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These Are the Most Popular Dog Breeds in Canada

Dogs may be our best friends, but which ones do we rely on the most? Every year, the Canadian Kennel Club releases a list of the top ten most popular dog breeds in Canada. Here’s what their 2019 rankings tell us about the canines we know and love.

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Most popular dog breeds in Canada - Labrador RetrieverPhoto: Shutterstock

The Labrador Retriever has been the top dog for 25 years

The most popular dog breed in Canada is our very own Labrador Retriever! Labrador Retrievers have been enormously popular for a quarter-of-a-century now, thanks to their intelligence and gentle nature. According to comedian and Canadian Kennel Club member Ian Lynch, Labs are famously good at working with people, from their origins as aids to hunters and fishers in Newfoundland during the early 1800s, where they helped retrieve nets and ropes from the cold water, to their current roles as guide dogs. And they’re not just popular in Canada—Americans love labs too, thanks in no small part to celebrity lab owners like the Clintons, Drew Barrymore and Minnie Driver.

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Most popular dog breeds in Canada - German ShepherdPhoto: Shutterstock

German Shepherds hold the silver medal spot

What makes the German Shepherd such a popular breed, Lynch explains, is that “they can be all things to all people.” They make great family dogs, therapy pets, and they play a mean game of flyball. They’re number two in the country, coming in ahead of the graceful Poodle and clever Golden Retriever—all breeds that are known and loved for their versatility. In 2018, they were the most popular breed in Quebec. Why? It might be because of the Shepherd’s double coat—a coat with two layers of fur—which keeps it warm during those long winter months in La Belle Province.

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Most popular dog breeds in Canada - HavanesePhoto: Shutterstock

The Havanese is having a moment

Twenty years ago, the Havanese was number 57 on the list. As of 2019, though, the little pup has climbed its way up to number seven. A companion dog, the Havanese’s ancestors were originally from Spain, and was introduced to the Americas in the 1600s by way of Cuba—where today it holds the title of national dog. Small dogs are infamous for their yapping, but Havanese are on the quieter side, and love to please, making them very trainable and perfect for new owners. Take it from journalist Barbara Walters, one of their many fans!

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Most popular dog breeds in Canada - Nova Scotia Duck TollingPhoto: Shutterstock

One of Nova Scotia’s most popular breeds is also a local

Nova Scotia’s list of popular dogs features a Maritime breed called the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. The dog comes from the rural river district of Yarmouth County and dates back to the latter half of the 19th century, when it was known as the Little River Duck Dog. It was developed by hunters to mimic the fox’s technique of tolling: enticing game into the firing range. Though bred for a unique job, today the Duck Tolling Retriever is a beloved family dog, that carries with it a little piece of Nova Scotia history.

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Most popular dog breeds in Canada - FrenchiePhoto: Shutterstock

Bulldogs are in the top ten twice

Coming in at number five and number ten, respectively, are the French Bulldog and the Bulldog—also known as the English Bulldog outside of Canada. Both dogs are known for being headstrong—as Lynch puts it, “if a Bulldog wants something from you, you’ll know”—but they get a bad rap for laziness. The French Bulldog, in particular, has a playful—even clownish—nature, and loves a good game of fetch. Frenchies are also more miniature than Bulldogs, which might explain their rapid rise in popularity since 2000, when they were down at number 93.

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Most popular dog breeds in Canada - French bulldogPhoto: Shutterstock

Small but mighty—petite dogs are on the rise

Smaller breeds like the French Bulldog and the Havanese have been rising in popularity over the last two decades. While this might be partly due to the celebrity handbag dog trend—who could forget Paris Hilton’s pet Chihuahua Tinkerbell—it’s more likely the result of dog owners living in smaller houses and urban areas. In particular, baby boomers are retiring to condos, and looking for dogs that take up less space and need less exercise. It would, after all, be a little tricky to keep a Great Dane in a one-bedroom—but don’t let that stop you from trying!

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Most popular dog breeds in Canada - Bernese Mountain DogPhoto: Shutterstock

But don’t count out big dogs just yet

Despite the rising popularity of petite pooches, bigger dogs are holding their own in the top ten just fine. Just look at the Bernese Mountain Dog, which sits at number eight in the rankings. The breed is a family favourite for its excellent temperament—Bernese Mountain Dogs can be kind companions and fierce protectors, as needed. The mountains referred to in the breed’s name are those in Bern, Switzerland, where the breed was used for tasks like herding farm animals and bringing produce to markets. Though those jobs were eventually mechanized, today they play an equally important role in families across North America.

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Most popular dog breeds in Canada - Portuguese Water DogPhoto: Shutterstock

The Portuguese Water Dog is a favourite of world leaders

You might have heard of this breed thanks to the Obama family, who have two—the adorable Bo and Sunny. But Canada’s own Prime Minister Trudeau is also a fan of the Portuguese pup, and adopted one, Kenzie, in 2016. The breed has been around centuries and was first used by Portuguese fishers, though they declined in popularity in the early 1900s. That was until a Portuguese shipping magnate made it his goal to save the breed from extinction by starting a breeding club. Today, we can say his mission was a success. The Portuguese Water Dog is currently the 11th most popular dog breed in Canada, and is poised to climb even higher—especially if the Trudeaus ever feel like Kenzie needs company.

Next, learn about the dog breeds that can be left alone.