Popular Dog Breeds

So here goes . . . the top 10 list of America's most popular breeds. Athough the order of the dogs changes year to year, these dog breeds consistently make it to the top of the list.

1. Golden Retrievers

Golden Retrievers are known for their flowing golden mane and friendly and docile natures. They are active, confident and powerful dogs that make great family companions. They are also often used as hunting dogs and guide dogs. Because they are so docile, they are excellent with children of all ages, even those children who are more rambunctious and wild. These dogs take it all in stride. They are always very gentle with children. Golden Retrievers are great learners, who are eager to please their owners and do so with an affable and gentle personality. They love water and activity. They shouldn't be kept in runs, but are better left to roam a large yard in peace. They, too, require lots of attention and walks, but the Golden Retriever will understand if you need your quiet time as well. As an adult, the female dog will be about 55 to 65 pounds, while the male will be around 65 to 80 pounds. Because their coat is feathery in parts, the Golden Retriever requires a fair amount of grooming (weekly, with a wire or firm bristle comb or brush). It's generally not recommended that seniors or the infirm take a Golden Retriever into their home, as they require regular exercise and solid activity. The Golden Retriever is a fairly healthy dog - your only concerns are hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, and epilepsy. They will generally live to be 10 to 15 years old.

2. Beagle

The beagle is an active dog that will sometimes test you if you're not careful. The beagle is known as an inquisitive, friendly dog that will follow his scent wherever it leads him. Since Beagles are often used as hunting dogs, they have an instinct that leads them to follow their nose, literally. Therefore, owners are cautioned to close and lock gates and always take their beagle out on a leash. Beagles are good with children and make excellent companions for most anyone who has a yard to accommodate this active dog. A large yard is ideal, and if you can't walk your beagle often, the yard should be enough for him. Beagles will respond to some basic obedience training, but training most beagles beyond that will be difficult as they are not highly trainable dogs. They are, however, good with children and most other pets, though they might chase pets that are much smaller than themselves. Thanks to that hunting instinct we talked about earlier, Beagles should generally not be left alone in the house for any period of time. If you must leave your dog for a period of time, try to leave him or her outside, or you might find upon your return that the house has been "inspected" in your absence. The adult beagle will weigh between 18 and 30 pounds. Health problems include things like spinal problems, epilepsy, hip dysplasia, skin conditions and congenital heart disease. Beagles can easily become obese, so giving your Beagle regular activity is essential. The Beagle will generally live to be 12 to 15 years old.

3. Poodle

The Poodle is an intelligent, active companion who gets along well with children and other pets. They thrive on performing - if you want a dog who will learn tricks, the Poodle just might be your pick. Known for his elegant appearance and desire to carry himself with pride, the Poodle is a happy and even-tempered dog who is popular among people with asthma, thanks to his wooly coat. Poodles take to training very well and require a good deal of exercise. He is a great jogging partner and, if you so desire, a swimming partner as well. They are good with children, but a Poodle puppy might be a little overwhelming for a small child, so if you have small children, you might want to think about a different breed or a slightly older than puppy Poodle. The Poodle will weigh 45 to 70 pounds at adulthood, and will only run the risk of two health problems - hip dysplasia and stifle problems. The Poodle will live to be about 10 to 13 years old.

4. Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu dogs are very popular in the U.S., perhaps due to a confluence of characteristics - they enjoy people, are good with children, make great pets for those who live in apartments and are friendly and well mannered. The name "Shih Tzu" actually means lion dog in Chinese and that's likely because of the long, flowing coat the Shih Tzu displays. That coat, however, requires some care. They should be bathed once a month and the matting on their feet should regularly be cut off. The Shih Tzu might be a bit arrogant, but that belies a friendly, gentle and playful personality. They love to play and will learn tricks easily. A Shih Tzu puppy should be given obedience training. Although a Shih Tzu does not require a yard in which to exercise, you should still find an outlet for energy, whether that is a short walk, or a daily play session in your home. The adult Shih Tzu will be 8 to 15 pounds. Aside from the potential for developing a kidney disorder, the Shih Tzu is free of major health problems. The lifespan for a Shih Tzu is 10 to 14 years.

5. Bulldog

The Bulldog is known for his docile, sweet-natured and happy disposition. He is a good family pet, because he loves children and will happily keep watch over them. Because he is undemanding in his physical needs, he is also a good pet for the elderly or infirm. Adding to their mellow charm is the element of humor. Bulldogs are known for often having chronic flatulence, and often sneeze, snort, drool and snore. They have a disdain for physical activity, though they need a bit of it anyhow. They should not exercise in warm or hot weather, as heat does not favor them at all. Bulldogs generally get along with other pets, but can sometimes be cranky with other dogs, particularly those they don't know. If you have other dogs, it's best that the other dogs are also docile and easygoing. The Bulldog might get aggressive with any dog that provokes a fight or steals its food. Bulldogs can live happily in apartments or small houses with no yard or small yards. But they also enjoy a large family home with a large yard. Bulldogs should be kept away from pools and other water sources, as they cannot swim. The adult female Bulldog is 40 to 50 pounds, while the male Bulldog is 50 to 55 pounds. Health problems range from overheating to allergies, to breathing difficulties. Bulldogs also suffer from itchy skin, eye problems, reproductive problems and heart troubles. They might suffer hip dysplasia. They have a wide chest but narrow hips, which means many Bulldog puppies must be born via Caesarean section. The Bulldog will live between 8 and 12 years.

6. Miniature Schnauzer

The Miniature Schnauzer is an alert, energetic and active dog who can get along in a one-person home or an active family home. He is spirited and eager to please. Be careful - they have a mind of their own, but in the end, they will work hard to make you happy and will work to integrate themselves into the home. These dogs aren't prone to wandering as other popular breeds are, but rather they are devoted to their homes and families. However, it's best that they be the only pet in the house, or that other pets are the same size or larger. They have a tendency to see smaller pets as prey and will pursue them. Miniature Schnauzers are excellent with children and enjoy their company and will happily watch over them. Miniature Schnauzers don't require large yards, but they are active dogs who benefit from long, daily walks and will enjoy occasional time off the leash to play. If you don't have a yard, therefore, consider taking your Schnauzer to the dog park. The adult Miniature Schnauzer will be 13 to 18 pounds in size. Major health problems include the possibility of allergies, diabetes, bladder stones, liver diseases, cysts and skin disorders and various eye problems. Miniature Schnauzers normally have a lifespan of 12 to 14 years.

7. Chihuahua

The small size of the Chihuahua is one of the features that seem to make him so appealing to so many people. Add in the fact that the Chihuahua is very loyal to family and a good friend to his owner, and you have a combination of features that's appealing to many dog owners. The Chihuahua is unpredictable in terms of personality. Some are bold and outgoing, while others are shy and retiring. In either event, this is a favorite breed of older people because there's no need for daily exercise or a yard. They are good with children, but do best if socialized from a young age to be around children. Because they are so loyal, they are often reserved when meeting new people, but will loosen up and be friendly if you encourage it. Chihuahuas are delicate creatures and can get hurt easily. Many people recommend you not adopt a Chihuahua puppy until it is at least 4 months old in order to reduce the chances the puppy will get hurt. The adult Chihuahua will weigh between 1 and 6 pounds. The Chihuahua is a fragile dog and his bones can break easily. That's a major health concern. Other health issues include heart problems, knee problems, eye problems, hypoglycemia and collapsing trachea. The Chihuahua lives to be from 12 to 14 years old.

8. Rottweiler

The Rottweiler is one of the more popular dogs in America, but these dogs are not for the inexperienced or first-time dog owner. These dogs are powerful, strong and robust. They have a strong and stocky build and they are generally best at guarding and herding. They love to have a job to do. If you are looking for a guard dog, or a dog to do search and rescue, this is a good dog to consider. If not, consider giving him the daily task of retrieving your newspaper. It will make him happy. Like German Shepherds, Rottweilers are extremely loyal and will happily and loyally defend you and your home to the end. Unlike German Shepherds, Rottweilers aren't generally very social, so much socialization and early training as to your expectations is essential. Rottweilers do fine with older children, that is, children who are school age or older. They are sometimes fine with other pets, but they should be introduced to the other pets early in life, rather than the secondary pet being introduced later. The Rottweiler is a dominant personality, so training should be assertive, but gentle. The females are gentler and more docile than the males. As for activity, the Rottweiler enjoys a yard with a fence. This is not a dog you can keep in an apartment or a home without a large yard. He should not be left alone for long periods of time. The adult Rottweiler will weigh between 90 and 110 pounds. Fairly hardy in nature, the Rottweiler doesn't have too many health problems or concerns, save for eye problems and elbow and hip dysplasia. The Rottweiler has the lowest life expectancy of any dogs on our top list, and will live to be 8 to 9 years old.

9. Pomeranian

The Pomeranian is a small toy dog that looks a little like a tiny fox. They are playful and active and very faithful and affectionate. They make good companions for a variety of households, from the elderly and infirm to those with children. Around young children, however, they should be supervised. Training should begin at a young age and should be consistent and firm. Pomeranians aren't as obedient as many other breeds, so consistent and firm training is essential. Although they can give their owner a run for their money, with their active and curious nature that makes training difficult, most are able to overlook the difficulties because they make such good pets. Although they can live with children and other pets, they are often seen as "one dog only" type of dogs and enjoy the pampering and special treatment they often get from their owners. The adult Pomeranian will weigh between 3 and 7 pounds. Health concerns for the Pomeranian include teeth problems if not cared for, diabetes, eye problems and knee problems. You can expect a Pomeranian to live for 12 to 15 years.

10. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is the largest of the toy breeds, and he carries with him an air of royalty. They might appear royal; however, they are quite friendly and cheerful. They enjoy people, including children, and even other pets. These dogs are loyal and obedient and although they prefer a yard with a fence and a good leash on which to take a walk now and then, they are unusually flexible in their needs and will live as well with a single or elderly person in an apartment as they will live in a large family home with big yard. The adult Cavalier King Charles Spaniel will weigh 10 to 18 pounds. Health concerns include knee problems, hip dysplasia, eye conditions, ear infections, heart murmurs, and other heart problems. You can expect a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel to live for 9 to 14 years.

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