37 Cane Corso

Serving as bodyguards for Romans in antiquity, they’re still on duty thousands of years later. A member of the Mastiff breed, Corsi rock an imposing presence befitting their name, which translates to “protector” in Latin. Smart, eager, and intensely loyal, they require commitment and early socialization to achieve their maximum potential.

36 Newfoundland

Their protective demeanor and massive bulk give Newfoundlands the presence of a friendly mountain bear. Originally bred and used as working dogs for fishermen in Newfoundland in the Canadian Maritimes, so-called ‘Newfies’ are excellent swimmers and excel at water rescue thanks to webbed feet and a water-resistant coat.

35 Miniature American Shepherd

A dead-ringer for the pocket-sized Australian Shepherd, Minis bristle with energy and intelligence, desperately wanting to be helpful, in true herding dog form. Endearing and lively, Minis are of recent heritage, developed in California in the late 1960s based on Australian Shepherd stock.

34 Weimaraner

With its silvery coat, this mainstay of the family dog group is a perfectly rounded individual. Imbued with nobility, grace, and gentleness, the elegant Weimaraner assisted royal houses in hunting large game, like deer and bears., these superb specimens are true show-stoppers.

33 Maltese

This ancient toy dog of Malta can find a friend in anyone and makes for a surprisingly alert watchdog. Like the West Highland Terrier, they were bred to be pure white by Roman emperors who wanted their pets to have a color they considered divine.

32 Chihuahua

One of the oldest breeds from the Americas, and a convenient mascot of their native Mexico, for years, the Chihuahua was considered a high-fashion accessory. (See: Hilton, Paris.) Demanding but lovable, these little brutes require training to live with, but ultimately make lovable life-long, faithful companions.

31 Pug

The Pug’s capacity to display a wide array of human-like facial expressions—plus a knack for mischief—makes them natural cut-ups. (For a laugh, get this: a group of Pugs is called a Grumble.) Considered the ideal house dog by many, Pugs are happy…as long as they are loved.

30 Vizsla

One of the smallest retriever breeds, these beautiful, golden-rust colored sporting dogs have near-limitless energy, but are graceful, gentle, smart, and sensitive at the same time. An athletic Hungarian breed, these pups thrive on activity, making them an ideal jogging or biking buddy.

29 Cocker Spaniel

For years, Cocker Spaniels were America’s breed of choice. Bred for hunting, Cockers got their name from the birds they were at hunting: Woodcocks. While playful and sweet, they’re also the highest maintenance of the Spaniel family, and can bark endlessly. Training is essential to keep the neighbors from hating you.

28 Mastiff

Clocking in at a massive 30 inches in length, and at a weight of more than 200 pounds, Mastiffs have been around since the dawn of civilization as one of man’s oldest and greatest protectors. Despite its size, the Mastiff flourishes in small spaces and urban environments.

27 English Springer Spaniel

The best hunters of the Spaniel clan are filled with brawn, brain, and undying love for bird necks. Until the turn of the 20th century, they shared a breed designation with Cocker Spaniels. Born from the same litter, the smaller dogs were Cockers while the larger ones were Springers.

26 Brittany

Agile and upbeat, the Brittany excels in all manner of sports and training. Sized in between larger Setters and shorter Spaniels, these dogs need lots of exercise and are perfect companions for those with active, outdoorsy lifestyles.

25 Bernese Mountain Dog

The calm temperament and big, brawny mass of the Bernese suits its origin as a dependable, noble work dog from Switzerland. These gentle giants affectionately attach themselves to one person, who is typically the one tasked with managing the Bernese’s prolific shedding! And for dogs that don’t require much cleanup, meet The Dog Breeds That Never Shed.

24 Shetland Sheepdog

Scottish Shelties are sturdy, diminutive herding dogs derived from Rough Collies and King Charles Spaniels, for the purpose of—let’s get a drum roll—persuading sheep to stay with the flock. Shetlands are purposeful, intelligent, vocal, excitable, and eager to please. Incredibly loyal, they’re often referred to as “shadows” due to their attachment to family.

23 Havanese

The national dog of Cuba, Havana dogs have found their way into an ever-increasing number of American cities, homes, and hearts. Their intense social needs and desire to always be around humans has earned them the nickname “Velcro Dogs.”

22 Pomeranian

Despite packing one of the smallest of builds, Poms carry the tenacity befitting a larger dog. Extroverted, playful, and lively, these toy dogs enjoy being the center of attention.

21 Boston Terrier

These good-natured, compact tuxedoes are delightful companions, and are especially well-suited for city-dwellers. You can trace their genealogy to a stout Liverpudlian from the late 1860s named Judge, who was a cross between a Bulldog and the now-extinct white English Terrier. Judge traveled across the pond to the land of Paul Revere, where he became the patriarch and common ancestor of all true Boston Terriers, the first officially registered American breed. The “American Gentleman” became the official dog of the State of Massachusetts—as well as the mascot of Boston University. Go Rhett!

20 Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu, or “Lion Dog,” in Chinese dialects, is a Tibetan breed that’s been one of the most popular dog breeds for more than a millennium. Notable for their beautiful, flamboyant double coat—which is often groomed to reach the floor—they require daily brushing and maintenance. Shih Tzus have a wide range of temperaments, though they all share affectionate, outgoing personalities.

19 Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Also known as Blenheims, these sweet, gentle creatures have dual appeal as either a toy or athletic dog, always up for some playtime—or an impromptu squirrel chase. They readily adopt their owner’s lifestyle, whether it be sporty and active or just lazing around the house.

18 Miniature Schnauzer

Friendly and intelligent, and relatively young as a breed, it outranks the standard Schnauzer in popularity. These pint-sized Schnauzers hail from late-19th century Germany and are readily identifiable by their long beard, voluminous leggings, and a legendary walrus mustache. And for more awesome pups, meet The Dog Breeds That Never Bark.

17 Australian Shepherd

This cowboy’s companion has made its presence very well known in rodeos as one of the world’s best herders. Their name is a misnomer, though, as all evidence points to American heritage.

16 Doberman Pinscher

Loyal, noble, fierce, and fearless, the Doberman was first bred by a tax collector as an intelligent and intimidating dog for the purpose of protecting himself while soliciting payments at night. Hey, it worked!

15 Pembroke Welsh Corgi

The increasingly popular Corgi is a champion herder and a common sight on sheep farms across the British Isles. Among the friendliest of small breeds, these spirited pooches appear to be always smiling. Queen Elizabeth has long been associated with her brood of adorable Corgis, which can all be traced back corgi number-one, Susan, a gift for the young princess on her 18th birthday in 1944. And for more on these adorable little fellas, here are 50 Corgi Facts That Will Make You Want a Corgi.

14 Great Dane

As epitomized by cartoon icon Scooby-Doo, the Great Dane’s formidable size belies a big sweetheart. What’s more, the first breeds were not actually from Denmark, but Germany, where they were bred to help hunt wild boars.

13 Dachshund

German for “Badger dog,” these low-slung wieners were purpose-built to flush out badgers from their burrows. Clever and courageous, these lovable, alert stars of the canine world make perfect household companions.

12 Siberian Husky

With their stunning, deep blue eyes, these dogs of the frozen tundra resemble their lupine ancestors more than any other canine (save for the larger, related Alaskan Malamute). Despite fearsome appearances, their inherent friendliness makes them ineffective as watchdogs.

11 Boxer

The all-American Boxer shares an athleticism with its human namesake. Despite being bred for service in warfare as early as 2000 B.C.E. in Assyria, and then subsequently named after a bloodsport, the modern American Boxer is a lover, not a fighter.

10 German Shorthaired Pointer

The “Perfect Pointer” is known as a jack of all trades. Pointers get their name from striking a pose by keeping a direct gaze and lifting one paw to signal the location of prey to their fellow human hunters.

9 Yorkshire Terrier

Small but fierce, Yorkies were used during hunts to flush prey out of its den. “Smoky,” a famous war dog of WWII, was able to run through pipes and string communication wires under a former Japanese airstrip so soldiers would not have to expose themselves to enemy fire. She served in 12 missions and earned 8 battle stars, plus a monument in Cleveland, Ohio. And for more decorated canine war heroes, meet the 30 Most Important Dogs in American History.

8 Rottweiler

Rottweilers descend from ancient Roman times, and are renowned for exceptional intelligence and guarding instincts. As the legions conquered faraway lands, they traveled with herds of cattle for sustenance, which the dogs corralled and protected from robbers and wild animals. Rottweilers remained long after the soldiers were driven out of what is today southern Germany.

The breed remained in use as herders and as “metzgerhund,” guardians of butcher deliveries in the Middle Ages, in the town of Rottweil. Their numbers diminished nearly to the point of extinction with the advent of railroads. But demand for service dogs during World War I stimulated a revival, where Rottweilers served as messengers, draught, and guard dogs.

7 Poodle

The aristocrats of the canine kingdom, poodles come in every size from toy and miniature to standard. One of the most intelligent breeds, these proud, athletic canines are excellent swimmers, once used for bird hunting. The traditional grooming style, like the pompons around the ankles, actually served the purpose of protecting joints and vital organs from freezing water.

6 Beagle

Beagles are so ancient that their origins are uncertain. The only thing we know for sure is that they were a personal favorite of Queen Elizabeth I and, of course, for legions of fox hunters all over Britain. Despite British pedigree, their name is derived from the French term for “loudmouth,” no doubt for their prolific barking (which is useful in tracking prey).

5 Bulldog

Unlike its smaller French cousin, standard Bulldogs were bred for the sport of bullbaiting. With unmitigated ferocity and a seemingly limitless pain tolerance, packs of bulldogs fought with bulls in 13th-century England while spectators placed their bets on the winner. Despite their legacy as tiny terrors, today bulldogs are classified by the American Kennel Club as friendly, courageous, and calm.

4 French Bulldog

Frenchies have clawed their way to become among the most popular dog breeds in the world. Despite their appellation, they come from England, bred to be a more companion-friendly Bulldog. Sweet though they are, cross-breeding has had consequences, as most have trouble swimming and often require assistance reproducing.

3 Golden Retriever

Cheerful, easy to train, and eager to please, the Golden Retriever is the dictionary definition of the perfect family dog. And they’re great sports, too: one Dallas-based Golden Retriever named Augie holds the world record for holding an astonishing five tennis balls in its mouth at once!

2 German Shepherd

German Shepherds have a dedicated and proud history of police and military work and were the first breed to be deployed as service dogs. Motivated by a strong sense of purpose, they’ll do anything for the masters they serve. In their native German, “Schutzhund,” literally translates to protection dog.

1 Labrador Retriever

America’s top dog needs no introduction. Labrador Retrievers have been the most popular breed every year running since 1991, and it’s easy to see why. With their endlessly exuberant demeanor, photogenic looks, and family-friendly attitude, who wouldn’t want one in the house? And for more on man’s best friend, here are 15 Life Lessons You Can Learn From Your Dog.

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3 most popular dog breeds in Alabama

America is going to the dogs. There are roughly 78 million pet dogs in the U.S., with roughly 44 percent of households having at least one furry friend. So, what types of dogs are the most popular across the U.S.? We can use information from the American Kennel Club to find out. Leada Gore | [email protected]

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(Contributed photo/American Kennel Club)

Labs are tops in Alabama and almost everywhere else

Alabamians – along with the rest of Americans – really like Labrador Retrievers. It’s the 26th year in a row labs have claimed the top spot. Labs are the most popular dogs in Alabama and every other state except Indiana, Florida, New Mexico, West Virginia, Kentucky and French Bulldogs.

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Other top dogs

German Shepherds take the top spots in Indiana, Florida, New Mexico and West Virginia. Beagles are the top pick in Kentucky and French Bulldogs are No. 1 in Hawaii.

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Alabama’s second place finisher

German Shepherd was the second most popular dog breed in Alabama. The breed was the most-frequent second-place finisher across the country.

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A couple of exceptions

There were two states that stood out for their second-place picks. French bulldogs were the second-most popular breed in California while bulldogs took second-place in Nevada. California and Nevada were the only states with those dogs as their second-place choices.

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Alabama’s third most popular breed

Beagles were the third-most popular breed in Alabama.

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A Southern thing?

Beagles, popular hunting dogs, were the third-most popular breed in almost every Southern state, including Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. Two Southern states – Mississippi and Louisiana – had a different breed in third place, each opting for German Shepherds.

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The wild west

Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Kansas each shared the same breed as their third-place picks: bulldogs.

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Top 10 nationwide

Overall, the top 10 dog breeds nationwide are Labrador retrievers, German Shepherds, golden retrievers, bulldogs, beagles, French bulldogs, poodles, Rottweilers, Yorkshire terriers and boxers.

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Gaining in populairy

The Rottweiler has been rising in popularity over the last decade. It was the eighth most popular breed in the most recent rankings, its highest spot since landing at number two in 1997. The Rottweiler has risen nine spots over the past decade.

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Don’t call it a comeback

Maybe a rebound? Terriers are gaining in popularity. The Russell Terrier jumped a substantial 14 spots (104th to 90th), the Rat Terrier rose five spots (101st to 96th), the Parson Russell Terrier rose two spots (111th to 109th) and the Dandie Dinmont Terrier jumped five spots (172nd to 167th), according to the American Kennel Club.

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Outside the top 10

Siberian huskies were the 12th most popular dogs in the U.S.

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Poms popular, too

Pomeranians were the 22nd most popular.

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Small but likable

Chihuahuas came in at number 30 on the list of most popular dog breeds, dropping from 22nd four years ago.

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Former White House dogs

Portuguese Water Dogs, the breed owned by the Obamas during their time in the White House, was 51st in popularity, according to the American Kennel Club. President Donald Trump doesn’t own a dog, the first Commander-in-Chief in about 100 years to have a Fido-free White House.

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What’s a Bergamasco?

Some of the unique breeds making the list were American Foxhounds, Norwegian Lundehunds, English Foxhounds, Harriers, Sloughis, Bergamasco and Cirnechi dell’Etnas, all of which landed at the bottom of the list of most-popular breeds in the U.S. (The dog above is a Bergamasco).

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Man’s best friend doesn’t always come free. In fact, some are willing to pay in the thousands for certain types of dogs, even breeds that are fairly easy to obtain. Though costs will vary based on location and breeder, these 10 breeds often have the highest average price tag.

10. Irish Wolfhound ($1,500 to $2,000)

(Photo: DragoNika/)

Two thousand dollars might seem a small price to pay for the tallest of dogs, also known for a commanding appearance. Irish Wolfhounds are known for their athletic ability, especially in endurance running. And of course, there is an Irish proverb to describe their personality: “Gentle when stroked, fierce when provoked.”

9. Saluki ($2,500)

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Salukis look thin and graceful, but possess impressive strength and endurance. The sight hound is a great hunter, lure courser and show dog, and can appear smooth or coated with feathering on the legs, in a variety of colors.

8. Pharaoh Hound ($2,500 to $6,500)

(Photo: Lenkadan/)

As regal as its name implies, the Pharaoh Hound is “graceful, powerful, and, above all, fast.” But they’re also eager to please, making them great at hunting, obedience, and lure coursing. Most unique is the Pharaoh Hound’s “blush”: its nose and ears turn a deep rose color when it is happy or excited.

7. Akita ($1,500 to $4,500)

(Photo: Botond Horvath/)

Akitas originated in Japan but today can be found all over the world as successful show and therapy dogs. They have thick coats, plush tails and a powerful build, along with a dignified and courageous personality.

6. Tibetan Mastiff ($2,200 to $7,000)

(Photo: Sergey Lavrentev/)

The massive Tibetan Mastiff displays a “noble bearing” and a royal price tag to go with it. It is an aloof and watchful breed, with an immense double coat and a kind expression. But the breed’s dignified personality can also translate into a reluctance to participate in organized activities like obedience.

5. Rottweiler ($2,000 to $8,000)

(Photo: Ammit Jack/)

Rottweilers are as multi-talented as they are robust and powerful. The intelligent, patient breed often works as a police dog, herder, service dog, therapy dog, or obedience competitor. But Rottweilers are also protective and self-confident, making them excellent companions.

4. Lowchen ($5,000 to $8,000)

(Photo: mkabroad/Flickr)

Löwchen means “little lion” in German, a fitting name for this small dog with an impressive mane of hair and talent for agility. The breed is often given a “lion” trim, too: clipped close to the skin at the hindquarters, with cuffs of hair around the ankles and a plumed tail.

3. Chow Chow ($3,000 to $8,500)

(Photo: ccfabulous/Flickr)

This powerful and sturdy Arctic breed used to be a working dog, but today can mostly be found as a companion and in shows. Not surprising, considering its “lion-like” appearances, immense coat and uniquely blue or black tongue.

2. English Bulldog ($2,500 to $9,000)

(Photo: WilleeCole/)

This jowly breed is known for its “loose-jointed, shuffling gait and massive, short-faced head”. Bulldogs are lovable and gentle, though often unaware of their size. Based on its continued placement on the AKC’s list of most popular dogs in the U.S., many are willing to pay top dollar for this chubby companion.

1. Samoyed ($4,000 to $11,000)

(Photo: Abramova Kseniya/)

Bright and alert, with a weather-resistant coat, Samoyeds excel at agility, herding, weight pulling, sledding, pack hiking, and conformation shows, among many others. But the Samoyed’s premium price could also be due to its looks: a coat that ranges from pure white to biscuit, and black lips that curl into a well-known “Samoyed smile”.

Filed To: Photography Lead Photo: Jf Brou/Unsplash

I Was a Dog Breeder for 15 Years. Why Does That Make Me a Monster?

I raised puppies for 15 years with my family. Corgis were our first love, but then half of us developed an allergy to their hair. We eventually switched to French Bulldogs and breathed much easier.

At the height of our breeding program, there were as many as eight adult dogs, but I preferred to keep the number closer to four or five for sanity’s sake. If we could get two to three litters of puppies per year, I was very happy. We could have had twice that many, as there was always a waiting list of potential owners, but I was selective in our breeding and chose to keep our girls healthy rather than tax them with too many litters in a lifetime. At this time, sadly, we’re done raising puppies unless our only male, Louie, figures out how to become a dad.

The fact that I was a dog breeder is not something I readily share. I try to learn where a person stands in the adoption vs. buying-from-a-breeder debate before deciding whether to divulge this information. What started as a deep love of dogs and wanting to experience puppies had grown into a business for us. Along with that growth came the awareness that this was something I shouldn’t tell the general public.

Our Mama Claire and her litter of Corgi puppies. (Photo by Karen Dibert)

I learned early on that many in the adopt-only camp have negative feelings toward breeders, ranging from mild irritation to outright hatred. Many think breeders are responsible for populating the world with unwanted dogs, and should be stopped. This didn’t make me feel comfortable sharing what I did. In fact, I envisioned people grabbing pitchforks and torches if I told them I raised puppies.

Before I go on, I want to be clear that I am pro-adoption. In fact, we recently adopted a dog. I think all dogs deserve to have happy and loving homes. As a breeder, I interviewed all potential owners and made it my personal goal to get each puppy their forever home. We never sold to pet shops, nor did we sell through brokers.

I not only struggled with divulging to others what we did, but struggled to justify my job. It’s a difficult thing to defend yourself to someone who has pre-judged you and is not willing to listen with an open mind. Being a monster in the minds of others is something I just learned to live with.

I also struggled to understand why dog breeding is thought to be such a horrible thing. Loving dogs enough to make your living with them should be commended by animal welfare activists, right? Yet, I was a bad person for removing dogs from my breeding program if they showed temperament flaws or genetic defects that could (and would) be passed onto puppies. Somehow, it’s considered a bad thing to make a better breed of dog with fewer health problems and better personalities.

My son playing with a litter of our French Bulldog puppies. (Photo by Karen Dibert)

The dogs we retired were spayed and placed in personally selected homes suited to each dog’s temperament and personality. I didn’t euthanize dogs when they were no longer able to have puppies, as many assume all breeders do. I once spent nearly a thousand dollars for a C-section on a dog who managed to birth half her litter naturally but needed help with the second half. Her milk never came in, so I bottle fed the puppies for weeks while caring for the mama in her recovery.

My vet and I decided that a spay was that mama’s best option, but we waited until she had recovered to do the second surgery. Upon hearing that the dog would no longer breed, an acquaintance was horrified, thinking I would just heartlessly euthanize the dog. She had heard that’s what breeders do, and even knowing that we loved and cared for our dogs, she simply believed it to be true.

Our dogs are part of our family and have always lived in our home, even when we were raising puppies. Despite knowing that the dogs were also a business, I got attached anyway. It was a painful thing to keep a dog for a few years only to discover that she had difficulties getting pregnant or birthing puppies, or he didn’t pass a genetic health screening. (Dogs can’t be tested for hereditary genetic flaws until they’re 2 years old.) Finding these dogs new homes was heart wrenching, and the ache felt sometimes far outweighed the money invested in the dogs up to that point.

Responsible breeding is, sadly, not a profitable business. It sounds so good in theory, being able to charge good money for purebred puppies, multiplied by a large number of puppies in a litter. It was the extras and hidden costs that nobody informed us about, and they often drained the bank account. I’ve joked that the vet’s office should have a wing named after me. I was on a first-name basis with the entire vet staff. I had the clinic on my online bill-pay roster. (I’m not kidding.) The vet’s number wasn’t on speed dial; it was memorized so well that I could unconsciously dial it after a week’s worth of sleep deprivation, at 3 a.m., when a puppy was struggling to hold onto life.

Our French Bulldog puppies. (Photo by Karen Dibert)

The money I spent on dog food nearly rivaled our grocery bill in the months I had a nursing mama and her litter began to eat. (We are a family of seven humans. Our grocery bill isn’t small.) Registration fees, yearly genetic screenings, advertising, Internet and phone bills, vet bills, supplies, vaccines and dewormers, training equipment, licenses, stud fees, and grooming all added up. Having a dog is expensive. Having a kennel full of dogs was even more so. I kept thinking, “this will be the year that I make money with the dogs.” I never made much of a profit.

There were other downfalls to raising dogs. When I was looking to add another puppy to the breeding program, I wasn’t at liberty to choose the cutest in the litter, with the floppy ear or the wobbly gait. My heart always gravitated toward those quirky traits, but I had to remember that I strove for perfection, and that meant choosing the best puppy in the litter. Often times, the dog was a color that wouldn’t be my first choice if I were getting a pet.

I also had to research bloodlines for generations back, looking for things like genetic health issues, temperament flaws, and whether or not the line of females had been able to give birth naturally or had C-sections. Buying a puppy for a breeding program is more of a science than a fun adventure. It was time consuming, exhausting, and often not fun for me. In addition, the best puppies were usually far more expensive than the pet-quality puppies.

Often, the puppies needed to be bottle fed. While this sounds adorably cute, it’s a stressful and life-altering endeavor. I lost more sleep bottle feeding puppies than I ever did with my own children. Puppies need to eat every two to three hours or their blood sugar levels will drop low enough to cause hypoglcemic shock. Setting alarms every 90 minutes, night and day for two weeks, took a toll. Extreme exhaustion taxed my body, and often I ended up on antibiotics because I didn’t have the strength to fight off an illness. I once told the ER doctor that he had to prescribe me different meds for bronchitis because I couldn’t be drowsy. Puppies were depending on me to keep them alive.

Our French Bulldog puppies. (Photo by Karen Dibert)

Bottle-fed puppies don’t thrive as well as nursed puppies, and the stress of losing one was real. My vet cried with me on several occasions over puppies I’d brought to the clinic. He was keenly aware of the struggle to keep the puppies alive; sometimes I would visit the clinic daily for two weeks, only to lose a puppy in the end. The constant stress of keeping puppies alive, especially if the litter was bottle fed or there were health complications, was exhausting for me — physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Puppies also aren’t housebroken, neither are they aware of social manners, such as not barking in the house. Our kids were often embarrassed to have friends over, and they had become immune to the charms of puppies, knowing that with the cute wrinkles and sweet breath came midnight howling and a house that smelled like a barnyard.

In other words, the sheer amount of time and energy involved in raising puppies was a full-time job for me. It was far more than just having babies in the house for eight weeks. It started with intensive research to find quality dogs to breed with, and it included lifelong follow-up for every puppy I sold. Which means that my job is still not done, even though I’ve stopped breeding.

I offer support to their owners in diet, house training, and any other questions they have. I also made it clear to every buyer that if a dog doesn’t work out in their home, for whatever reason, I am always willing to take them back. Support is an ongoing, lifelong friendship with and responsibility toward the owners of my puppies.

A litter of Corgi puppies I raised. (Photo by Karen Dibert)

Also, all the paperwork required by the American Kennel Club, the state of Pennsylvania, my veterinarian, and for my own records was staggering. I sometimes joked that I needed a secretary when I had a litter of puppies, so that I could free up time to snuggle those babies. It was my responsibility to evaluate each puppy to determine if they should be sold with a spay-neuter contract or if they could be bred or shown.

Despite all this, I loved having puppies. It was a passion of mine to nurture those newborns into healthy babies who found amazing forever homes. The happiest days were when families adopted my puppies. The joy I was able to give others was infectious. It kept me going. I still struggle to understand what is so wrong with what I did, and why I was a bad person for raising purebred puppies. If all breeders were stopped, as some extreme activists wish, there would be no more purebred dogs left in 20 years’ time. That would be a sad, sad world indeed.

Read related stories on Dogster:

  • Commentary: I Will Judge You for Buying a Dog
  • Please Don’t Judge Me: I Got My Dog from a Breeder
  • Let’s Talk About Dogster Values: Yours and Ours

About the author: Karen Dibert is a wife, mom, and dog lover living in the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania. She has five kids, three French Bulldogs, and a flock of useless chickens. Karen authors a pet column for her local newspaper, advocates for her son with Down syndrome, manages Louie the French Dog’s Instagram accounts, compulsively photographs everything, and lives in the sewing room, filling orders for her Etsy shops, The French Dog, The French Dog Home, and Collar The Dog. A snapshot of her life can be seen on Facebook.

Tax Tips For Dog Breeders

They are two words that strike dread in many hearts (and pocketbooks): tax day.

And for dog breeders, there’s good reason to be cautious. Dog-related deductions and other write-offs from activities that could also be hobbies can trigger a red flag at the Internal Revenue Service. But sound business practices will make tax season easier to navigate and help keep your dog-related activities on solid footing with the IRS, whether you’re a full-time professional breeder or only earn occasional income as a hobby breeder, tax advisors say. And that is where you should start when you have a tax question: with a professional tax advisor. In the meantime, here’s some food for thought as tax season approaches.

Dog Breeding As A Business

One basic thing to remember is that, even if you breed dogs as a hobby, income you make from that activity—e.g., when you sell a puppy—is taxable. But don’t be tempted to write off breeding-related business expenses on what is really a hobby.

“Pets are fun, and any kind of business that’s looked at as being fun is more likely to get a second glance from the IRS because it can also be a hobby,” explained Jan Roberg, founder and principal owner of Roberg Tax Solutions in St. Louis, Missouri. “That’s why you want to be extra-careful with your records. If you’ve got four dogs and only one of them is the breeding dog, don’t claim all of your expenses; claim 25 percent. If you really aren’t doing it as a business but you sold some puppies and you want to declare the income, put it on Line 21 and claim it as a hobby expense. Don’t go writing it all off.

“But if you’re serious about being a business, don’t be afraid to write off your expenses,” Roberg added. “Just recognize that you’re more likely to get looked at. If you’re serious about a dog business, set up a separate bank account. Make sure that any money that comes in for the business comes into that bank account, and any expenses for the business come out of that bank account. That way, if you do get audited, you’ve got a nice little paper trail.”

Keeping meticulous records isn’t everybody’s idea of fun. But it can help keep both business and hobby budgets on track, and it can be a lifesaver in case of an audit.

If you are running a business, hold on to your records for seven years, Roberg advises. “Three years is usually fine, but the IRS has all of these exceptions for which they can go back farther,” she said. “So keep them for seven, and you’re covered by most of the exceptions.”

The standard for proving you’re a business, instead of an expensive hobby, is high. The IRS will want proof of commercial intent, evidence that you are intending to make money from breeding dogs.

“People say you have to make a profit within three years, and that’s not necessarily so, although it helps,” Roberg said. “But things that help demonstrate that you’re serious about being a real business include being an LLC; having advertising, like a website promoting your dogs for sale; or a background in dogs or long experience breeding or showing dogs. If you don’t have a background in dog breeding, maybe a background in business that would qualify you for running a business.”

Having a written business plan and a business license also can provide evidence of business intent.

If you don’t want the complications of actually operating a breeding business, stick to the hobby category.

Dog Breeding Tax Credits

While tax deductions for family pets might sound great, AKC Government Relations Director Sheila Goffe says pets would not receive better care or protection as dependent-style write-offs than they do under the current tax system.

“The American Kennel Club supports the view that pets are and should remain legal property,” Goffe said. “Treatment of pets as property in the American legal framework establishes both a right and a responsibility for owners to provide appropriate care for their animals. It also provides protections for owners—those who know their pets best—to make appropriate choices regarding their pets while ensuring that they can benefit from laws governing their care and treatment. Considering animals property doesn’t mean that we care for our pets any less than those who advocate for a change in their legal status as either full or quasi-persons under the law. Rather, it serves as the foundation of a stable legal system that promotes responsible animal ownership; deters animal abuse; and promotes innovative, affordable, and quality animal care.”

And tax credits for pet adoption could have negative consequences, Goffe added.

“Notwithstanding the specifics of a proposal, the idea of offering tax credits for the adoption of pets is generally designed to incentivize ownership of pets from specific sources while disadvantaging other sources,” she said. “AKC does not believe that tax breaks should be used to incentivize the choice of a pet from one source over another. Experience demonstrates that pet ownership is most successful when prospective pet owners choose a pet that is a good match for their individual lifestyle. Great pets can come from a variety of sources, so it is better to encourage prospective owners to select the pet that is the right one for their lifestyle.”

Dogs As Taxable Assets

Dogs become more than pets if you start a professional program: they become business assets. They’re depreciated over seven years, beginning when the dog reaches maturity for its intended use—so, for breeding, at sexual maturity. It’s tempting to write off the dog’s entire purchase price in its first year of depreciation, but Roberg cautions that there’s a catch to that: you have to actually be breeding the dog in order to expense its cost, and if you stop breeding it during the seven-year depreciation timeline, you’ll have to reclaim the depreciation for any year you did not breed.

Most people are well aware of many business expenses to deduct, from veterinary care to advertising to business letterhead. But Roberg reminds her clients not to overlook less-obvious potential deductions, such as a home office (or a dedicated room for your dogs), internet and phone service, show entry fees, and mileage.

Breeders with other related businesses also might be able to use the expenses from one to offset profits in another, but only if the two businesses make sense together. “One of my clients, a dog groomer, also made handmade collars and leashes, and it did all go together,” Roberg said. “Now, if your business is dog breeding and you’re trying to combine that with air conditioning repair, it’s not so natural, and using the dog breeding business to offset the income on the air conditioning business could be a problem.”

Another way to help offset profits is also what Roberg called “my favorite sneaky tax tip:” hire your children as employees.

“Hire them to feed the dogs or walk the dogs or whatever chores they do,” she explained. “If they’re under 17 and you’re self-employed, you don’t have to pay the Social Security or Medicare tax on them. You’re saving a 15 percent tax, but it’s also a business expense, so you’re saving more. You’re paying your kids, and you’re reducing your business income. There’s no taxable income because your kids are getting a W2, and their income is so low that they don’t have to pay tax at all. And it’s legal.”

Filing Your Taxes Online Vs. Paper

Finally, Roberg says, file your taxes on time—and file electronically, not on paper.

“If you’re dog breeder, you’re already in the more-likely-to-be-audited category,” she said. “Something like 10 percent of paper returns that get filed get audited. Returns that are electronically filed, it’s about half of 1 percent. E-filed returns are all going through a computer, whereas when you paper-file, somebody’s actually looking at it. Not only is a human being looking at it, they’re retyping it into an IRS computer. So you’re giving somebody the opportunity to say, ‘Hmm, that’s funky.’”

And when the moment comes to write the check to the government, don’t delay. Even if you file for an extension on your paperwork, go on and pay the amount that you estimate you’ll owe. If you don’t, you can incur heavy financial penalties.

“If you do wind up having to pay taxes, pay on time,” Roberg said. “People with small businesses often think, ‘I’ll just file an extension’ and that that buys them time. Doing an extension only buys you time for filing your taxes. It doesn’t buy you time for paying.”

When in doubt, circle back to your professional tax advisor for guidance. Chances are, consulting them early will help you keep your tax season headache-free, so that come tax day, you can be right where you want to be: at home with the dogs.