Jan. 21, 2009— -- In the world of wagging tails, the Labrador retriever wins the popularity contest, paws down.
For the 18th straight year, the bubbly dog topped the list of most popular breeds in the country, according to an annual list of 161 dog breeds put out by the American Kennel Club.
"They are probably one of the most versatile breeds," AKC spokeswoman Daisy Okas told ABCNews.com.
Labs, which come in black, chocolate and yellow varieties, are commonly seen working alongside military or emergency personnel, visiting children and the elderly as therapy dogs or simply lounging in front of the fireplace with the family.
"You meet a Lab, they're going to be wagging their tail," Okas said.
It was the breed's personality that drew retired veterinarian Robin Kelly to Labs. She currently owns two lab mixes and volunteers with the San Francisco-based Golden Gate Labrador Retriever Rescue, Inc., which placed about 350 dogs last year.
Kelly, who lives in Lake Tahoe, Calif., said her area has been hard-hit by foreclosures, which often result in owners giving up family dogs for financial reasons. The Labrador retriever's popularity means "we have no trouble getting our dogs placed," she said.
"They blend into families very well."
The AKC's Top 10 list is compiled using the club's registration numbers. The No. 2 dog on the list, the Yorkshire terrier, had 41,914 registrations, a distant second to the Labrador retriever's 100,736 registrations.
Okas -- who owns a beagle, the No. 5 dog -- said the breed with the fewest registrations this year is the American foxhound, a breed championed by President George Washington. It registered with a measly 117 dogs.