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– Labrador Retriever Continues to Reign Supreme –

New York, NY – The American Kennel Club® announced today that the Yorkshire Terrier, fondly called the “Yorkie” by millions of enthusiasts, has overtaken the beloved Golden Retriever and the iconic German Shepherd Dog to become the second most popular purebred dog in America according to AKC® registration figures. The Labrador Retriever is the most popular purebred dog in the country once again—a spot it has held since 1991.

“We have been closely tracking dog ownership trends and AKC data reveals that the popularity of smaller breeds continues to grow over the last decade,” said AKC spokesperson Lisa Peterson.  “Not since the Boston Terrier* hit the top nearly 70 years ago has a small breed worked its way to such a high spot on the list.”

“Dogs have become a fixture in the American family. The recent rise of the Yorkie proves that many modern dog owners prefer a portable, pint-sized pet that fits their modern, fast-paced lifestyle,” added Peterson.

2006 Most Popular Dogs in the U.S.
1. Labrador Retriever
2. Yorkshire Terrier
3. German Shepherd Dog
4. Golden Retriever
5. Beagle
6. Dachshund
7. Boxer
8. Poodle
9. Shih Tzu
10. Miniature Schnauzer

Despite the prevalence of the Yorkie and the increased popularity of other small breeds, the Top 10 once again includes four large breeds all known for their intelligence, versatility and ability to be a loving family companion — the Labrador Retriever, German Shepherd Dog, Golden Retriever and Boxer.  The German Shepherd Dog rose in popularity to third in 2006.

To get a feel for trends over a longer period of time, the AKC analyzed nearly 100 years of registration data and looked at popularity based on group classification, size, grooming requirements and activity levels:**


  • The Sporting group (Retrievers, Pointing breeds, Setters and Spaniels) is currently the most popular, making up nearly 30% of the 2006 registry. This group peaked in popularity in the 1940’s with 43% of the registry.
  • The Toy group has been steadily on the rise since the 1970’s, when it made up only 12% of the registry versus 23% today.
  • The Working group peaked in the 1990’s at 17%, most notably due to the Rottweiler being in the top 10 at that time, including several years in the number 2 spot.
  • The popularity of the Terrier group has steadily decreased, going from nearly 27% of the registry to only 6% this year.
  • Hounds have remained the most consistent—at about 8% since 1915 through today.


  • Small breeds dipped to a low of 18% in the 1940’s and have grown to 29% of the registry today.
  • Despite fluctuations throughout the middle of the century (including holding the highest percentage of the registry ever at 58% in the 1940’s) medium-sized breeds remain at approximately 22% today, the same percentage as in 1915.
  • Large breeds make up the bulk of the registry today (45%) as a result of the Labrador Retriever being in the top spot.


  • Dogs with low grooming requirements have been steadily on the rise since the 1970’s while dogs that require more grooming have declined sharply during the same period. Dogs with average grooming requirements remained steady.
  • In 2006, nearly 48% of the registry was made up of dogs considered to have low grooming needs, versus only 30% in the 1960’s (Poodles were the top-ranked dog in this time period.)
  • Dogs with high grooming requirements were most popular in the 1940’s.


  • Dogs that require a high level of activity (lots of exercise) make up nearly half of the registry today, vs. 35% in 1915.
  • High energy breeds, such as the Airedale Terrier and Dalmatian peaked in the 1960’s at 61%.
  • Today, breeds with an average activity level comprise 43% of the registry while low activity breeds make up only 7%.

The AKC also looked at the Top 10 breeds in the nation’s 50 largest cities. To find your city visit Some key findings:

  • Among major U.S. cities, the Bulldog makes the Top 10 in 27 cities, followed by the Pug in 22 cities, the Rottweiler in 15 cities, the Chihuahua in 14 cities and the Pomeranian in eight cities.
  • Other breeds that made multiple appearances on the local lists but were not in the national Top 10 include the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Cocker Spaniel, German Shorthaired Pointer, Shetland Sheepdog, Maltese, English Springer Spaniel and the Boston Terrier.
  • Knoxville is the only major city in America with the same Top 10 breeds as the national list.
  • Milwaukee is the only city that does not include the popular Yorkshire Terrier on its local Top 10 list.


AKC registration statistics are compiled from Jan. 1- December 31 of the previous year.  In 2006, AKC registered 153 different breeds.

* In 1939, the Boston Terrier was the second most popular dog in America.  The Boston was consistently ranked #1 or #2 throughout the early part of the twentieth century. Small dogs are defined as breeds weighing an average of less than 20 lbs. 
**Average breed size, grooming requirements and activity levels were determined by a panel of dog experts