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Video: Meet the most popular pooches in America

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    >> this morning on "today's pets" the top dogs of the year. many of us treat our furry friends as members of the family, but there are dogs that are more popular than others. gina denardo is here from the american kennel club . you're the most popular person in the building today. you have brought some cuties with you.

    >> we have.

    >> you do this every year. were there surprise this is year?

    >> there are a couple of moves up at the lower end of the spectrum, but the top five pretty much -- they switch positions but they are still america's most popular breeds year to year.

    >> there is a line-up adjustment.

    >> exactly.

    >> okay. the first breed, number five is --

    >> can you love this? the golden retriever who dropped a spot from four to five.

    >> nothing dropping about you.

    >> absolutely.

    >> this is an adorable great active smart intelligent breed. they are beautiful to look at and a joy to own.

    >> originally bread fd for --

    >> hunting and retrieve. they worked in the field with the hunt. they are bred to work all day.

    >> good family dog but you have to walk them.

    >> exercise them physically and mentally. very smart. they do well in obedience and agility. they work with people doing search and rescue and therapy. they're great dogs.

    >> you are the cutest. i love you so much. i'm going to be kissing them all. next up, our number four spot goes to --

    >> the beagle. now, the beagle, he displaced the golden retriever . he's number four. these are curious little guys. they are hound dogs, scent dogs.

    >> and they are vocal.

    >> they are. they will get into trouble and mischief if you let them prowl around.

    >> that's not a face of trouble.

    >> it is. they will follow their nose and they like to make sounds. that was their job in the field. they would make noise for the hunter to know where to go.

    >> she's got sizable paws. what's the average size full grown?

    >> two sizes. 13 inches and 15 inches. we're not sure what this one will be yet.

    >> you believe this is popular because it's a good size for the family?

    >> portable size and a great temperament. good with children. easy to care for with a nice short coat.

    >> she's easy like sunday morning, just cuddled in.

    >> do you want to hold her?

    >> you don't have to ask me twice. next we have baby gaga. the yorkshire terrier . i love the name.

    >> this is the yorkshire terrier . number three for two years in a row. this is a feisty, active little breed. they are tenacious and are a true terrier in a toy body.

    >> they call it the terrier personality.

    >> they have a trademark beautiful silvery blue , tan coat.

    >> beautiful.

    >> they're very smart. if you want a little dog to participate in akc agility or obedience this is a trainable breed.

    >> are terriers more popular in major cities where you have less room to walk?

    >> portable breed. they are popular because people want to be with their dog as much as possible.

    >> the coat is long but you don't have to keep it long which makes this puppy easy to maintain.

    >> proper coat, easy to maintain with length if you brush it often. you can keep it short.

    >> let's go to the number two spot. it goes to a breed made famous by rin-tin-tin. the german shepherd .

    >> look at this baby. i think this is the most versatile breed. energetic, active, loyal, intelligent. they bond with the family and they are used for so many purposes because of their intelligence.

    >> that face says loyalty.

    >> absolutely. you see them working with man in border patrol , search and rescue . they can work outside.

    >> says a lot when you're with a germ german shepherd . basically get away from me. they're beautiful.

    >> up to the number one spot , it is the labrador retriever .

    >> how many years has the lab been the number one dog?

    >> this is the 20th year in a row. i think that makes him the king of the canine world. they come in three colors. this is yellow lab . they have chocolate and black. they are great family dogs because they're calm and gentle.

    >> good with kids.

    >> before we let you go there is a breed moving up, not in the top five but becoming popular. the bulldog.

    >> the bulldog.

    >> the dog of the future!

    >> since it got into the top ten it keeps moving up. it's number six this year. maybe next year.

    >> well, you are surely number one in my heart. i

TODAY contributor
updated 1/26/2011 9:43:37 AM ET 2011-01-26T14:43:37

You might not be able to tell by the lugubrious expression on his deeply jowled mug, and you’d have to look very closely to see his stubby tail wag, but the venerable bulldog has something to celebrate this year.

The breed, which has shed its ancient connection to the savage sport of bull-baiting in favor of a gentler reputation as a family-friendly companion, is moving up the charts on the American Kennel Club’s annual list of most popular dogs. In fact, it’s No. 6 with a ... bulldog.

But fans of the Labrador retriever need have no fear: Based on registration figures compiled by the AKC, the beloved Lab remains the champ in the annual list of most popular dogs, thanks to its well-earned reputation for playfulness and loyalty and its use as a police and search-and-rescue dog.

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The AKC compiles the list based on the number of dogs registered each year with the AKC, said Christina Duffney, director of public relations for the AKC. Breeders of pedigree dogs provide their new owners with papers, and the owners file those papers with the American Kennel Club.

The bulldog knocked the boxer, a perennial favorite, out of the No. 6 spot on the 2010 list, the best showing the breed has had in 100 years. The boxer is now the seventh-most popular breed.

Video: Watch the most popular puppies play on TODAY (on this page)

And that’s not the only surprise on this year’s Top 10 list, according to the AKC. After nipping at the heels of the golden retrievers last year, beagles have now taken away the No. 4 slot on the list. The goldens now slip to No. 5.

German shepherds, long the benchmark for reliable and even-tempered work dogs, retain the No. 2 spot, while the tiny Yorkshire terrier, a favorite therapy dog in nursing homes and hospitals because of its loving and sometimes exuberant personality, is listed as the third-most popular breed in the country.

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The No. 8 spot is still held by the dachshund. The familiar “hot dog” breed comes in three varieties — smooth, wire-haired and long-haired — and two sizes, miniature and standard.

Poodles, also available in three sizes, keep the No. 9 spot. The standard poodle is the oldest version of the breed; the miniature may have been used for truffle hunting, and the toy was often employed in circuses. Today, the breed's main jobs are water retriever and companion.

Rounding out the list at No. 10 is the Shih Tzu. The long-haired, short-legged and flat-faced favorite may be small, but it is courageous; in fact, its name means “lion.”

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Photos: Top 10 dog breeds in America

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  1. America’s top dogs

    Which breeds are the top contenders for man’s best friend? The American Kennel Club ranks the most popular pups of the year.

    Shih Tzu
    While sweet and playful, Shih Tzus are not afraid to stand up for themselves. As a matter of fact, the word Shih Tzu means "lion" in Mandarin. This portable pooch carries itself proudly, with its head well up and tail curved over the back.

    Cherished by Chinese royals for more than a thousand years, the Shih Tzu was the prized house pet for most of the Ming Dynasty. During World War II, English soldiers discovered the breed and its popularity spread around the world. (Courtesy of The American Kennel Club) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. 9. Poodle

    The poodle holds the record for being the most popular dog for 22 consecutive years (1960-1982). Though the breed’s elaborately groomed show coat often creates the misperception that it’s a pampered aristocrat, the poodle is actually one of the high achievers of the canine world.

    The stylish “poodle clip” seen in dog shows was designed by hunters to help the breed move through the water more efficiently. In fact, the English word "poodle" comes from the German pudel or pudelin, which means “to splash in water.” (Courtesy of The American Kennel Club) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. 8. Dachshund

    The breed lovingly known as the “wiener dog” has a strong personality with a dose of charm and a playful sense of humor. They can adapt to city or country life and can get all the exercise they need exploring a small yard in the suburbs or playing with other dogs in the dog park.

    Dachshunds, meaning “badger dogs” in German, were first bred in the early 1600s in Germany with the goal of creating a fearless, elongated dog that could dig the earth from a burrow and eliminate the badgers for the farmers. (Courtesy of The American Kennel Club) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. 7. Boxer

    Easy to care for, intelligent, and faithful, the boxer is an affectionate and trustworthy pet for an active family. Boxers are known for standing up on their hind legs and batting at their opponent, appearing to box with itheir front paws.

    People began importing them to America from Germany after World War I, and they began to grow in popularity in the late 1930s. (Courtesy of The American Kennel Club) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. 6. Bulldog

    The bulldog has been steadily rising up the list of AKC’s most popular breeds since it entered the Top 10 in 2007. A medium-size dog, they are not your typical lapdog, but would like to be! Bulldogs are calm, loyal family dogs that are happy to curl up on the sofa, eat two or three square meals a day, and have their bellies rubbed.

    Said to have originated in the British Isles, the name "bull" was applied because of the dog’s connection with bull-baiting. The original bulldog had to be ferocious and courageous, and almost insensitive to pain. (Courtesy of The American Kennel Club) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. 5. Golden retriever

    Slipping one place to fifth, golden retrievers are well-balanced, strong, active dogs with a kind expression, a gentle manner and an alert and self-confident disposition. They are intelligent, friendly and reliable, with an innate need to please their owners.

    The breed originated in the Scottish Highlands in the late 1800s and the dogs were used predominantly for hunting. (Courtesy of The American Kennel Club) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. 4. Beagle

    The beagle is the only breed to rank in the Top 10 every decade since the founding of the AKC. Originally developed to hunt rabbits, they naturally enjoy the company of other dogs and humans. Curious and comedic, they often follow their noses – which can lead to some mischief.

    Beagles like to vocalize. In fact, the origin of the name "beagle" may have been derived from the French term "be’geule," referring to the baying voice of the hounds when in pursuit of game. The most famous beagle of all, Snoopy, was named the American Kennel Club’s “most popular dog in pop culture” in 2009. (Courtesy of The American Kennel Club) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. 3. Yorkshire terrier

    These playful dogs offer owners a big personality in a small package. Though members of the Toy Group, this breed is terrierlike by nature — brave, determined, investigative and energetic. Yorkies are highly favored apartment dogs and lapdogs; they are very energetic as puppies and tend to be quiet and settled as adults.

    In 19th century Yorkshire, England, Yorkies caught rats for workers in cloth mills. The breed’s coat was so beautiful that people said the mill workers must have spun their coats in the factories. (Courtesy of The American Kennel Club) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. 2. German shepherd

    Celebrated for their versatility, distinguished for their intelligence, and beloved for their devotion to their owners, German shepherds are active dogs that love to run and explore their surroundings with their excellent noses.

    Hailed as the world’s leading police, guard and military dog, German shepherds also serve as guide dogs for the blind, guardians, and search-and-rescue dogs. However, they are best known for serving as devoted family friend and protector. (Courtesy of The American Kennel Club) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. 1. Labrador retriever

    In 1991, Labrador retrievers took over the top spot on AKC’s list of the most popular dogs in the U.S. from the cocker spaniel, and today celebrate their 20th anniversary in the top spot.

    These gentle animals are happiest when with their owners, and require attention and love as much as food and water. Labs are high-energy, action-oriented dogs and can become easily bored without proper training and exercise – ideal for an active family or as a trusted hunting companion. (Courtesy of The American Kennel Club) Back to slideshow navigation
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