Life in Canada

Canada’s 10 Most Popular Dog Breeds



Some dogs are couch-potatoes, some will hike with you for 4 hours and still have energy left to chase the ball in the yard, some will bark at your friends while others will smother them with affectionate licks.

Many dogs provide their owners with a form of intangible joy and contentment. Not only are they adorable, but they tend to love their human unconditionally and want to protect and please them.

While every dog’s personality is unique, it’s breed has a significant impact on it’s intelligence, temperament and size which can help you determine whether or not it’s a good fit for your personality and lifestyle.

Let’s take a look at the most popular breeds in Canada according to the Canadian Kennel Club to help you narrow down your search for a new best friend. 

1. Labrador Retriever

  • Origin: Newfoundland, Canada.
  • Temperament: Kind, outgoing, trusting, gentle, intelligent. 
  • Colours: Black, chocolate, yellow.

The labrador retriever is one of the most even-tempered, intelligent and friendly dogs a Canadian could want. They are adorable puppies, good with children, and are responsible for many canine assistance jobs. 

They act as therapy dogs, aids for individuals with blindness, autism, and are popular choices to help out law enforcement. Because of their pleasant demeanour, many families with children will adopt a lab, and also because they tend to match a child’s energy levels. 

They need a fair amount of exercise, but nothing overly excessive. Their friendly nature makes them terrible guard dogs!

2. German Shepherd

  • Origin: Germany.
  • Temperament: Intelligent, loyal, obedient, curious, alert, watchful. 
  • Colours: Black, black and tan, sable, red and black, grey, black and silver. 

German Shepherds are most often associated with law enforcement. This is because of their intelligent, courage, and distinct ability to learn quickly.

Like Labrador retrievers, they too are commonly used as assistance animals. They are also incredibly protective over family members, sometimes to the extent of overprotectiveness if they are not socialized properly. 

They are not as quick to make friends with strangers but are highly trainable. They require a high amount of exercise due to their history of being working dogs, so it is important to walk them daily or risk having them develop undesirable and negative behavioural patterns.

3. Golden Retriever

  • Origin: Scotland, United Kingdom. 
  • Temperament: Kind, friendly, confident, patient. 
  • Colours: Cream, dark golden, light golden, golden. 

Originally bred as retrievers of waterfowl and game birds during hunting and shooting parties, they have an instinctive love of water. They are also friendly, sweet, patient with children, and very easy to train. 

They are popular with families with children due to their adaptability and friendly nature. Daily exercise is definitely required, but will easily adapt to environments such as an apartment or house. They are incredibly versatile creatures, which is why their popularity soars with families, couples, and single individuals alike. 

4. Poodle

  • Origin: Germany and France. 
  • Temperament: Active, alert, intuitive, trainable, faithful. 
  • Colours: Black, white, apricot, cream, sable, black and white, blue, grey, silver, brown, red. 

The poodle is one of the most aesthetically appealing breeds of dog, and are known for their popularity as contestants in dog shows. The origin of the breed is still highly contended and is disputed between being from Germany as a type of water dog, or from the French Barbet.

They are generally bred in three sizes: standard, miniature, and toy. They were originally bred as sporting dogs due to their sharp reflexes and unmatched speed. They react well to games that involve retrieving toys as exercise. They require a fairly active lifestyle and love taking long walks.

5. French Bulldog

  • Origin: England. 
  • Temperament: Easygoing, sociable, patient, affectionate, alert, bright, athletic, playful. 
  • Colours: White, fawn, brindle and white, tan. 

Despite their name, the French bulldog originated in England and was intended to be a miniature bulldog. They accompanied English lace-makers to France, where their name was solidified. 

Present-day owners enjoy them as a friendly family member who loves pretty much anyone they interact with. They are quiet and attentive, rarely barking, only choosing to bark for a good reason. 

A bored French bulldog is destructive, so it is important to keep them stimulated and entertained. They are known as a breed that is more difficult to train due to their stubbornness. They require consistency and a gentle tone. 

6. Havanese

  • Origin: Cuba. 
  • Temperament: Affectionate, intelligent, responsive, playful, companionable, gentle. 
  • Colours: Black, silver, chocolate, brindle, sable, red, gold, champagne, cream and white. 

These originally Cuban dogs love their owners insatiably, to the point where it is difficult for them to be alone all day. Their small size (sometimes referred to as a ‘toy’ breed) allows them minimal exercise – a run around the house or backyard should be sufficient.

They will generally love and trust the people that their owners love and trust. They don’t bark often, but will in order to alert their owners of someone approaching. Due to their love and loyalty to their owners, they sometimes suffer from attachment issues. It would be best for people thinking of adopting a Havanese to consider whether or not they can dedicate enough of their time to their pet.

7. Shetland Sheepdog

  • Origin: Scotland. 
  • Temperament: Affectionate, intelligent, lively, gentle, trainable, active, strong, loyal. 
  • Colours: Tri-colour, black and white, sable and white, black and tan, sable. 

This dog was originally bred for herding sheepdogs in the Shetland Islands of Scotland. The Shetland is one of the most intelligent breeds according to Dr Stanley Coren, an expert on animal intelligence.

His research found them to be incredibly reactive to commands, ranking their intelligence 6th out of 138 breeds. They are strong and active, requiring plenty of exercise in order for them to feel content. They are exceptional performers due to their athleticism and will maintain their agility and strength if they are given the right amount of exercise.

8. Australian Shepard

  • Origin: Western US. 
  • Temperament: Affectionate, intelligent, good-natured, active, protective. 
  • Colours: Red merle, black, black tricolour, blue merle, red. 

Despite its name, the Australian Shepard did not originate in Australia, but around the time of the Gold Rush in the 1840s in the United States. There is no consensus on the origin of their name, but continue to be referred to as ‘Aussies’ for short. 

These are working dogs, who are happiest when they have a job to do. They are a wonderful breed for families and children when their energy and intelligence is properly channelled.

Aussies are eager to please and thus become easily attached to their owners. They require at least an hour of exercise daily and do not adapt well to living in apartments.

9. Bernese Mountain Dog

  • Origin: Swiss Alps, Switzerland. 
  • Temperament: Affectionate, intelligent, faithful, loyal. 
  • Colours: Black tricolour. 

These dogs are strong, hard-working, loving, and mellow. They need exercise like any dog but are calm and content with sitting at home with their human. They live to please their owners and are very good with children. They are not lazy and are completely willing to hike and walk along with their owners.

Due to their sociability, they find it difficult to be without their owners and family. Unwanted behaviour can develop if they are not socialized often. Harsh corrections do not work for them, as they are incredibly kind-hearted and sensitive. 

10. Portuguese Water Dog

  • Origin: Portugal. 
  • Temperament: Docile, Quarrelsome, obedient, intelligent, brave. 
  • Colours: Black, white, black and white, white and chocolate, brown. 

This strong working dog is completely willing to get wet. They are also athletic and due to their genetics, are easily trained. They are warm to strangers, and love getting pet by them. Their favourite place to be is by their owner’s side, waiting to be directed.

Their intelligence allows them to follow complex commands, which makes them exceptional service dogs for people with seizure disorders, mobility issues, and hearing problems. The combination of athleticism and intelligence means that they require stimulation and exercise, the lack of it resulting in boredom, and thus, destructive behaviour. 

About the author

Samantha Burton
Samantha Burton is a freelance writer, photographer, and filmmaker out of Pickering Ontario. She is a feminist, activist, and mental health advocate. Read more

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