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Published: Feb 29, 2012

Dogs can be lovable no matter their shape, size or breed, but for the 21st consecutive year, the American Kennel Club (AKC) reports that the Labrador retriever is the most popular breed among American owners.

Following closely in second is the German shepherd, and the beagle bumped the Yorkie out for third most popular breed out of the 173 considered, People Magazine reports.

"While the Labrador retriever has been proven once again to be a family favorite, this year clearly belongs to the beagle," said AKC spokeswoman Lisa Peterson. "The beagle's merry personality combined with his love of outdoor activities makes him such a wonderful family pet that I wouldn't be surprised to see this spunky breed sniff his way to the top list next year."

If you are considering a Lab, it is important that you have plenty of time to spend exercising it. According to Animal Planet, this dog has high energy and is very playful. It is also prone to dog hip dysplasia. However, it earns its popularity with its obedience, devotion and friendliness.

Beagles are a favorite for their friendly demeanor and need for companionship. This breed is prone to intervertebral disc disease and hip dysplasia as well, so owners should discuss options to prevent these conditions with a veterinarian.