The history and evolution of the dog intertwines itself with the history and evolution of man. Its no coincidence that the phrase “man’s best friend” is commonly used. Traditionally, and in modern situations for sport, dogs were used as hunting companions and as protection. These days, dogs are mainly owned for companionship.
There are over five hundred breeds that have been established throughout the world, and each has its own list of attributes and strengths. Listed below are the top 5 most common breeds, and some of their characteristics ( and a few cute videos too!)
Although they can appear to be very intimidating, the Bulldog is actually an excellent family pet, and the fifth most popular breed to own. They were originally bred to bait bulls in bull fighting, and descend from mastiffs. Their defining characteristics are noted as courageous and stubborn, however they are also known to be notorious couch potatoes, and seem to be extra affectionate with children. They are often referred to as ‘nanny dogs‘. Although their grooming and exercise needs are minimal, the breed is known to develop skin problems as well as bone and joint problems.
The Beagle was developed in England in the 16th century, their small size favored tracking smaller game such as rabbits. Their personality is extremely friendly and happy-go-lucky, but also very mischievous. Their powerful noses, if left to their own devices, can get them into trouble! They are a great family dog for those who keep other pets; this dog was developed to be kept in large packs, and so they prefer the company of others. Their short coat means they have minimal grooming needs, and if exercised regularly they keep fairly healthy.
3. Golden Retriever
Surprisingly, the Golden Retriever is only the third most popular breed of dog. They are very versatile, and enjoy working as guide, therapy, or search and rescue dogs, or simply hanging around the house with the kids. They are great for a family who is always on the go, because they will want to go with you! They can also adapt to a variety of living situations, as long as adequate exercise is provided. Their long, silky coats are water repellant, but do require regular brushing. They are highly intelligent, and very eager to please.
2. German Shepherd
The German Shepherd is most recognized as the traditional K9 unit. However they also make great family pets, because they are extremely loyal and form a strong bond with all members of their family. They can also be very fond of children. They do require considerable exercise and grooming efforts, but these are efforts well rewarded.
1. Labrador Retriever
The most popular breed of dog is, of course, the Labrador. Known to come in three colors, chocolate, golden yellow, or black, they make excellent family dogs and love playing with children. They were originally bred to help fishermen on their boats (hence the affinity for water) but also make excellent hunting dogs, and like their golden retriever cousins, they excel at public service as well. Their short coat is a double coat, so grooming is required, but their even temperament allow for them to be easily trained.
It should be noted that these figures are taken from the American Kennel Club and only illustrate AKC recognized breeds.
The UK KC, the oldest kennel club in the world, establishes that the Golden Retriver is number five, the German Shepherd is fourth, the Springer Spaniel is in at 3, and the Cocker Spaniel is number two. The Labrador Retriever remains at number one in both registries.