My dog Kyra is the friendliest dog in the world. She doesn’t have an aggressive bone in her body, and she greets every person and dog she meets with a tail wag and a slobbery kiss.
My dog Kyra, the friendliest dog in the world.
No dog lover needs to be told that dogs are naturally friendly. While some breeds are more known for their friendly temperament, and friendliness definitely varies between individual dogs, dogs have earned their position as our companions largely through their innate friendliness.
If you’re looking for a new canine companion, you may be wondering which dog breeds are the friendliest. Read on to learn what makes dogs so friendly, and find out which dog breeds are the most friendly.
Why Are Dogs So Friendly In General?
Although we all know an unfriendly dog or two, dogs in general are known for their friendliness. This video of a dog trying to play fetch with a statue is a great example of the natural affability and innate friendliness of dogs:
Scientists are starting to understand that this could actually be genetic, the result of a “hypersocial” gene in dogs that helped them to evolve alongside humans. Think of it as “survival of the friendliest”.
Although they share many traits with their wolf ancestors, dogs are more friendly by nature.
One study compared the behaviour of 10 dogs with 10 human-raised wolf pups. While both groups would greet and interact with humans, the dogs continued to interact for much longer, even with strangers, proving that dogs are somehow predisposed to be friendly.
There are many types of friendliness in dogs. Some dogs are great with people, but not with other dogs; some are nervous around children but don’t mind adults. What makes for a dog-friendly, kid-friendly or people-friendly dog? And, is there anything we can do to make our dogs more friendly in different situations?
Dog-friendly dogs are comfortable around other dogs and don’t mind meeting new dogs. They don’t exhibit aggressive, territorial or protective behaviour when other dogs are around. Equally important, they are not overly submissive or nervous around other dogs. Dog-friendly dogs know how to assess a new dog and can figure out how to play and interact with most other dogs.
Some breeds are naturally better at getting along with other dogs.
Certain breeds, like Basset Hounds and Labradoodles, are well-known for being dog-friendly dogs. Their calm nature puts other dogs at ease, and their intelligence makes them very trainable.
There are things you can do to help your dog develop dog-friendliness. Introduce your dog to other dogs from a young age, starting with the dogs of your family and friends, and working your way up to meeting strange dogs.
Stage these introductions at a variety of different locations – doing it at home may set them at ease, or it may make them more territorial. It’s important to expose your dog to a lot of different situations to get them comfortable.
People-friendly dogs are comfortable meeting new people, and are not aggressive or overly protective of you and your family. It’s also important that they are not too friendly and can remain calm when interacting with people.
Some breeds are notoriously people-friendly, like Boston Terriers and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. Their intelligence and temperament make them highly trainable, increasing your chances of successfully socializing together. Their size also makes them less intimidating to people who may be nervous around dogs.
Training is essential for raising a people-friendly dog. Just like with dog-friendly dogs, introductions should start early and take place at a variety of locations. At home, practice people knocking on your door and entering your house so that your dog will stay calm in these moments. It’s also important to focus on general obedience training so that your dog will look to you for direction when encountering new people.
Not all people-friendly dogs are automatically great with children. Kids are loud and unpredictable, and this can be a lot for even the most patient dogs to handle.
Children can be loud and unpredictable, but many dog breeds have the energy and temperament to keep up with the busiest kids.
Golden Retrievers and Boxers make great companions for families with kids because of their gentle nature, high energy and their tendency to be loyal and even protective.
Along with all the same training that a people-friendly dog needs, special attention is needed if your dog will interact with children, even if you don’t have children in your home. Always supervise your dog around children, manage introductions to get your dog used to kids. It’s also essential to teach children how to interact with dogs, and never let children hit, pull or climb on your dog. Provide your dog with a quiet place to take a break when the kids get to be too much, and make sure they get a break when they need it.
While some breeds are generally more friendly than others, an individual dog’s temperament, environment and training will be the defining factors in their friendliness. Even the friendliest breed can be pushed into aggressive, unfriendly behaviour with poor treatment or neglect. And, even so-called “unfriendly” breeds can be trained to be good with dogs and people with proper training.
Unfriendly dogs typically exhibit aggressive body language, like showing their teeth, growling or snarling, so learning to read dog body language can help you both identify unfriendly dogs, and read your own dog’s feelings as they interact with other dogs and people.
The Top 9 Friendliest Dog Breeds
Beagles are known as hardworking hunting dogs, but they are also one of the friendliest dog breeds. When they aren’t on the hunt, they are outgoing, loyal and eager to please.
Poodles are one of the most intelligent dog breeds, making them highly trainable and obedient. They are also known for being goofy and are eager to please their families.
3. Labrador Retriever
Labs are a favourite family dog, and for good reason. They are even-tempered, companionable and fierce loyal, making them great dogs for families with kids.
Boxers are outgoing and patient dogs that get along great with children. They are high-energy, meaning they need good training, but they are highly loyal and protective of their families.
5. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are a sweet and gentle breed that gets along with everyone. Their calm temperament and medium size make them great dogs for apartment-dwellers.
6. Irish Setter
Irish Setters have the energy and goofiness to keep up with busy kids, and make great dogs for busy families.
For a small dog, Corgis have big personality. Their bold and outgoing nature makes them great family dogs, and they are excellent with kids.
8. Staffordshire Bull Terrier
This one might surprise you, since they look so tough, but Staffies are actually big softies. These affectionate dogs are sometimes called the “Nanny Dog” since they are so good with kids.
9. Boston Terrier
Intelligent Boston Terriers are friendly, highly trainable and love to go everywhere with their family, making them a great companion dog for a busy family.
Bonus: Adopt a Mutt!
While all of the breeds above are known to be some of the friendly dog breeds out there, we know that training and environment are the biggest factors in how friendly a dog will be. By adopting a shelter dog, you’re not only gaining a companion with traits from a variety of breeds, but you’re also saving a life. With proper training and socialization, your adopted dog can develop a friendly, outgoing attitude.
The Friendliest Dog Breeds
Dogs are innately friendly, but with a little work and some good training, any dog can become a friendly, outgoing companion.
Dogs are known for being friendly in general, and scientists are starting to discover that this might actually be an innate, genetic trait.
Some breeds are more known for their friendliness than others, but training, treatment and environment are the pivotal factors in a dog’s friendliness. Some dogs are dog-friendly, but don’t always trust new people; some love adults but are nervous around kids.
Proper training can help any dog become more friendly, but some breeds, like X, X and X, are known for being naturally friendly. Of course, adopting a shelter dog can be a rewarding experience, and you’re saving a life in the process.
Jen Jones is a professional dog trainer and behavior specialist with more than 25 years of experience. As the founder of ‘Your Dog Advisor’ and the ‘Canine Connection’ rehabilitation center, she applies a holistic, empathetic approach, aiming to address root causes rather than merely treating symptoms.
Well known for her intuitive and compassionate approach, Jen adopts scientifically-proven, reward-based methods, encouraging positive reinforcement over punishment. Jen specializes in obedience training, behavior modification, and puppy socialization. Her innovative methods, particularly in addressing anxiety and aggression issues, have been widely recognized. Jen has worked with many of the world’s leading dog behaviorists and in her free time volunteers with local animal shelters and rescue groups.