Every year the American Kennel Club (AKC) takes a look at its registration statistics to determine which dog breeds Americans love best. Their list of most popular dogs in the US contained few surprises, but there was one telling pattern: Bigger breeds are making their move

For 21 years, the beloved Labrador retriever has sat atop the American Kennel Club's most-popular list and this year too it is America's favorite purebred dog. Did you know that historically, this large "sporting" breed has been used to hunt and retrieve birds and only recently has the dog become known as a companion dog.

It has a lifespan of 10-12 years and is known for its kindly, outgoing and tractable nature. The Lab is eager to please and usually non-aggressive toward man or animal.

Second on the list is Yorkshire terrier, well known for long flowing tresses. It is a tiny but tough breed. Originally used to hunt rats, the Yorkie is a popular active pet now. The breed was originally used as a working dog but became a fashionable pet in England in the late Victorian era. In 1872, the Yorkie made his entrance into the United States and has since been a favorite. The Yorkshire terrier is a member of the toy breed group and the best-known feature of the breed is the long flowing hair coat, which requires constant care.  This breed has a considerably longer life span of 12-15 years.

At number three, you have the much loved German Shepherd, the 'guard dog' which shot up fame in the early 1920s and has since become a favorite breed for families, law enforcement and the disabled. Also known as the Alsatian, the German shepherd has consistently been one of the top 10 companion dogs in the United States and is a member of the "herding" class.

German shepherd is a loyal, faithful and devoted human companion and, with proper training, can perform nearly any task.

Following the Shepherd is off-course the Golden Retriever. He is usually associated with children and suburban life, and, with their love of water and natural retrieving ability, the golden retrievers are also excellent companions to hunters. Over the years, golden retrievers have become useful as guide dogs for the blind, deaf and other handicapped individuals because of their intelligence, train-ability, well-rounded temperament, as well as their ability to get along well with people.

At number five, you have the compact little rabbit hunter, the Beagle. This breed seems to have been a favorite human companion and vigorous rabbit hunter for centuries. Unfortunately, due to its compact size and friendly temperament, the beagle has been one of the most popular dog breeds to be used in medical research.

For the entire list of the top 10 American dogs, check out the infographic below.

Popular Dogs Infographic