Most popular dog breeds of the 21st century
Dogs are still our best friends, and there’s no sign of that changing. Half of U.S. households have pets, and that includes some 77 million dogs.
Nearly all dog owners consider their dogs to be family members; four out of five say dogs get included in family occasions like vacations and holiday cards. Research shows more than one in four people have brought their dogs on dates, and more than half would consider ending a relationship if their dogs did not like their partners. More than half also celebrate their dogs’ birthdays.
Studies show that at times, humans can be more empathetic to dogs than they are to other people, and petting a dog can cause a person to feel relaxed and at-ease. For some, cherishing dogs as pets is an intrinsic part of human nature.
Dogs hold up their end of the bargain, as well. Studies have shown that with their acutely sensitive smell receptors, dogs can pick out blood samples of people with cancer with astonishing accuracy, opening up possibilities for screening and early detection. More recently, research is underway for using dogs to sniff out coronavirus in public places.
Dogs come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from 2 pounds to 200. Each plays a special role in the household, whether enjoying playtime with the kids out back, snuggling on the couch in a city apartment, or simply providing companionship on a long, healthy walk.
To compile a list of the most popular dog breeds of the 21st century, Stacker examined numbers from the American Kennel Club’s most popular dog breeds list for each year since 2000 and ranked each breed by its average 20-year popularity. The most recent rank was used as a tiebreaker when needed.
Among other factors, we’ve included the lowest rank each breed has held over the last two decades, for all breeds except for one. That’s because the #1 most popular breed on this list has held that slot every year since 2000.
Read on to find out who is the top dog. Any guesses?
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#50. Border Collies
- Average rank: 49.3
- Highest rank: #33 (2019)
- Lowest rank: #65 (2003)
- 2019 rank: #33
Border collies are considered to be one of the most intelligent dog breeds. This trait allows them to excel at sheepherding, which these dogs were originally bred for. Though they may seem happy-go-lucky and adorable to owners, border collies are known for staring down a flock of sheep to intimidate them into obedience.
- Average rank: 47.9
- Highest rank: #43 (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010)
- Lowest rank: #52 (2016)
- 2019 rank: #51
Bloodhounds are big dogs with distinctive wrinkly faces, loose jowls, and long ears. They have powerful legs for chasing scents for miles and can be relentlessly single-minded when following their noses. This breed is affectionate, stubborn, and prone to giving slobbery kisses. But be forewarned: Bloodhounds are also big droolers.
#48. Rhodesian Ridgebacks
- Average rank: 47.7
- Highest rank: #39 (2013, 2014)
- Lowest rank: #57 (2000, 2001, 2002)
- 2019 rank: #42
Rhodesian ridgebacks, or Rhodies, are known for the distinctive line of hair growing in the opposite direction along their spines. The dogs were bred in Africa not only to track lions but to fend off predators, accompany hunters on long treks, and chase and bring down game. They are muscular and maintain a powerful prey drive. The first U.S. breeder was Hollywood star Errol Flynn, who in the 1930a raised them on a ranch in Hollywood.
- Average rank: 46.8
- Highest rank: #38 (2000)
- Lowest rank: #53 (2006)
- 2019 rank: #47
Akitas are originally from Japan, where they were called “snow country dogs,“ and first used as hunters. The dogs have thick, heavy fur to keep them warm in even the lowest temperatures, and webbed feet to help them walk on snow. In their native country, akitas are a symbol of luck, and represent longevity and good health.
#46. Cane Corso
- Average rank: 45.0
- Highest rank: #30 (2019)
- Lowest rank: #67 (2011)
- 2019 rank: #30
The Cane Corso is descended from an ancient Roman breed once used during wars. Today it's known as a loving companion and skilled hunter. While the dog can be quiet and reserved, they are also obedient.
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- Average rank: 44.9
- Highest rank: #39 (2008, 2012)
- Lowest rank: #52 (2000, 2019)
- 2019 rank: #52
Bred in 19th-century England to guard landed estates and chase game, bullmastiffs descend from mastiffs and bulldogs, combining size and strength with speed and agility. They tend to be fearless, loyal, protective, and stubborn, and they love companionship and praise.
#44. Retrievers (Chesapeake Bay)
- Average rank: 44.9
- Highest rank: #41 (2000, 2001, 2003, 2014)
- Lowest rank: #50 (2006)
- 2019 rank: #46
Distinctive to Chesapeake Bay retrievers, or Chessies, is curly, oily, water-repellant coat. The breed was started byu duck hunters in the 19th century who needed dogs to brave icy water to retrieve fowl. Chessies are powerful swimmers with broad chests, strong hind legs, and webbed feet. They have also proven to be skilled therapy dogs and skilled at drug and bomb detection and in search-and-rescue operations.
#43. St. Bernards
- Average rank: 43.7
- Highest rank: #36 (2000, 2001)
- Lowest rank: #51 (2014)
- 2019 rank: #48
The gargantuan St. Bernard can weigh up to 200 pounds and measure up to 27 inches tall. The breed is known for its especially strong sense of smell, and can supposedly detect a person buried under 20 feet of snow. Though their size may be intimidating, St. Bernards can be gentle giants and are protective of loved ones.
- Average rank: 42.8
- Highest rank: #35 (2016)
- Lowest rank: #53 (2000)
- 2019 rank: #40
A Newfoundland might be bigger than you are—a male can weigh up to 150 pounds—but don't be fooled by their size. The dogs' most prominent trait is a gentle temperament, which makes the breed an excellent fit for kids and families. Despite its heavy coat, the Newfoundland is an excellent swimmer, and has partially webbed feet.
- Average rank: 41.2
- Highest rank: #35 (2004, 2005, 2006, 2010)
- Lowest rank: #54 (2018)
- 2019 rank: #53
The papillon is named after the French word for butterfly, reflective of the breed's wispy winged ears. At one point, the dog was also referred to as the “squirrel spaniel,“ because of its bushy tail. Though the papillon is tiny, its demeanor is generally friendly and energetic.
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