Top Dogs

Top Dogs

by Susan Spisak

Without a doubt, we love our dogs. Whether you prefer a purebred or a special mix of any sort, they’re part of our family. We shower them with gift s, treats, toys, blankets, sweaters, and coats – they’re like our children (and someti mes they behave like them, too.) They give us so much in the form of companionship and fun - you can’t deny their worth in our lives. But which breeds are ranked as the top dogs?

According to the Canine Journal and the American Kennel Club or AKC, the Labrador Retriever, a Maine favorite, tops the list for the 30th year. (The AKC uti lizes registrati ons for rankings.) Labs can have a dense yellow, chocolate, or black coat, are terrific companions and wonderful pets. They’re intelligent, amiable, and have an eagerness to please. They stand 21 to 24 inches in height and weigh 55 to 80 pounds.

Labs thrive on exercise. They enjoy swimming in ponds and lakes, hiking trails, romping on beaches, dock diving, and playing fetch. As far as a job, their temperament lends itself to therapy work, bringing cheer to nursing home residents and children in hospitals. All this sti mulati on keeps them busy and happy. Thinking of adopti ng a Lab? Suitable names are Cocoa, Pepper, Bear, Moose, Maggie, and Daisy.

Following the Lab is the French Bulldog, a new additi on to the top ti er. (I was surprised – no judgment though.) The “Frenchies” are lowriders, meaning short legged, compact, and pack a punch. Called smart and funny, they’re muscular with a smooth coat. Frenchies have “bat” ears – they stand upright. You’ll fi nd them in assorted colors including brindle, fawn, white, and brindle and white.

Frenchies have European roots. They were bred in England by lace makers, and when these tradesmen made their way to France, they took them along. Wealthy Americans spott ed them and brought them to the States. By 1897, the fi rst French Bulldog Club of America was formed.

They’re perfect for smaller residences – they’re quiet, so apartment dwellers can rest assured they won’t upset neighbors. They have less heat, exercise, and stress tolerance – these adversely aff ect their breathing as they’re a short faced, dwarf breed. Fitti ng names include Louie, Winston, Brutus, Chloe, Phoebe, and Ruby.

According to the list, the German Shepherd, part of the Herding Group, is next. (They were in the Working Group unti l 1983, then the AKC added them to their new Herding Group.) These hard workers have a life expectancy of 12 to 14 years. Considered to be brave and courageous, many are employed as K9 Police, Search and Rescue, and Drug Detecti on Dogs. Their intelligence, trainability, and loyalty to officers/handlers/owners make them a natural for these fields.

As a family pet, they’re good with kids and may be fine with other pets under supervision. Eager to please, regal Shepherds need regular exercise. A bi-weekly brushout helps maintain their doublecoat. Depending on the sex, they’ll weigh in at 65 to 90 lbs. Their colors include sable, black, white, and black and tan. Appropriate names for Shepherds include Sarge, Duke, Rocky, Zeus, Sasha, and Willow.

Golden Retrievers or mixes thereof are consistently beloved. They’re happy-go-lucky, goofy, and wag their tail a lot. These even tempered puppers like having a job – therapy work or parti cipating in canine reading assistance programs are excellent outlets for the gentler ones. (Yes, some can be over-exuberant.) These dogs are oft en Velcro-like – they shadow their owners. Goldies are pleasant and good with children, making them great family dogs. They’re part of the AKC Sporti ng Group, and many will excel at agility. Tricks and nose work classes will keep them stimulated. Tidbit: President Ford owned Liberty the Golden Retriever and Liberty's puppy, Misty while in office. President Reagan also had a Golden named Victory while in the White House. Buddy, Benji, Marley, and Luna are popular names.

Bulldogs are cute as can be. (Note: There are many types including American and English. When Bulldogs are menti oned, it’s oft en referencing English.) Part of the Non-Sporti ng Group, they have a pushed-in nose and wrinkly face. As far as personality, they’re cheerful, snuggly, good for families, and open to strangers. These calm pups have a life expectancy of 8 to 10 years and weigh about 40 to 50 pounds.

The Bulldog has a very important history to the United States Marine Corps. The Marines fought so ferociously in France in WWI at the batt le of Belleau Wood that the Germans called them “Teufel hunden,” or the Devil Dogs from Bavarian folklore. That nickname stuck, and the Marines adopted the English Bulldog as their mascot. Today “Chesty XV” serves them well. Known for their courage, scores of colleges and high school sports teams call them their mascot, too. Names that speak to their determinati on include Tank, Bandit, Spike, Champ, Leia, and Rebel.

The kind and adaptable Poodles are next, and are Toy, Miniature, and Standard in size. Poodles have smarts, athleti cism, and are very trainable. The weak image is a myth - they’re good to pal around with in the outdoors. If healthy, they can live to 18 years of age.

Poodles have morphed into high demand bouti que Labradoodles, Goldendoodles, and Cockapoos. People may adopt Poodles or hybrids due to allergy concerns. Though no breed is 100% hypoallergenic, they’re acknowledged to have less dander and shedding. Nice names include Bijou, Curls, Hazel, and Stella.

Rounding out the top 10 are Beagles, Rott weilers, German Shorthaired Pointers, and Dachshunds. Surprised your preferred breed isn’t on the list? It doesn’t matt er a bit - he or she is sti ll your Top Dog!


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