Which breed is America's top dog of 2012?

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    Top 10 dog breeds in America: 2012

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

  • Top 10 dog breeds in America: 2012

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    Dachshund -

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

    10. Dachshunds
    Commonly known as “wiener dogs,” dachshunds have long, low bodies, big personalities and an excellent sense of smell. While they were originally bred to hunt badgers, they now make loveable companions for people.

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    9. Historically Rottweilers were police dogs, and they’re happiest when they have a task to complete. Their intelligence and willingness to work allow them to be great service dogs, herders, therapy dogs and loyal companions.

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    8. All beauty and no brains? Not poodles, who are exceptionally smart. Originally kept as water retreivers in Germany, poodles are often given a “continental clip," a style that was originally meant to keep their joints and bodies warm after a dive in cold water to retrieve game.

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    7. Boxers are powerful dogs, who give off an air of intelligence with their alert expressions. They’re also known for standing up on their legs in such a way that they appear to be boxing with their front paws. Boxers should be regularly groomed and given daily exercise.

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    6. "Yorkies" may be small, but they have big personalities. While they’re members of the “Toy Group,” "Yorkies" are still terrier-like by nature, often exhibiting behavior that’s brave, energetic and determined. They’re also easily adaptable, making them the perfect pets for a wide variety of people.

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    Bulldog -

    5. With their adorable wrinkles and gentle dispositions, it’s not hard to imagine why bulldogs are a top breed. They’re easy to take care of, requiring minimal grooming and exercise, but they can still perform fun tricks, like riding a skateboard or competing in agility competitions.

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    4. Beagles have been a family favorite for a long while, repeatedly showing up in the top 5 for the last decade. First bred by English gentlemen in the 1500s to hunt rabbits, beagles are social creatures and enjoy the company of other dogs and humans.

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    Golden retriever -

    3. Up one spot from last year, golden retrievers are friendly, active and reliable. They’re not only great family pets, they also make for ideal hunting companions and therapy dogs. There is a price, of course, for that golden double-coat: They require daily brushing.

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    German shepherd -

    2. Coming in at number two is the German shepherd, who has long held a reputation for being a guard and military dog. They’re strong, muscular and fearless, which makes them especially well-equipped for search-and-rescue missions. Around the house, you’ll find them to be energetic and loyal.

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    Labrador retriever -

    1. For 22 years, the Labrador retriever has topped the list as America’s most popular dog. Originally from Newfoundland, Labs have proven themselves to be excellent guide and bomb detection dogs. They got their start by working alongside fisherman, catching fish as they escaped their nets. Even today they’re known as ideal hunting dogs that are also perfect for energetic families.

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The athletic Labrador retriever has once again been named America’s most popular dog, continuing the breed’s 22-year streak at the top.

But even though Labs have held the title since 1991, they might want to watch out: Golden retrievers are climbing the ranks. The friendly, stick-fetching breed showed up third (up from fourth) in new statistics from the American Kennel Club revealed on Wednesday’s TODAY.

For America's dog lovers, large canines remain in vogue, with Rottweilers, boxers and poodles all making the top ten, according to the AKC’s registration statistics.

“Bigger breeds are making their move,” said AKC spokesperson Lisa Peterson. “The popularity of the pint-sized, portable pooch just gave way to a litter of larger breeds in the top 10. These predictable, durable, steady breeds, like Labs and goldens, are great with kids and offer the whole family more dog to love.”

The ever-faithful German shepherd maintained its No. 2 position, but the family-oriented beagle slipped from No. 3 to No. 4. And while the Yorkshire terrier enjoyed a brief period as No. 3 two years ago, the tiny breed’s popularity has waned, now ranking at No. 6. Other small breeds that might have made the list a decade ago, like chihuahuas and miniature pinschers, were nowhere to be found in the top ten.

The poodle, however, still held its No. 8 position this year, though the breed once enjoyed its own 22-year reign as top dog from 1960 to 1982.

Other interesting stats from 2012? Mastiff-type breeds are becoming more popular, with the mastiff, bullmastiff, cane corso and Neapolitan mastiff all climbing the ladder over the last decade. And more people are gravitating toward “Bully” breeds, with the Bull Terrier moving from 79 to 51 during the same period of time.

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