Breed All About it!

A history of popular dog breeds
By Kass Fincher
In the clothes we wear, the music we enjoy and the cars we drive, American popular culture tends to influence many aspects of our life choices. It shows who we are, or at least aspire to be.

Choosing the family dog is no different. Over time, the most popular breeds in our country have not been just a reflection of the economic times; they have often reflected what’s popular on the screen.
Since the early 1900s, the American Kennel Club has maintained a list of the most popular breeds. Here are the top breeds from 1900 to today.

1900s: Collie
This lovable breed held sway in the top 10 for seven decades. Their origins are murky, but were thought to have originated as herding dogs in Scotland and northern England. Of course TV’s Lassie in the 1960s only added to the breed’s high profile – the dog’s loyalty and many rescues of the accident-prone Timmy made every child want one.

1910s: Boston Terrier
The first American-created breed to make the list, this dog was a cross between an English bulldog and a white English terrier. No lapdog, though small, the Boston Terrier is known for its intelligence and playful nature. They stayed in the top 10 for six decades.
1920s: German Shepherd
Loyal, intelligent and hard-working, this breed jumped to prominence in part thanks to the stardom of canine actors. “Strongheart” was a 125-pound German dog trained as an attack police dog and used in the German military in WW1. After training to reduce some of his aggressive behaviors, he went on to make his first movie – “The Silent Call” – in 1921, and became a star. “Rin Tin Tin” was rescued from the battlefield by an American soldier, and went on to appear in 27 movies and achieve international fame.
1930s: Boston Terrier
Once again, this popular breed bounced back to the top of the pack. They had remained in the top three spots for the previous three decades. It seemed that the Depression years favored breeds that were smaller, companion types.

1940s: Cocker Spaniel
The smallest of the spaniels, this breed stayed in the top 10 for 16 years. Again, a well-known canine star prompted many people to want this dog. “My Own Brucie” was an AKC Westminster Best of Show winner in those years. Stubborn but beautiful, he was said to have been the most photographed dog in the world.

1950s: Beagle
The earliest origins of this breed appear to be the 1860s, when they were brought from England. Once again, popular culture influenced this breed’s rise to the top. Charlie Brown’s best friend Snoopy in the Peanuts comics made this breed an irresistible choice.

1960s-1970s: Poodle
This elegant breed held the number one spot for two decades. A famous example was Marilyn Monroe’s “Maf”- a gift from Frank Sinatra. Originally from Germany, the breed was bred to hunt and retrieve ducks; the German word “pudel” means to splash in the water.

1980s: Cocker Spaniel
Making a comeback in this decade, this breed continues to be a popular choice.

1990s: Labrador Retriever
Now holding the top spot for the past 30 years, this breed was originally from Newfoundland. Notoriously spirited but a great family dog, the Labrador Retriever needs lots of exercise, preferably swimming and chasing balls.

Today some of these previously popular breeds still hold our favor. Here is the AKC top 10 list from 2016.
1. Labrador Retriever
2. German Shepherd
3. Golden Retriever
4. Bulldog
5. Beagle
6. French Bulldog
7. Poodle
8. Rottweiler
9. Yorkshire Terrier
10. Boxer

Today, because of the amount of information out there, making a choice for one’s best friend can be almost overwhelming. On the internet, one can research the breed’s personality traits, needs and nature – both good and bad. Are they good with children? Do they need lots of outdoor space? How much exercise do they need? What are their potential health issues?
Or there’s another option. You can go to your nearest shelter and pick out a rescue dog. He or she will undoubtedly be overcome with love for you. Not a hard choice for some of us.

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