Living with a dog can significantly add to your happiness and reduce stress. Walking pups is a great way to keep fit and enjoy the outdoors. The loyalty and friendliness of dogs are unquestionable. However, not all breeds are friendly to your family members and other pets. Some breeds have unpredictable behaviors and slightly aggressive. In this guide, we highlight top 10 friendliest dog breeds under three size categories (small, medium, and large).
Features of Friendliest Dog Breeds
If you’re like many puppy parents, you don’t want a dog who snaps or growls whenever you meet someone you know and trust. We all love to adopt a friendlier, well-behaved dog who puts his best paw forward when greeting visitors.
Unfortunately, some dog breeds have some temperament issues that are genetically acquired and will take a lot of sweat and time to unlearn through training. So, the best point to start is to choose one of the most affectionate dog breeds we’ve reviewed here before embarking or training.
Next, you will need to dedicate your time and energy to socialize your pup earlier by getting them to interact with a variety of people and pets as this will make them less fearful when meeting strangers.
To ensure that you choose a good play partner, you should consider several factors. For starters, consider the following three factors when choosing a friendly dog breed:
This describes the dog’s personality. To live better with your dog, go for a pooch with an agreeable temperament. Calm dogs have the ability to develop and nature strong bonds and are great companions for everyone in the family, including kids.
Consider the size of the dog in relation to the energy level and temperament. You will find large dogs that are extremely docile, but excitable small dogs are available as well.
You should be wary of the lifestyle that you will give your dog. If the dog needs more exercise beyond average and you aren’t able to provide, the excess energy may lead to behavior problems.
Ultimately, always consult with the dog breeder before making a purchase. To narrow your selection, here are our top 10 friendliest dogs under each size category (small, medium, and large size):
top 10 Friendliest small Dog Breeds
As the saying goes, “good things come in small packages.” That’s right; if you’re looking for some of the most affable dog breeds, miniature and small breeds are a popular choice for people living in tiny spaces such as in condos or apartments. They also work great for first-time dog owners and young families.
But with so many different breeds available, it can be hard to work out the right breed for your household. Fortunately, these small dog breeds that weigh just under 20 pounds are extremely loving, but they still need a lot of care, attention, and exercise and attention. So, here are our top 10 friendliest small dog breeds:
The Papillon breed makes it both in the smallest and smartest dog lists. These toy spaniels are highly energetic and friendly to people and other pets, making them great family dogs.
There are three different kinds of Schnauzer, but the most common one is the standard Schnauzer that grows to around 18 inches tall and weighs up to 45 pounds. Schnauzers have loving and exciting personalities and are thought to mimic old grumpy men in personality and looks.
3: Maltese Shih Tzu
The original Maltese Shih Tzu is an adorable “white fluffy dog” that exhibits protective behaviors. This dog can live up to 20 years old, and they love to yap and chat. However, they still make some of the most affectionate dog breeds.
4: Jack Russell Terrier
The little Miss Independent Jack Russell is an active and smart breed that makes a perfect family hound. This type of terrier grows to around 14 inches tall and likes to be kept busy both mentally and physically.
Although tiny in size, Chihuahuas make up for it with great attitude and intelligence. These pint-sized pups also don’t need too much walking, making them great for people with limited time.
6: Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
If you’re looking for the most loving and loyal pup, look no further than the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. They are extremely affectionate lap dogs who will be happiest nestled on your side or the couch.
You’ll find it hard not to fall in love with a pug. Their adorable smile, short noses, and wrinkly skin are simply infectious. Pugs are extremely social breeds that don’t require a lot of exercise. They often feel happy leading a quiet lifestyle.
8: French Bulldog
The French Bulldog is one of the friendliest dogs you’ll come across. This adorable breed is a cross between Toy Bulldogs and Australian local ratters. Frenchies are extremely loving and enjoy to be cuddled constantly. However, they don’t require much exercise.
But, you should note that they don’t do well in warmer climates since they find it hard to regulate their body temperatures.
9: Mini Poodle
With all of the adorable traits of a standard Poodle (affection, intelligence, and hypoallergenic), a miniature poodle makes a perfect pet for young families and people staying in tiny homes or apartments. It is also common to find cross poodles with popular breeds like Golden Retrievers, Cavaliers, and Labradors.
The European Pomeranian is among the tiniest dogs in the world, weighing just about 2.8-6.8 pounds. However, their fluffy coat makes them appear a whole lot bigger than they actually are. These pups make some of the top friendliest dogs and are extremely playful.
Other Popular Friendly Small Breeds
Generally known as “Scotties,” Scottish Terriers are big dogs with short legs. They’re built very close to the ground and are generally poor runners. They enjoy a moderately calm lifestyle and are usually strong-willed and sometimes difficult to train if you don’t start early.
Yorkshire Terriers are extremely loyal and loving to their owners, and they quickly get along with visitors as well as kids. And if you’re looking for a friendly dog breed that is also hypoallergenic, these dogs can live happily and healthily with people with allergies.
Dachshunds or Sausage Dogs have a fun and bubbly personality, which is great for kiddies. They don’t need a lot of exercise but will constantly vie for your affection.
Top 10 friendliest medium Dog Breeds
If you love the idea of bringing home a midsized dog, this list features some of the most affectionate dogs commonly referred to as Goldilocks. They are neither too big nor too small – just the right size for a family pet!
For most families, midsize dogs are the best bet since small breeds can be tricky managing around kids, and large breeds are difficult to travel with. Additionally, small dogs can wiggle their way into dangerous spaces while large dogs consume a lot of food and shed more fur.
In terms of exercise, medium-sized dogs have better endurance than smaller dogs, making them great for owners looking for a workout buddy.
If you’re looking for the most genial dogs for a family in the midsize category, here are our top recommendations:
Apart from their distinctive haircut, Poodles are another smart and gentle dog breed. Poodles are available in miniature and standard sizes, meaning that you should choose a size that suits your living environment. They can live in harmony with people with pet allergies since they shed little fur.
Both sizes of the Poodle have varying perks. For instance, the standard sized Poodle is obedient, playful, adventurous, and smart. However, they are typically shy with strangers but get along with kids and familiar people easily. Miniatures, on the other hand, dedicate themselves to a specific person. They are also not very good with kids and other pets.
Regardless of the type, Poodle has keen instinctive behavior. They are also highly trainable and excel in obedience training. That aside, they perform well in dog sports, including flyball, dock diving, dog agility, field tracking, and Schutzhund. They can also follow owners on hiking trips. The only issue is that their coats require scheduled grooming.
2: Labrador Retriever
In general, the retriever breed of dogs is most popular for many reasons. When healthy, they are playful, loving, patient, protective, and very reliable. That aside, most people like them for their intelligence. They take up training very well and learn fast. Their love for exercise will keep your family or any other caregiver on tabs, be it in the dog swimming pool or while walking them.
Whether you choose the chocolate, yellow, or black variety, all Labradors share similar strength, stamina, and obedience. This is probably what makes them one of the most amiable dog breeds. The affable nature of Labrador Retriever makes them get along with other dogs and people with ease. Their short coat also means that they need less maintenance, which is weekly combing to keep them clean. However, you should observe other methods of taking care of the dog.
3: Wheaten Terriers
Wheaten terriers are among the friendliest dog breeds for families. They are extremely independent and quiet pups, but they can also do a great job at watching your house while you’re away. Overall, they are unique, affectionate, adorable, and charming pets.
4: Welsh Corgi
The Pembroke Welsh Corgi is an amazing small-to-medium-sized dog breed, a favorite of the Queen who has bred more than ten generations to date. Corgis grow up to around 12 inches and 30 pounds and make very affectionate companion dogs.
Overall, Corgis love to give their all and will succeed in whatever you want them to do, from therapy work to agility and scent work.
Like the Poodle, Collies are available in various breed types. The main types are the Border Collie and Bearded Collie. Collies are generally gentle and very predictable. They rarely misbehave and can be trained with ease. This makes them a perfect choice for families and people who are not familiar with dogs at all. Like the Newfoundland, Collies get along with children easily and love pleasing their owners.
Although they can be quite mild-mannered, Collies were initially bred as herding dogs. You will realize this once your dog tries herding your children. Due to their long hair, Collies require regular grooming to keep their coats in shape. Depending on the prevailing situations, this breed can be both gentle and stubborn. For better interaction, ensure that you get your dog some obedience training sessions.
The Bulldog is the go-to dog breed for its devoted, patient, and affectionate character towards kids. Bulldogs have a sturdy build that makes them suitable for kids who enjoy roughhouse. This breed’s docile, loyal, and friendly nature also makes them get along easily and well with other dogs and pets. The dog can comfortably live in large houses or small apartments.
Apart from living well with other pets, Bulldogs are very pleasant with external visitors, thus good for a busy and social family. Note that the Bulldog features a compressed jaw and will require extra care in teeth cleaning. Similarly, expect some snoring and drooling. However, their coat requires minimal care and is less susceptible to fleas infestation.
7: English Springer Spaniels
These loving dog breeds make great family dogs and enjoy playing with children. They are extremely intelligent, making training fun and easy even for new puppy owners. Spaniels are also playful and big enough to be able to get down for a fun game of chase or tug.
8: Australian Cattle
Australian Cattle may seem compact, but they’re extremely energetic, curious, intelligent, and good-natured dogs.
Beagle’s small size makes them very portable. Their calm temperament makes them good choices for families with kids who love outdoor activities. Beagles like exploring outdoors and take on trails lively. This is probably because they were originally bred as hunting dogs. Their sturdy build also means that they are never tired of playing games.
10: Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
This adorable breed is much smaller than most retrievers, but they are very loyal, loving, and hard-working, making them great family pets. They also enjoy playing and swimming, especially around family members.
Bonus friendliest medium Dog Breeds
Golden retrievers are smart, confident, and loyal dogs. Their temperament is probably the hallmark of the breed due to their character. Due to this, they make perfect family pets, especially since they can tolerate children. They are also calm and not one-man dogs – they can amicably relate with owners and strangers alike.
Their gentle disposition and easy trusting nature make Golden Retrievers poor guard dogs. These dogs consider any kind of hostility or aggression towards people, dogs, and other pets unacceptable. In general, they remain calm, biddable, and naturally intelligent with much eagerness to please.
Like other healthiest dog breeds, Golden Retrievers need a lot of exercises and play. Retrieving games, as their name suggests, are their favorite games. You should strive to teach your dog how to play retrieving games. Whereas this breed is adapted to living outdoors, they prefer being indoors with their owners. For proper care, consider brushing their golden coats at least twice weekly.
The Rottweiler is another powerful dog breed with fully developed genetic guarding and herding instincts. In most cases, the harmful behavior of Rottweiler often results from irresponsible parenting, including abuse, lack of socialization, and neglect. Their great strength is a serious risk factor that should not be neglected. To match their strength, Rottweilers should undergo formal training and extensive socialization.
Typical Rottweiler behavior includes genuine love for their owners and clownish behavior to other friends and family. They are very protective of their territory and don’t welcome strangers easily until properly introduced. Therefore, always be on the lookout as their aggressiveness can result in bites or bite attempts.
Popularly known for its red coat, the Irish Setter is an overly energetic, playful, and lovely dog around people. They also play well with children. The dogs love staying around people so much that loneliness can overwhelm them when neglected. They are also in their best behavior when surrounded by people they love. You should learn some simple ways to prevent the separation anxiety of the dog if you won’t be around your dog for some time.
To reduce their energy levels, Irish Setters need a lot of exercise. This makes them a good match for energetic kids. They are also smart and easily trainable companions, making them a good choice if you have a spacious backyard and lots of dog toys. Also, you won’t have to worry about your visitors as they are great at meeting new people and welcoming them into your home.
Wrongly branded as an aggressive breed, the Bull Terrier is a good companion dog that is friendly and loving towards kids and adults alike. Bull Terriers are well framed with a great threshold for pain, thus perfect for rambunctious children still learning how to properly treat these loving pets.
Bull Terriers often have little mischiefs, especially with small dogs and animals. Therefore, avoid unpleasant issues by keeping the dog mentally and physically active all times. They have a short and flat coat that is easy to care for.
Top 10 friendliest large Dog Breeds
If you fancy large and giant dog breeds, don’t be scared by their dominating stature. Some large dog breeds are gentle giants when interacting with their favorite human friends. So, here are our top 10 friendliest large dog breeds:
1: Great Dane
Also referred to as the “Apollo of Dogs,” Great Danes grow up to a height of 30-37 inches and weight of 105-170 pounds. These giant breeds have a commanding presence, but despite their massive size, they are gentle and playful. However, you need to start your training regimens as early as possible since Danes with a more spirited personality can be hard to control around small kids.
2: Bernese Mountain Dog
The Bernese Mountain Dog weighs about 85-120 pounds and heights of 23-28 inches. This breed has a thick, shiny coat that appears a bit wavy. Despite the large size, this versatile and gentle breed is nice with children, but can sometimes turn reserved and shy around strangers. They are also friendly and social with other pets but can experience separation anxiety when left alone for long.
The Newfoundland is another considerably intelligent dog breed in the world. Their love for children is unmatched and they’re very protective of them. This character probably explains their nickname, “Nature’s Babysitter.” They are gentle, patient, and kind, which makes them the “Mother Teresa” of dogs. Your family members and children alike will instantly fall in love with this dog breed.
Consider purchasing this dog if you have large open spaces in your backyard. Although they drool and shed excessively, you should not lock them outdoors in the backyard. However, they love staying indoors with people. Newfoundland breeds are great swimmers and known to save people in emergencies. When swimming with the dog, ensure that you follow the basic pool safety tips to ensure their safety.
Newfoundland dogs are easy to train and are task-oriented. So, you shouldn’t be afraid to provide them with much-needed stimulation.
4: St. Bernard
St. Benard is another large breed with heights of 25-28 inches and weight of 110-118 pounds. This true gentle giant has a calm and dignified demeanor, making it great for families with small kids. It has a muscular build with broad shoulders, and the coat is thick and endowed with brown and white fur. Adored for its loyalty, St. Bernard will strive to please the owner and can work several hours in cold climates.
With a height of 25-27 inches and a weight of 110-130 pounds, the Bullmastiff has an imposing appearance, but the giant dog is generally quiet and gentle. The breed can grow to be loyal and protective to its family and it’s good with kids.
6: Old English Sheepdog
The Old English Sheepdog is another giant breed that was bred in the 19th century to work on farms as a cattle dog. But don’t be fooled by its massive size (heights of 20-24 inches and weight of 60-110 pounds), the Old English thrives even in indoor environments as long as you allow them to take part in family activities. They are also great with kids. You will adore the shaggy appearance that gives them a comical expression.
7: Great Pyrenees
The Great Pyrenees weighs about 80-120 pounds and has a height of 25-32 inches. The elegant and powerful dog was originally bred to guard sheep in the Pyrenees Mountains in France. It often appears more heavily boned than it actually is due to its thick and weather-resistant coat.
Despite the size, this breed is generally well-behaved and calm. However, they will distinctively guard their family if they sense a threat.
8: Greater Swiss Mountain Dog
The Greater Swiss is a bold, easy-going, territorial breed that weighs 80-130 pounds and grows to a height of 23-29 inches. This large dog was bred to traverse steep terrains in the Swiss Alps, and that’s why it has a long, strong body and a short, dense coat for enhanced insulation. Though this adorable pup is a great working dog on farms, it is a gentle and sensitive family companion even if you have little children.
This Germany-originated dog was bred as a multipurpose working dog in farms since the 1800s. They are gentle, friendly pups with a mild-mannered temperament. Leonbergers weigh 70-120 pounds and have heights of 25-32 inches. They make great therapy dogs and companions for families with small children, but they require moderate exercise and regular grooming.
10: Irish Wolfhound
We couldn’t complete this list of friendliest large-size dogs without mentioning the noble Irish Wolfhound, which is actually one of the largest dog breeds in the world. Weighing 90-170 pounds and donning heights of 32-34 inches, this gentle giant has a sturdy hound with lots of energy.
However, the dog is very playful and naturally curious. Surprisingly, this giant breed thrives in indoor environments as well. Just ensure there’s enough room for the dog to lie down and stretch out. The Wolfhound is friendly with new people, kids, and other dogs and pets.
Precautions When Choosing Big Dog Breeds for Family
It’s important at this point to state that parents with small kids should take extra precautions when selecting big and giant breeds. Although many big dog breeds are exceptionally friendly and good with kids, their huge size and extreme weight means that they can accidentally harm kids, especially if they are not properly trained.
Imagine a 120-pound dog jumping on your little kid to say hi, or running between their legs during playtime!
On the flip side, your child may not have learned how to respect and interact with pets. Pulling or picking a dog’s ears, eyes or nose can easily trigger aggression!
So, it’s always a wise idea never to leave your small kid unattended with a large dog. You also need to teach your children the proper way to interact with pets.
Traits of Perfect Dog Breeds for Families with Kids
Most large family dogs exhibit friendly and gentle behaviors, making them great for families with kids. But to be sure of your ultimate choice, do some extra research on your preferred dog and ensure they portray the following traits:
- Appropriate energy levels
- Low Maintenance
The Bottom Line
Although your family will surely fall in love with any of these friendly dog breeds, you can also consider choosing a mixed breed. Mixed breeds provide the best traits of two different friendly breeds, resulting in even a better-mannered pooch. When choosing a dog, find a breed that is social to your family members, kids, visitors, as well as other pets. You should also consider how easy it is to maintain the dog. More importantly, consider a dog who can join you for various activities such as walking, running, hiking, or swimming.