Dogs were the first animals to become domesticated. Early dogs chose to associate with humans and eventually came to bond with their human companions to the mutual benefit of both species. Since then, humans have continued to breed dogs to fit different specifications. Some dogs are bred for hunting and some for companionship. Regardless of their original purpose, Americans love their dogs in all shapes and sizes.
Families in America pick dogs based on many traits. Families that want a large pet with the ability to protect them may choose a guard dog. Although they are protective of their family members, most guard dogs are excellent companions and gentle pets. According to the AKC's 2010 registration statistics, the most popular guard breeds are German Shepard Dogs, Bulldogs and Boxers. Rottweilers and Doberman Pinschers are also popular breeds in the United States.
Hound breeds were originally bred for hunting purposes. Most hounds are excellent trackers due to their extremely keen sense of smell. Known for their droopy ears, long muzzles and distinct howl, hounds are popular breeds in the United States for hunters and families. Known as excellent companion dogs, not all hounds are used for hunting; many are household pets. The most popular hound breeds according to the AKC's registration statistics of 2010 were Beagles and Dachshunds.
Originally bred for hunting and retrieving, retrievers are now popular family pets. Retrievers have a love of water because they were bred to retrieve ducks and water fowl. Extremely loyal and affectionate, retrievers are suitable pets for families with children. This is one of the reasons that retrievers are the most popular dogs in the U.S. Labrador Retrievers come in at number one, and Golden Retrievers are number five in the AKC's 2010 registration statistics.
Many Americans live in apartments, small homes or in cities. People with a limited amount of space can adopt small or toy dog breeds, as larger breeds require more exercise. Families with small children, and people that prefer small, cute animals may also prefer these breeds. The AKC 2010 Dog Registration Statistics state that Yorkshire Terriers and Shih Tzus are the most popular small breeds. Chihuahuas are also popular and are native to North America.