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The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognizes over 170 dog breeds in America.

While they all have their unique attributes, there are a few special breeds that make everyone swoon.

Intelligent and Resourceful Dog Breeds

Some dogs possess more cognitive abilities than others. They’re more alert, courageous, and learn easily.

Some even have a stronger sense of smell.

It’s both beauty and brains for the breeds shown in the table below:

black and white Papillon Deutscher Wachtelhunds on a rock black and white Border Collie
The Papillon is the smartest of toy dogs. They’re quick to learn, and will even learn from events happening around them. They’re also versatile. From being therapy dogs to dog show champs, Papillons will excel. Deutscher Wachtelhunds are a mix of the Stoeberers and Spaniels. Stoeberers are an extinct hunting breed that track scent like Bloodhounds. Like a Bloodhound, Deutschers can smell a 40-hour-old injured game. This trait (and more) makes them best friends to gamekeepers and hunters. The Border Collie, a sharp-eyed breed, will run you down with their energy. They’ve been deemed the workaholics of the canine world. They can learn a new command in less than ten minutes.
Australian Kelpie jumping over a hurdle two Belgian Tervuren engaging in sports Barbado running with a stick in mouth
The Australian Kelpie, another dog with matchless energy. Bred to help herders, Kelpies enjoy challenges. It’s common for the Military and Police to employ Belgian Tervurens as search and watch dogs. This is because of how intuitive, alert and serious-minded this breed is. The Barbado da Terceira is strong willed and a fast thinker. Without a firm and experienced hand, they might even outwit their owners.
parti-colored Shetland Sheepdog  chocolate-colored Boykin Spaniel Golden Retriever with tongue out
In need of a watchdog for your home? Adopt a Shetland Sheepdog. They’re unbeatable protectors, easy to train and adapt easily to new environments. They’re often used as therapy and medical alert dogs. The Boykin Spaniel’s speciality is swimming. They were raised to assist water hunters in South Carolina. They’re easily trained and highly sociable. Golden Retrievers are quick to listen and understand, patient, and enduring. They do well as guides for blind people and as search-and-rescue dogs.
brown miniature Poodle German Shepherd adult and puppy Labrador Retriever with tongue out
Poodles are known for being intelligent, alert and committed to their human companions. German Shepherds are among the most loyal dog breeds. According to the AKC, this Shepherd is the “…finest all-purpose worker.” There’s a reason the Labrador Retriever is famous among Americans; they’re extremely friendly and goal-oriented.

Mountain Dogs

Mountain dogs are big, athletic species.

They were bred to defend livestock and to rescue travelers.

St. Bernards are the most popular mountain dogs. They began rescuing lost travelers in the 1700s.

To date, mountain dogs are tough and tolerant of harsh conditions.

Once they acclimate, they also make wonderful family dogs, providing their owners with the utmost protection.

tri-colored Bernese Mountain Dog with tongue out Entlebucher Mountain Dog running biscuit-colored Anatolian Sheepdog in the field
The Bernese Mountain Dog is the largest of the Swiss Mountain Dogs. A male may weigh as much as 160 pounds. They’re a friendly breed; the AKC gives Bernese a 5-star rating for sociability. The Entlebucher Mountain Dog is also a member of the Swiss group. Like the Bernese, they’re characterized by a black and rust-colored coat. They’re good playmates, but are better for older kids and adults, as they’re strong-willed. Anatolian Sheepdogs are quick to adapt to new environments. They’re immensely protective of their owners and smaller dogs around them. They’re an independent breed, but with firm training they can adapt to family life.
Caucasian Sheepdog in the snow sand-colored Leonberger in the field fiery-colored Newfoundland in the field
Weighing no less than 100 pounds, the Caucasian Sheepdog was raised to defend livestock from carnivores. This gives them a strong sense of protection. They’ll make excellent guard dogs for your family. However, they need a thorough socialization process as they tend to be aggressive. The Leonberger derives its name from the German city, Leonberg. They’re friends with everyone and enjoy human companionship. Also a giant breed, they can weigh as much as 170 pounds. Newfoundlands were raised to work in the mountains of Switzerland. Despite their tough upbringing, they’re patient and hospitable, particularly towards children. This earned them the nickname, “nanny dog.” According to their breed standard, this is the “most important single characteristic of the breed.”
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Goofy and Playful Dog Breeds

If your child or family needs a canine playmate, consider breeds that:

  • Were raised as companions
  • Have a high energy level
  • Adapt easily to new play environments
  • Socialize easily
  • Are fun and friendly
bi-colored Boxer black Affenpinscher in a yard Belton Biewer Terrier with a ball in its mouth
The AKC gives Boxers a rating of 5 out of 5 for their affability with kids. No wonder they’re a popular breed in America. They’re energetic, sociable and obedient; suitable traits for kids’ pets.

Tip: Play fetch with your Boxer breed; they love it. My Boxer, Flip, is crazy about tennis balls.

Affenpinschers are often called “diablotin moustachu” in France, meaning “mustached little devil.” This is because of how mischievous they are. The best part is how serious they look when pulling those hilarious antics.
As the AKC puts it, “… it’s the Affenpinscher’s apparent seriousness of purpose that makes his antics all the more amusing.”
Biewer Terriers enjoy exploring and playing, even when they’re alone. These dogs can become nervous around strangers, so be sure you introduce them to new friends calmly and quietly.

Tip: Leave sticks and toys around, and enjoy this Terrier as he wobbles whimsically.

Pug jumping over a hurdle Japanese Chin with tongue out black and white Boston Terrier with a plate in mouth
Pugs have a friendly nature that makes them the perfect breed for mischievous antics. Keep an eye on their breathing as this can become a problem as they age.

Tip: Keep Pugs busy with games like tug-of-war or jumping hurdles.

You’ll often spot a Japanese Chin jumping as high as six feet. In fact, they’ve earned the nickname “cats in dogs’ clothings” because of those leaps.

Tip: Your Chin will excel at agility trials if adequately trained.

The Boston Terrier’s tuxedo look is one of the reasons they’re called “The American Gentleman.” They live up to their name by staying patient and obedient. But they’re also fun. They thrive at rally and flyball.

Tip: Keep your camera close when you’re with this terrier; they make the best expressions for memes.

Adorable Dog Breeds with Legendary Stories

Remember Tinkerbell, Paris Hilton’s Chihuahua? Paris adored her because she was more than a lap dog—she was a friend and support system.

Tinkerbell died after 14 years, but her legacy lives on. Because of that pet, people came to know how supportive Chihuahuas can be. Chihuahuas also became popular purse accessories, thanks to Tinkerbell.

Here are other breeds with stories we can’t get over:

a Dalmatian outdoors brown Pekingese white Pomeranian
Dalmatians gained popularity after the release of the Disney movie 101 Dalmatians. It’s hard to forget the love story between those two Dalmatians, Pongo and Perdy. Dalmatians were used as coach dogs long before the movie. They’re an athletic, versatile and committed species. Pekingese are named after Peking, the old English spelling of Beijing, China. They were bred as friends to Chinese royalties. To date, this breed has cute royal-like mannerisms. In 2021, Wasabi the Pekingese broke records. He was the first toy breed to win an AKC National Dog Show Championship. Pomeranians became popular after Queen Victoria fell for one in 1888. Then, Poms weighed 20–35 pounds. Today, they’re the tiniest of the Spitz clan, weighing no more than 7 pounds. However, they think big; Poms enjoy adventure and challenges.
bi-colored Saint Bernard Berger Picard in a garden chocolate Barbet on a leash
In the 1700s, monks used Saint Bernards to rescue lost travelers in the snowy mountains of Hospice du Grand-Saint-Bernard. Barry was a famous dog, rescuing over 40 people in the 1800s. After watching Because of Winn-Dixie, we all fell in love with dogs. Particularly the Berger Picard. This breed is quiet, observant, and as sociable as the movie depicts. Barbets were famous in French Literature and artwork during the 16th Century. People loved them for their agility and affability. Barbets almost went extinct after the world wars. But thanks to dog clubs and dog lovers, there are still about 500 Barbets in America today.
Yorkshire Terrier looking outside a pet trim fawn-colored Dachshund walking outdoors agouti Siberian Husky in the snow
Smoky was the brave Yorkshire Terrier that made her breed famous. She carried messages for her Corporal owner during World War II, and slept by his side when he was sick. Yorkies are still used as therapy dogs today. Dachshunds’ fame began the moment they stepped on American shores. Today, they’re one of America’s favorites. They’re good with cuddles, love to fetch and chase, and are highly intelligent. Famous sled dogs, Balto and Togo, were both Siberian Huskies. In 1925, these sled dogs were on a mission to deliver diphtheria serum across 700 miles. Both canine heroes have statues to honor them. Balto’s at Central Park, and Togo’s at NYC’s Seward Park.

Dog Show Champs

Some breeds have gained popularity through dog shows. Dog shows,  also known as Conformation Shows, are a great avenue for your pet to socialize and establish themselves as the best of their breed.

“… Dogs are not being compared to each other: they’re being measured by how closely they conform to the standard of their particular breed. Why? Because the closer a dog’s appearance is to the breed’s standard, the better that dog’s ability will be to produce puppies that meet the standard.”

— The AKC

The table below lists champions (Best in Show) at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

 two Wire Fox Terriers on a field two black Scottish Terriers on a grass fawn Cocker on a road
Wire Fox Terrier. As of 2019, this gorgeously charismatic breed had won Best in Show 15 times. Scottish Terriers have won the top title eight times. The 2010 champion, Sadie, was a favorite from the beginning and didn’t disappoint. In 1954, the Cocker Spaniel was the first Any Solid Color Other than Black (A.S.C.O.B.) subgroup to win Best in Show. This breed has won three more titles since then.
black and white Springer Spaniel on a field bi-colored Airedale Terrier two Miniature Poodles, brown
English Springer Spaniel. This breed won the title six times, most recently in 2007. Airedale Terriers have had four wins, the last being in 1933. Miniature Poodles have won the medal three times.

Sled Dogs

Are you a musher in need of a sled dog?

Besides the willpower to work, sled dogs must have:

  • A healthy diet
  • Team spirit
  • Alertness
  • Strong athleticism
  • A dense undercoat to protect them from harsh weather

Siberian Huskies are a popular breed for this purpose. They’re hardworking, enduring and easy to train. Have a look at the Husky I fostered in the video below:

Here are three other lovable sled dog breeds:

black and white Alaskan Malamute pack of Chinook pulling a sleigh smiling white Samoyed on a rooftop
The Alaskan Malamute has an intimidating aura. Their musher must lead them firmly, otherwise a Malamute may end up leading its owner. That’s how confident and independent they are. They’re built with strong bones and thick double coats. Chinooks are calm and intelligent. Weighing between 40 and 90 pounds, they’re also muscular enough to pull sleds with ease. The Samoyed is an ever-smiling breed, earning them the nickname “Sammie Smile.” They were bred as community dogs. Because of this, they work better with human company and within a pack. Samoyeds are famous for that sparkling white coat.

White Dog Breeds

There are over 10 recognized pure white breeds in America.

The larger dogs have a dense coat that protects them from harsh weather. The smaller dogs are often seen as fashion statements or lap dogs, the gold standard in cute dog breeds.

White breeds are at risk of Cochleosaccular deafness. If you come across a deaf white dog, don’t be skeptical about adopting them. It’s an opportunity to make a pooch feel loved despite their setbacks. The disability doesn’t limit their wit or companionship potential.

Kobe, my Cane Corso, is blind, but I couldn’t have made a better adoption choice.

Great Pyrenees in the snow Coton de Tulear on a rooftop smiling Kuvasz in water
The Great Pyrenees is a mountain dog. They’re known for their patience and majestic ambience. In the 1800s, St. Bernards began to deplete due to avalanches. It was Pyrenean blood, mixed with a few others, that revived the Bernards. Coton de Tulear is a small sturdy breed, weighing between 8 and 13 pounds. Their white coat comes with gray or yellow markings. They were raised as companion dogs, thus forming strong bonds with their owners. The Kuvasz is beautiful, and this dog knows it. They don’t hesitate to show off a graceful, effortless gait. Their white fur is so astonishing that they’re often called fashion dogs.
Sealyham Terrier on the field American Eskimo playing in the field Dogo Argentino on a rock
The Sealyham Terrier is a toy breed, blessed with a full-body white coat, a mast of facial hair, and tiny, deeply set eyes. The American Eskimo Dog is more than his white fluffy coat. They’re one of the most intelligent breeds. Curious and fast learners, they also perform well at dog shows. Chiseled face and sleepy eyes, Dogo Argentinos seem to live in their own world. They’re reflective and need firm leaders, otherwise they’ll become disobedient. Their white coat is plain and short; no more than ¾ of an inch.
West Highland White Terrier with tongue out Yakutian Laika in the snow Maltese on a leash
The West Highland Terrier is a jovial and welcoming cute dog breed. Their standout white coat can be layered with a “biscuit” color. Yakutian Laikas have a double white coat. The undercoat is dense and well developed. The outer layer is glossy, coarse and thick. The coat forms a mane on the neck of male Yakutians. Maltese dogs have a single layer, silky, white coat that falls to the ground. They make wonderful lap dogs.

The Spitz Clan

The uniqueness of the Spitz family lies in their wolf or fox-like faces and pointy ears.

The word “spitz” is of German origin. It means pointed, referring to those ears.

According to the AKC, most of these breeds are:

“… bred for life in arctic climates and originated in Scandinavia, Russia, North America, and Asia.”

They’re a suitable choice if you live in a more demanding environment.

The AKC recognizes sixteen spitz breeds, some of which we’ve discussed earlier:

  • Alaskan Malamute
  • American Eskimo Dog
  • Samoyed
  • Siberian Husky
Norwegian Elkhound fiery-colored Chow Chow walking fawn Eurasier on a rock
The Norwegian Elkhound, one of Europe’s oldest breeds, has a luxuriant silver-gray coat. Their physique includes a full chest, muscular thighs and sturdy legs, all built for work. They’re intelligent, friendly and excellent watchdogs. The Chow Chow is a medium-sized dog with a lion’s-mane ruff, a stiff-legged gait and deeply set eyes. They’re sometimes aloof, however they’re endearing to their owners. They have little odor compared to other dogs. The Eurasier is a mix of Chow Chow, Wolf Spitz and Samoyed. Their coat is usually black, red, fawn, wolf gray, or sable. They’re intelligent dogs that respond easily to clicker training. They’re quiet, and take some time to warm up to their owners.
red-gold Finnish Spitz red sesame Shiba Inu on a field white Japanese Spitz in the snow
The Finnish Spitz, also known as the Barking Bird Dog, is the National Dog of Finland. They assist hunters in finding bird game. When they spot game, they bark to alert the hunters. This is how they earned their nickname. Shiba Inus are the most popular companion dogs in Japan where they originated. They have double coats; a stiff outer one, and a soft, thick under layer. Their red sesame color is a unique feature. The Japanese Spitz is a fluffy-coated white breed that sheds heavily. It’s known for it’s true loyalty to people, even in the toughest of conditions.

Dog Breeds With Unique Looks

Looking to adopt a distinctive dog with endearing traits?

These breeds will stand out anywhere, just by their appearance:

 light brown Afghan Hound on a grass  gray Bergamasco Sheepdog on the field pink-spotted Chinese Crested Dog
The Afghan Hound has a striking feminine look and a strong personality. A member of the hound group, this breed moves with a confident double-suspension gait. The Bergamasco Sheepdog is famous for its short, matted hair, wound all over its body. This dreadlock coat is usually black or gray, with light, black strokes. It gives them excellent protection from harsh weather conditions. The Chinese Crested.
Bad haircut? Or grumpy hair follicles? Whatever it was, Chinese Crested dogs cannot be mistaken. Their frail standing hair and spotted body remains an amusing sight.

Who Are Your Favorites?

These adorable companions are waiting for owners like you to give them loving forever homes.

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