Which breed is America's top dog of 2012?

Top breeds

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

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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