Dog Breeds: Australia’s Five Top Dogs

This Golden Retriever is one of Australia's most popular dog breeds.

Australians love all dog breeds, from Terriers and Toys to Spaniels and Shepherds. But as it turns out, there are some breeds we love the most (right now at least). We’re a nation of dog lovers, with an estimated 5.1 million dogs in our households.

In this article, PD Insurance looks at the personalities of the five dogs with the highest national registrations. In addition, we’ll tell you how long they’re likely to live for, how big they get in size and their dog breed group.

Without further ado, here is the countdown of Australia’s five top dogs:

Dog Breeds: Border Collie is #5

This is Australia's fifth most popular dog breed - the Border Collie.

Jumping up from sixth place in 2019 to fifth, the Border Collie’s popularity in Australia is on the rise. These dogs are affectionate, intelligent and have an unrivalled work ethic. To put it mildly, the Border Collie is a workaholic.

Collies are happy to work, day in day out, tirelessly herding cattle. It’s because of this tendency that they were originally brought to Australia in the mid-1800s, from Scotland. And we owe them a big woofing thank-you for all their hard work contributing to the growth of our sheep and dairy industries.

If you have a border collie as a pet, you may even notice your pooch herding people on the sidewalk or keeping your children in a neat pack. It’s instinctive.

Considering getting a Collie? Although they have sweet personalities, note they need lots of training and exercise to burn up their high energy levels. Or they tend to get jittery and feel a bit blue.

  • Dog Breed Group: Working dog
  • Lifespan: 10-17 years
  • Size: Medium
  • Coat: Rough or smooth, moderately long double coat
  • Height: Male, 48–56 cm / Female, 46–53 cm

French Bulldog is #4

Of all the dog breeds, this French Bulldog is Australia's fourth most popular.

In fourth place, the French Bulldog is (at least in part) as its name implies, from France. Its story begins with a ‘ratter’, or rat-catching dog, from France and a Toy Bulldog from England who were bred to make this cute companion dog.

French Bulldogs are mild-mannered indoor dogs who enjoy human company. Because of their short noses, they can (some, not all) have breathing problems and overheat. So, while a little walk each day is right up their alley, they’re not suited to intense or strenuous exercise.

Although they can be stubborn, these dogs train well, making them easy-going, lovable, and loyal companion pets. Just don’t get one if you’re looking for a guard dog as they don’t really mind strangers.

They have a reputation for being mischievous and funny. Their most ardent fans from the French Bull Dog Club NSW affectionately share their reputation as ‘the clown of the dog world’.

Because of their popularity as pets, purebred puppies are in demand. Which means there are lots of puppy scams out there. So, promote safe breeding and buying by using the French Bulldog breeder listings resource.

  • Dog Breed Group: Non-Sporting
  • Lifespan: 10–14 years
  • Size: Small to medium
  • Coat: Short and smooth
  • Height: 28–31 cm

Golden Retriever is #3

The Golden Retriever is one of Australia's most loved dog breeds.

Golden Retrievers are one of our firm favourite family dogs. They’re warm, gentle, and intelligent. They’re highly adaptable and can quickly and happily adjust to different environments, people, or pets.

This temperament makes them easy to train and this is the reason they make good assistance and therapy dogs.

Golden Retrievers were originally bred in Scotland in the 1800s as hunting dogs and were brought to Australia in the 1930s. They would retrieve small game or fallen fowl that their masters shot down during hunting sports. For this reason, they’re part of the ‘Gundog’ or sporting group of dogs. This is also why they’re called retrievers.

As for the ‘golden’ part of their name, anyone can see this comes from their long, silky-soft golden fur. But take note that long fur needs to be well-groomed regularly or it can get dirty and matted. Here’s your guide to routine pet care.

Separation anxiety in pets is also something to guard against with Golden Retrievers. This is because their loving nature means they need lots of engagement. So, if you’re a first time pet owner, be sure to schedule lots of time for play, exercise and cuddling. 

  • Dog Breed Group: Gundog
  • Life Expectancy: 10-12 years
  • Size: Medium
  • Coat: Water-repellent double coat
  • Height: Female, 51–56 cm / Male, 56–61 cm

Staffordshire Bull Terrier is Australia’s #2 dog breed

This is a Staffordshire Bull Terrier - Australia’s #2 dog favourite breed!

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is Australia’s number two top dog. As you might imagine, its story begins in Staffordshire, England where it was first bred in the 1800s. Both its ancestors, the old English Bulldog and the English White Terrier, are now extinct. So, happily, their genes live on in this staffy.

This breed was originally bred for dog fighting and bullbaiting. When the blood sport of dog fighting was criminalised, breeders began to refine the breed’s traits so that it could become a household pet.

Because Staffordshire Bull Terrier still has such a strong hunting instinct, this breed needs lots of training at an early age. Training right from the beginning and then ensuring those skills are maintained helps these dogs to be better socialised with other dogs, children, and people in general.

Read these top four puppy training tips to get you started.

  • Dog Breed Group: Terrier
  • Life Expectancy: 12–14 years
  • Size: Medium size, short
  • Coat: Short, smooth fur
  • Height: Female, 33–38 cm / Male, 36–41 cm

Labrador Retriever: Our #1 dog breed!

Of all the dog breeds, this is the Labrador Retriever - Australia's #1 most popular canine.

The number one dog in Australia is the Labrador Retriever. This affectionate canine is the descendent of the fishing dog in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. Fishing dogs helped haul in nets and recapture escaping fish.

Labradors make wonderful family pets because they’re gentle and good natured. And, thanks to their intelligence and keen sense of smell, they work alongside people to help us in many ways.

For example, Labradors work as disability assistance dogs, therapy dogs and lifesavers. They also work with the military, navy, and police as tracking dogs, because they have a talent for tracking a smell to its origin.

Labrador Retrievers are super inquisitive, following smells just to discover which person or tasty foodstuff is behind it. Those who aren’t trained may go off exploring on their own. Unlike many other dogs they also don’t mind strangers and meeting new people.

As a result, they can end up getting separated from their owners, or stolen. This is why it’s always good to have your pooch microchipped.

  • Dog Breed Group: Gundog
  • Life Expectancy: 10– 2 years
  • Size: Medium to large
  • Coat: Water-repellent double coat
  • Height: Male, 57–62 cm / Female, 55–60 cm

The most popular dog breeds in Australia

Now we’ve looked at Australia’s top dogs, it’s worth noting that we love cats too!
Whichever pet has the soft spot in your heart, keep them in good health with affordable pet insurance.

Our cat insurance plans and dog insurance plans give your pet protection for a small cost. They provide cover for vet visits to hospital stays and so much more. So, you can think of your puss or pooch instead of your pocket.

Popular dog breeds – over to you

While pedigreed dogs have the top five spots, if you’re looking for a dog, it’s worth considering adopting a shelter dog (here’s what you need to know about bringing home an adopted dog). There are many so out there who are in need of a good home.

What’s your favourite pooch? Let us know in the comments below.

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