Australia has always been a nation of dog lovers. From the intelligent, hard-working Cattle Dog to the sheep-herding Australian Kelpie, dogs have been instrumental in helping us humans tame and thrive upon this vast expanse of wild land. In doing so, they’ve captured a special place in our hearts.
These days, most of us don’t need to put our canine companions to work yet our love for them continues unabated. With an estimated 4.8 million pet dogs in the country (almost 1 dog for every 5 people!), we thought we’d take a look at the 10 most popularly owned breeds today. Credit to Dogs NSW and the Australian National Kennel Council for the numbers.
1. Labrador Retriever
Originating from the coast of Newfoundland in Canada, this good-natured family favourite was trained to haul in fishing nets from the icy waters of the North Atlantic. Strong swimmers, athletic and with a fantastic sense of smell, their talents were recognised as a perfect fit as gundogs when they arrived in England in the early 19th century.
These days, Labs are one of the most commonly used working dogs, with a wide range of roles. Hunting, tracking, detection, disability-assistance and therapy work are just some of the areas they excel in, with Labs being the most popular breed for guide dogs worldwide. They are also a wonderful companion dog and great around children. The fun begins from the very start: chocolate, black and yellows puppies can all come from the same litter! (“Labs are like a box of chocolates….”, anyone? Sorry!).
While we here at CDK9 Raw adore seeing our pack members demolish our food, there’s just one word of caution; given the opportunity, Labs just won’t stop! It’s important to keep an eye on quantities because they are at risk of becoming overweight. Use our raw food calculator to make sure and give them a fishy treat now and again to bring them back to their roots!
2. Staffordshire Bull Terrier
We’re delighted to see the Staffy come in so high on the Aussies’ favourites list! For too long, this breed has been terribly misunderstood and misrepresented. Before the mid-1800s, bloodsports such as bull baiting and bear baiting were popular. The Bull Terrier, as a fearless, tough and intensely loyal breed, was seen as ideal for such activities.
More recently, they’ve had a bad rep due to their use as so-called ‘Pitbulls’ in dogfighting. But what people are finally realising (especially you, Australia!) is that these are human afflictions, not canine. They’re just eager to please their owners- some of whom have turned this desire to their own negative ends. To quote Cesar Milan, “In the 70s they blamed Dobermans, in the 80s they blamed German Shepherds, in the 90s they blamed Rottweilers. Now they blame the Pit Bull. When will they blame the humans?”
In reality, the Staffy is friendly, enthusiastic and very affectionate - they make a really great companion dog and who can resist that classic Staffy smile! We know that many of the CDK9 Raw pack are Staffordshire Bull Terriers and that their loving and responsible owners are instrumental in helping change perceptions about this breed- we salute you!
3. French Bulldog
In at number 3 is the distinctive Frenchie, small in stature but with a big personality! This fun-loving breed is happiest when in close and regular contact with their humans and can suffer from separation anxiety if left alone for too long. Their exercise needs are minimal - although a short daily walk is recommended, making them a good fit for apartment dwellers. As they can be prone to heat stroke, care must be taken while exercising in hot and humid weather- early mornings and late evenings are best in Summer.
The Frenchie is renowned for their patience and affection towards their owners and are particularly tolerant of children. Did you know that the French Bulldog flirted with extinction in the post - World War 1 era and were considered an extremely rare breed? Thankfully, they made it and we still have all that awesome cuteness today. Grace a Dieu! (Even though they’re not actually French…sssshhh!)
4. German Shepherd
Bred for their intelligence, the GSD consistently ranks near the top of the charts of the cleverest dogs. This makes them one of the favoured breeds for working around the world. They are often first choice for police and military work, as well as protection, disability assistance and search & rescue. Their exceptional trainability and obedience makes the German Shepherd one of the most versatile dogs around, excelling whatever the task.
Of course, this drive to work means that the GSD needs to be kept active or else they can become mischievous. Good exercise and a consistent, challenging training routine will keep them physically and mentally stimulated, allowing you to reap the benefits of an adoring companion around the house.
The GSD can be aloof and suspicious of strangers (making a them a great guard dog) so it’s important that they’re socialised around people and other animals from early puppyhood.
Fun fact: Rin Tin Tin (a male GSD) was rescued from a WW1 battlefield by an American soldier and became an international movie star. ‘Rinty’ starred in 27 films and commanded a salary of $8000 a week - that’s the equivalent of $100,000 today! He was a key player in saving Warner Brothers from bankruptcy in the 1930’s and is honoured with his very own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
5. Border Collie
As the name suggests, this breed was developed on the English/Scottish border around 350 years ago. Widely regarded as the most intelligent of all dogs, they made their reputation as brilliant herders of livestock, particularly sheep. Their low-key approach, independence and intelligence makes them ideal for coaxing herds without causing stress to the animals. The behaviours they exhibit while doing so, such as stalking and crouching, are modified predatory instincts and actually very similar to how a wolf would approach its prey. This is the main reason they can herd with such precision.
The Border Collie is a high-energy dog and capable of solving complex tasks independently. As such, they require lots of training from an early age to keep them stimulated and out of trouble! They pick up on inconsistency very quickly and can become easily bored. Once they have a strong and attentive owner, they are a joy to be around and will amaze with their cleverness.
‘Chaser’ the Border Collie is known as the ‘world’s smartest dog’. Raised by a university professor, Chaser is said to have the largest vocabulary of any dog, knowing over 1000 nouns, and the largest tested memory of any non-human animal! She’s not known as the Canine Einstein for nothing!
6. Golden Retriever
In at number 6 on the list is the Golden Retriever, traditionally a gundog beloved for their ability to retrieve game undamaged during hunting parties. They are smart, affectionate and good-natured and are one of those dogs that absolutely loves water! We don’t know about you, but we think there’s something so life-affirming at seeing the unbridled joy of a water dog in action! They have a water- repellent double coat that sheds, so a brush once a week is a good idea.
The Golden Retriever remains enthusiastically puppy-like well into adulthood and is always up for adventure. Trustworthy around everyone, they are as honest a dog as you’re likely to find. They’re eager to please their owners and relatively easy to train, making them adaptable to almost any circumstance. Forgiving of inexperienced dog-owners, the Golden Retriever is a great first family dog. Their lust for life is wonderful to behold, but it’s important to instil good manners via obedience training from a young age. Once that’s done correctly, there’s really little else to worry about. A brisk daily walk and some games of fetch will ensure that your Golden Retriever sees you as number 1 in their world.
7. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Bred as a companion dog, this ‘toy’ breed nonetheless retains the sporty nature of their spaniel ancestors. If they’re not cuddled up beside you receiving pats, they’re equally as happy out flushing birds from bushes, tracking squirrels and even chasing butterflies! King Charles owners will attest to their enthusiastic and playful nature, with them often being described as ‘King of the tail-waggers’! Adaptable to apartment dwelling, they still need quite a bit of exercise to keep them content. A daily walk and some indoor ‘fetch’ games will suffice. They are also very dependent on human companionship so shouldn’t be left alone for too long. Separation anxiety in the King Charles can result in excessive whining, barking and destructive chewing. If socialised with other pets from an early age, they will be equally happy with an animal buddy around. Soft-tempered and eager to please, they respond well to training and are great around children. And, of course, those large expressive eyes would lighten even the darkest of moods!
The King Charles is predisposed to some serious health conditions - potential hereditary weaknesses of the heart, liver, kidneys and blood circulatory system. As such, a high carbohydrate diet (kibble) is a particularly bad idea for this breed as it won’t give them sufficient preventative nutrition. We recommend you feed this royal canine with raw!
8. American Staffordshire Terrier
Larger and heavier than their English cousins, the Amstaff emerged as a separate breed in the US and was first recognised by the AKC in 1898. Subjected to the same misconceptions and poor ownership as the Staffy, the Amstaff’s bigger size contributed to an unwarranted reputation as an intimidating fighting dog. Nothing could be further from the truth! Revised by the AKC in 1969 to their current name, generations of responsible breeding have created an Amstaff who is people-oriented and thrives as part of the family. Intensely loyal, they will protect their family from any threat but are otherwise low in aggression. Fun-loving and affectionate, the Amstaff loves snuggling up to its humans and snoozing away the hot days in the shade. They are strong-willed and can be boisterous so require a firm and patient owner who can deliver lots of training.
Perhaps, best-suited to more confident and experienced dog-owners, a good training routine and enough exercise will result in one of the most loving dogs imaginable. Care should be taken around unfamiliar animals as the Amstaff may perceive them as a threat to their family. Early socialisation is key. As with their English cousins, we salute all those responsible owners who have ensured their reputation has improved so much that they’re now in the Top 10!
9. Miniature Schnauzer
Originating in Germany, the Miniature Schnauzer came to be when the standard variety was bred will smaller dogs to create a breed that was skilled at hunting rats on farms. These are a spirited little dog who are alert and active, with a great degree of curiosity. Very independent, they can vary greatly from individual to individual so it can be difficult to predict your puppy’s personality! Some exhibit high-energy, terrier-like traits while others can be much calmer. However, they will all have that distinctive appearance, with long leg hair, bushy eyebrows and an impressive moustache! Maybe that’s what gives them their confidence as they’ve no problem swaggering up to a much bigger dog and standing their ground- sometimes getting themselves into trouble! A keen watchdog, they will alert you to any unfamiliar visitors and are generally suspicious of strangers.
Their intelligence means that they can be easily trained but bear in mind they can also be extremely stubborn, sometimes pretending not to hear you! Let these guys get away with something once and they’re likely to remember it forever, making it difficult to change the behaviour. However, their favourite thing is spending time with their owner so, provided you keep them mentally stimulated and give them a moderate amount of exercise, they’re a fantastic companion and guaranteed to make you laugh!
Another breed once considered among the ‘bad boys’, the Rottie has an impressive physical stature that belies a heart of gold. With a heritage said to include guarding the livestock of the Roman legions and driving cattle to market, they are a powerful and athletic specimen. For this reason, they have often been chosen to portray vicious attack dogs in movies and on TV, contributing to some people’s negative perception of them. In reality, they are calm, good-natured and devoted to their family. They can be aloof with strangers, waiting to make sure that there is no threat to their family before making friends. If a threat is posed, their fierce loyalty will ensure their fearless protection but a well-raised Rottweiler is never aggressive without reason. It’s important to start training and socialisation early, as they can be a dominant dog who assumes they’re the master of the house! However, firm and consistent training routines will develop a physical beast of a dog who’s just a beauty at heart. They respond best to positive reinforcement - harsh discipline can result in them losing respect for their human as pack leader.
Rotties should get plenty of physical exercise to burn up their energy and satisfy their drive to work. They’re chewers so, if bored, their powerful jaws can reduce household items to rubble in minutes! Did you know? Despite their media portrayal, Rottweilers are steadily gaining a reputation as an excellent dog for use in therapy work.
That concludes the list of Australia’s 10 most popular dog breeds by ownership. Did you see your bestie here? As always, we love to see photos and hear stories about our CDK9 Raw pack members so get in touch! Let us know why your breed is perfect for you and if you have any advice or tips for prospective owners. If they’re not mentioned above, let us know why they should be - hit us up on Facebook or Instagram, or drop us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
P.S. We’re looking forward to seeing you again this week, Melbourne! 😊