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Video: America’s most popular pooches

  1. Closed captioning of: America’s most popular pooches

    >> this morning on today's pets, the top dogs in the country. the american kennel club 's gina denardo brought along some friends representing this year's most popular breeds. what are we seeing?

    >> bigger dogs are becoming more popular across the country. and we are seeing a big rise in the popularity of terriers overall.

    >> why?

    >> they are nonshedding and come in a variety of sizes. they're feisty, great with families.

    >> good personalities.

    >> exactly.

    >> honorable mention goes to the rottweiler who is -- big news for the tenth most popular dog.

    >> for the first time.

    >> look at that face.

    >> the rottweiler has come into the top ten. this is a fabulous breed.

    >> they grow big. very big.

    >> the thing with pure bred dogs is predictability. this will be a big, strong protective breed that needs to be socialized.

    >> you need a lot of room.

    >> all breeds need to be socialized. that's the beauty of knowing what you will get.

    >> in the past people thought of them as being a -- you know, a little scared of rottweilers as a family pet. they're sweet dogs.

    >> they're fabulous. they love their families. they need to be socialized to get along well with strangers and animals. they are naturally protective. you just need to know it and train them.

    >> all right. let's get to the top five starting with the number five most popular, the yorkshire terrier . oh, my goodness. look at that face. the yorkie dropped a little bit.

    >> just a little bit. it is number five in the country. the yorkshire terrier is a feisty little dog. it thinks it's a big dog , but it has a little body. it has a beautiful tan and silver coat.

    >> i was going to say something but i'm not. i know somebody that fits that description.

    >> they're fun, smart. you can train them to do a bunch of things. agility and obedience.

    >> and they are great to take anywhere. they're perfect dogs. okay. great. number four is none other than the gorgeous lovable adorable golden retriever .

    >> they have dropped a little bit in popularity. used to be the number two most popular dog in america. this is a great breed for families. they are super smart. you can train them to do anything. they are eager to please. they love to do things for you and with you.

    >> this will be a big one.

    >> they have high energy and that needs to be harnessed with training. akc has great training programs. we have a star puppy program and a canine good citizen program.

    >> you can learn about them.

    >> take the test and see if your dog is well trained.

    >> now, knocking out the yorkie for the number three position is the lovable little beagle.

    >> the beagle --

    >> it's moving up.

    >> it's been in the top ten for 125 years. for the history of the club they have been in the top ten. this is a great hound breed. they will follow their nose. so they can get into trouble because they like to smell things. they're also barky.

    >> they have a little howl.

    >> right. but they are easy to care for. the coat is short. they have also a lot of energy. a great family pet.

    >> we have only a minute left. the german shepherd is number two known for intelligence and loyalty.

    >> they became popular in the '30s. rin tin tin made them popular. a versatile breed used to herd and be an all around farm guard dog . now they protect our borders, work with us.

    >> let me down.

    >> and number one for how many years in a row now? the labrador retriever .

    >> 20 years in a row. the king of all dogs. for 21 years the number one dog because they are versatile. they are friendly and easy to train. love people. love to play in the water. a great breed for a variety of families.

    >> i love these dogs. absolutely beautiful. thank you as always. still to come -- can i keep this one? sarah hanes rubs elbows at one of new york's most popular attractions. first, this is "today" on nbc.

    >>> coming up, kathie lee and

TODAY contributor
updated 2/28/2012 10:23:43 AM ET 2012-02-28T15:23:43

The family-friendly, fun-loving Labrador retriever continues its reign as America’s top dog, but it finds a floppy-earned, vertically challenged canine nipping at its paws.

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The Lab continued its unbroken string as America's most popular dog breed in new statistics released by the American Kennel Club and revealed on TODAY Tuesday, claiming the top spot for the 21st consecutive year, based on AKC registration statistics. But the beagle moved up to the No. 3 spot, displacing the Yorkshire terrier.

"This year clearly belongs to the beagle," AKC spokesperson Christina Duffney told TODAY.com. "The beagle's merry personality combined with his love of outdoor activities make him such a wonderful family pet that I wouldn't be surprised to see this spunky breed sniff his way to the top of the list next year."

Slideshow: Who’s America’s top dog? (on this page)

Dog lovers are catching onto the fact that beagles aren't really much like their most famous representative, comic-strip canine Snoopy. While Charlie Brown’s pet is a contemplative loner who liberally quotes from Edward Bulwer-Lytton, flesh-and-blood beagles are actually as family-oriented as they come. The AKC notes that beagles lived in packs for centuries, and the dog revels in being part of a human family, which it considers its pack.

While the trusty German shepherd maintains its No. 2 ranking in the new AKC list, other big dogs are moving up the charts — the stick-fetching golden retriever climbed from No. 5 to No. 4, while the rottweiler makes its first appearance in the Top 10.

Video: America’s most popular pooches (on this page)

The rottweiler gave the boot to its lapdog counterpart, the shih tzu in cracking the Top 10, continuing a trend that has seen smaller dog breeds waning in popularity. Cuddling an adorable rottweiler pup in Studio 1A Tuesday, the AKC's Gina Dinardo told Natalie Morales that dog owners are looking beyond the breed's sometimes scary reputation.

"They're fabulous," Dinardo said of rottweilers. "They love their families, (but) they need to be socialized like all dogs so that they get along well with strangers and other animals. But they are naturally protective, and that's the beauty of them."

The emergence of the big dog also signals a wane in popularity of some of the smaller breeds. Ten years ago, the likes of Chihuahuas, Pekingese and miniature pinschers dotted the upper reaches of the AKC most popular breeds list, but all have declined in popularity in recent years.

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The Yorkshire terrier slid from No. 3 to No. 5 on the new list, and the dachshund  dropped from No 8 to No. 9. But the fancy, fluffy poodle is making a comeback; America's most popular dog from 1960 to 1982, the poodle breed rose from No. 9 to No. 8 in the AKC records this year. Other Top 10 finishers include the bulldog (No. 6) and the boxer (No. 7).

The AKC also notes that setters are seeing a rise in popularity — English setters, Irish setters, Irish red-and-white setters and Gordon setters all made climbs in registrations in the past year. And while the Yorkshire terrier fell in the top 10, other types of terriers — Bedlington terriers, border terriers and Dandie Dinmont terriers — all gained in popularity.

"(Terriers) are couture, and they come in a variety of sizes," Dinardo told Morales. "They're very feisty, and great with families."

But as if to show fox hunting isn't as popular as it used to be, the scent-driven coonhounds made the largest tumble in this year's AKC statistics. The black and tan coonhound, bluetick coonhound and redbone coonhound all fell sharply in registrations, according to the AKC.

© 2013 NBCNews.com  Reprints

Photos: Top 10 dog breeds in America: 2011

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  1. The top dogs of 2011

    Which breeds top the list as the most adored four-legged friends? The American Kennel Club ranks the most popular dog breeds of 2011.

    10. Rottweiler
    Originally bred for their herding and guarding instincts, Rottweilers almost fell into extinction in the late 1800s as the need for them to drive cattle to the markets diminished. Today the breed thrives and often works as a police dog, herder, service dog, therapy dog, and devoted companion. (featurepics.com stock) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. 9. Dachshund

    The breed lovingly known as the “wiener dog” has a strong personality with a dose of charm and a playful sense of humor. 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) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. 8. Poodle

    The poodle holds the record for being the most popular dog for 22 consecutive years (1960-1982). 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.” (Diane Lewis / Courtesy of The American Kennel) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. 7. Boxer

    Boxers are known for standing up on their hind legs and batting at their opponent, appearing to “box” with their 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) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. 6. Bulldog

    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 impervious to pain. (Getty Images stock) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. 5. Yorkshire terrier

    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. (Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. 4. Golden retriever

    Golden retrievers are well-balanced, strong, active dogs with a kind expression, a gentle manner and an alert and self-confident disposition. The breed originated in the Scottish Highlands in the late 1800s, and the dogs were used predominantly for hunting. (Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. 3. 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. (featurepics.com stock) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. 2. German shepherd

    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 friends and protectors. (featurepics.com stock) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. 1. Labrador retriever

    In 1991 the Labrador Retriever was crowned America’s most popular dog according to the American Kennel Club and today the breed celebrates its 21st year as the country’s top dog. Originating in Newfoundland, Labs worked alongside fisherman helping pull in nets and catch fish that escaped from fishing lines. Labs are high-energy, action-oriented dogs that are happiest with active families. (featurepics.com stock) Back to slideshow navigation
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