Medium-size dog breeds range from 18 to 28 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh from 45 to 90 pounds at maturity. According to the American Pet Products Association's 2011-2012 survey, 46.3 percent of U.S. households own at least one dog, for a total of 78.2 million dogs. The American Kennel Club, the country's leading dog registry, processes more than one million purebred dog and litter registrations annually, and ranks breed popularity based on the number of dogs of each breed registered each year.
The Labrador retriever long has been a family favorite dog, and has been the most popular AKC-registered breed since 1991. Known for its friendly temperament, eagerness to work, and intelligence, the Labrador is a versatile hunting dog. A dense double coat protects the dog from weather, water, brush and brambles. In recent years, the breed's characteristics have brought it into additional demand for scent-detection work of various kinds. The Labrador retriever originated not in Labrador, but in Newfoundland, where its eagerness to retrieve and work was put to good use by fishermen. Adults range from 21.5 to 24.5 inches tall, and weigh from 55 to 80 pounds at maturity. The Labrador coat can be one of three colors: black; chocolate, which can range from light to dark brown; or yellow, which ranges from cream-colored to a deep fox red.
German Shepherd Dog
Originally created to bring together and preserve the best working attributes of the herding dogs of late 19th century Germany, the German shepherd dog breed has ranked at or near the top in popularity ever since for its versatility in roles as a family companion, protection dog, guide dog, search-and-rescue dog, detection dog and police and war dog. German shepherds are intelligent, self-confident and approachable, while somewhat aloof. While a black and red coat is most often associated with the breed, German shepherds can also have a black or sable coat. Height in mature dogs ranges from 22 to 26 inches at the shoulder.
Though often mistaken for a yellow Labrador retriever, the golden retriever is a distinct breed that originated in the Scottish Highlands. The characteristic golden coat is longer than that of a Labrador retriever, and ranges from light to deep gold in color. Goldens reach 55 to 75 pounds at maturity, and 21 to 24 inches in height. The golden retriever's eagerness to please makes the breed ideally suited for assistance and service dog work, in addition to its traditional role of hunting companion.
The boxer is an intelligent and energetic breed. Originally bred in Germany as a chase dog to aid hunters, the boxer developed into a versatile working breed, just as skilled at carrying messages in wartime as at herding sheep or cattle. The short coat, muscular appearance and traditionally cropped ears may give the appearance of fierceness, but the boxer is a friendly, people-oriented breed. Ranging in height from 21.5 to 25 inches, and in weight from 50 to 75 pounds, the mature boxer is a strong, athletic dog. Boxer colors are fawn or brindle, with white markings that might cover most or all of the body.
The largest of the poodle varieties, the standard poodle is any poodle that is more than 17 inches tall at maturity. Today, most standard poodles average 21 to 27 inches tall, and weigh about 45 to 65 pounds. The poodle originally was a hunter and retriever. The coat is long and dense, properties that can make it obstructive in a water retrieve. The traditional poodle trim shaves the face, feet, legs and hindquarters, except for bracelets or pom-poms at the wrists, ankle and hips, to minimize the weight of the wet coat. The pom-poms protect the joints from cold water, and the jacket protects the heart and lungs. The poodle is a solid-colored dog of varying shades of black, grey, cream, apricot, red and brown. Poodles with two colors, called parti-color poodles, are disqualified by the breed standard.
Yet another German breed with an imposing appearance, the Rottweiler is a powerful, intelligent dog that is playful with family but reserved with strangers. Descended from cattle drovers' dogs in Rottweil, Germany, Rottweilers were originally used for their herding and guarding instincts, as well as to pull carts. Rottweilers have a black coat with rust or mahogany points; white markings are considered a fault. An adult Rottweiler averages 22 to 27 inches tall, and weighs between 75 and 125 pounds.
Louis Dobermann, a tax collector in Germany at the turn of the 20th century, sought to develop a dog to take with him on his rounds to serve as both guard and companion. His efforts created the Doberman pinscher, a breed with a popular respect for its guarding abilities. With adult heights ranging from 24 to 28 inches, the Doberman is one of the taller medium-sized breeds. Weights range from 70 to 100 pounds. The Doberman's short coat may be black, blue, red or fawn, all with rust points. A tiny white patch on the chest is permitted by the breed standard.
German Shorthaired Pointer
The German shorthaired pointer is a versatile, active sporting dog that also was bred to be a good family dog. Though characterized as a pointer, the GSP is also skilled at trailing and retrieving, and works well on a variety of fowl and game. The mature GSP weighs 45 to 70 pounds and stands 21 to 25 inches tall. GSPs may be solid liver-colored, or liver and white, which may include patches or speckles of color. The breed's stable temperament and enthusiasm for work or play make it well-suited for life with an active family.
The Siberian husky is among the oldest dog breeds, and is believed to have been developed by the Chukchi tribe in Northeast Asia as a working sled dog. Siberians have a long history of aiding human survival in the arctic and subarctic regions, and they are still used in sled dog races today. The thick, medium-length double coat protects the Siberian husky from extreme cold. Siberian huskies were working dogs during the Alaskan gold rush of the 1890s, and teams of Siberian huskies famously relayed serum to Nome, Alaska, during a diphtheria epidemic in 1925. Today, Siberians are popular family dogs and show dogs, while they also continue in their traditional role as sled dogs. Siberians reach 20 to 23.5 inches in height, and weigh 35 to 60 lbs. Coat colors range from solid black to pure white, often with striking facial markings and patterns unique to the breed.
Despite the breed's name, Australian shepherds are an American breed of herding dog, developed by ranchers in the western United States. The exact origins of the breed are obscure, but the American Kennel Club's history of the breed speculates that its roots probably go back to herding dogs of the Basque region of Europe. Still popular as a ranch dog, Australian shepherds today also find work as service, therapy, search-and-rescue and drug-detection dogs, as well as popular family pets. The Aussie is a compact dog, reaching 18 to 23 inches tall and weighing 40 to 65 pounds. Allowed colors include black, red, blue merle and red merle, frequently with a variety of white and tan markings.