6 Popular Dog Breeds Across the U.S

Discover which breeds are the most popular in different regions within the U.S. Some include Chihuahuas, French Bulldogs, and Golden Retrievers.

Apr 16, 2024By Jessica Montes
popular dog breeds across the us

Every year, the American Kennel Club posts its list of the most popular dogs in the U.S. This gives an overview of the most beloved breeds across the country, but have you ever wondered if there are clear patterns about which states prefer which breed? Today, we’ll cover which breeds took the number one spot in different regions within the U.S. and the outlier breeds that beat out the competition.


Photo by: Rafael Guajardo

According to the U.S. News & World Report survey, these feisty, pocket-sized pups are the most popular breed in the bottom half of the United States and take the throne in several northern states too. Chihuahua enthusiasts and owners cover a trail that spans 21 states and coast to coast from Arizona to North Carolina. Even Texas, which boasts that everything is bigger in this state, couldn’t say no to this teeny breed.

Despite being the poster pups for “tiny dog syndrome” and their notorious reputation as a vocal, sassy breed, almost half of the U.S. makes them their top pet pick! Thanks to their small size, they fit perfectly on laps, are comfortable in smaller living spaces, and have a lifespan of 14-16 years. Chihuahuas have big personalities in bodies that weigh less than six pounds, which makes them adorable fur babies.

French Bulldogs

French Bulldog
Photo by: Jens Mahnke

There are only two exceptions to the Chihuahua’s southern U.S. domination. In California and Florida, French Bulldogs have won over pet parents with their bat ears and squishy faces. Yet, they are no strangers to topping popularity lists. The American Kennel Club also reported that Frenchies were the most favored breed in the entire U.S. in 2022. Once companions to wealthy families in Paris, they have an increasing fanbase in urban and suburban areas.

Frenchies work best with people who prefer dogs with lower energy levels and few exercise demands. Because of their size and flat facial structure, they don’t do well with long sessions of physical activity and prefer a chill time at home. With a low-maintenance workout routine, it’s no wonder they are a pet parent favorite across the country.

Golden Retrievers

Golden Retriever
Photo by: Helena Lopes

Golden Retrievers are the second most beloved breed in the U.S. They take first place in 14 states with major concentrations in the Midwest which includes:

  • North Dakota
  • Minnesota
  • Wisconsin
  • Illinois
  • Michigan
  • Ohio

Golden Retrievers are also the most popular in the New England area of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.

While the U.S. News & World Report study does not expand on why this breed reigns in these areas, it’s worth noting that these states are close to bodies of water. It means a Golden Retriever’s strong aquatic abilities, hunting skills, and weather-proof coats would let it thrive here.

Chihuahuas and Frenchies would have challenges with the cool climate and likely need a thick sweater to maintain their internal temperatures. Not to mention, neither could help hunt waterfowl.

German Shepherds

German Shepherd
Photo by: Rachel via Pexels

In the eastern part of the Pacific Northwest, specifically Montana and Wyoming, German Shepherds take the cake. These states are stacked on top of each other and show a preference for this larger, protective, highly trainable breed. Similarly, the German Shepherd’s surprising popularity in Pennsylvania makes them an outlier among the other Golden Retriever-loving states surrounding it.

These intelligent canines pride themselves on having a job to do and quickly show problem behaviors if they are under-stimulated. Excessive barking, aggression, and destruction of items are key signs of a bored dog. German Shepherds need daily exercise and training from an early age. This benefits the dogs because it lets them release energy and also serves as a bonding moment between them and their owners.


Photo by: Elle Vet Sciences

Goldendoodles (Golden Retrievers crossed with Poodles) are the only mixed breed on the list. Idaho and Utah cannot get enough of these pups, further showing the range of preferences in the Pacific Northwest region. As a mixed breed, puppies can come out looking more like one parent or have an adorable mix of both. You might see the slimmer Poodle body with a blonde, straight coat or a sturdier Golden Retriever with a Poodle’s curls.

While these dogs are adorable, there’s growing concern about breeding best practices. As a mixed breed, Goldendoodles don’t have breed standards. This can encourage unethical breeders to produce litters without completing genetic health testing and take zero accountability for the dog’s well-being. In addition, puppy mills are motivated by financial opportunities and can mass breed dogs in abusive living conditions.

Yorkshire Terriers

Yorkshire Terrier
Photo by: Pixabay

When it comes to breed favorites, Maryland and Washington DC are the two nonconformists. They are the only areas in the U.S. where Yorkshire Terriers are the most popular breed and stand out among their neighbors who prefer Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, and Chihuahuas.

Although small, they are a gorgeous toy breed that can navigate a busy downtown area if trained from a young age. But don’t let the petite size and luscious coat fool you. They have a humble background as rat and vermin chasers and can still compete in Earthdog courses where they chase caged rats in underground tunnels.

After a day of playing or training, they need a thorough brushing. Even though they are minimal shedders, daily brushes prevent mats and tangles, so Yorkshire Terriers look their best as they stroll the town.

How About Alaska and Hawaii?

US map
Photo by: Mr. Printables

Just because these two states aren’t part of the continuous U.S. doesn’t mean that their stats were left out! Alaska’s number one breed is the brave, energetic German Shepherd which can withstand the state’s colder temperatures. While they might not be used as herders anymore, they can offer protection or work as service dogs for first responders.

So which dogs lounge on Hawaii’s beaches and sunbathe for fun the most? That would be Frenchies! Although they benefit from the year-round sunshine and mild temperatures, you likely won’t find them swimming. Their brachycephalic, flat faces make it difficult to breathe and keep their heads above water.

Jessica Montes
By Jessica Montes

Jessica is a California-based writer, journalist, lover of animals, and vegan of 17 years. Growing up, she owned parakeets, fish, a rabbit, and a red-eared slider turtle. She currently has a black cat named Marty and a tabby named Jellybean. In her free time, she enjoys reading, baking, camping, and roller skating to funky tunes.