When you think about bringing a dog home, you probably consider which dog breeds are the most popular. After all, dogs such as Labs and golden retrievers have to be popular for a reason, right? That’s true to a certain extent. But it’s also true that some popular dog breeds — even well-loved pups, such as German shepherds and boxers — might actually be among the most overrated dog breeds in the United States.
For the lowdown, we looked to an Information Is Beautiful report that crunched all the data. Is the English bulldog too dumb to deserve his good reputation? Do German shepherds develop too many genetic ailments? Are French bulldogs too expensive to care for? Here are the arguments for why 18 popular dog breeds are actually overrated. Will you let them influence your choice of dog? That’s for you to decide.
Rottweilers are consistently popular dogs. But according to Information Is Beautiful, they make the list of the most overrated dog breeds. They’re very intelligent, with a rating of 91 out of 100. But Rottweilers are prone to three different genetic ailments. You’ll likely deal with heart, elbow, and hip problems, which might have you at the vet pretty often during your dog’s lifespan. Plus, Rottweilers need about $710 worth of food each year. And they only show “medium suitability” for households with children. That seems to run counter to their image as a large but friendly-family dog.
Newfoundlands rank as relatively intelligent dogs, with a rating of 64. However, they land on the list of the most overrated dog breeds for other reasons. They often develop hip problems. And they’re prone to heart defects. Plus, they cost an expensive $1,178, on average, to purchase. And they need about $710 worth of food each year. Furthermore, these large dogs need to be groomed weekly. And that’s sure to be a time-consuming chore.
Next: German shepherd
16. German shepherd
Information Is Beautiful reports that German shepherds rank as one of the most intelligent, and therefore easiest-to-train, breeds. But the publication also characterizes the German shepherd as an overrated dog breed. One reason why? These dogs are prone to a whopping eight different genetic ailments, which affect their nerves, pancreas, blood, and hip joints. That means you’ll probably be best friends with your neighborhood veterinarian. Plus, they have only a “medium suitability” for families with young children. Nonetheless, German shepherds earn an intelligence rating of 98 — a definite plus.
Want a cute toy dog? The Pekingese might sound appealing — until you learn the average lifetime cost associated with one of these dogs reaches as high as $20,565. If that doesn’t deter you, you should also note this overrated dog breed scores just an 8 out of 100 when it comes to intelligence. So a Pekingese won’t be quick or easy to train, even if all you want to do is teach your dog some basic commands. These dogs often develop knee problems. Plus, Pekingese have only a “medium suitability” for children, which might result in some unpleasant surprises for children entranced by these dogs’ unique appearance.
The Akita is a large (and adorable) working dog you might assume would make a good family dog. Not so fast. These dogs are poorly suited to life with small children. Plus, their intelligence rating puts them at 31. That’s not so low that you’ll have trouble training your dog, but it’s not high enough that training will be a breeze, either. Plus, Akitas can get pretty expensive to purchase, at an average price of $1,202. And they have an average lifetime cost of $20,994 and are prone to hip problems — not exactly the inexpensive, low-maintenance pup you envisioned.
Next: Rhodesian ridgeback
13. Rhodesian ridgeback
The Rhodesian ridgeback might not be the most popular dog on the AKC’s roster. But that doesn’t save these dogs from ranking among the most overrated dog breeds in the U.S. They earn an intelligence score of 33 — not bad, but not great, either. These dogs frequently develop a few health problems and are prone both to birth defects and hip problems. Plus, they only show “medium suitability” for living in households with families or small children.
Next: French bulldog
12. French bulldog
The French bulldog has enjoyed a lot of popularity and social media fame, fueled in part by city dwellers who want a relatively small dog. But the breed’s extreme popularity, if nothing else, is enough to land it on the list of the most overrated breeds. French bulldogs have breathing and spine problems. And their average lifespan is only nine years. These dogs also cost a lot to purchase, at an average of $1,900. Plus, they require $466 worth of food each year — probably a lot more than you’d expect for such a little dog.
Next: Bernese mountain dog
11. Bernese mountain dog
The Bernese mountain dog ranks pretty high when it comes to intelligence. In fact, these dogs earn an intelligence rating of 78. That’s a great thing if you want a dog who will be receptive to training and find it easy to learn new commands. But Bernese mountain dogs earn their place among the most overrated dog breeds, thanks at least in part to the four genetic ailments they develop. (They develop meningitis, elbow and hip problems, and complex immune disorders.) They also cost a lot to feed each year. You should budget about $710 — and perhaps think about eating out a little less to make room in your budget.
Next: Bull terrier
10. Bull terrier
Bull terriers have distinctive egg-shaped heads, and many people know them as friendly and sweet-tempered dogs. But they land on the list of the most overrated dog breeds for a reason. They don’t rank among the smartest dogs in the pack. In fact, they earn an intelligence score of 17 out of 100. These dogs often develop two different genetic ailments: heart problems and a zinc metabolism disorder. And they cost as much to feed — an average of $466 per year — as larger dogs, such as the boxer, the chow chow, and the bullmastiff. Plus, they only have “medium suitability” for households with small children, despite their seemingly affable personalities.
The boxer earns its place among the most overrated dog breeds not because of the breed’s intelligence (which ranks at 39 out of 100) or its lifespan (8.81 years). Instead, one of the biggest strikes against the boxer comes courtesy of the breed’s health. The breed is prone to four different genetic ailments, including eye, nerve, and heart problems. Although a specific dog might not develop all of those ailments, you’ll likely have to deal with at least some issues if you bring a boxer into your home. Many people take dogs to the shelter because they didn’t know what they were getting themselves into. So make sure you’re prepared for the costs of keeping your pet healthy and happy.
Next: Alaskan malamute
8. Alaskan malamute
Alaskan malamutes aren’t the smartest dogs. But they definitely aren’t the dumbest, either, with an intelligence rating of 36. Plus, they live an average of 10.67 years, which gives their owners plenty of time to enjoy training and spending time with them. So why do they land on the list of the most overrated dog breeds? They cost a lot to purchase at $1,210. And they require a lot of food each year, which means you’ll spend about $710 annually to feed one. Plus, they need to be groomed every day. They often develop hip problems and dwarfism. And they only have “medium suitability” for families with children.
Next: Chow chow
7. Chow chow
Chow chows might seem like a surprising member of Information Is Beautiful’s group of overrated dog breeds. After all, they don’t cost that much over their lifetime. (They average $15,898.) And they live a respectable 9.01 years, on average. However, these dogs are prone to two genetic ailments that affect their eyes and hips. Plus, they require daily grooming. (And that is no small task with all that hair.) Plus, they only have “medium suitability” for families with children, which probably makes for a pretty unpleasant surprise based on their teddy bear-like appearances.
The bloodhound might be one of the cheapest dog breeds to own over your dog’s lifetime. They’ll only average $13,824 in lifetime costs. But once again, the relatively low price tag comes thanks to the bloodhound’s shorter-than-average lifetime. (They often develop genetic ailments, such as fatal stomach bloat, hip dysplasia, and skin problems.) Bloodhounds live an average of 6.75 years. Additionally, they rank only 7 out of 100 for intelligence. And they only have “medium suitability” for children. That means if you have kids, or if your friends and neighbors do, you might want to choose a different dog breed.
Information Is Beautiful names the bullmastiff one of the most overrated dog breeds — and not because of their low cost of ownership. They cost just $13,936 over their lifetime, thanks to their short average lifespan of just 7.57 years. During their lifetimes, bullmastiffs are prone to two different genetic ailments that affect the eyes and hips. They also only rank at 14 out of 100, as far as intelligence goes. So don’t expect a bullmastiff to be bright and eager when you try to teach your dog a new command or trick.
Mastiffs also earn the dubious distinction of costing the least to own over their lifetime. They average just $13,581 over their lifetimes. But again, mastiffs have relatively short lifetimes. They live for an average of just 6.5 years — which gives you a lot less bonding time than you’d get with other dogs. (For instance, the border terrier lives for an average of 14 years.) They often develop hip and heart problems. And mastiffs don’t earn any awards for intelligence. In fact, they rank at about 10 out of 100 for trainability, which means you’ll likely have a tough time teaching your dog new commands.
Next: Great Dane
3. Great Dane
The Great Dane is another breed that ranks as one of the cheapest to own over a dog’s lifetime. They average $14,662 in lifetime cost. But they might also cost so little because they don’t live very long. Shorter-lived dogs cost less over a lifetime because they eat less food, and they rack up fewer health care bills. Great Danes average just 6.96 years, but they routinely develop four different genetic ailments. (Those ailments affect their heart, spine, hips, and can also include fatal stomach bloat.) So the approximately seven years that you have with your Great Dane might not all be completely happy and healthy years.
Next: Saint Bernard
2. Saint Bernard
The Saint Bernard also lands among the most overrated dog breeds. Saint Bernards are prone to three genetic ailments. They often develop heart problems, hip disorders, and fatal stomach bloat. And they don’t live the longest lives, at an average of 7.78 years. The breed also earns the distinction of ranking as one of the most expensive dogs to feed, at an average food cost of $1,217 per year. Plus, Saint Bernards require daily grooming. (That will likely take a decent amount of time, given how large these dogs grow.) At least Saint Bernards are great with children.
Next: English bulldog
1. English bulldog
Information Is Beautiful’s data visualization on the most overrated dog breeds names the bulldog “inexplicably overrated.” Although English bulldogs are the cheapest breed to own over a lifetime, at an average of $13,479, that’s in part because they have a short lifespan. They average just 6.29 years, versus 16.5 years for the Chihuahua, the longest-living breed. They often develop breathing, hip, heart, and eye problems. Plus, bulldogs just aren’t all that smart. They earn an intelligence rating of just 3 out of 100. That means they’re pretty difficult to teach new commands and skills.
For more details on how Information Is Beautiful ranked each dog breed, check out the data sheet behind the report.