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It’s no secret that dogs are beloved in the United States—an estimated 65 million households own at least one, according to the American Pet Products Association. But with an estimated 360 dog breeds out there, you may be wondering which ones make the top of the list. The American Kennel Club recounts the most popular dog breeds in the U.S. every year—and some breeds, like golden retrievers, may not surprise you, but there are others that are unexpectedly popular.
While all of these dogs are widely adored, some of them come with distinct health issues. After selecting the right dog for you, the most important step you can take for your new pup’s health is getting the best pet insurance.
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French bulldogs or Frenchies as they’re affectionately called, have skyrocketed in popularity over the past few years, coming in at the top of the AKC’s most popular dog breeds list.
“[Frenchies] are good for family atmospheres. They’re loving, playful and make cute noises,” says Dr. Antonio DeMarco, D.V.M., chief medical and mentorship officer of GoodVets, a network of in-person nationwide animal hospitals.
Frenchies only need up to one hour of exercise per day, according to The Kennel Club. Since Frenchies are a brachycephalic breed, meaning their face is flat, they can easily have trouble breathing. You’ll have to pay special attention when exercising your Frenchie to ensure they’re not overheating during exercise, and avoid over-exerting them in hot or humid weather.
Frenchies shed moderately but are typically considered low-shedders. They also aren’t a very vocal breed and won’t bark much.
The Labrador retriever has long been synonymous with the perfect family dog. As playful, energetic and loyal dogs, they’re ideal for almost any living situation. They’re also easy to train since they’re eager to please their owners.
An intelligent dog with boundless energy, the Labrador retriever will need a good amount of space and time to exercise. More than two hours of exercise per day is recommended for this breed, according to The Kennel Club. They also need mental stimulation—think puzzle feeders or toys, training and sports.
Labs have a thick double coat so they are prone to shedding, but you can reduce this by brushing them at least once per week. During high-shedding seasons like spring and fall, you may need to brush them daily.
Labradors also have certain health issues to look out for. “Larger breed dogs are more prone to ACL tears…hip dysplasia and knee injuries,” says DeMarco.
Golden retrievers, similar to their labrador counterparts, are also wonderful family companions. Gentle and friendly, these dogs are known for their affectionate and loving demeanor.
When it comes to exercise, goldens need more than two hours a day, per The Kennel Club. These smart and active dogs love playing fetch and swimming. They also require mental stimulation and do well with training.
Goldens have a longer and thicker coat than labradors, making them high shedders. It’s recommended to brush them daily or at least twice per week.
These canines have similar health concerns to labradors, as they’re also prone to hip dysplasia, ACL tears and joint issues. Research also suggests that goldens unfortunately have a higher risk of cancer than most dogs.
German shepherds don’t just make great police and search and rescue dogs—they also make for loving house pets. German shepherds are “high-energy and have more of a protective side,” according to DeMarco. He also adds that they’re highly intelligent and require lots of mental stimulation.
“With smart breed dogs, they tend to be more mischievous because they get bored easier,” DeMarco says. To prevent this, you can stimulate your dog through training, sports, chew toys or nose work games.
German shepherds also respond well to commands, and are keen on having various “jobs.” The American Kennel Club describes them as “dogkind’s finest all-purpose worker.”
Health issues for this breed include hip and elbow dysplasia, degenerative myelopathy (a neurological disorder), Gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV) and others.
Poodles are known for being smart and social—and for their beautiful, high-maintenance coat. As one of the most intelligent dog breeds around, Poodles also need lots of exercise and brain games to be content.
Poodles come in a standard size, miniature size and toy size. Generally, poodles tend to be proud, playful, friendly and bright. They’re good with other pets, strangers and children, making them quite versatile.
When it comes to their coat, poodles need a lot of care. Rather than poodles being big shedders, their hair tends to get matted. To prevent this, you’ll need to brush them every other day. They will also need to be professionally clipped and groomed about every six weeks.
As far as health issues go, poodles are prone to gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV), Cushing’s disease, eye issues like progressive retinal atrophy and more.
Bulldogs are low-energy, and often referred to as lazy, says DeMarco. Bulldogs are more likely to join you on the couch to watch your favorite movie than to accompany you on a long run.
Bulldogs need up to one hour per day of exercise, according to The Kennel Club. Daily walks and some games around the house should be sufficient. Similar to their Frenchie counterparts, bulldogs are a flat-faced breed, which places them at high risk of heat stroke. Also, bulldogs are not good swimmers, so be sure to keep an extra eye on them around a pool or lake.
Bulldogs are also prone to skin fold dermatitis, cherry eye, dry eye, entropion and mange.
Bulldogs don’t shed a ton as they have a short coat.
Rottweilers are in the working group of dog breeds, meaning that they thrive when they have an activity or “job.” Combined with their protective and alert nature, they make excellent watch or guard dogs. Despite this, they’re also a loving and loyal breed—with proper training and socialization, a rottie’s territorial instincts can be controlled.
A rottweiler is a big dog, typically standing between 22 to 27 inches and weighing between 80 to 135 pounds. They’re an active breed and are great for accompanying you on a jog or long walks, and they also enjoy games and sports.
Despite their protective nature, rottweilers aren’t known for being a very vocal breed. You won’t hear them bark much outside of protecting their territory and loved ones.
When it comes to health concerns, rottweilers tend to have higher cases of hip dysplasia, eye issues such as progressive retinal atrophy and cataracts, as well as heart issues.
Beagles are known for their floppy ears and colorful coats. Their personalities tend to be described as loveable, happy and curious. They’re part of the hound group and are often used as scent-detection dogs at airports.
Beagles are also an energetic breed and will need plenty of stimulation to thrive. Due to their keen nose, they may enjoy mental challenges with snuffle mats (a mat that can hide treats). Their preferred exercise is long walks with plenty of opportunities to sniff and explore. Just be sure to keep your dog’s leash short, as a beagle’s curiosity is known to make it wander.
Beagles have a low-maintenance coat with an average amount of shedding and require brushing just once a week.
Common health issues for beagles include intervertebral disc disease (IVDD), hip dysplasia, luxating patella and hypothyroidism. DeMarco adds that ear infections are also a top issue in beagles due to their “big, floppy ears.”
Often called “weiner dogs,” dachshunds are known for their long bodies and short legs. They’re funny, curious and have endless energy. But as with many small dogs, “they can be feisty,” DeMarco says.
“When you come into their house, they let you know that it’s their house,” DeMarco adds.
This also means that they tend to be a vocal breed. Dachshunds have a loud bark and will use it along with their bold personalities to express themselves.
A dachshund’s grooming needs depend on the type you have. Dachshunds have three different types of coats: short-haired, long-haired and wire-haired. Short-haired dachshunds don’t require much brushing but long-haired dachshunds have hair that can get matted if not brushed daily. Wire-haired dachshunds look like miniature schnauzers (another dog on this list)—and have a beard that needs to be cared for.
Health problems for dachshunds are mostly back problems due to their anatomy. IVDD is very prevalent in dachshunds. To prevent this, try to limit your dog from jumping off the sofa or any other strenuous exercise that can place stress on its back.
German shorthaired pointers are another breed that does well with a job, training and vigorous exercise. This is because they are highly intelligent and active dogs—historically, they’ve been used as efficient hunting dogs.
One interesting fact about this breed is that they’re known for pointing. A leftover instinct from their hunting nature, German shorthaired pointers will often stop and go into a “pointing” stance to show you something interesting. They’ve even been known to point while dreaming.
Due to their high-maintenance exercise and mental stimulation needs, German shorthaired pointers are not for relaxed, inactive owners.
German shorthaired pointers tend to be a vocal breed and will often bark and whine to get attention. Skin and ear infections, as well as eye diseases have also been noted as troublesome issues for the breed.
Pembroke Welsh corgis are beloved for their short legs and lively, comedic personalities. These little guys have a lot of energy in a small package and will need up to one hour of exercise per day, according to The Kennel Club.
Corgis are part of the herding group and have historically been used to guard farms, herd sheep and gather flocks of chickens. To please their herding instincts, you can get them involved in treibball. This dog sport is popular with herding breeds because they can “herd” big exercise balls.
Health issues for corgis include degenerative myelopathy (neurological disorder), hip dysplasia and progressive retinal atrophy.
Another herding dog on this list, Australian shepherds are known for their boundless energy and gorgeous coat. They’re loyal, tough and brainy, but the main characteristic of this breed is that they need a job and training to be happy. Aussies are not for sedentary owners.
Many owners tend to have Aussies help out on a farm or ranch, or they get them heavily involved in dog sports such as agility, treibball and flyball.
“Brain games are also super important for them,” says Dr. Liz Stelow, D.V.M., D.A.C.V.B., veterinary behaviorist and service chief at the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. “So, [things like] food toys, hide and seek around the house, flirt pole toys and dog sports.”
An Aussie’s coat is of medium length and has average shedding. They will need to be brushed once or twice a week.
Aussies are a hearty breed but some health issues include hip and elbow dysplasia, eye problems and epilepsy.
Yorkshire terriers, also referred to as “Yorkies,” are small dogs with big personalities. Despite their size, Yorkies are still terriers, which are known for their feisty attitude and alert nature. Due to this, they may bark a lot. “When I see Yorkies for behavior problems, it’s most often excessive barking,” Stelow says.
Yorkies are a favorite of owners living in apartments, as they don’t require much exercise. They will be content with daily walks and some games around the house.
A Yorkie’s gray and tan coat is often touted as being “hypoallergenic,” meaning it’s less likely to cause allergies and doesn’t shed much. However, daily brushing is required as their long hair can become matted. This breed should be professionally groomed every four to six weeks.
Common health problems among Yorkies are collapsing trachea, luxating patellas and canine pancreatitis, among others.
Cavalier King Charles spaniels are not as regal and standoffish as their name may suggest. Stelow describes them as “super sweet, gentle, happy, fun-loving and funny.” They’re great family dogs that get along exceptionally well with children, other pets and even strangers.
Cavalier King Charles spaniels’ exercise needs are adaptable. They can be both active dogs or lap dogs who cuddle up on the couch.
This breed is typically calm and quiet, so you won’t have to worry much about barking and aggressive behavior, either.
Unfortunately, Cavaliers do come with advanced health risks. The main concern is mitral valve disease, which is a heart condition.One study suggests that as many as 90% of Cavaliers will develop mitral valve disease, a heart condition, by the age of 10. Other issues are syringomyelia (fluid-filled areas around the spinal cord that cause pain), dry eye and ear disorders.
Doberman pinschers are one of the bigger dogs on this list with a misunderstood reputation of being aggressive. But “for the most part, their native personality is not aggressive,” Stelow says. “Dobermans are lovely dogs. People who expect and train them to be guard dogs, [that’s when] they can become aggressive.”
Dobermans otherwise can make great family pets. Training and socialization are essential with big-breed dogs so they can behave properly and you can have more control over them in social settings such as dog parks.
Besides training, Dobermans also require lots of outdoor time. They love agility games and enjoy vast areas where they can run to burn energy.
Dobermans have a short coat with average shedding, so they won’t need much upkeep besides weekly brushing.
Health problems for this breed involve hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, bloat and Wobbler syndrome (spinal disease).
Boxers are another breed that’s known for being protective of their owners. They’re a muscular dog that requires training and plenty of opportunities to exercise. Also due to their protective nature, socialization is important to limit a guarded attitude and any excessive territorial barking.
Boxers are also known for being comical, energetic and loyal. They’re playful with children and generally get along well with other pets. “They’re fine family dogs but children should be watched more carefully around them just because boxers move quickly—one of the risks is a boxer knocking down children [accidentally] because they’re on the move so much,” Stelow says.
Boxers are another flat-faced breed, making them also prone to heat stroke. Their time in hot or humid weather should be limited. Other health issues are different types of cancer (brain tumors, mast cell tumors, etc.), irregular heart rhythm (called ARVC or “boxer arrhythmia”) and GDV.
Miniature schnauzers are another terrier on this list, and are a high-energy, obedient and outgoing companion. As with most terriers, they do tend to bark a lot, so this behavior should be discouraged from an early age.
Miniature schnauzers don’t need much exercise and will be satisfied with a couple of daily walks, brain games and indoor play. They are quick learners and do well with training but may get bored easily, making constant mental stimulation essential for this breed.
A miniature schnauzer’s coat comes in three colors: salt and pepper, black and silver and solid black. Their hair is hard and wiry and will need combing once or twice a week. They can be taken to get professionally groomed every five to eight weeks.
Health concerns for this breed include cataracts, pancreatitis, high cholesterol and kidney and bladder stones.
Cane corsos are one of the top 20 largest dog breeds, weighing up to as much as 110 pounds. But despite their athletic and hefty build “they can be gentle and sweet,” Stelow says. They’re mainly known for their confidence and assertiveness, which have long made them excellent guard dogs.
A cane corso’s massive size comes with demanding exercise needs, too. They do well with long runs and challenging dog sports. As with most breeds on this list, mental stimulation is key. Be sure to keep your cane corso busy with puzzle feeders, snuff mats and games of hide and seek.
Socialization and training are necessary for cane corsos due to their protective nature and large stature.
Cane corsos are susceptible to hip dysplasia, bloat, epilepsy and mange.
Great Danes are the gentle giants of the dog world. “They [often] don’t know how big they are, so they will knock stuff over without even realizing,” Stelow says. Still, though, Great Danes are friendly and aware enough that they make superb family pets. Known for being kind to children, this breed is sweet and eager to please.
Due to their giant stature, Great Danes require a lot of maintenance. Not only will they require a lot of food, but also lots of exercise, training and socialization. They will also need a decent amount of living space to feel comfortable.
One of the most prominent health issues for the breed is GDV. Other health issues include Wobbler syndrome (spinal disease) and hip dysplasia.
Shih Tzus are part of the toy group and are adored for their short stature, playful personalities and cute hairstyles. They don’t require much activity and are content with a few walks a day. They make lovely lapdogs and are known for being affectionate.
As with many small dogs, shih tzus tend to be vocal; early disapproval of barking is needed to curb this behavior.
A shih tzu doesn’t shed much, but will need to be professionally groomed every four to six weeks. They should also be brushed daily.
Shih Tzus have some distinct health concerns: ear infections, urinary tract infections, gastritis, skin infections and periodontal disease. They are also prone to eye issues. “In [flat-faced breeds], they don’t have the long snout to protect their eyeballs. So they’re prone to dry eye and runny eye,” says Stelow.
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