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Top Dog Breeds of 2003

By: PetPlace Staff

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For the 14th year in a row, the Labrador retriever is America's favorite purebred, according to registration numbers tallied by the American Kennel Club.

And, as in past years, the Labrador far outstrips the second-most favorite – the golden retriever. The 2002 and 2003 lists are almost identical to the 2001 list. For 2003, all the same breeds made the top 10, but two switched positions. The beagle moved into third place, switching positions with the German shepherd, and the Shih Tzu moved into ninth place, taking the chihuahuas's spot.

The Top 10 Breeds of 2003 are:

1. Labrador retrievers 144,934
2. Golden retrievers 52,530
3. Beagles 45,033
4. German shepherds 43,950
5. Dachshunds 39,473
6. Yorkshire terriers 38,256
7. Boxers 34,136
8. Poodles 32,176
9. Shih Tzus 26,935
10. Chihuahuas 24,930

At the other end of the spectrum, the English foxhound came in with 19 registrations and the otterhound with just 34 registrations. Four other least-registered breeds are: the harrier (45), the American foxhound (52), the Komondorok (69) and the Canaan Dog (72).

Who Were the Previous "Top Dogs"?

It is interesting to review who were the previous top dogs of years gone by. The list includes one breed, the cocker spaniel, that is no longer even in the top 10!

  • Cocker Spaniels ranked number one from 1940-1952 & again 1984-1990
  • Beagles ranked number one from 1953-1959
  • Poodles ranked number one from from 1960–1983

    AKC Categories

    The AKC recognizes dogs in seven categories: sporting, hound, working, terrier, toy, non-sporting and herding. The largest breed registration in each group is as follows:

  • Sporting – e.g. Labrador retriever
  • Hound – e.g. beagle
  • Working – e.g. boxers
  • Terrier – e.g. miniature schnauzer
  • Toy – e.g. Yorkshire terrier
  • Non-sporting – e.g. poodles
  • Herding – e.g. German shepherd


    In 2003, the AKC registered over 150 different breeds totalling nearly one million dogs (915,671) and 423,761 litters.


    How Did YOUR Breed Score? Top Dog Breeds of 2003 for the entire 2003 AKC ranking.


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