Friday, July 23, 2010

Dogs have always been considered man’s best friend. But, choosing a dog can be tough business. You have to decide what you’re looking for a dog for companionship or work? how large or small of an animal you want as a pet, whether you’ll keep the canine indoors or make it an outside animal; there really are lots of things that go into figuring out which kind of dog to get. Or, you can just go with the masses and get one of the most common dogs. Here are the 10 most popular dogs in America.

1. Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu may be sweet and playful, but it is not afraid the stand up for itself – its name means “lion.” The portable pooch with the flowing double coat is believed to have descended from crossing the Lhasa Apso with the Pekingese. Lively and friendly, it makes a great therapy dog.

2. Poodle

Smart and active, the Poodle is a star student in obedience training. Poodles were America’s most popular breed from 1960 to 1982. One reason for the poodle’s popularity is that it comes in three size varieties. The standard is the oldest; the miniature may have been used for truffle hunting, and the toy was often in circuses. Today, the breed’s main jobs are water retriever and companion.

3. Dachshund

Known for its long, low body, the Dachshund comes in three different coat varieties (smooth, wirehaired or longhaired) and two sizes (miniature or standard). The breed fell out of favor during World War I, but then grew more popular. Dachshund means “badger dog” in German.They were first bred in the early 1600s to dig badgers out of their burrows, eliminating them as pests. Today their playful personalities make them excellent pets.

4. Bulldog

Known for their shuffling gait and massive head, Bulldogs make fine family pets because of their gentle dispositions and strong bonds with children. The name “bull” came from the dog’s connection with bull baiting, an inhumane sport. When it was outlawed, fanciers eliminated the breed’s fierce characteristics. Today bulldogs make excellent family companions, playmates and therapy dogs.

5. Boxer

The Boxer loves to be with people, especially children, even though it was first developed in Germany in the 19th century for dog fighting. The athletic dog stood on its hind legs and batted at its opponent, appearing to “box.” Boxers caught on in the late 1930s, when people began importing them to America after World War I. During wartime they served as couriers and seeing-eye dogs; today, they make trusted family companions.

6. Beagle

Originally developed to hunt rabbits, Beagles make good family pets due to their upbeat personalities, compact size, and easy-care coats. Their name may derive from the French “be’geule,” referring to the baying voice of the hounds when pursuing game. Beagles put their noses to good use for everything from finding contraband to sniffing out bedbugs. Snoopy, the most famous beagle of all, starred in newspaper comics for nearly 50 years.

7. Golden Retriever

Its friendly temperament and striking golden color make the Golden Retriever one of America’s favorites. The breed originated in the Scottish Highlands in the late 1800s and was used mainly for hunting. A hard worker, the Golden Retriever makes an ideal guide, assistant and search-and-rescue dog. Goldens also often do police work.

8. Yorkshire Terriers

Yorkshire Terriers offer big personalities in a small package. Named for the English county of their origin, they were used in the 19th century to catch rats in clothing mills. Eventually they became pets of European high society. Today Yorkies make great companions for all ages, due to their loving personality and convenient size. Many serve as therapy dogs in hospitals and nursing homes.

9. German Shepherd

Both a fearless guard dog and a loving family pet, the German Shepherd Dog lost some popularity after World War II but has since regained it, becoming America’s second-favorite dog in 2009. The breed originated in Germany in 1899, used as a herding and farm dog. Today it is the world’s leading police, guard and military dog.

10. Labrador Retriever

For the 19th year in a row, America’s favorite purebred is the Labrador Retriever, due to their even temper and train-ability. The breed originated in Newfoundland and was used to help fishermen and hunters. Today this versatile dog works with police and military, detects narcotics, guides and assists, performs search and rescue, and makes a devoted family pet.

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