Most Popular Dog Breeds in California

More than 30,000 years ago, dogs became one of the first domesticated animals by humans. It all began from a slowly grown bond between the two. The wolves had moved closer to the settlements of whom we now know as, cavemen. Once the colder weather made its way in, the cavemen would provide shelter and food to the wolves and in turn, would have protection.

Since then, people and dogs have grown closer, and wolves that are now considered, dogs, have been more domesticated. They started breeding into different sizes, small and large, and each came with different personalities and genetics. In this decade, some dogs are still a form of protection while others are best as snuggle buddies.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, there are about 69 million households in America that own a dog. Of these households, nearly 40% of Californians make up the statistics of families owning at least one dog.

Each state seems to have its favorite breeds that are more common than others. We have gathered a list of the most popular dog breeds in California.

Let’s take a closer look at each of those breeds to get a glimpse into why they are so popular!

German Shepherd

When you think of a German Shepherd you may automatically think of the dog that is on the police force or a movie portraying them working alongside soldiers. This breed of dog is highly intelligent and motivated to protect. They are very loyal pack dogs and when brought into the family will likely think of you as their pack.

German Shepherds are large muscular dogs that can get up to 26 inches tall at shoulder height. They are descended from the so-called “herding dogs” and when strangers approach your home they will likely retreat once they spot your German Shepherd.

These dogs are easy to train, loud, and also playful with their owner. Caring for them may require extra grooming to keep up with their shedding but they are one of the best companions to have around. It is no secret that people in California know this considering how popular they are in that state!


Poodles are originally derived from Germany and are known for their high-class style. They typically have a long and curly fur coat that is considered more like hair which also classifies them as being hypoallergenic. Don’t let their elegance fool you, they are very athletic and love to perform in many canine sports. Their intelligence makes them easy to train and they are great dogs to have around other people or animals.

The poodle comes in different sizes which range from being taller than 15 inches at the shoulder to being shorter than 10 inches at shoulder height.

Because of the length and density of their fur, grooming them can be a challenge. Taking your poodle to the groomers is the only way to keep their fur tamed while also keeping them brushed daily on your own.

Poodles are loved for not only their cuteness but also for their personality. They are fun, loving, energetic, and easy to get along with. Having this breed around can make life a lot more enjoyable!

French Bulldog

This cute pug-nosed dog is known to steal a person’s heart at first glance. Having a French Bulldog is like having a miniature bulldog that will always stay small. They are stubborn and independent but also love making new friends whether it be another animal or a human.

Their short stature of around 12 inches and weighing roughly 16-28 pounds makes them easy to pack around and makes for a great travel buddy. French Bulldogs, also known as Frenchies, are cousins to the English Bulldog and have a long history of cross-breeding leading up to their specific breed.

They tend to let off a snorting noise and you may find that they follow you from room to room doing so to keep your attention. A Frenchie’s loving personality and eagerness to please makes them a common household pet not only in California but around the country.

Labrador Retriever

The Labrador Retriever ranks 5 out of 5 on the scale of being good with other dog breeds, children, and being affectionate toward their family. They are the ultimate family dog as everyone they come in contact with will be their friend. That doesn’t mean that they won’t protect you. If they sense danger, they will do what is necessary to protect their family.

This is a rather large breed that can weigh up to 80 pounds and stand up to 25 inches tall at shoulder height. The Labrador Retriever has a short double coat that will leave fur around the house. That means that taking care of shedding needs will be a priority.

One main thing that stands out among this breed is their energy and athletic ability. Caring for them will need to include plenty of walks in the park and don’t be surprised if they are the first ones to jump in the pool!

Golden Retriever

If you catch a glimpse of a Golden Retriever, you may automatically think that it’s the same as a Labrador. Their height and body build are very similar except the Golden Retriever have a lot more fur! They are fluffy dogs and are prone to becoming overweight if they are overfed. Not only do they need to be fed properly to maintain a healthy weight but getting proper exercise will be a necessity.

This is another breed that ranks 5 out of 5 for being great around other people and other animals. They are very outgoing and eager to please. Between this and them being an intelligent breed, they have shown to be easy to train.

Be ready, the dog breed Golden Retriever is full of energy and wants all the attention. If you give them affection they will likely hang around begging for more!

American Pitbull Terrier

According to, the American Pitbull Terrier was originally bred to bait bulls, went on to become a farm dog, and now is the baby of many households around the country. Many people have the wrong idea about this breed, but Californians seem to realize that they are actually big babies that need tender love and care. The Pitbull Terrier has a high ranking of being affectionate with family and even towards strangers.

However, they are territorial and do not like other dogs. This breed is very smart which makes them easy to train and easy to grow a bond with. Their grooming needs are fairly easy but with their short fur comes a lot of shedding. Keeping them brushed and bathed can limit the amount of fur that is left around the home.


This floppy-eared dog is known to be a sort of hound dog that people like to use for hunting purposes. The Beagle originally appealed to hunters of England and was trained to hunt rabbits. They have a keen sense of smell and a drive to tree nearby critters that lead them to this “job” per se.

A Beagle is a smaller breed that only grows around 15 inches at its tallest. The desire to hunt means that they come with a lot of energy and willpower. They love to play and are fun to have around. That being said, they are a loving and loyal pack breed who will become your very own sidekick. Beagles love new people and children, making them a great family pet!


Whippets aren’t mentioned much as the talk around town, but they are indeed a popular breed that dog owners like to bring into their family. They are tall and lanky dogs that resemble a Greyhound. The American Kennel Club reports that this breed can stand as tall as 22 inches at shoulder height. They are a lean-bodied, athletic baby. The best thing about the Whippet is that they hardly bark so having them in your neighborhood wouldn’t be a problem!

This breed is a loving and friendly dog that will welcome new friends and play with your children. Whippets are known to have bursts of energy and want to run around but once they get it out of their system, they enjoy laying around being lazy for hours at a time.


If you are looking for a smaller dog with character, look no further. A bulldog, which resembles a miniature Pitbull is a common household pet in California. While some people are afraid of having a Pitbull, the Bulldog can be an alternate choice. They have short legs but a muscular body that can easily become overweight if not given the proper exercise. Standing at only 15 inches tall, they can weigh up to 50 pounds!

The Bulldog has a lifespan of approximately 8-10 years and though, they are cuddly and loving, they have not proven to be the best family dog. They do not do well with other dogs and are not recommended around children. They are more independent than other dog breeds and like to have their alone time.


Mentioning a Chihuahua may bring on the vision of a small yappy and biting dog that is carried around in a purse everywhere. While this is mostly true, they are known to be good pets for a family with only adults. The Chihuahua is not recommended to be around children as they are likely to snap at them or bark to scare them. However, when someone makes them their fur baby, they will love and cuddle with their owner and only their owner very openly.

On the plus side, Chihuahuas don’t shed as much as you would think and grooming them is relatively easy. This breed is so small they may only get up to no more than 6 pounds. This little dog packs a big attitude and will likely be the boss of your house!

Doberman Pinscher

The Doberman Pinscher is not only a great family dog but they are one of the best protectors as well. Though they don’t care much for other dogs, they have proven to be good with children and are affectionate with their families. This breed will be your loyal servant who loves you and stands guard if danger was to emerge. Plus, one look at these dogs and an intruder may run the opposite direction, they mean business!

Doberman Pinschers are a lean muscled breed, standing roughly up to 28 inches tall. For the most part, this breed comes in limited colors and is typically a solid black with a slight rust color around the paws and snout. As one can tell by their stature, they are athletic dogs and in turn will want lots of playtime and exercise.

German Shorthaired Pointer

Another great family dog, known as the German Shorthaired Pointer, is a larger breed that has an unusual coat. They have a reddish-brown and white coat with distinctive patterns that help them stand out among the crowd.

This breed is known for their athletic nature and their tall stance at about 25 inches tall with shoulders drawn back. They have a noble look to them, and they are precisely that, noble. The German Shorthaired Pointer is a loving dog who will be loyal and easily grow a bond with anyone in the family. Their short fur requires minimal grooming other than limiting the amount of shedding involved.


If you are on the lookout for a small and outgoing breed, the Havanese is your best choice! This laid-back dog has ranked 5 out of 5 in all arenas, whether they are around other dogs, small children, or strangers, they are likely to give a lick on the face and wag of their tail.

That being said, they still make excellent watch dogs as they love to bark and will let you know of an intruder in the area, or the mailman. They have long fur that is more like hair and will require extra grooming. They don’t shed much but their hair can easily get matted or tangled if not properly cared for.

Top Favorite Breed

Between all of these choices there is still a winner of the most popular dog breed in California. The first runner-up would be… you guessed it, the Labrador Retriever! Following close behind is the French Bulldog and the German Shepherd.

These breeds are the highlight of many families and bring joy and love into the home every day.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, any breed of dog can become a family pet but there are particular ones that stand out and create the best sidekick around. As mentioned, each state has chosen breeds that seem to be more popular, and the dogs mentioned above are those most chosen in California.

After we have broken down each loving breed, we can see the ins and outs of what makes them special in their own way!