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Collie standing in profile in a field.
Svetlana Valoueva/Shutterstock

The Collie, on a continual climb since its number-seven position in the 1880s, became the number-one breed of the first decade of the new century. The breed ranked in the top ten breeds for seven decades of the 20th century. The number-two breed of the decade, the Boston Terrier, became the first small companion dog to get to this position. The breed would stay in the top three for five decades, peaking at number-one in the 1910s and 1930s.

1. Collie

©Mary Bloom

The precise origin of the Collie remains an enigma, but the two varieties, the rough-coated and the smooth-coated, existed long ago in the unwritten history of the herding dogs of Scotland and northern England. Prior to the past two centuries, both varieties were strictly working dogs without written pedigrees.

2. Boston Terrier

Boston Terrier walking in the grass.
©cynoclub -

The Boston Terrier is a true American creation, bred as a cross between an English Bulldog and a white English Terrier. The new breed’s supporters established the Boston Terrier Club of America in 1891, changing the name of the breed from “Roundheads” or Bull Terriers to Boston Terriers, named after the city where the breed originated.

3. English Setter

Two English Setters begging in the kitchen.
ROMAOSLO via Getty Images

The best authorities trace the origin of the English Setter to their appearance as a trained bird dog in England more than 400 years ago. Evidence points to the breed’s origin as crosses of the Spanish Pointer, large Water Spaniel, and the Springer Spaniel. These breeds combined to produce a superb bird dog with a high degree of proficiency in finding and pointing game in open country.

4. Bull Terrier

Bull Terrier puppy getting rewarded while on a walk in the park.
©otsphoto -

The Bull Terrier, crossed between the Bulldog and various terriers, gained popularity in the early 1800s among the sporting fraternity. These crosses combined the determination and courage of the Bulldog with the natural agility and intensity of the terrier. They ranged in size and color. Some show more bulldog heritage, while others are more terrier-like.

5. Pointer

©Dogs -

The first Pointers appeared in England around 1650, before wing-shooting with guns became popular. Pointers were also often used to locate and point hares in conjunction with Greyhound coursing. By the 18th century, however, wing-shooting had come into vogue, and the “shorthair” has been considered by the majority of sportsmen to be the equal, if not the superior, to any of the gun dogs.

6. Cocker Spaniel

Cocker Spaniel
Photo by Pix 'n Pages ©American Kennel Club

The spaniel family is a large one of considerable antiquity. As far back as the 14th century, we have mention of the Spanyell, which came to be divided into water and land spaniels. Further divisions in land spaniels were based on size. Cocker Spaniels were the smaller of the two types of spaniels and are to this day the smallest in the Sporting Group.

7. Bulldog

Bulldogs in harnesses on leashes greeting each other.
©Tatiana Katsai -

The Bulldog, to the best of our knowledge, had its origin in the British Isles. The “bull” in its name referred to the dog’s use in the sport of bull baiting. The Cruelty to Animals Act of 1835 put an end to the sport, and subsequent generations of breeders have bred for the gentle temperament the Bulldog has today.

8. Airedale Terrier


The Airedale Terrier is thought to have originated in the valley of the Aire in England and descended from the now-extinct black-and-tan terrier. The first Airedales looked completely different from how they appear today, and they were known as Working, Waterside, and Bingley Terriers. The Airedale eventually became known as a dog that could do it all. They were used as wartime guards and messengers, as well as for rodent control and for hunting birds and game.

9. Beagle

Beagle sitting for a treat with a young girl in the park.
©Pixel-Shot -

The actual origin of the Beagle seems to be obscure because of the absence of reliable documentation on the earliest days of development. The turning point for American Beagles came in the 1860s, when dogs from a well-bred strain in England were imported to inject a beautiful breed type.

10. Irish Terrier


The Irish Terrier‘s origin has been much debated, but there is indisputable evidence that it is one of the oldest of terrier breeds. The first record of an Irish Terrier being shown as a recognized breed dates back to 1875, while a class was held for it at a show in Glasgow in 1879. Two years later, Westminster held its first class for the breed.

Related article: That Dog on TV Might Not Be Right for Your Family
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