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It’s estimated there are more than six million pet dogs across Australia compared to just over five million cats. The numbers don’t lie − nearly 50% of households have a canine companion.1 This does beg the question: which dog breeds do we gravitate towards most?

Most popular dog breeds in Australia

Some people pick certain dog breeds for their tender temperament (e.g. Labradors) or because they tend to have fewer health issues throughout their lives, while others may opt for non-shedding dog breeds like Poodle mixes.

Either way, our guide to the most popular dog breeds in Australia (based on national pet registration statistics)2 will cover everything you need to know about each breed, including their origins, temperaments, and any health problems that could potentially impact your pet insurance.

1. Labrador Retriever

A yellow Labrador Retriever sitting in a field of grass

As Australia’s favourite dog breed, the Labrador is easily recognisable with its strong build, short fur coat, and intelligent eyes. Labradors are good-tempered and active dogs that make for devoted family pets.3

The origins of the breed most likely lie in Newfoundland, Canada where fishermen used them to retrieve waterfowl and drifting nets.4 Because of their intelligence and kind, loyal nature, they’re well suited to working as guide and assistance dogs, as well as sniffer and tracking dogs.

Labradors are a healthy dog breed but aren’t immune to various health problems. The main issues Labradors generally suffer from include hip and elbow dysplasia, as well as epilepsy, and progressive retinal atrophy.They also tend to be rather greedy with food, so obesity comes pretty easily to a Labrador!

2. Staffordshire Bull Terrier

A brown Staffordshire Bull Terrier sitting on a park bench

Affectionately known as a Staffy, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a smooth-coated, muscular, active dog with short body features.6 Despite their muscular appearance and bold, fearless temperament, Staffies are intelligent, affectionate, and reliable companions.

Staffies were originally bred in England in the 1800s for bull and bearbaiting, but you would hardly guess judging by the modern Staffy’s friendly, gentle, and lovable nature.7 They’ve even been known to work as therapy dogs.

However, there are a few health problems that Staffies are prone to, including congenital heart diseases, hereditary cataracts, hip dysplasia, and hyperthyroidism.8 They may also suffer from sensitivity issues in their skin and stomach.

3. German Shepherd

A German Shepherd running through a field of grass

German Shepherds are easily recognisable, with a medium-sized build, gently curving tail, and upright, pointed ears.9 Shepherds can also come in several different colours, with a mix of black and tan being the most common.10

Originating in Germany in the late 1800s, German Shepherds are exceptionally intelligent, devoted, and attentive, and love attention from their human friends. This mix of traits means they make excellent family pets and work well as service, guard, watch, herding, protection, and sniffer dogs.

Unfortunately, irresponsible breeding during the breed’s early days has led to some ongoing health problems for Shepherds.11 Hip dysplasia is a particularly prominent problem in Shepherds. Panosteitis (bone disease), bloat (stomach disorder in deep-chested dogs), and congenital heart conditions are other health problems Shepherds can experience.

4. French Bulldog

A fawn French Bulldog sitting in grass by a garden path

The French Bulldog – known as the Frenchie – is instantly recognisable for its trademark ‘bat ears’.12 One of the small dog breeds, Frenchies have a solid build, smooth coat, and are quite affectionate.

The Frenchie’s origins aren’t exactly known, but it’s thought they were brought from England to France during the industrial revolution, where they were bred into toy or miniature bulldogs.13 Frenchies are playful, loving, sweet, and funny little things, and can get along with just about anyone and any animal.

For all their cuteness and friendliness, though, Frenchies can experience some health problems. The main ones you’ll find amongst this breed include back weakness, soft palate issues, and luxating patellas (dislocating knee joints). Frenchies are also prone to breathing problems and overheating.

5. Golden Retriever

A Golden Retriever lying on the ground

With their gentle temperament and sweet, kindly eyes, it’s no wonder why Golden Retrievers are one of the most popular breeds in Australia. They’re a large dog breed and are strong but very affectionate and gentle, plus they love being around their family.14

Retrievers are also highly intelligent and have been used as guide and therapy dogs.15 While they’re a pretty healthy breed of dog, they have been known to experience hip and eye problems, as well as osteochondritis dissecans (a bone disorder).

6. Border Collie

A black and white Border Collie lying on the grass

Border Collies are perhaps best known as working sheepdogs, but they also make for wonderful, devoted family pets. Their long, fluffy coats are commonly black and white, but you can also get a variety of red, mottled blue, and brown-coloured Collies.16

Their origins lie around the border areas of England and Scotland – hence their name – as herders for shepherds. Collies are among the most intelligent dog breeds, and they take to training and learning new skills like a… well, a dog to a bone!

Border Collies are one of the healthiest dog breeds out there; after all, as working dogs, they were bred to be hardy. They may occasionally develop bone problems if they’re not correctly fed during their youth.

7. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

A red and white Cavalier King Charles Spaniel standing in a grass field

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has a long and rich history. They descend from the toy spaniels of the 16th and 17th centuries and are so named because of King Charles II’s great love of this friendly, easily trained small dog breed.17

They have long, silky coats and long, drop ears, and come in a range of colours including a mix of black, tan, ruby, red, and white. However, Cavaliers are prone to several health problems, including heart murmurs, mitral valve disease, cataracts, and patellar instability (slipping kneecaps).

8. American Staffordshire Terrier

A tan-coloured American Staffordshire Terrier happily running among fallen leaves

The American Staffy (sometimes referred to as Amstaff) is a relative of the English variety, but with several noticeable differences, the main ones being that the Amstaff is much larger and heavier than the English Staffy.18

Amstaffs weren’t bred to be fighting dogs, but unfortunately, that is what they were used for until dog fighting was banned in the United States.19 However, they aren’t natural fighting dogs; they were originally bred to be companions and working farm dogs, and still maintain those traits today.

They are strong, active dogs that need a lot of exercise with a capable owner, but when welcomed into the family make for devoted, loving pets. As for the breed’s health profile, Amstaffs can be susceptible to hip dysplasia, cardiac disease, and elbow problems.

9. Rottweiler

A Rottweiler lying in the grass

Rottweilers, or Rotties, may well be one of the oldest dog breeds in the world, dating back to Roman times when they were used to drive cattle.20 Mixing with the native dog of Rottweil, a town in Germany, produced the Rottweiler breed we know today. Rotties can be medium to large-sized dogs and are distinguished by their black coat with tan markings.

Rotties are among the strongest dog breeds and so need plenty of exercise. Because of their natural guarding instinct, Rotties can be dominating if not appropriately raised by a firm and responsible owner.21 Still, they are entirely devoted to their families and will protect them at all costs.

Rotties can be susceptible to hip problems and can also suffer from bloat, so it’s important that they’re fed properly in accordance with the breeder’s advice.

10. Miniature Schnauzer

A Miniature Schnauzer standing in the grass

There are three types of Schnauzers (miniature, standard, and giant), each of which looks the same but just in different sizes.22 You can quickly identify a Schnauzer for their beards and eyebrows, giving the breed that mischievous expression they’re famous for.

Despite being a small dog breed, mini Schnauzers are quite sturdy and robust, with a square body shape. They’re intelligent with an instinct to guard, as they were originally bred as guard dogs, but are now mainly companion dogs. Minis are also pretty healthy dogs, with only a few conditions known to occur in the breed, like cardio myopathy.23

Frequently asked questions about dog breeds

What are the smartest dog breeds?

While not always a completely accurate practice, a dog’s intelligence is usually measured by things like their memory, ability to comprehend words, and how receptive they are to training.24 Some of the smartest dog breeds out there include:

  • Border Collies
  • Poodles
  • Shepherds
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Dobermans.

Which dog breeds are hypoallergenic?

Allergies to dogs are caused by dander that clings to fur, not actually the fur itself, so there’s no dog breed that is completely hypoallergenic. However, some breeds are better for dog allergies than others, including:25

  • Basenjis
  • Bedlington Terriers
  • Border Terriers
  • Chinese Crested dogs
  • Coton de Tuléar dogs
  • Havanese breeds
  • Irish Water Spaniels
  • Kerry Blue Terriers
  • Maltese dogs
  • Poodles
  • Portuguese Water dogs
  • Pulis
  • Schnauzers (miniature, standard and giant)
  • Shih Tzus
  • Soft-coated Wheaten Terriers
  • Yorkshire Terriers.

If you or a member of your family is allergic to dogs but are still looking to bring a furry friend into your home, you can reduce the risk of allergies by regularly washing your curtains and drapes, vacuuming your carpet, and grooming and washing your dog.

What dog breeds get along with cats?

If you want to expand your furry family to include a cat, you may be wondering if certain breeds are friendlier towards their traditional enemy than others. Some dog breeds best known to get along with cats include:26

  • Beagles
  • Basset Hounds
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
  • Border Collies
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Poodles
  • Maltese
  • Pomeranians
  • Pugs.

Which dog breeds bark the least?

You won’t find a dog breed that doesn’t bark at all, but some are naturally quieter than their fellow canines, including:27

  • Shiba Inu breeds
  • Afghan Hounds
  • Collies
  • Whippets
  • Basenjis
  • Newfoundlands
  • Akitas
  • Chow Chows
  • Bernards
  • Greyhounds.

What dog breeds are banned in Australia?

Commonwealth customs legislation prohibits the importation of several specific dog breeds, including:28

  • American pit bull terrier
  • dogo Argentino
  • fila Brasileiro
  • pit bull terrier;
  • Japanese tosa
  • perro de presa Canario.

The states and territories may have different legislation on the ownership of these restricted breeds. For example, in NSW it is illegal to sell or give away these dogs and to receive one,29 and in Victoria, you can sell or otherwise transfer ownership of a dangerous dog provided you advise the new owner in writing that the dog is classified as dangerous.30

Should I insure my dog?

Getting pet insurance for your beloved dog is a great way to help protect against the potential financial burden if your dog has an accident or illness. If something were to go wrong – say your dog had an accident and injured their leg or ate something not meant for dogs and got sick – pet insurance can help cover some of the cost of vet bills, allowing you to focus on getting your furry friend back to health.

Pet insurance may also come in handy if your dog is a breed prone to health problems. However, it’s a good idea to insure your pet early in their life or before they show symptoms of these problems, as pre-existing conditions often aren’t covered by pet insurance. Check your Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) for full details.

Insure your dog today

You don’t have to spend hours crawling all over the internet looking at different pet insurance policies and weighing up each of them in your head; our pet insurance comparison service can do all that for you in just a few clicks or swipes!

All you need to do is enter a few details about yourself and your pet, and our comparison service will show you a range of pet insurance policies side-by-side, so you can easily review their details and features.

And it’s always free to use. Simples!


1Animal Medicines Australia – ‘Pet ownerships report (2022): A national survey of pets and people’. Accessed March 2023.
2Dogs Australia – National Animal Registration Analysis (2010-2021). Accessed March 2023.
3Dogs Australia – Labrador Retriever. Accessed March 2023.
4Dogs NSW – Breeds: Labrador Retriever. Accessed March 2023.
5Purina Australia – Labrador Retriever. Accessed March 2023.
6Australian National Kennel Council – Breeds: Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Accessed March 2023.
7Dogs NSW – Breeds: Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Accessed March 2023.
8Purina Australia – Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Accessed March 2023.
29Australian National Kennel Council – Breeds: German Shepherd Dog. Accessed March 2023.
10Dogs NSW – Breeds: German Shepherd Dog. Accessed March 2023.
11Purina Australia – German Shepherd Dog. Accessed March 2023.
12Australian National Kennel Council – Breeds: French Bulldog Breed Standard. Accessed March 2023.
13Purina Australia – French Bulldog. Accessed March 2023.
14Dogs NSW – Breeds: Golden Retriever. Accessed March 2023.
15Purina Australia – Golden Retriever. Accessed March 2023.
16Purina Australia – Border Collie. Accessed March 2023.
17Purina Australia – Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Accessed March 2023.
18Purina Australia – American Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Accessed March 2023.
19Dogs NSW – Breeds: American Staffordshire Terrier. Accessed March 2023.
20Australian National Kennel Council – Breeds: Rottweiler. Accessed March 2023.
21Purina Australia – Rottweiler. Accessed March 2023.
22Dogs NSW – Schnauzer (Miniature). Accessed March 2023.
23Purina Australia – Schnauzer Miniature. Accessed March 2023.
24Fetch by WebMD – ‘How Smart Is Your Dog?’ Accessed March 2023.
25The Spruce Pet – ‘26 Hypoallergenic Dog Breeds For Anyone With Allergies’. Accessed March 2023.
26The Spruce Pet – ‘10 Best Dog Breeds That Get Along With Cats’. Accessed March 2023.
27The Spruce Pet – ‘15 Best Quiet Dog Breeds That Bark Less’. Accessed March 2023.
28Australian Veterinary Association – Breed-specific legislation. Accessed March 2023.
29City of Sydney – Restricted breeds, menacing and dangerous dogs. Accessed March 2023.
30Victoria State Government – Domestic animal legislation and latest news: Domestic Animals Amendment (Puppy Farms and Pet Shops) Act 2017. Accessed May 2023

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