Are you looking for a new dog to add to your family? Consider one of the most popular dog breeds in Canada. Many of them have topped this list year over year, and for good reason.
Each of these breeds has some pretty desirable qualities that may just be exactly what you’re looking for. Check our updated list of the most popular dog breeds in Canada for 2020. Compared to recent years, there have been some pretty significant changes, and a few dogs are making their debut on the top 10!
1. Mixed Breeds
Move over labs, after 20+ long years - you've finally been dethroned. We still love our labs, but 2020 has seen a spike in mixed breed pet adoptions and rescues, which has bumped our reigning champ from their top spot. That's right, the mutt, the Heinz 57, the mongrel - whatever you call them - are the most popular dog breed in Canada!
Chances are if you have a cross-breed, it's probably a mix of one of the other breeds on our list. Cross-breeding is a popular way of breeding out poor genetics and creating dogs that are better suited to our family and urban lifestyles.
And don't forget - cross-breeding has given us some of the funniest breed names, like the Aussiepoo, the Chiweenie, and my favourite, the Bullshih.
2. Labrador Retriever
Before relinquishing the crown, Labrador retrievers were the most popular Canadian dog breeds for over 20 years; they are also the only dog breed on this list that is actually Canadian!
Descended from a variety of sporting dogs brought to Newfoundland by British settlers and fishermen, the Lab has been a staple of Canadian history. Labrador retrievers weren't officially recognized by the British Kennel Club in 1903, but we know that they’re Canadian heritage was established long before that.
Anyone who has ever owned a Labrador Retriever knows how loving, playful, and social of a breed they are. Labs are a great family pet and are easily adaptable to most lifestyles. Typically reaching between 55-80 lbs depending on gender and breeding, so they are well suited to both urban or rural environments.
Being such a common breed, labs are easy to find. There are many labs and lab crosses available through your local animal rescues. Labs can add many desirable qualities and health traits to any breed that they are crossed with.
Labradoodles are a lab crossed with another of our most popular Canadian dog breeds, the poodle. This sought-after cross is a great pet for families looking for a hypoallergenic pet that still has the playful and friendly qualities of the Labrador retriever.
As a large breed dog, labs should be kept at a healthy and consistent weight, and muscle mass should be maintained through diet and physical activity. Because of their food motivated nature, this breed is prone to weight and mobility issues as they age, so maintain a consistent routine to keep your lab happy and healthy.
Labs can be a little on the drooly side, and they are most definitely not afraid to get dirty. If cleaning dog snark off of your walls isn’t your ideal situation, then a lab might not be the right breed for you. They are, however, ideal outdoor adventure partners. Hiking, camping and swimming are all great activities for labs. Whatever your favourite outdoor activity is, your lab can keep you company.
3. Golden Retriever
Another Canadian classic, golden retrievers are probably the most well-known dog breed in North America. Known for their family-friendly personalities and numerous appearances in movies and television, their notoriety is well earned.
This breed has an impressive lineage, descending from crossing various well-known sporting breeds like Irish setters, bloodhounds, and water spaniels. Classified as either Canadian, American or English, all retriever breeds have unique physical traits but share a similar and welcoming temperament.
Goldens are the ideal family dog, great with kids, and are easily socialized. They are a loyal breed that takes direction well. This is why they are the number one breeds for assistance programs like guide dogs, search and rescue, and therapy work.
Similar to a Labrador retriever, the golden retriever is a versatile breed that is well suited for either urban or rural lifestyles and can adapt to many environments and climates but still prefer to avoid extreme temperatures.
Goldens require minimal grooming routines. They have a flat, water-repellent coat that requires routine brushing to prevent tangles and mats, but shedding is limited without an undercoat.
This breed is easily and successfully crossed with a variety of other popular breeds, like poodles and shepherds. These unique crosses tend to have the same temperament as the golden retriever and reduce common genetic predispositions in the golden, like Dilated Cardiomyopathy.
The curse of the large breed is weight and mobility issues. To prevent degradation of the joints, it’s very important to maintain a healthy diet, weight, and physical routine. Lazy couch potatoes are great for cuddles but will lead to obesity as your golden ages.
Incorporate outdoor activities like hiking, camping, and swimming to keep your retriever fit and healthy
4. Shih Tzu
Small dogs are the new large breeds. These little pups have a big dog personality and are climbing the charts of the most popular dog breeds in Canada. Shih Tzu's, bred exclusively as companion dogs, are a popular family pet and are well suited to the congested urban living than many of us are accustomed to.
As a companion breed, Shih Tzu's will easily adapt to apartment living and are no stranger to a relaxing couch cuddle. However, being a pocket puppy doesn't stop these energetic dogs from playing, sporting, and adventuring, just like any other dog breed. They are easily trainable and enjoy doing whatever you like to do, from casual neighbourhood walks to adventurous hikes.
This floofy pooch makes an excellent family pet. Their playful nature makes them the ideal temperament for kids and other pets, and are not the type of dog to be loyal to only one person. They do love attention and love to give it in return, so this cute pup is perfect for any home looking for a new family member.
While not a heavy shedding breed, Shih Tzu's do require regular grooming to keep them from looking crazy. Daily brushing can prevent mats and further reduce shedding, and regular hair cuts are recommended. The puppy cut(as seen above) is the most common style of cut for this breed, as it shapes their face and keep fur around their ears and snout from blocking their vision and getting in the way at meal time.
This breed is not without its downsides, though. Poor breeding can leave Shih Tzu's prone to hip dysplasia and other joint issues, but this can typically be avoided by finding a good breeder, maintaining a healthy weight, and feeding a high-quality diet.
Though they are quick learners in most regards, Shih Tzu's are notoriously tough to potty train. They require patience and consistency to help them reach that milestone.
Shih Tzu's are also prone to weight gain, especially those that do not get appropriate exercise. Diet is very important with this breed, and a high quality food should be paired with an active lifestyle. Look for games and activities that will keep your Shih Tzu moving to prevent unnecessary weight gain.
5. German Shepherds
Another longtime front runner on the list of favourite dog breeds of Canada, the German shepherd is a large breed that is an honorary Canadian based on its popularity.
The German shepherd is a well-known herding breed that was first brought to Canada back in the early 1900s. Post World War I, the German shepherd's popularity grew and, since then, has become a staple of working-class dog breeds.
Commonly used in police work and military efforts like bomb detection or search and rescue, the German shepherds have proven their loyalty, obedience, and intelligence, truly earning the canine moniker of man’s best friend.
Ranging in size depending on breeding and gender, they can grow up to 60-80 lbs and are typically lean but very muscular. Many very similar breeds are often considered offshoots of the German shepherd.
The Belgian shepherd, for example, the closest breed to the German Shepherd, is typically slightly smaller and has a smoother double coat compared to the coarse, thick coat of its German cousin.
If you prefer a larger version to a German shepherd, consider a King shepherd. These beastly dogs look very similar to a German Shepherd but can grow to over 100 lbs. That's a big boy!
German shepherds are a naturally active breed and require consistent physical activity to eliminate destructive behaviours and anxiety. This breed isn’t for everyone, and wouldn’t be the ideal starter breed. They are very loyal and protective, so as a family dog, be prepared to put a lot of work into properly socializing your shepherd.
Because of their thick double coats, German shepherds require consistent grooming. They will shed excessively if they are not brushed to remove dead fur. Invest in a good deshedding tool if you are planning on welcoming a German shepherd into your home.
German shepherds are a great breed for families with a more active lifestyle, but can also be vulnerable to hotter temperatures. Summer activities should be chosen carefully to avoid overheating this natural insulated breed.
Though Chihuahuas have long been a popular small breed, but have become an increasingly sought after breed in the past few decades. The Taco Bell dog (Gidget) was one of the most well-known dogs in the North America for a few years, and even though their fifteen minutes of fame is up, we fell in love with the breed.
Chihuahua's are one of the oldest breeds in North America and have a pretty crazy lineage. Chihuahuas may be a descendant of another breed called the Techichi which is thought to date back to ancient Maya, Toltec, and later Aztec civilizations.
Chihuahua's are considered the smallest dog breed in the world. They vary in size but typically clock in at under 6 lbs and only 9 inches tall. Now that's a pocket puppy!
Don't let their size fool you, though. Big personalities often come in the tiniest packages, and the Chihuahua is no exception. They are a loyal and intelligent breed and are often praised for how easy they are to train. They make a great family pet, but are better off with families that don't have young children. Because of their miniature stature, Chihuahua's can be easily injured by young children who haven't yet learned to be gentle with pets.
Their grooming needs are minimal. They do shed, but their short hair requires less brushing and very little maintenance. They do best with a weekly coat brush with a deshedding comb. They are a warm-weather breed, and their lack of natural coat means that they may need a sweater or jacket in cooler climates.
Though visually non-threatening, Chihuahua's have a strong prey drive and a stubborn personality, so they don't always get along with other pets and strangers. Lots of socializing will be required to help your Chihuahua be comfortable with new friends and situations.
Many small breeds are prone to weight gain caused by poor diet and improper exercise. Overweight Chihuahua's can be at a higher risk of hip and elbow dysplasia and floating kneecaps. It's important to keep you Chihuahua lean and muscular to help prevent joint damage.
7. Golden Doodle
This might be cheating a little because we did say that mixed breed dogs were the #1 dog breed in Canada, but Golden Doodles have to be the most popular crossbreed next to Labradoodles. They are commonly bred all across Canada for their "hypoallergenic" coat and wonderful temperament.
A cross between a Golden Retriever and a Poodle, the Golden Doodle is a medium to large breed lovable goofball that is a popular family pooch. With the best qualities of both breeds, the Golden Doodle is a loyal and playful dog that is suitable around kids, loves other pets, and can adapt to a variety of lifestyles and activities.
Despite their name, Golden Doodles can be bred in a variety of colours, ranging from very light blonde to black. Variations of the crossbreed result from multi-generational breeding, such as, crossing a golden doodle with another golden doodle, or a purebred with a golden doodle.
Their low shedding coat is desirable for people with dog allergies, but that doesn't mean they are maintenance-free. Their fluffy coat grows fast, so trims every two months are recommended to keep them looking handsome.
Golden Doodles are considered an average activity dog but can have bouts of high energy. They are not suitable for cramped apartment living. If you are considering a Golden Doodle, make sure that you have the space and amenities available to provide an outlet for physical activity and playtime.
They are people dogs and don't like to be alone. Their need for socialization should be taken into consideration. They are great candidates for doggy daycare to prevent destructive behaviours caused by separation anxiety. Crate training is highly recommended for this needy breed.
8. Yorkshire Terrier
Another of the smallest dog breeds, the Yorkshire Terrier is also one of the cutest. Descended from a larger terrier breed used to hunt rats in English mines and factories back in the 1800s, the Yorkshire Terrier has come a long way from working dogs to the pampered show dogs they are today.
Though often thought of as diva's, Yorkies are adaptable and are suited for many different activities. Those little legs, believe it or not, can keep up with you on your next hiking or camping adventure, but are also happy to ride around in your giant designer purse just the same.
They are extremely affectionate dogs and would be an excellent family pet; be cautious around young children, though. Yorkies are thin and petite, which makes them very fragile if they are played with too roughly. Yorkies tend to play well with other dogs, but the terrier in them may provoke a bit of a big dog attitude.
They tend to be loud to compensate for their non-threatening appearance. Often described as yappy, Yorkies can be disruptive to neighbours and other pets when they desire to be heard. Keep this in mind if you live in an apartment, have roommates, or young children.
They shed very little because of their coat type. Yorkies are one of the only breeds that have hair, not fur. This limits shedding, but ups their maintenance requirements. Yorkies need to be combed and clipped regularly to keep that forever puppy look. Show Yorkies can be seen sporting pin-straight locks right down to the floor, but the average house dog is just fine with a standard teddy bear cut.
Like many other small and toy breeds, Yorkies are prone to certain health issues, to preventative measures should be taken to improve their quality of life as they age. The most common issue is their dental health. Their compact mouth makes it easy to trap bacteria and form plaque, leading to even worse dental issues if not addressed.
The fourth finalist for the most popular Canadian dog breeds is the poodle. The most bourgeoisie breed on our list, the poodle has a rich history. Today's poodles are primped and preened for our benefit, but their funny haircuts actually served a much more practical purpose: water retrieving for hunters.
The trimmed sections of their fur provided them with more fluid movement in the water, while the longer fur around the joints and chest, called pompons, protected them from extreme temperatures.
Long past are the days of the working poodle, and since then, we've been able to modify the breed's size to accommodate different lifestyles. Mini and toy breeds were better suited to an urban city lifestyle, and today are often indoor dogs. Standard poodles can adapt to a more active rural lifestyle but are content with urban life as well.
The standard poodle is considered a large breed, reaching up to 70 lbs, while the toys and minis are considerably smaller ranging from 6-9 and 12-20 lbs, respectively.
Regardless of size, their temperament is the same. They are considered one of the smartest dog breeds, which can be a blessing and a curse for pet owners. They learn quickly and can follow directions quite well, but they can also be stubborn. They are a very social breed, and for the most part, they can be easy to train with consistent and routine training techniques. If you are looking for a family-friendly dog that will be love every member of your family equally, then the poodle might be the breed for you.
Poodles are quite thin in stature but don’t underestimate them. Regardless of size, they can play rough, just like the big dogs.
They do require routine physical activity to maintain muscle mass. Their slender build and fast metabolism mean they are prone to being underweight. Make sure their diet is full of healthy animal proteins and limit sugary carbs that don’t provide long-lasting energy for building and maintaining muscle.
10. French Bulldog
Although originally an English companion dog for lacemakers in the 1800s, French bulldogs were bred as a toy bulldogs. The industrial revolution relocated many lacemakers and their toy bulldog companions to France, where the breed's popularity grew, and its name was solidified as the French bulldog.
Although Brachycephalic breeds aren’t everyone's favourite, the French bulldog tends to be genetically better designed than most short-snouted dogs like pugs and bulldogs. Breathing, esophageal, and digestive issues are commonly seen in dogs with shorter nasal and sinus passages, but French Bulldogs seem to have fewer issues than most, which is probably why they made this list.
If you are looking for a big dog in a little package, French Bulldogs just might be the dog for you. They definitely don’t act small, but they typically only reach between 20-30 lbs. Their smaller build doesn’t slow them down, though, and they are quite muscular, considering they are usually only about a foot tall.
As a short-coated breed, they don’t require a lot of grooming, but will still shed. Invest in a good brush, like a slicker, to minimize shed and keep their coat smooth and conditioned. Without protection from a thick coat, you will need to take extra care in extreme temperatures. Winter coats and boots are required in colder climates, and sun protection is a must during summer.
All bully breeds are prone to digestive issues and flatulence, so look into a good quality low carb food to prevent your dog from clearing the room every time they pass gas. A good digestive aid or probiotic is also recommended to ensure that they can use all of the nutrients in their diet properly.
Like most stocky breeds, weight issues are a common problem. Monitor weight and provide a consistent physical routine to maintain muscle mass and reduce hip and joint-related issues that may develop. Although they are not a large breed, they can still be susceptible to mobility issues, the most common being a luxating patella, also called a floating kneecap.
This condition can usually be prevented when a proper weight is maintained, but some breed are genetically prone to it. Joint support supplements that aid connective tissues can be a good preventative measure for French bulldogs.
Most breeds on our list can be found through a breeder, but we always encourage you to look at shelters and rescues first. Many of these breeds are sitting in foster homes waiting for a furever home. Consider a cross of your desired dog breed, there are tons of them living in shelters and fosters homes right now.
These dogs can bring just as much joy to your home as a puppy from a breeder. Heck, that's how mixed breeds not only took the top spot but made it onto our list twice!
The idea of a purebred is desirable, sure, but cross-breeding has been used for hundreds of years to reduce and even eliminate negative genetic traits, extend lifespan, and refine their temperaments.
Rescue dogs often save you a ton of money, the hassle of potty training, and the frustration of teaching basic commands and manners. Talk to your local rescue to see if they have a match for you and your family.
What’s your favourite breed from our list? What breed do you think should have made the list, and why? Share your comments below!