Approximately 40% of Californians own at least one dog and—if the U.S. Census estimates from 2019 are correct—over one million people in Los Angeles County alone have dogs (versus 771,076 households owning cats).
While any breed of dog can adapt and call the Golden State home, there are several breeds that Californians seem to favor. Keep reading to find our list of the 14 most popular dog breeds in California.
The 14 Most Popular Dog Breeds in California:
1. Labrador Retriever
Labrador Retrievers are consistently topping the list of most popular dog breeds in California. With their sweet and lovable temperament, it’s not hard to see why. Labs are known for being outgoing and high-spirited companions. They tend to bond well with their entire family, and most get along great with other dogs.
Labs are enthusiastic and athletic and require a lot of exercise. Labs that don’t have an outlet for their energy can become hyperactive and destructive as a way of releasing their pent-up energy. As their name suggests, Lab’s favorite activities include retrieving as well as swimming.
2. Golden Retriever
Golden Retrievers are similar in a lot of ways to their Labrador cousins. Goldens are often more relaxed than Labradors, but they also have more extensive grooming needs.
Goldens are outgoing and trustworthy companions who live to please their family members. They thrive on playtime and continue this love of fun well into adulthood.
A Golden Retriever is a great companion for people who participate in a lot of outdoor exercise. Your Golden will love accompanying you on your long runs and bike rides. Of course, you might wish to consult with your vet first to be sure that high-impact activities will be safe for your dog.
3. German Shepherd
German Shepherds are one of the dog world’s best all-purpose workers. Dogs of this breed have held many different jobs over the years, including working for the police and military, visiting the sick, herding stock, and even working as actors.
German Shepherds are very high-energy and need a lot of daily exercise. They can be aloof, which is a characteristic that lends itself well to house-guarding but isn’t such a great trait to have when welcoming guests into the home. If you’re diligent about introducing your German Shepherd puppy to people as he’s growing, he will learn to take to new people.
4. French Bulldogs
French Bulldogs are a popular companion for Californians as they love to go for walks along the beach but simultaneously can be tucked under your arm for a fashion-forward Californian lifestyle.
Frenchies adapt well to pretty much any living situation, whether you live alone, with your partner, or with children. They don’t need a lot of outdoor exercise so they’re perfect for folks living in apartments on condos. They have a wide range of sounds they make, including barks, yips, grunts, and yawns as their way of communicating, though, so care should be taken when adopting a Frenchie to live in a shared space.
Frenchies are front-heavy and should never be left unattended near any type of body of water. They cannot swim, and since they’re a brachycephalic breed, they are prone to breathing problems so they shouldn’t do too many outdoor activities or spend long in humid weather.
Poodles, whether they be Standard, Miniature, or Toy, are a classic favorite and one of the most popular dog breeds of all time. Standard poodles are known for their beauty and are often used as show dogs for the residents of California.
Poodles are eager, intelligent, and athletic. They love to keep busy and are eager to try all different types of activities. Swimming is a popular pastime for poodles but they also love chasing after sticks and balls. You might even see Californians jogging by the beach with their standard Poodle in tow.
6. American Pit Bull Terrier
American Pit Bull Terriers (APBT) are a breed recognized by the United Kennel Club as well as the American Dog Breeders Association. The American Kennel Club, however, does not consider this to be a breed.
There is a lot of controversy and misinformation that surrounds APBTs. When raised properly, with training and socializing, APBTs make fantastic companions for families. They’re loving, gentle, and are always eager to please.
APBTs are very intelligent and can easily learn commands and tricks. They want to be involved in everything going on around them and maintain that puppy-ish mindset well into adulthood.
Beagles are small, compact, and yet surprisingly hardy breed that make fantastic companions for both adults and children. They are gentle, sweet, and funny and are always ready to provide infinite entertainment for their families.
Beagles are scent hounds and will always have their nose to the ground in search of an interesting scent to follow. They are active and energetic, requiring at least one hour of outdoor exercise a day. This breed was bred to work in packs and tend to be happiest when they’re with company. Don’t leave your Beagle to run off steam in the backyard alone; instead, take him on a leashed walk to give him his exercise.
The Havanese dog breed is the only breed that’s native to Cuba. It had its humble beginnings as companion dogs to the Cuban aristocracy in the 1800s. The Havanese is a cheerful little breed that’s popular as sociable companions for Californian city dwellers.
They’re a very adaptable breed with high intelligence levels. They love to be the center of attention and are naturally great at learning and performing tricks. They are very devoted to their family members, which can lead to anxiety if they are left alone for too long.
Havanese need a moderate amount of exercise, usually in the form of a daily brisk walk or playtime with their owners.
9. German Shorthaired Pointer
German Shorthaired Pointers are a sporting dog breed that has been used to hunt many different types of game and retrieve from land or water. This breed needs a lot of mental and physical enrichment and will become a loyal best friend for families that can provide what they need.
GSPs need at least one hour of intensive exercise every day. If they do not get the opportunity to burn off their energy, they can become destructive or anxious. They need to spend some time outside every day, preferably off-leash. Be cautious when letting them out in your backyard, however, as they’re master escape artists and can leap over fences six feet tall.
GSPs are smart, friendly, and eager to please. They can be prone to separation anxiety if they’re left alone for too long.
Whippets are sometimes known as the Poor Man’s Racehorse as they’re known for their speed and grace. Whippets were selectively bred for the pursuit of game animals like hares and foxes. They are keen competitors and do well in sports like agility and flyball.
When they’re not running around, Whippets love to relax and enjoy the companionship of their family members. They don’t bark much and can do well in apartments, provided their family takes them outside to run off energy. They’re sprinters by nature and should have several sessions of vigorous retrieving every week.
Mutts, or mixed-breed dogs, often come with a negative connotation. By definition, a mutt is a dog whose parents were not registered and not of the same breed. Mutts can also be known as “designer dogs” and can have unofficial titles that essentially combine the two breeds of their parents (e.g., Labradoodle, Pitsky, Chiweenie).
Mutts will vary in appearance and personality depending on what their heritage looks like. Mutts do come with several benefits over purebred dogs, however. They are less likely to have certain genetic disorders like hypothyroidism or cardiomyopathy. Mutts are also easier to find than purebred dogs and are often less expensive to adopt.
Chihuahuas are one of the smallest dog breeds as well as one of the ones with the longest lifespans. Don’t let their short stature confuse you, though, these dogs have huge personalities. Chihuahuas are graceful dogs who are loyal, charming, and unafraid of letting their small size hold them back. They are confident, independent, and adaptable.
Chihuahuas often bond to one family member more than others. They can be shy and reserved at first when meeting new people but can often warm up to them provided they’ve been properly socialized. Chihuahuas are a little fragile, however, so they aren’t always the best pick in households with small children.
Bulldogs were originally bred to drive cattle and to compete in the horrifically bloody sport of bull-baiting. They’ve come a long way from their aggressive beginnings. The bulldogs of today are known for their affectionate and docile nature. Bulldogs are friendly and easygoing. They tend to get along with everyone.
Bulldogs like brisk walks and require a moderate amount of exercise to stay healthy. Since they are a brachycephalic breed with their short muzzle and flat face, bulldogs should stay indoors on hot and humid days to prevent labored breathing. Stairs and pools can be major safety hazards for bulldogs and they should never be left unattended while in the water.
14. Doberman Pinscher
Doberman Pinschers were originally bred to be guard dogs and still can act as such in today’s modern era. Dobermans, like Pitbulls, often have a reputation that precedes them. They can be feared by people who don’t know them and are sometimes stereotyped as aggressive, violent, and vicious. While Dobermans can make great guard dogs, their personality is often gentle and loving. They aren’t afraid to defend their family and home if danger is afoot, though.
Dobermans have a lot of energy and will need to go outside daily for walks or hikes. Canine sports like obedience, tracking, and agility are great ways to exercise his mind and his body.
As you can see, Californians like their dogs to be in a wide variety of sizes and personalities. They love small dogs that fit into their purses and essentially act as a fashion accessory like Chihuahuas as well as bigger dogs like Labrador Retrievers who can run alongside them by the beach or Dobermans who can protect them in a pinch.
Featured Image Credit: Cavan-Images, Shutterstock