Weird History

The Most Popular Dog Breed In The US During Every Decade Since 1900  

Mariel Loveland
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To dog lovers, all dogs are good boys and girls, but some dogs are the best boys and girls. Throughout the years, the most popular dog breeds in America have shifted, but there are some things they all have in common: They're smart, easy to train, and ultra-lovable.

Whether you're crazy for a Poodle's fluffy curls or can't resist the impulse to squeeze a Boston Terrier's squishy nose, the most popular breeds in every decade give us a glimpse at how dog ownership has changed. In the early 1900s, when agriculture was on the rise, owners preferred working dogs that could help around the farm. During difficult times like the Great Depression, dog owners sought smaller pups.

These are the most popular dogs in every decade - from Poodles and Cocker Spaniels to the Labrador Retriever's unbeatable reign.

Collie is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Popular Dog Breed In The US During Every Decade Since 1900
Photo:  Ron Armstrong/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0

Though Lassie didn't air until 1954, Americans in the 1900s absolutely adored Collies. According to the American Kennel Club, Collies beat out Boston Terriers and English Setters for the No. 1 spot. What makes Collies such great dogs? 

They're total workhorses. This breed has a long history of herding, and they're not too difficult to train. They also adore people. Collies have a tendency to become destructive if they're left alone for long periods of time, though. They're dogs who truly need a companion, whether a human or another pet.

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Boston Terrier is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Popular Dog Breed In The US During Every Decade Since 1900
Photo:  Christopher Michel/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0

Boston Terriers have been kicking around since 1891, at least as an established breed. Their name shifted from Round Heads and Bull Terriers to pay homage to the city where the breed was created. This all-American pup is a cross between the English Bulldog and English Terrier.

Boston Terriers became the first small companion pup to reach the upper echelons of popularity in 1900, and by 1910, they were top dog.

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German Shepherd Dog is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Popular Dog Breed In The US During Every Decade Since 1900
Photo: Flaurentine/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

In 1925, German Shepherds became popular because of their unconditional loyalty and ability to hold down a job. According to the American Kennel Club, German Shepherds started as farm and herding dogs in the 1890s. Once it was established that they were highly intelligent and tactical, German Shepherds were used for police work and even trusted alongside soldiers in WWI. By the end of the war, US veterans were raving about the breed, and they became of great interest to the general public.

Although they saw a downturn in popularity by the end of the decade, German Shepherds were well-loved and highly sought-after in the early-to-mid 1920s.

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1930s: Boston Terrier
Boston Terrier is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Popular Dog Breed In The US During Every Decade Since 1900
Photo:  Dagur Brynj√≥lfsson/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 2.0

Boston Terriers reclaimed their crown in the 1930s when America was suffering through the Great Depression. Small- and medium-sized companion pups were the preferred breed for families who needed to scale back on living expenses but still wanted a fuzzy little friend while things were rough.

Boston Terriers lost their top dog status later in the decade to Cocker Spaniels, but they never lost their charm.