Hot Dogs! The Top Dog Breeds in the U.S.

Each year, the American Kennel Club lists the most popular dog breeds on the basis of registration data.

Below are some mini-profiles of the top three breeds, along with some ideas for retail products and services for these particular pooches.

Labrador Retriever

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This dog breed has remained number one on the AKC's list of top dogs since 2002, which is not surprising.

I have to admit that these have always been my personal favorites, especially the black and chocolate varieties.

These paw-some pooches, which are classified as hunting dogs, originated in Newfoundland, Canada, in the 1800s. Historians claim that they are a cross between setters, Portuguese water dogs, and spaniels.

Labs have absolutely amazing dispositions. They are friendly, easy-going and smart, and are an excellent choice for families with kids due to their well-known patience.

They are also the athletes of the dog world and require lots of exercise. These dogs are great companions for outdoorsy people.

Claim to fame: Filmdom tearjerkers "Marley and Me" and "Old Yeller," both of which starred affable yellow labs, undoubtedly helped to boost sales of Kleenex.

Special note for retailers: Although these are shorthaired dogs, they do shed – especially on a seasonal basis – due to their water-repellent double coats. So their parents are advised to take them pet groomers periodically.

Retailers can also up the product ante by encouraging their lab parent clients to purchase brushes for them. Soft, natural bristle brushes are a good choice.

German Shepherd

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

This breed has long been considered the authoritarian of the pooch world, thanks to their long careers in law enforcement and the military, and popularity as guard dogs.

But these dogs are also very loving, loyal and terrific with kids. 

The distinctive breed, which is believed to have descended from herding and other working dogs, got its start in Germany in the late 1800s. Like Labs, they require lots of exercise.

Claim to fame: Rin Tin Tin, of course! I actually had the pleasure of meeting the original’s great-great-great-grandson (actually the 12th generation descendant of the original) at the 2012 H.H. Backer Spring Trade Show in Atlantic City. What a handsome dog! And a very nice pooch, to boot.

Special note to retailers: Although relatively low-maintenance, this dog breed does require periodic grooming. 

A great tool that general retailers and groomers might offer for at-home use is the Furminator. Meanwhile, their teeth do require special care. So steering their parents toward doggie dental products is a good idea.

Golden Retriever

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These beautiful dogs, which have long been popular with hunters, were named for their ability to retrieve game without damaging it. They are also very fond of water, and I have witnessed many members of this breed romping in the surf at the Jersey shore, where I live.

Well-known to be very lively pooches, goldens are descended from water spaniels and got their start in Scotland in the mid-1800s, where they became favorites of members of the upper-class elite who hunted waterfowl.

These dogs are absolute sweethearts and another excellent choice for families with kids.

Claim to fame: President Gerald Ford was dad to Liberty, who was a huge hit with the press due to being an unapologetic publicity hound. And who can forget Buddy, the star of the 1997 family comedy "Air Bud?" (To learn about a heartwarming book about a very special goldie named Oscar, click here.)

Special note to Retailers: Well-known for their sensitive skin, goldens benefit from shampoos that address this issue. Some good brands are Sebolux (which is recommended by the Absolutely Golden website) and Earthbath, which a lot of groomers like.

These dogs also shed like crazy, and need to be brushed and combed on a regular basis, as their coats are prone to serious matting. Many groomers recommend a combination of pin, slicker, and natural bristle brushes and rakes.

Fine-tooth stainless steel combs are also good for getting at the feathers between toes. So be sure to tell you goldie parent clients to stock up on these.

Groomers that deal with this breed are also advised to pay particular attention to ear cleaning, as these pets are prone to ear infections.
Meanwhile, these dogs love toys and are inveterate chewers. So be sure to carry lots of safe, sturdy playthings for this breed.

Some Other Top Dog Breeds

Small dogs, such as Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, and Pugs, will continue to loom large in the pet world.

Another up-and-comer is the Affenpinscher (also known as 'the monkey dog'), which is bound to grow in popularity thanks to the breed winning Best in Show via Banana Joe during the 2013 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

Bull terriers, particularly the Staffordshire and pit varieties, are doggone popular as well.

No matter what type of pooches people decide to own, whether it's a champion or a good old mutt, doggies deserve the best care and lots of love.

Learning about specific breeds and their unique needs will help to give retailers and pet service providers a paw up on the competition.