The most popular dog breeds in America

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  • In the United States today, you’ll find more families with dogs than ones with human children. And much like the families who care for them, the shapes and sizes of these four-legged friends vary widely — very widely. Some dogs fit into purses, while others pull sleds.

    Every year, the American Kennel Club publishes their ranking of America’s most popular dog breeds.

    So, which canines made the top 100? Here are some clues: One of them is the model for a Disney icon. One is a favorite of a former president. And one breed is so new you may not even know it exists.

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  • This droopy-jowled breed, derived from Italian guard dogs, can grow up to 150 pounds.

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  • As the name might suggest, this dog was bred to help his humans hunt foxes for sport. Nowadays, this breed thrives with active families who can provide plenty of exercise and mental stimulation.

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  • Human companions of English setters will tell you that these speckled hunting dogs are very willing snuggle buddies.

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  • These medium-sized pups were originally developed to be ratters and guard dogs on German farms.

    Today, you can find standard schnauzers chasing backyard squirrels and being just a little protective of their human families.

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  • Shhh! Don’t tell the Brussels griffon that he’s a toy breed. Despite growing to just 12 pounds, the “griff” is no lap dog. This tiny, active and intelligent breed will quickly become household royalty with any family.

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  • Nicknamed the “gentle lion,” this enormous breed is, quite literally, a big softie. The Leonberger is submissive, loyal and kind to children.

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  • This livestock-guarding breed from Turkey dates back to at least 2000 B.C.. Descriptions of a dog that matches the appearance of the Anatolian shepherd even appear in the Old Testament.

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  • This breed grows up to around 51 pounds and was bred by Vikings to hunt moose and bears. This courageous breed is the national dog of Norway. 

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  • Bouviers des Flandres were bred for farm work like cattle herding and cart pulling. They are intelligent dogs and can get bored easily without an activity or job to do.

    President Ronald Reagan’s dog Lucky was a bouvier.

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  • Stubborn and energetic, this tiny terrier has a mind of her own. Don’t let her size fool you, either; this breed is born to hunt.

    Rat terriers often live well into their teens: Their average lifespan is 16-19 years.

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  • This dog’s name roughly translates to “water dog from Romanga, Italy.” The curly-coated, lively breed is famous for sniffing out truffles from the mud.

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  • The Boykin spaniel was originally bred to hunt waterfowl in South Carolina, but since then, many families have enjoyed this breed’s eager and affectionate companionship.

    You can find Boykin spaniels zooming around America’s living rooms and playing loads of fetch with their humans.

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  • Obedient and playful, these plush Dutch pups are often trained as comfort or therapy dogs.

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  • Basenjis are famous for their yodeling vocalization. They also hate the rain and are agile climbers — a bit like cats.

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  • Love to play fetch? This tireless retriever might be the breed for you. Most tollers also love a rousing afternoon splash in the water, so perhaps invest in a ball that floats.

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  • Similar in appearance to the pit bull terrier, a well trained “Staffy” is a confident and trustworthy friend. These stocky dogs are genuinely eager to please, but they are not without their vices — namely, chewing on things when they’re bored and under-stimulated. 

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  • The border terrier is one of the most popular dog breeds in Britain. These rough-coated and hypoallergenic little pals love to be kept busy with interactive games and exercise.

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  • Pekingese dogs were bred in ancient China to be lap dogs. And, true to their heritage, you’ll find these fluffy friends on couches across America.

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  • Historically, these dogs were bred to fight, but even during their fighting days, Staffords were often adopted as family pets. Today, these dogs are known for their patience with children.

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  • This fluffy breed from Madagascar known for its clownish personality. Cotons love to hang out with humans of all ages.

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  • There are two varieties of Chinese crested dogs — the hairless and the powderpuff, with both varieties often represented in one litter.

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  • These silky red canines are intelligent, playful and mischievous. Some Irish setters even retain their goofy puppy personalities throughout their lives. 

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  • This long-haired toy breed originated in Tibet, where the lhasa would stand watch at monasteries and let its caretakers know of strangers approaching. 

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  • A chow-chow’s personality is cat-like. These dogs are independent, regal and suspicious of strangers.

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  • The Irish wolfhound is the world’s tallest dog breed. These giant pals grow to be an average of 32 to 35 inches at the shoulder.

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  • Get your frisbees ready, because this high-energy terrier loves to go, go, go. Bred for fox hunting, these dogs can run, jump and play for hours.

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  • Ever wonder how this little breed got the nickname “king of the toys”? Min pins have all the personality of a big dog squeezed into their wee 11-pound frame.

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  • Growing up to 135 pounds, these tri-colored giants might look intimidating, but they are often calm, confident and sociable members of the family. Mostly, “Swissies” want to hang out with their families, and they don’t stray far from the human pack.

    Count on your Swiss mountain dog to snuggle up by your feet for easy access to ear scratches and affection.

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  • If you’ve ever seen “The Wizard of Oz,” you’ll recognize the Cairn terrier. Toto, Dorothy’s ever-adaptable basket dog, was a Cairn. 

    When Cairns aren’t going for long walks down the yellow brick road, you’ll find them chasing vermin (and digging the occasional hole) in back yards across America.

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  • The giant schnauzer was originally bred to help German farmers herd livestock to market. As pets, these large, intelligent creatures are always in search for something to do. Their independent nature will lead them into big-dog mischief if they become bored.

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  • Old English sheepdogs are a popular cast member in the movie business. You can see this large, hairy breed in movies like “The Shaggy Dog” and “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.”

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  • No, that’s not a giant sheep; that’s a great Pyrenees, a working-breed dog created to scare off wolves with a deep, noisy bark.

    “Pyrs” who find themselves as house pets will make sure their families know if there’s a coyote, cat or mail carrier who doesn’t belong. The great Pyrenees is an affectionate breed that will readily plop a big white paw onto the nearest lap.

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  • The French breed became popular in the United States after the release of the 1989 buddy-cop comedy “Turner and Hooch.”

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  • These small, slender dogs were bred for a life of nobility. In the Middle Ages, wealthy women in Italy kept these sensitive sighthounds as pets.

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  • You might think that Welsh corgis were bred to be couch potatoes, but they’re actually a small herding breed. Queen Elizabeth II of England famously keeps these loaf-shaped dogs as her royal companions.

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  • This wrinkly, willful specimen is a shar pei. These dogs were originally bred in China as guard dogs and pit-fighting dogs.

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  • Just try to keep up with this high-energy sled dog. Like huskies, these Arctic creatures require a ton of physical activity. They’re also wily. So, if some chicken goes missing from a kitchen counter, the dog might know something about where it went.

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  • This German hunting breed loves nothing better than running around outside. This dog’s bristly coat protects him against thorny or scratchy shrubbery, which makes the German wirehaired pointer an excellent adventure buddy.

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  • Another shaggy hunting dog, griffons are excellent pointers and retrievers. When they’re not hiking or fetching, these affectionate pups want to be right next to their favorite humans.

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  • Bull terriers are cheeky, rambunctious and fun-loving. The bull terrier is the official mascot of the Target retail chain.

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  • The Airedale terrier is the largest terrier breed. British troops used these hard-working pups as ambulance and messenger dogs in World War I. 

    Today, you can find Airedales jogging with their humans or digging a hole in search of critters burrowed underground.

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  • The Dalmatian has had as many dog-jobs as it has spots. Throughout history, these speckled canines have been used to ward off highwaymen, to keep watch against enemy soldiers and even to hunt mice and rats. They’re also a traditional favorite of firefighters.

    These days, Dalmatians enjoy merrier activities — like running alongside humans, even if those humans are on roller-skates or bikes.

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  • This snow dog has upturned mouth corners, so he always looks like he’s smiling. And the Samoyed has a cheerful personality to match. 

    One secret to keeping these dogs as happy and healthy as they look: lots and lots of brushing. Their long, fluffy locks require near daily attention, especially when they’re shedding.

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  • Breeders created the whippet to help catch rabbits and other small game. In the 19th century, whippet racing was popular in parts of England.

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  • The Scottie makes up for what it lacks in height with a big, dignified personality. Don’t expect this lap-sized terrier to stick to your side either. Scottish terriers were bred to be independent.

    Here, President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush carry their two Scottish terriers.

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  • Unlike the Scottie, the Australian cattle dog will absolutely glue himself to your side. He is loyal and loving and wants you to play with him all day long. 

    Dogs of this herding breed need loads of physical activity to keep them out of mischief.

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  • The wheaten terrier originated in Ireland as a well-rounded farm dog. Today, wheatens are fabulous family dogs who love frolicking with kids.

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  • The word “papillon” means butterfly in French, and this playful breed is named for its dainty butterfly-shaped ears.

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  • Bullmastiffs are mellow as can be. A couple of quick walks a day will keep your friend properly chilled out. And if you’re in an apartment, your neighbors will hardly notice a bullmastiff; this large breed doesn’t bark much.

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  • Bloodhounds are very athletic and can follow a scent for miles, but don’t expect this gentle breed to attack once they’ve located a mark. Despite their fearsome name, you’d sooner see a bloodhound lick someone to death.

    This 5-month-old bloodhound named Nanyokie is trained to sniff out poachers in Kenya.

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  • An English cocker spaniel and a handler share a moment on the sidelines during sporting group competition at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in 2018 in New York City. 

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  • Many Americans were introduced to this breed via President Barack Obama, who has two. The first dog, Bo, was a gift from Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts. 

    Kennedy’s trainers worked with Bo before introducing him via a secret White House meeting; the BBC duly reported that Bo “made no toileting errors and did not gnaw on the furniture.”

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  • Of all the working breeds, this one is probably best known as the rescuer of the lost. 

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  • These dogs are as beloved in their native Japan as they are here. Here, a woman carries her Akita dog on her back as she crosses a street during Japan’s annual “Golden Week” holiday in Tokyo on April 30, 2020. 

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  • Here’s Fozzie, a Chesapeake Bay retriever, playing in the snow at Harvard University during the winter of 2015.

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  • This compact hunting breed was developed in Japan. Veterinarians recommend daily walks to keep this hardy breed hale and healthy. 

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  • Watch out: They may look a bit like bichons, but bichons they are not. These feisty terriers were bred on Scottish farms to chase rodents.

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  • While other dogs have been bred to herd or otherwise work, the puffy bichon was developed solely as a companion animal.

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  • Full disclosure: Rhodesian ridgebacks don’t usually look like this. That’s a ridgeback in a lion costume. They’re known for a characteristic crest or cowlick running along their spines.

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  • Here’s U.S. Army Specialist Justin Coletti resting with Dasty, a Belgian Malinois, after a 5-hour overnight air assault mission in Afghanistan in 2011. Dasty, with the rank of a sergeant, was trained to patrol and locate targets.

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  • You might call the “Newfie” the fisherman’s friend, bred to help anglers with water rescue and pulling nets. Bonus: These dogs have webbed feet. 

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  • The Weimaraner dog got its name via the German Weimar court that prized the breed for its hunting prowess. Fiercely loyal, these dogs tend to bond closely with owners and may suffer anxiety during separation.

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  • Peyton, a rough collie, stops for his fallen handler during the agility competition at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in 2014.

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  • If your basset hound suddenly bolts in pursuit of small game, congrats: That what this dog was bred for. Specifically, the French developed the basset hound as a hare hunter. These dogs are also known for being quite stubborn, so basset owners must have plenty of patience and a firm hand. 

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  • Nope, not a doll. This breed is said to have been a favorite of ancient Greeks and Romans, probably for the same reason we love them today: Their long, silky — and non-shedding — coats, among other traits.

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  • One thing we know for sure: This breed has been around a while. Wheeled toys dating from as early as 100 A.D. have been found in and around Veracruz, Mexico — and those little toys look a whole lot like modern-day Chihuahuas. 

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  • This breed is considered excellent for families as well as hunting. Originating in Hungary, this dog is also said to be very protective. Unlike many other breeds, this one doesn’t have an undercoat, so owners must take care to keep their vizslas warm.

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  • These dogs seem to love Frisbees as much as we love these dogs. Here’s Ryan Hall’s border collie, Emma, catching a frisbee in the Freestyle Flying Disc competition in Huntington Beach, California, on June 8, 2018. 

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  • Hercules from “The Sandlot” was a mastiff. In the movie, the giant dog had a mean reputation (the kids called him “the beast”), but Hercules was all bark and no bite. He spent his days lounging in the sun and collecting home run baseballs from the ballpark next door.

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  • Originating from China, these baby-faced dogs are said to be great house pets. 

    Here, Doug the pug attends the 2019 CMT Music Awards on June 5, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee.

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  • This breed is pronounced in the traditional Latin manner: CAH-nay COR-so. Maybe that’s because these vigilant pups originated in ancient Rome. The name roughly translates as “guard dog,”

    Here, a trainer shares a moment with his cane corso ahead of the 143rd Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on February 9, 2019, in New York City.

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  • Hey, there, stranger. If you’re not familiar with this breed, there’s good reason for that. This type of herding dog wasn’t even eligible to compete at the tony Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show until 2016.

    In fact, here’s a miniature American shepherd hoping for acceptance after being introduced to the media at that the Westminster dog show in New York in 2016. 

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  • The female lead from the iconic Disney animated film “Lady and the Tramp” is believed to be a cocker spaniel.

    Here, Rocco the cocker spaniel enjoys an ice cream with his owner as they take part in the Great North Dog Walk on June 4, 2017 in South Shields, England.

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  • There are quite a few different kinds of spaniels, and for non-experts, discerning between them can be confusing. Less than 100 years ago, there was essentially no difference between a springer and a cocker spaniel except size. Often, springers and cockers would come from the same litter. The smaller ones became “cockers” who hunted birds, and the larger littermates would be assigned as flushers who would “spring” game from hiding places.

    Here, a man arrives with his shoe-sporting English springer spaniel on the first day of the Crufts dog show in Birmingham, England on March 5, 2015. 

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  • These outdoorsy dogs love exercise, probably because they were bred as hunting companions in France. The same traits that make them excellent birders are said to apply to agility competitions. 

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  • Resembling a small collie, Shetland sheepdogs are hard-working herders originating from Scotland’s Shetland Islands (though they’re not to be confused with scotties, or Scottish terriers).

    Here, Tina Lowes hugs her Shetland sheepdog as she arrives for the Crufts dog show on March 8, 2018 in Birmingham, England.

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  • Pomerania is a region between Poland and Germany and, as the name would imply, the home territory of this favorite of the toy group. Technically, these are mini versions of the powerful spitz sled dogs of the north.

    Here’s Goldie Ann, wearing sunglasses and sitting on her owner’s lap while attending a Walk of Fame Star induction ceremony in 2017.

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  • These dogs were perfected in Switzerland,  but are thought to have been brought there by the Romans more than 2,000 years ago. 

    Don’t feel snubbed if you meet an aloof member of this breed. That’s typical, according to the AKC; these dogs prefer to bond with a single human or family.

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  • As the name implies, this dog is native to Cuba, and is the only AKC-recognized breed from that country. They’re noted for their silky coats and skills as watchdogs.

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  • The ears! The eyes! The cute little feet! No wonder this breed is popular as an urban pet. Per AKC rules, all Boston terriers must have some white in their coats, but the second color can be black, brindle, or seal, a color that looks black but actually has a redder cast in bright light.

    Here, Freddy the Boston terrier plays in the snow outside his home in Nottingham, England. 

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  • Sure, they’re cute, but Shih Tzus require maintenance, including daily brushings to avoid a matted coat. Said to resemble a little lion from traditional Chinese art (hence the name “lion dog”) these charmers were originally bred for palaces. For years, Chinese officials declined to let these prized pets leave their native country, but in 1930, the breed was first imported to Europe.

    If you play the Animal Crossing video game, you’re definitely familiar with this breed. The game’s mascot, Isabelle, is said to be a Shih Tzu. 

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  • The AKC describes this breed as having a “noble, wedge-shaped” head, and given the musculature of this specimen, we won’t argue. Among all dog breeds, the Doberman (or Dobermann) is generally seen as one of the most intelligent and easiest to train.

    They’re also quite dapper: This Doberman wears a baseball scarf during a game in Seattle, Washington. 

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  • These were originally bred in Germany as farm dogs, but, judging from this charming show dog competing in China, these pups belong everywhere. 

    Your friends may say that their white dog is a mini schnauzer, and they may be right — but only three color combinations are accepted by the AKC for competition: salt and pepper, black and silver, and solid black.

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  • Yep, this one is big, all right. We’re talking up to 32 inches at the shoulder — and only if all four feet are on the ground. These dogs are said to be great, but — get this — not Danish. They’re actually a German breed whose past names have included “English Dogge,” “German Dogge” and “German Mastiff.”

    And if these dogs look a bit familiar, that may be because you’ve seen them before. The comic-strip icon Marmaduke is a Great Dane, as is McGruff the Crime Dog, mascot of the U.S. National Crime Prevention Council.

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  • The Cavalier King Charles spaniel packs a lot of personality for a breed that is never more than 13 inches high. 

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  • This breed is a reliable sled dog in colder climates.

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  • The ancestors of the boxer were bred to aid hunters by grabbing prey and keeping it still until the dog’s master arrived. Traditionally, owners would crop the ears and dock the tails of this breed — a practice that has been increasingly banned. 

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  • This breed is considered the go-to herding dog and does very well in agility challenges.

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  • Fun fact: The first therapy dog was a Yorkie.

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  • Dachshunds were originally bred in Germany to hunt badgers.

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  • Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II is most notably a huge fan of this dog breed. She has owned more than 30 corgis during her lifetime.

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  • These hunting dogs are excellent swimmers.

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  • Rottweilers were used as search and rescue dogs after the September 11th terror attacks.

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  • Beagles were originally bred to hunt in packs.

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  • Siba the poodle, seen here, won Best in Show at the 2020 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

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  • Bulldogs were named after bull baiting, a brutal 13-century sport that pitted dogs against bulls.

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  • Though they require a lot of attention, French bulldogs can be great watchdogs. 

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  • These playful pups are often used as guide dogs for the blind.

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  • Known for their loyalty and ability to retain training, German shepherds are often the preferred choice of canine for military and police units.

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  • The ever-so-friendly Labrador retriever has been America’s No. 1 most popular breed since 1991, according to the American Kennel Club.

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