How Many Dog Breeds are there and which is most popular?

There are currently one hundred fifty seven dog breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club and probably five thousand variations that are not registered because they’re not viewed as “pure” breeds. That’s fairly ironic, considering that the most popular dog breed in the world according to the AKC is a dog that was bred into existence by English breeders over the past four centuries. The original dog in the Labrador breed wasn’t a Labrador at all; he was a St. John’s Water Dog, a breed that has been extinct since the 1980’s. They are, however, still on the AKC list.

Following the Labrador retriever on the AKC popularity list is the Yorkshire terrier, German shepherd, Golden retriever, and Beagle. Each of these has been cultivated and inbred over the years to create a very specific look. Those who own any of these dogs are generally loath to buy any other type of dog. That’s true of any dog owner who prefers papered pure breeds. They are typically matched with others of the same family and used for show or to bring more puppies into the world. Any dog owner who does not have either of those intentions is more than happy to adopt a mutt.

Retrievers and Golden retrievers are beautiful dogs that have a high level of intelligence and can do almost anything you ask of them, often without any kind of formal training. German shepherds are great watch dogs, Yorkies are fun to play with, Beagles can be a child’s best friend, but none of them have to have “pure” blood to be able to do any of those things. A mixed breed dog is just as capable of having its predecessor’s skill set and could benefit from a bloodline mix with a breed that is well-known for a different skill set. That’s how the Labrador became a breed in the first place.

The American Kennel Club and its British counterpart put on shows and place some beautiful animals on display. Despite that, their system of only allowing “pure” dogs into these shows is exclusionary and deprives the world of a view of some of the more beautiful and intelligent mixed breeds out there. Have you ever seen a pit bull / Great Dane mix? It’s rare, but they’re absolutely beautiful. They get the strength and stamina from the pit bull side with some grace and beauty added in from the Great Dane. Wouldn’t you like to see one of them in a dog show, just once?

There are one hundred fifty seven registered dog breeds and over five thousand sub-breeds, but there’s only one category that counts. They are all dogs, man’s best friend, and each one of them deserves a good home with a family that will love and care for them. If you’re looking for a dog for your home, don’t get caught up in the whole “pure breed” thing. Go to the pound and adopt a mutt. You could be saving a life if you do.

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