Americans love their Labrador retrievers.

The American Kennel Club says the Labrador retriever is the most popular dog in U.S. for the 21st straight year, according to its Top 10 list for 2011.

Top dogs

1. Labrador retriever.

2. German shepherd.

3. Beagle.

4. Golden retriever.

5. Yorshire terrier.

6. Bulldog.

7. Boxer.

8. Poodle.

9. Dachshund.

10. Rottweiler.

Labs have a well-earned reputation for playfulness and loyalty, and its use as a police search and rescue dog, a news release from the AKC said.

The German shepherd has steadfastly held onto its number two spot.

The beagle nosed into third place, overtaking the Yorkshire terrier, which wound up in fifth place.

"While the Labrador retriever has proven once again to be a family favourite, this year clearly belongs to the beagle," said AKC spokesperson Lisa Peterson. "The Beagle's merry personality combined with his love of outdoor activities make him such a wonderful family pet that I wouldn't be surprised to see this spunky breed sniff his way to the top of the list next year."

The golden retriever moved up from fifth to fourth place, while the bulldog placed sixth, the boxer seventh, the poodle eighth and the dachshund ninth.

The Rottweiler made it into the Top 10, unseating the Shih Tzu which had been in the Top 10 since 2000.