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NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Labrador Retriever is still America's top dog but the Beagle has overtaken the Golden Retriever in popularity and the Rottweiler has made a comeback, according to the American Kennel Club.
In its annual list of the country's most popular dogs, the powerful, protective Rottweiler edged into the top 10 breeds, knocking the much smaller, sweet and playful Shih Tzu out of the rankings, where it had been firmly placed for more than a decade.
For the 21st consecutive year the Labrador Retriever clinched the No. 1 spot in 2011. The German Shepherd held on to its second position, while the Beagle pushed the Golden Retriever down to No. 4 and the Yorkshire Terrier dropped from third to fifth place.
"While the Labrador Retriever has proven once again to be a family favorite, this year clearly belongs to the Beagle," American Kennel Club spokesperson Lisa Peterson said on Tuesday,
adding that she wouldn't be surprised if the breed snatched the top spot next year.
Along with the Rottweiler, the Boxer, which placed seventh, had a good year. Five of the most popular dogs were larger breeds.
The Bulldog, Poodle and Dachshund rounded out the top 10 dogs on the list compiled by the club, which is a registry of purebred pedigrees in the United States.
Reporting by Patricia Reaney; editing by Paul Thomasch