Meet the #3 and #4 most popular breeds of '09: The Yorkshire Terrier and The Golden Retriever.
(All photos courtesy of www.AKC.org)
#3. Yorkshire Terrier by Tory
Yorkies have sky rocketed in popularity, probably partly due to the number of celebrities who own and adore them. They seem to make good surrogate children for a lot of people. My sister has a Yorkie named Ruby and her personality is typical for the breed; she is feisty, outgoing, confident, extremely affectionate, cuddly, brave and devoted. Although small, they are not lacking in big dog attitude and even though they are favored by women, it isn't uncommon for men to fall in love with this breed. The exact origins of the Yorkie are unknown, but they are definitely a tiny terrier, and were bred to kill rats and other small rodents. They retain their terrier like instincts; this is a dog that thinks it's bigger than it really is. The AKC breed standard states that a Yorkie should not exceed 7lbs, however, there are plenty of larger Yorkies out there, and it wouldn't surprise me if sometime in the far off future, the two strains divided into separate breeds.
They are adaptable, and love to go everywhere with their owners, but can be self willed and won't tolerate being ignored. The most important thing to remember when owning a Toy breed is to not let them get away with behaviors you wouldn't allow with a bigger dog. As fun as they are to hold, carrying them absolutely everywhere will more often than not produce a nervous, overly protective animal. It's important to let them be dogs while also watching out for their small size, since they are naturally courageous and may not realize the danger they are in! This breed can do well with kids, but I wouldn't recommend the tiny ones for families with young children simply because they are more fragile and might become snappy in order to defend themselves.
Yorkies are known for their long, silky hair. Most pet Yorkies are kept in a more easy to care for "puppy clip". The extra grooming required for this breed is probably the main thing that would scare me off, but that is a matter of personal preference! Health wise, they are prone to dental problems, heart disease and pateller luxation, among others. They are active, and love outings, but can get most of their exercise indoors and are good for apartment life.
#4. Golden Retriever by Becca
Another popular retriever in the United States is the sweet and affectionate Golden Retriever. Goldens are known for their willing-to-please attitudes and unbeatable companionship, making them an outstanding pet. However, their affection does not stop within the confines of the people who own them - they will likely make friends with anyone who crosses their path. They typically get along with other types of animals as well. Additionally, Goldens are highly trainable, intelligent dogs that thrive in diverse jobs and lifestyles. Golden Retrievers are prevalent service dogs, scent-detection dogs, therapy dogs, and competitors in the ring as well as pets. Their roots as a hunting dog give them many similar characteristics to a Lab - sound nerves, a soft mouth, a love of swimming, close companionship, and the drive to retrieve.
Golden Retrievers also hail from a few different backgrounds, causing variation in size and stature. The English-type of Goldens are stockier with broad heads. They can be any color of gold or cream but shades of red and mahogany are not permissable. Breeders in the states desiring to preserve the wonderful temperament and health of the Golden Retriever will often import dogs from English lines. American-type Golden Retrievers are less stocky and tend to be darker in color. Unfortunately, Goldens have long been a target for puppy mills, back yard breeders, and pet stores, resulting in horrendous over-breeding and carelessness for their health. The outcome is that Golden Retrievers are prone to many health issues, including cancer, hip and elbow dysplasia, eye, skin, and joint diseases. This is extremely unfortunate, as Goldens are one of the absolute best companions to have but do run a high risk of physical ailments. For this reason, it is of the utmost importance to choose a reputable breeder when purchasing a Golden Retriever.