It’s safe to say that few living creatures have as high approval ratings as our canine companions. They’re not called “man’s best friend” for nothing, and it’s generally accepted that each and every one goes to heaven. Odes to their loyalty are well documented throughout human history, from Homer’s “Odyssey” to an episode of “Futurama.”
But human nature can lead us to play favorites, and with over 300 breeds to choose from, some inevitably fall to the bottom. To help understand what guides our choices, Stacker broke down the 50 least popular dog breeds in America. Data comes from the most recently available American Kennel Association survey, and dog breeds are sorted from No. 50 to No. 1 - the least popular breed in the country.
On a search for your next pet? Or just curious where your pooch falls on the list? Not all breeds act the same - read on to see what made America’s least popular dogs make the list.
This herding breed from northern France is best known for its high physical agility and mental aptitude. They can be cautious with new-comers but are loyal and affectionate to their close human friends. Beaucerons require a lot of stimulation both physically and mentally and should have a home with open space to run or a dedicated owner able to take them out for intense daily exercise.
This unique breed is a Hungarian sheepdog, and while it’s hypoallergenic hair looks intimidating, it’s to be washed as you would another dog – just less frequently. This smart, loyal, and affectionate breed makes perfect watchdogs and are good with children and other pets provided they were properly socialized when young. Able to excel at various challenges, keeping this breed active and engaged is key to avoiding destructive habits.
The Xoloitzcuintli is as cute as a hairless dog can hope to be. Growing to be a maximum of around 50 pounds, the "Xolo" is narrow-bodied and known best for its high energy and intelligence. Those considering Xoloitzcuintlis as a pet should be ready for an intensive training period, as is common with smart, energetic breeds.
An intelligent breed that aims to please, Icelandic Sheepdogs need challenging mental stimulation. Bred for herding livestock, these dogs are accustomed to using their voice to get the job done which can result in excessive barking. The typically happy breed is especially fond of children and is markedly sad when separated from their humans for too long.
More athletically inclined than other spaniels, what most people don’t realize is that this breed needs a bit of early socialization to be good with strangers. Mild-mannered, their independent impulses can be curbed with upbeat training, but as they are more sensitive than other breeds, training is recommended to be light-handed and reinforcing. Sweet and fun-loving, the Field Spaniel enjoys endurance activities, but longer hair and webbed feet will track the day’s grime into the home.
A medium-sized sheepdog, Berger Picards are active and agile with a high propensity for hunting. One of the oldest breeds from northern France, this exceptionally loyal pooch favors using eye-contact to communicate. While the non-aggressive dog means no harm, this behavior is often misinterpreted by other dogs and humans making it even more necessary to keep your canine companion on a leash when out on an adventure.
Labeled “high-strung” by some, the Affenpinscher tends to handle the anxiety brought on by the presence of strangers and other dogs by attempting to be intimidating, making socialization training exceedingly necessary. Full of personality, this breed pairs best with compassionate but firm owners without children who will not put up with sulking and tantrums. Smart and easily trained, this breed can be emotionally sensitive and doesn’t respond well to feeling teased – even as play.
These faithful dogs were developed in Spain to perform many tasks including herding, hunting, and aquatic jobs. Loyal, affectionate, and hardworking, they do best with regular exercise and a job to complete. An avid swimmer, mental stimulation is just as important for this intelligent breed as Spanish Water Dogs require a lot of attention and are known to chew on whatever is handy.
Athletic, alert, energetic, and dependable, the Swedish Vallhund was bred for herding and can be taken for pushy, going as far as to “herd” his flock (you and your family) into desired areas. For this reason, nipping and barking should be controlled early through obedience training. Passive owners are not the best fit as lack-luster leadership will result in this confident and independent dog making all the rules.
Independent and willful, this terrier breed makes for a calm house dog with an entertaining personality. This strong hunter will chase anything that runs, so be sure to keep a firm hand on their leash when out and about. Loyal to their humans, Sealyham Terriers are disinterested in strangers and can become aggressive with other animals. Naturally possessive and stubborn, they respond best to training through consistent leadership.
Taking its name from the English town of Bedlington, Northumberland, Bedlington Terriers are regulars on the dog racing track, though far less popular as house pets. The dog form of an ATV, these pups are just as speedy in the water and brush as they are on dry land. Still, don't let that energy fool you - Bedlington Terriers are great with children, and known for their soft temperament and mellow mood.
Initially bred to herd livestock, this large and sturdy breed can be extremely friendly but not know their own strength. While typically good with children and a wonderful watchdog, they can easily and unknowingly overpower family members, especially small ones. Prone to seeking attention through jumping, and naturally used to barking for their work, these dogs do not do well in cities or apartments.
Used as herding dogs in China and surrounding areas, Tibetan Mastiffs need plenty of space to roam and are only recommended as pets if you have a large, fenced-in property for them to play in. Moreover, these dogs can grow to be over 250 pounds, towering at 33 inches in their adulthood - so best to let them play outside!
The fun-loving Irish Setter was initially bred for its keen bird-hunting skills, making them a great partner for a good game of fetch. What they lack in intelligence, they make up for in charm as Irish Setters are known to be one of the sweetest breeds around. Setters are best with families who have a lot of protected outdoor space at their disposal, or a family who have ample time and a ton of energy. Left bored, these thrill-seekers become your old college roommate begging you to go out with them - they are liable to get a bit restless and destructive if left unappeased too long.
These tireless hunters are extremely loyal earning them the nickname “Velcro Dogs.” Happiest alongside their owner, they are excellent off-leash companions through rugged terrains while making ideal snuggle buddies at home. These good swimmers love to retrieve and thrive on activities and training that challenges their innate hunting skills. Wirehaired Vizslas do not like confined spaces and are not well-suited for apartment life. When frustrated, this breed is known to channel their frustration into compulsive and/or destructive habits.
The fastest of all dog breeds, the Greyhound can outrun a horse when in full sprint. Designed for racing, this breed is content with access to a good short gallop a few times a week, then is happy to join their owner on the couch for a good TV marathon. Docile and sensitive in temperament, Greyhounds respond to praise rather than correction and prefer to live in quiet, mellow environments devoid of tension. Non-aggressive, this breed gets along with other dogs but can have trouble refraining from chasing cats and small pets.
These large, fearless sheep guard dogs are extremely loyal and unconditionally protective. They are patient with family, but their serious perpetual workmanlike personality keeps them from being particularly affectionate. Kuvaszoks are smart and used to working independently making consistency the key to successful training.
Deceptively petite, this muscular breed is fast and playful and is a natural hunter with high stamina. Typically polite with strangers, this terrier may struggle with other dogs, should be carefully introduced to off-limits cats, and should not share space with rodents as they are prone to chase.
This highly active small breed is affectionate and loyal though distrusting of strangers, making them excellent family watchdogs. These dogs have a lot of energy and a knack for physical comedy using their inherent silliness to entertain as they bounce through the house. Bred to hunt rabbits, non-hunting owners will need to find a comparable outlet to release their energy. Like many smaller breeds, these dogs can be vociferous and overprotective of their food.
This curious and energetic terrier-like breed is a lot of bark and no bite. Bred for hunting, this breed is typically good with dogs and cats but is likely to see smaller pets as viable prey. Extremely friendly and playful, these dogs need an active human ready for multiple daily rounds, but shouldn’t be let off leash as their hunting instincts could have them following their nose right into oncoming traffic.
These beautiful, short-statured, typically heavier dogs can be lethargic and disinterested indoors but come alive in the field searching for creatures. Unlike other spaniels, the Sussex Spaniel can be protective in the presence of strangers and aggressive with other dogs. Their proclivity toward stubbornness and dominance should be met with consistent and upbeat training methods as sharp handling may provoke retaliation.
Originally bred in Hungary, Pumik are small dogs often used to herd animals. They are energetic and make great guard dogs as they bark easily and are extremely protective of their family and owners. Pumik usually grow to roughly 20-30 pounds and are great with children, so do make excellent house dogs. Add in their curly, thick coat, and it's a wonder why so few families opt for these little ones.
This beautiful mop keeps a serious Members Only policy, and while patient and protective of their family (including other pets), this breed is known for never completely trusting outsiders. As guard breeds must rely on their instincts, these independently-minded canines are smart, but their territorial instincts require consistent training and socialization to avoid out-of-control possessiveness.
Bold and strongly-opinionated, this breed of spaniels is paired best with an equally strong-willed owner that is ready to teach and willing to lead. Personable though reserved, this protective breed is often misunderstood as shy or sharp but is, in fact, perceptive, energetic, and fun-loving. This type of spaniel needs regular and vigorous activity, particularly swimming and retrieving.
These sleek and elegant sighthounds are independent thinkers who must be persuaded into obedience, while still enjoying physical and mental challenges such as agility and obedience training. Mellow and lethargic inside, they need to be able to run regularly and love jumping. In fact, they are such good jumpers that backyard fencing should be at least 6-ft high, and things kept “out-of-reach” should be stored higher than the fridge!
Happiest in wide-open spaces, Plotts can spend all day in the field chasing after prey. Originally bred to track bear and boar, this hunting dog loves to be outside engaged in vigorous activity. Best homed in the country at a house with a large plot of enclosed land, an outdoor-loving family with older children can give this breed all the love and stimulation it needs. This pack animal was bred to be fearless and can be possessive and aggressive with other animals, barking loud and often.
A rare breed, American Water Spaniels love to swim and were bred to be championship-level retrievers. A protective watchdog, they can be untrusting of other dogs and strangers but are typically good with other family pets. These spaniels can be more stubborn than others in their family making them harder to train, especially if they perceive unfair treatment.
The Scottish Deerhound is the dog for cat people. This sighthound is a content couch potato with a fleeting tolerance for physical interactions with people. Although as awkward and rambunctious as any puppy, this breed tames with age and is unlikely to revel in typical dog pastimes such as fetch or tug-of-war. Don’t let the mellow indoor behavior fool you, once outside the Scottish Deerhound’s instincts come alive compelling the hound to dash off and out of sight within moments.
A people-oriented companion breed, the small Lowchen does not like to be left alone for extended periods. The curious breed is gentle with humans and animals alike and makes a pastime of sitting in view of the front window to announce visitors. Sweet and mild-tempered, early socialization training helps build confidence.
Strong and powerful, this pint-sized athletic breed needs intense outdoor exercise to compensate for its herding breeding. Requiring a lot of attention, the Norwegian Buhund gets destructive and will bark excessively if left alone too long. They can be distrustful of strangers, and independently-minded, requiring a firm, patient yet dominant owner.
Strong and stocky yet quick and graceful, curly-coated retrievers are a bit more protective than other retrievers. Smart and cunning, this breed is known to use their intelligence to their benefit and should attend obedience school early. These youthful and willful companions mature slowly remaining puppy-like for many years and therefore require much patience.
This tiny breed is deceptively dense, powerful, and fearless with fast reflexes. Although typically more mellow and easy-going than other terriers, the loyal Skye Terrier needs affection and attention and will not settle for being ignored. Cautiousness with strangers and a tendency to assert dominance over smaller animals can be curbed through socialization and agility training. They do best with firm but compassionate ownership and can retaliate when handled too harshly.
Despite its larger size, this patient breed is good with small children, the elderly, and people with disabilities. As vocal as they are active, the Finnish Lapphund does best in outdoor-oriented, active families. Originally a reindeer herding dog accustomed to analyzing a situation before jumping into action; these thinkers need a healthy diet of mental stimulation to accompany their appetite for physical activity.
These sleek, muscular, athletic hunters are light on their feet with a playful and entertaining personality. The breed tends to be reserved with strangers and new situations and benefits from early confidence-building socialization. Pharaoh Hounds are typically good with other dogs but as a sighthound will chase anything that runs. They should only be off-leash in safe, enclosed environments.
These sure-footed, graceful and athletic dogs are keenly aware of their surroundings, and can be distrustful of strangers or new situations, sounding the alarm at any possible threat.
A natural independent thinker, this breed aims to assert dominance with other dogs. The hard-working sheepdog has a shaggy coat that collects debris from the day’s adventures and tracks them through the house. Needs active, outdoorsy owners able to meet their needs for mental stimulation, but can live calmly indoors once they have gotten their energy out.
Like a fox, the Finnish Spitz is a quick breed with nimble feet who is most content frolicking in the snow. This companion dog doesn’t like to be alone and prefers tranquil environments without loud noises and tension. Too much alone time or stress in the environment can result in anxious and destructive behaviors. Observant and alert, this breed is quick to sound the alarm and is reserved with strangers. The Finnish Spitz can be aggressive to other animals and willful; making this quick learner a challenge to train.
This lovable breed is highly receptive to training of all types and gets along well with kids, strangers, and other dogs. Highly active, this breed has a ton of energy, barks a lot, and needs a regular outlet to expel energy to avoid any anxious and destructive behavior. American Coonhounds are bred as hunters whose curiosity turns them into escape artists.
Gentle and non-aggressive, Chinooks are people-oriented companions who enjoy rigorous outdoor activity, particularly activities that involve pulling and carting. Adequately exercised, the Chinook is happy to settle on the couch and prefers the company of their owners - they’ll get restlessly destructive when left alone. Smart, independent thinkers, Chinooks utilize impressive problem-solving skills to open gates and doors while simultaneously remaining puppy-like in personality and behavior for many years.
These agile herding dogs can work and navigate independently and cover vast distances on their own. Playful and mischievous, these dogs are highly adaptable and tend to bond closely with family members. Pyrenean Shepherds are from the Pyrenean mountains, prefer open space, and don’t do well left alone or in confined spaces.
This breed’s eye-catching coat comprises of dog-hair, “goat hair”, and wool, which - if left untrimmed - will reach the ground around the time they are 6-years-old.
Relaxed and easy-going in the home, this terrier is confident of its territory and will not back down from a confrontation despite its small size. Assertive and independently-minded, light-handed food-based training should be started early with this sensitive breed who is likely to rebel against heavy-handed training methods.
Known for their endless stamina, these hunting dogs catch their prey by running them ragged. Not suitable for apartment life, Harriers need space both indoors and outside to stretch their legs and expend their ceaseless energy. While quick to pick up hunting commands, these clever canines can be willful and resistant to obedience training.
Alert, observant, and genetically programmed to instinctively chase anything small and moving, these sighthounds need homes with secure fences that cannot be jumped or climbed over. Cirnechi are highly energetic which makes them prone to mischief; they need a lot of love and attention from their owners to feel secure.
Short but not small, these densely-packed terriers are hunters with curious noses always searching for new prey. These terriers need lots of attention, and while sociable with cats and dogs, they will chase rodents with the intention to kill. Although Ceskys have earned a reputation for stubbornness, they respond to consistent praise-based training, especially if treats are the reward.
These hunters have a legendary nose, always searching for new and unusual scents. Independent and strong-willed, this breed is difficult to train but patient and amiable. This shaggy breed loves water but tends to lack grace and will likely track water and mud through the home. Otterhounds are best suited for the countryside as their far-carrying bark can be bothersome to neighbors.
Much like their English brothers, the American Foxhound has never-ending stamina and a tremendous appetite for physical stimulation. Bred for long days of hunting and tracking, these Foxhounds need at least an hour of vigorous exercise each day to keep poor behaviors at bay.
A reserved and observant sighthound, Sloughis are territorial and can become aggressive when threatened. Agile and muscular, this breed benefits from daily opportunities to run, after which they are mellow indoors, preferring a soft place to curl up. Agile jumpers, fencing should be high as their instincts to chase are strong while their speed is exceptionally fast. Sloughis startle when unexpectedly touched and do not appreciate prolonged cuddling.
English Foxhounds have enough stamina and endurance for the whole family and are happy to spend an entire day outside on the hunt, only to come home and play spiritedly with the kids. Inactive, English Foxhounds can become anxious, reserved, or begin to assert dominance. Regardless of training, these Foxhounds will likely howl at night and when left alone, which can be problematic with neighbors.
Good-tempered and playful, the swift Norwegian Lundehund is an agile climber and jumper. Hyper-vigilant about their surroundings and cautious with strangers, the Lundehund is always aware and ready to alert their humans of suspicious activity.