50 Most Popular Dog Breeds in the World

Dogs have been companions to human beings for most of humans’ recorded history. Whether used for work – guarding, mostly – or simply as companions dogs feature in the ancient stories of many human cultures.

Today, dogs are more popular than ever and the number of breeds has increased significantly.

Valued attributes in dog breeds include: looks, ease of training, suitability for families with children and ability to guard premises.

What makes breeds popular?

There’s no single factor that contributes to the popularity of dog breeds. And, sometimes, dogs are popular despite having some drawbacks.

Studies of dog choices reveal that the above attributes are not necessarily the only ones considered by people buying a dog. Breeds seem to be mostly chosen for size and looks – ‘cuteness’ and ‘fierceness’ are factors for different people – with little regard to other important characteristics of the breed.

Three of the top 10 breeds – the Chihuahua, the Schnauzer and the Dachshund – score low for ‘ease of training’. The first two are valued for being cute-looking while the Dachshund is favoured for being fearsome-looking.

Yet these three breeds have a dark side – behavioural problems that their owners possibly gave no thought to when choosing them. All three exhibit fear of strangers, fear of dogs, strong rivalry with other dogs and touch sensitivity. Both the Schnauzer and the Dachshund score high for dog aggression.

Yet size (smallness or largeness) plus looks (cuteness or fierceness) have made these breeds more popular than one might expect if we only looked at their behavioural problems.

It’s not just about looks

But other, perhaps unexpected factors, also creep into the mix. Not least of all is films: popular movies can affect the popularity of breeds for up to 10 years after the film’s release.

Movies such as 1943’s Lassie Come Home led to a 40% increase in sales of collies while Disney’s The Shaggy Dog led to a hundred-fold increase in the popularity of Old English Sheepdogs.

And it’s no surprise that sales of Dalmatians rocketed after after 1985’s hit movie 101 Dalmatians.

The movie effect is less pronounced these days in the past – there’s more films coming out featuring dogs than before so the effect is weakened – but nevertheless humans buy with their eyes and if they like what they see on a movie then it affects their choice of dog.

But again we see that the breeds popularised by movies are not necessarily breeds that exhibit the most valuable traits. Overall, what we see is that breeds who exhibit better behaviour or who are healthier overall or who live longer show no marked popularity over other breeds at all.

Stranger still, some of the unhealthier breeds are also amongst the most popular.

The size of a country affects popularity too. If a dog breed is very popular in a country with a large population then that skews figures in that breed’s favour – even if the breed is relatively unknown outside that country.

So there are plenty of factors determining a breed’s popularity relative to others. However, the only statistic that actually measures breed popularity is the number of dog registrations per breed. So this tells us what is popular without explaining why it’s popular.

Click here to read about the top 50 dog breeds in the world. Enjoy!