A good breeder, Dannewitz said, will try to breed out some of the health concerns from their lines. But when irresponsible breeders get ahold of bulldogs, she said, they perpetuate problems like elongated palates, which cause breathing problems in a dog known as a brachycephalic breed for its shortened snout and smashed face.
Okas said the best thing a person can do after deciding to get a dog is research, research, research.
"Every breed's a little bit different," she said. It's important to pick a dog not based on looks but on which breed best matches the prospective owner's lifestyle.
Okas said the Obama family is the perfect example of responsible dog owners-to-be. They have researched their options as a family and are waiting for the right time. Of the Obamas' reported two top choices -- a labradoodle and a Portuguese water dog -- only the latter is a recognized AKC breed.
The Portuguese water dog has enjoyed a steady rise in popularity -- up 44 percent in the last decade to take the No. 64 spot this year. They are known to be active and athletic, according to the AKC's Web site, and they have a hypo-allergenic coat, which would help with 10-year-old Malia Obama's allergies.
And with the breed now in the running to become the newest Obama, "I feel it's going to be more popular," Okas said.
The AKC is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year. When the club started in 1884 there were nine registered breeds, none of which are in the current Top 10. The highest ranking breed from that first year is the Cocker Spaniel at No. 21.
The French bulldog had one of the biggest increases in the last decade, up 467 percent, which the AKC attributed to urban owners wanting apartment-sized dogs. Among lesser known breeds, the Ibizan hound, a member of the sight hound family, has seen a 74 percent increase in the past decade. It currently ranks 134 out of 161.
Breeds on the decline in the last decade include the Lhasa Apso, down 80 percent, and the Rottweiler, down 76 percent.