For a time, the internet was the cat’s domain. There was Grumpy Cat and Lil Bub and even the Internet Cat Video Festival—online was dominated by felines. But then, thankfully, the age of the dog arrived. Now, you can’t scroll through any social feed without stumbling upon a fantastically dressed pug or paralyzingly cute puppy or even a cryptocurrency named for a dog. These last few years have been difficult—it may be that dogs are our only chance!
But with such a deluge of doggos, such a plethora of pups, it’s no longer enough to be familiar with your Goldens, your labs, your poodles, and your bulldogs. These days, with the canine content cranked to 11, a wizard of woof must know even the most obscure breeds of man’s best friend. So Stacker has compiled the 50 most popular breeds and written descriptions of each mystery dog. Take the quiz to find out if you’re a canine connoisseur or a dog dilettante.
These dogs are famous for their big ears and bloodshot eyes. The breed was serenaded by Elvis Presley, rode shotgun with Rosco P. Coltrane, and helped out the Maytag Man.
Popularity rank in 2017: #39
Sometimes referred to as the "Chinese lion dog," this breed makes a memorable appearance in 2000’s dog show mockumentary “Best in Show.” Though show dogs of this breed typically sport long silken hair and ponytails, the breed’s hair is a normally a wavy mix of white, brown and black.
Popularity rank in 2017: #20
This breed is far from a guard dog, unless you need to guard your lap. Named for a Mediterranean island, members of this breed look and act like puppies for most of their lives.
Popularity rank in 2017: #33
This breed is known for loyalty, friendliness, and a love of eating—so much so that obesity is a common issue for them. Popular as service and work dogs, this breed has also stood by the sides of Bill and Hillary Clinton, Vladimir Putin, and Peter Griffin.
Popularity rank in 2017: #1
This breed is relatively recent, insanely cute, and a favorite among Parisian women of the Belle Époque. Sadly, the breed may not in fact be built for this world—it struggles to regulate its temperature, give birth, breathe easily, and see properly.
Popularity rank in 2017: #4
This small white dog has regal history, and won its first Westminster Dog Show in 1942. The breed has been notably owned by French royalty, J.K. Rowling, and Mel Gibson’s character from “Lethal Weapon.”
Popularity rank in 2017: #42
This breed is a bit short and plump, but gives off a truly courtly air. Its most famous owner loves colorful overcoats, pearls, loud hats, and her longtime brood of these loyal canines.
Popularity rank in 2017: #15
This breed’s history traces back to the Toltec civilization, and Hernán Cortés mentioned the small dogs by name in a letter that dates back to 1520. These dogs vary widely in appearance (many small mutts have a bit of this breed in them), but are almost always distinctively loyal, skittish, and fans of burrowing under blankets.
Popularity rank in 2017: #32
This breed is known for its face—the combination of a short, broad head and a heavy muzzle means their big, powerful mouths hang off the sides of their jaws in a charming perma-scowl. But once this powerful guard dog considers you family, it is a playful, slobbery, cheerful joy.
Popularity rank in 2017: #11
This breed of German giant has long been a favorite of nobility. The tallest recorded member of the breed was almost four feet from paw to shoulder. For a time, they were referred to in England as German Boarhounds, owing to their ability to wrangle wild boars on a hunt.
Popularity rank in 2017: #14
These short, stout tough guys' faces are so heavy that their mouths hang off the sides of their jaws and their foreheads crease. This breed is mascot to countless Division 1 college teams, but the name likely has more bite than the dog itself.
Popularity rank in 2017: #5
These tiny multi-colored toy dogs are hypoallergenic. They’re perma-puppies, named after the town the most famous of the breed was from—a show dog from the late 1800s. One of them lived in the White House during the Nixon Presidency.
Popularity rank in 2017: #9
The favored breed of Chinese emperors and Tibetan monks, these short, squat dogs made their way to Europe and were quickly adopted by royalty in the Netherlands and Russia. The goofy-looking pooches have starred opposite both Will Smith and Colin Firth, and have become a viral hit (especially when dressed up) on the internet.
Popularity rank in 2017: #31
This breed has a tiny build and a big poof of hair. Its popularity took off during the Victorian Era, thanks to Queen Victoria, who had one of these generally hyperactive pups in the palace during her reign.
Popularity rank in 2017: #22
This dog was bred to hunt rabbits, but also kept Lady Bird company in the White House of Lyndon B. Johnson. In cartoon form, it’s been known to hang out with birds and misfit boys who can't kick a football.
Popularity rank in 2017: #6
This Scottish breed is almost always tri-colored and sometimes has the distinctive characteristic of one blue and one brown eye. They are herding dogs that more recently have been used regularly as therapy dogs. They are named after an incredibly non-tropical island.
Popularity rank in 2017: #24
This Scottish and North English herding dog usually has a distinctive white line across its shoulders. Originally called “Scotch Sheep Dogs,” this breed’s eyes are thought to be able to hypnotize cattle.
Popularity rank in 2017: #40
Though a couple of breeds are taller, no dog is more massive than these big, square-headed, broad-shouldered pups. The short-haired dogs from England are distinguished by their black faces and muzzles, though they can be different colors. In 1989, the Guinness Book of World Records recorded a truly robust example of this breed as the heaviest ever: 343 pounds and more than eight feet from nose to tail!
Popularity rank in 2017: #28
This big Japanese mountain dog is exceptionally fluffy and is distinguished by a curled tail that rests upon its back. Incredibly, the first of the breed to come to America arrived as a personal gift to Helen Keller in honor of her Japanese speaking tour in 1937. Today, there are now Japanese and American strains of the breed.
Popularity rank in 2017: #47
The national dog of Cuba, this breed is distinctive for its silky fur, long ears, and a tail that sits upon its back. In the real world, these pups’ coats are wavy or curly, but show dogs have hilariously straight, elegant locks not unlike those of singer Sia.
Popularity rank in 2017: #23
This very short and long dog was bred to hunt badgers and other burrowing animals. They dogs can be short-haired, long-haired, or wiry, but one thing they cannot be is a sandwich.
Popularity rank in 2017: #13
These gentle giants were originally bred by German monks in the Western Alps to help with mountain rescues. If you were a kid in the 90s, this dog was also likely your first introduction to classical music.
Popularity rank in 2017: #48
This medium-sized Irish dog was once referred to as “the poor man’s wolfhound,” as one appears in Irish painter Frederic William Burton’s 1841 painting “The Aran Fisherman’s Drowned Child.” The dog has wavy, silken hair, does not shed and was originally bred to hunt vermin.
Popularity rank in 2017: #49
This breed of bird dog is from England, traditionally used to "flush" birds into the air for sport hunting before retrieving them for their masters. Today, the big-eared breed is used as a detection dog in Great Britain, sniffing out explosives and drugs for the British military and police.
Popularity rank in 2017: #27
The smallest of the Japanese breeds, this canine has a thick, puffy coat and a distinctive curled tail. They’re also the patron saint of internet dogs, forever linked to the viral meme “doge.”
Popularity rank in 2017: #45
These German dogs are smaller versions of their guard dog ancestors, but even the little guys do a great job looking after one’s home. The breed’s beard is usually left long, giving them a scowling old man look that fits nicely with their pose: front legs perpendicular with the back legs kept further back, ready for confrontation.
Popularity rank in 2017: #18
These dogs were named after the specific type of bird they hunted in 1800s England. This breed is long-eared and wears its wavy hair to the floor in dog shows. One of its most famous cartoon representations is known to be a romantic who loves bad boys and spaghetti.
Popularity rank in 2017: #29
This Hungarian hunting dog is slender, muscular, and a remarkably adept swimmer. It’s reddish in color, and has a distinctive reddish nose to match. These dogs were bred to hunt fowl, but because of their medium stature, have become popular house pets as well.
Popularity rank in 2017: #30
These medium-sized sheepdogs are very obedient and energetic. Their thick coats shed a great deal and the dogs require huge amounts of exercise, but their beauty and intelligence keep them popular as domestic companions. On-screen, they’ve been known to bond with affable pigs.
Popularity rank in 2017: #38
These stout little guys are America’s take on the bulldog. Incredibly, the oldest of this short-tailed, pointy-eared breed is still remembered: a pup from the 1860s by the name of Hooper’s Judge.
Popularity rank in 2017: #21
These Italian giants have the Latin word for "protector" in their name for a reason—this breed weighs around 100 pounds and is very muscular. These dogs are distinctive for their large heads, mouths that hang over their jaws and loose skin around their necks.
Popularity rank in 2017: #37
This German hunting dog was bred to assist its owners both on land and in water. The athletic medium-sized breed boasts floppy ears and is distinguished by the color of its coat: usually silver and white, with dark speckles on the body.
Popularity rank in 2017: #10
These hypoallergenic dogs are poofs of snowy white fur, weighing in between 10 and 20 pounds. Though originating from Spain, this breed is usually considered French because of its name—it translates to “curly lap dog.”
Popularity rank in 2017: #46
This large majestic dog from the Swiss Alps was bred to work alongside farmers and herders on their mountainous lands. They weigh between 80 and 120 pounds, and have a long tri-colored coat, accented by brown eyebrows above a white chest.
Popularity rank in 2017: #25
With an exceptionally astute sense of smell, no other breed is more connected with a single specialized skill. Used since the Middle Ages to track down missing people, escaped prisoners, and the like, these red-brown dogs with long black muzzles and loose skin are among the most famous of dog breeds around the world.
Popularity rank in 2017: #50
Bred in the harsh conditions of Northeast Asia, this large, thick-coated pup has been employed as a sled dog since the beginning of the 20th century. Usually black and white (but also beautiful in sable, silver or copper) these formidable dogs have been used as mascots for many sports teams.
Popularity rank in 2017: #12
These Canadian giants weigh between 130 and 180 pounds, and are best-known for their incredible swimming abilities. Bred to be companion animals for fishermen, legend has it that one saved Napoleon Bonaparte’s life as he fell overboard during his escape from the Island of Elba. The breed appears in books as well: “Jane Eyre” and “The World According to Garp.”
Popularity rank in 2017: #36
Because of its history as a police dog and a war dog, this breed is known to be fierce, obedient, and sometimes aggressive. Thin, light-footed, and powerful, they boast black coats with brown markings above the eyes, around the mouth, and on its feet. They can also prove sweet and loyal if properly trained. As always, it’s important to remember: there are no bad dogs, just bad owners.
Popularity rank in 2017: #16
This breed diverged from its royal cousins on the whims of an American dog show judge who wanted the breed to resemble the ancient English type, with their flat skulls, long faces, and a spot in the center of its head (the "Duchess Thumb Print"). These dogs are about 15 pounds, with long ears, long silken hair, and a long tail. There’s a rumor that an English royal so favored these dogs that he decreed an official exemption, allowing them into no-dog establishments.
Popularity rank in 2017: #19
In case you were wondering if this breed is tough, it was once referred to as the African lion hound for its ability to keep a lion at bay until a hunter could arrive. These brown dogs are powerful and muscular, but are probably best-known for the mohawk-like "ridge" that runs over the tops of their spines.
Popularity rank in 2017: #41
This dog traces its roots to 19th-century mid-Atlantic America, where they were bred to retrieve fowl on a hunt. These dogs have short, wavy brown coats and are smart, loyal, and prone to grinning. Both Teddy Roosevelt and Paul Walker owned them—they’re the official breed of Maryland.
Popularity rank in 2017: #43
Questionably named, this breed actually originates from the Western United States, where it was used as a herding dog for ranchers in the late-1800s and early 1900s. The medium-sized dog has a crest of white hair on its chest, and a large puffy tail that rests upon its back. This breed has distinctive markings on its face—usually speckled collections of white, black, brown, and red around the eyes.
Popularity rank in 2017: #17
This bird dog breed usually weighs around 75 pounds and famously has a profound love of swimming. One of the most popular companion dogs, this animal regularly shows up on the silver screen as well: catch one on the court or field and you're in trouble.
Popularity rank in 2017: #3
Muscular and agile, these medium-sized work dogs are a favorite of military and police forces the world over. Short-haired and brown with a black muzzle and black ears, they’re used to detect odors and to track suspects—one even accompanied Seal Team 6 in their ultimately successful mission to track down Osama bin Laden.
Popularity rank in 2017: #44
These large work dogs are usually tan and black with a bushy tail, expressive eyes, and alert ears. Considered one of the most intelligent breeds, these dogs are used as guide dogs, in military and police work, and regularly appear in films. Two of the earliest dog film heroes were of this breed, and both have stars on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.
Popularity rank in 2017: #2
The 60s in California was a wild time—the Summer of Love, drugs, music, sex, and rethinking society in general. Apparently, it also was a time for developing new dog breeds—in this case, a miniature sheepdog. This breed has a medium coat, with a poof of white from the chest, and a speckled face that's usually, white, brown, black and blueish-gray. Like the other hippies of the time, it's also impressively talented at catching frisbees.
Popularity rank in 2017: #35
Named for its region of origin, this medium-sized dog was bred to help hunt birds. This French dog usually has a white line down the center of its brown face and brown patches spread across its white body.
Popularity rank in 2017: #26
Bred to pull butchers’ meat carts to market, this German dog is a beast. The large breed, mainly black with brown feet and brown accents on its face and chest, are now used as police and guard dogs. Despite their portrayal as a brutal breed in film and television, they can be sweet and loving house pets when well-trained.
Popularity rank in 2017: #8
These dogs are one of the most intelligent breeds, but their owners’ propensity to give them bizarre haircuts makes it hard to take their genius seriously. This curly-haired, medium-sized breed was once bred for duck hunting, but now are most synonymous with shows.
Popularity rank in 2017: #7
Bred by German royalty to assist in boar and bear hunting, this gun dog is a large, athletic and majestic creature. Its nickname is "the Grey Ghost." These big-eared dogs can be great domestic pets, but watch them closely around any smaller animal in your yard—they were bred to kill.
Popularity rank in 2017: #34
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