Rounding off the top ten dogs of 2009, we have the Dachshund, the Shih Tzu and the Poodle!
(All photos courtesy of www.AKC.org)
#8. Dachshund by Tory
My dog Mud is a Dachshund. So naturally I can see why this breed is in the top 10! They are loyal, playful, good watchdogs, somewhat lazy, and relatively low maintenance. They have very expressive eyes and can be incredibly hard to stay mad at :)
In my experience they are far more trainable and willing to please than people say. That being said, they also have a very determined, stubborn side. We joke that Mud takes himself too seriously and is very political at times. The biggest drawback to this breed for me would be the fact that they are prone to disc disease and spinal injuries. You really do have to be careful to not let them jump off furniture, run down stairs, or become overweight.
No doubt about it, they are always up for an adventure, but don't require a crazy amount of exercise and are not very active indoors. Most of the time they adapt to your mood. If you want to sit and watch TV all day, so be it. If you want to go on a 3 mile walk, they will do that too. They were bred to be athletic, but if you are looking for a daily jogging companion, another breed might be a better choice. They make great family pets but they do become extremely attached to one person. Their biggest concern is being with you, no matter what you're doing. It is important to socialize this breed from an early age. Some Dachshunds have never met a stranger and others are naturally suspicious of people they don't know. (Shyness is considered a fault in the AKC standard).
They also have a very big bark for their size. An intruder would have no idea that the dog behind the door was 10lbs and not 40!
The Dachshund originated in Germany where they were bred to hunt badgers. They come in three coat types; Smooth, Longhair and Wirehair. Wirehairs were developed by mixing smooth Dachshunds with terriers. There are two theories on how Longhairs came to be. One says that smooth Dachshunds were mixed with Spaniels, which would explain why they often have a softer temperament. The other says that it was all done by selective breeding; breeding two Dachshunds that had slightly longer hair than others, and repeating this until they had a steady line of Dachshunds with long hair. Either way, all three have slightly different variations in temperament. Smooths are the most tenacious, Wirehairs are the most clownish and Longhairs are the most mellow. They also come in two sizes; Standard (16-32lbs) and Miniature (11lbs and under) and a multitude of colors.
Whichever "style" of Dachshund you choose, he will truly be your dog and friend for life!
#9. Shih Tzu by Becca
Believe it or not, these little companion dogs were originally bred to resemble lions (and the name Shih Tzu can be translated to 'lion dog'). I myself liken them more to fictional Ewoks with their large, round eyes and endearing under-bites. Regardless, the Shih Tzu's temperament does not typically reflect that of any wild animal, fictional or otherwise. Historically, they were raised as lap dogs for Chinese royalty, and today they remain a very popular companion and pet. While they are not ones to be pushed around, Shih Tzus are also friendly, affectionate, and playful dogs. Their hypoallergenic coats and lesser need for strenuous exercise make them a good candidate for apartment dwellers and those simply looking for a buddy.
One of the defining features of the Shih Tzu is its long, silky coat that can and will grow all the way to the ground. It is important that their coats be combed often or otherwise trimmed down to the popular 'puppy cut' for easier maintenance. They are also known as a brachycephalic, or short-nosed breed. For this reason, Shih Tzus must be monitored carefully when exercising or exposed to excessively hot temperatures to avoid over-heating. While they are not known for being stellar in the obedience ring, Shih Tzus are charming comrades that fit the mold for anyone desiring a dog simply to accompany them in every day life.
#10. Poodle by Tory
I wanted my own poodle for a long time when I was a kid. I dreamed of dying its hair different colors and naming it "Popcorn". But I soon realized I might not be up for spending a lot of time and money on grooming! And unfortunately, Poodles can have a wide range of health problems including heart issues, patellar luxation, dental problems, PRA...in fact...just go here for the full list.
Poodle Health Problems
But just because there is a wide range of health issues in this breed doesn't mean they are sickly by any means. It's just good to be aware of the risks and choose a puppy from a breeder who screens her dogs for health problems.
I think the Poodle personality is one of the best there is, and they are much hardier than their fancy haircuts might imply. They were originally bred to be water dogs and retrievers and are unofficially the second smartest breed in the world (the Border Collie is ranked first).
These are active and atheltic dogs that require daily exercise but are not quite as high energy as some of the other super intelligent breeds. Where they really shine is the obedience ring. They are highly trainable and many were used as circus dogs, as they are capable of learning and performing complex tricks.
The AKC breed standard sates that "the Poodle has about him an air of distinction and dignity peculiar to himself". They come in three sizes. Standards are especially a good choice for families with children. Toys are great for apartment dwellers or travelers. Miniatures are a nice in between size; more robust than the Toy and more compact than the Standard. All three sizes are great for people who are allergic to dogs, as they have a hypo allergenic coat that does not shed.