It's a good time to have four furry legs. Pet ownership has surged over the past 20 years, and dogs in particular are enjoying increased popularity. But whether you already own a pooch or are searching for one that's right for you, it's interesting to note which are the most popular dogs in America.
For the 19th consecutive year, the Labrador retriever is the most popular purebred dog in America, but could this be the last year for the Lab's reign? According to American Kennel Club 2009 registration statistics, the German shepherd overtook the Yorkie and is now ranked second most popular in the nation for the first time in more than three decades.
An American favorite since the time of Rin Tin Tin, the German shepherd became the No. 1 breed of the 1920s, but slipped in popularity until after World War II.
"Labs have been America's top dog for nearly two decades due to their loyal and gentle nature," said AKC spokeswoman Lisa Peterson. "But the German shepherd has gained ground recently, quite possibly due to the increased attention they receive for their security efforts at home and abroad, and search and rescue efforts in Haiti."
Picking your pet
The type of dog you choose can say a lot about your personality.
Labrador retrievers are an ideal sporting and family dog. Millions of Americans own and love Labs because of their even temperament, trainability and family-friendly nature.
German shepherds are hailed as the world's leading police, guard and military dog, however, this dependable breed is more than its nine-to-five job. Energetic, approachable and fearless, German shepherds are loyal family pets and good guard dogs, the ideal choice for many families.
Yorkies offer big personalities in small packages. They serve as great companions for all ages due to their loving personality and convenient, portable size.
With their friendly temperament, intelligence and eagerness to please, golden retrievers are popular as family companions. This active and energetic sporting breed can adapt to many different living situations but requires daily exercise in order to thrive.
Beagles make wonderful family pets due to their merry personalities, compact size and easy-care coat. Curious and comedic, they often follow their noses, which can sometimes lead to a little mischief.
Selecting the right dog for you can be a rewarding journey. It is important to consider size, energy level, grooming needs, trainability and temperament and choose a dog that best fits your lifestyle.
For more information on all 164 dog breeds the AKC registers, visit akc.org.