Everybody wants something different in a dog. But many potential pet owners wish for a loyal, devoted dog. Some dogs love anybody who crosses their path, or will profess their love for anyone who gives them a treat. Others form special bonds with their owners.
The most loyal dog breeds grow extremely devoted to their human families. And while they’re often happy to make new friends, it’s clear where their loyalty really lies.
Below, check out the most loyal dog breeds you can own.
- Little-known fact: The first Akita to arrive in the United States was a gift from the Japanese government to Helen Keller in 1937.
First on the list of the most loyal dog breeds is the Akita. The AKC characterizes Akitas as “profoundly loyal to their humans.” This working breed originated in Japan and has a “dignified and courageous” temperament. According to DogTime, the Akita makes an affectionate, respectful, and entertaining companion when socialized and trained properly. Plus, Animal Planet describes the Akita as “utterly devoted” to its family.
One famously loyal Akita, named Hachiko, became known as the world’s most loyal dog. He accompanied his owner to the train station each day. And when his owner died unexpectedly, Hachiko waited at the train station every day for 10 years, waiting for him to come home.
Next: This hunting dog comes in two sizes and was bred to grow attached to his pack.
- Little-known fact: Beagles come in two sizes, and both sizes can be born within a single litter.
The beagle has become beloved as a family dog. The AKC characterizes this energetic breed as “excellent hunting dogs and loyal companions.” And because they were originally bred to hunt in packs, beagles enjoy the company of people and other dogs.
VetStreet notes that a beagle will follow his nose wherever it leads him, even if you’re asking him to do otherwise. Nonetheless, these dogs become “very attached to their human ‘pack.'” In fact, Animal Planet reports that the beagle “needs companionship, whether human or canine.”
The breed’s amiable personality makes a beagle both a loyal dog and a successful pack hunter. The Nest promises that with minimal socialization, your beagle will bond strongly with you, learn to be gentle with children, and get along well with other dogs.
Next: These working group dogs have ‘legendary’ patience with children.
- Little-known fact: White boxers do not have albinism, and their color isn’t the result of a genetic mutation. For boxers, white is just another color; a quarter of boxer puppies are born white.
Next up on the list of the most loyal dog breeds? The boxer. The Spruce characterizes boxers as ” loyal, playful companions as well as excellent guard dogs.” And these fun-loving dogs enjoy getting plenty of exercise with their human families, according to the AKC. The group explains, “They are patient and spirited with children but also protective, making them a popular choice for families.”
VetStreet reports that a responsibly bred and well-trained boxer “truly bonds with his human family.” So, boxers make great family dogs. And despite their history of use in dog-fighting, The Spruce notes that boxers don’t naturally have aggressive tendencies. In fact, as DogTime reports, boxers have “legendary patience and gentleness with children.”
Next: This French dog breed has impressive hunting prowess but also a friendly personality.
- Little-known fact: Brittanies have a strong prey drive, but they can learn to live peacefully with cats if you train them from puppyhood.
According to the AKC, the Brittany is another loyal dog breed that loves exercise, especially alongside their favorite humans. Animal Planet characterizes the breed as “quick and curious.” These dogs love running, hunting, scouting, and playing. They have an independent streak, like any pointing breed, but are also very responsive to direction from their owners.
VetStreet reports, “Life with a Brittany is never dull.” This athletic and family-oriented dog will do just about anything active with you. He needs vigorous exercise daily and always wants to have mentally and physically challenging activities. You can take him hunting or get him to compete in canine sports such as agility, flyball, or obedience. He’ll also happily play fetch with your kids or grandkids and would love to go on a hike with you.
Next: This spunky breed loves humans. But when it comes to other dogs, he really only wants to hang out with his own breed.
- Little-known fact: When it comes to other dogs, the Chihuahua prefers companions of his own breed.
Most people know the Chihuahua as a tiny dog with a big personality, but this intelligent little pup also makes a loyal companion. Plus, the AKC reports that thanks to their enthusiasm, they usually don’t need extensive training.
PetWave characterizes the Chihuahua as the tiniest of all dog breeds, since they often weigh less than four pounds. Their personalities vary, but all “are fiercely loyal to the people they love and eat up as much attention as they can get.” Some Chihuahuas have gotten a reputation for being mean to strangers. That probably stems from the breed’s instinct to protect their owners.
Similarly, VetStreet notes that Chihuahuas can get yappy if you don’t teach them to moderate their barking. These dogs need gentle and consistent training. Nonetheless, they’re very intelligent and take particularly well to training with positive reinforcement.
Next: This little dog has been a companion to many celebrated artists.
- Little-known fact: Many famous people have owned dachshunds, including artists such as Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, and David Hockney.
Many people love the dachshund, which has long been known as one of the most loyal dog breeds — not to mention one of the most amusing! The AKC characterizes the dachshund as a “lively breed with a friendly personality and keen sense of smell.” The group also notes that the dachshund has such a high level of intelligence that he gets bored easily.
He loves spending time with his humans, too. In fact, Animal Planet reports that the dachshund “is independent but will join in its family’s activities whenever given a chance.” Plus, VetStreet notes that those who know a dachshund “appreciate his character, intelligence, hunting spirit, and absolute devotion to his people.”
Next: Contrary to his sinister reputation, this loyal dog loves children and other pets if raised with them.
7. Doberman pinscher
- Little-known fact: Despite widespread stereotypes, a Doberman raised in the same household as children or other pets will love them, protect them, and enjoy spending time with them.
According to the AKC, the responsibly bred and properly trained Doberman pinscher “has proved itself to be a friend and guardian.” These intelligent dogs are highly trainable, which is why they often play a role in police and military forces. But it’s not all work for these loyal dogs; they also love spending time with their families, particularly doing anything active.
Animal Planet characterizes the Doberman as “a loyal and adventurous companion.” Plus, VetStreet notes that Doberman fans consider them one of the most loyal dog breeds of all. “And no, ‘loyal’ isn’t a euphemism for ‘only likes his owner,'” the publication explains. “It’s the real thing, a tremendous bond between dog and human that lies at the heart of the Doberman’s enduring popularity.”
Next: This dog became one of the most easily recognized breeds thanks to the world’s first canine movie star.
8. German shepherd
- Little-known fact: Rin Tin Tin, a German shepherd found in a World War I battle zone, became the world’s first canine movie star.
The AKC calls the German shepherd “a true dog lover’s dog.” This powerful breed has gained a reputation for incredible intelligence and a noble temperament. VetStreet notes that German shepherds won’t settle for life as couch potatoes. Instead, they need plenty of physical exercise and mental challenges each day.
German shepherds excel at just about any job, whether as police or military dogs, guide dogs, search and rescue workers, or even as canine athletes. However, these dogs also love children and make great family dogs with early socialization and training. According to DogTime, German shepherds make faithful companions. They may not make friends immediately. But when they do, they become extremely loyal.
Next: General Lafayette brought the first pair of these mountain dogs to the U.S.
9. Great Pyrenees
- Little-known fact: General Lafayette brought the first pair of Great Pyrenees dogs to the United States in 1824.
If you want a strong and beautiful mountain dog, you can’t go wrong with a Great Pyrenees. The AKC characterizes this loyal dog breed as “Calm, patient, smart; strong-willed yet affectionate.” According to DogTime, Great Pyrenees want to “give, give, and give unconditional love.”
These dogs need a firm leader, especially because they can grow to 100 pounds or more as adults. Training takes consistency, patience, and positive reinforcement. But a properly trained Great Pyrenees will quickly become “courageous and devoted to his family, protecting those he loves with his life if needed.” These dogs love children, and can also get along well with dogs of other breeds if you socialize them early.
Next: These tall dogs are known to gallop — a little like horses!
10. Irish wolfhound
- Little-known fact: The Irish wolfhound was bred to chase and still enjoys having a fenced area to gallop and play.
The Irish wolfhound is the tallest of AKC breeds — but also one of the most loyal dog breeds. According to the AKC, Irish wolfhounds often have mellow and docile personalities. They’re athletic but don’t need quite as much exercise as some more active breeds.
PetWave characterizes these dogs as “reliable and loyal family companions.” The publication also reports that an Irish wolfhound “bonds deeply with his people and wants to be included in all aspects of family life.” Though they’re often too big to safely play with small children, they are very patient with them.
And here’s something important to note: Many people have a difficult time training an Irish wolfhound. They act like puppies until about two years of age and need firm and consistent training to learn the rules.
Next: These large dogs played a part in the history of the kingdoms and empires that flourished in Europe five to eight centuries ago.
- Little-known fact: The plural of kuvasz is “kuvaszok.”
Many people have never met a kuvasz. But if you want to find one of the most loyal dog breeds, you might want to pay attention! According to the AKC, this large working dog is “intensely loyal, protective, [and] utterly fearless.” The AKC also characterizes these dogs as sweet and patient with their families, while still more spirited and energetic than most dogs of a similar size.
These dogs are hardwired to protect their humans, so they need to learn early what’s a threat and what’s just unusual. Nonetheless, the AKC notes that kuvaszok are gentle and sensitive and expect the same from their humans, so harsh training won’t work. DogTime adds that this dog’s “almost fanatical loyalty makes him very protective.” Thus, he’ll be polite to your guests, but nothing more.
Next: One of the most famous canines in Hollywood came from this working breed — and earned twice as much as his human costar!
12. Rough collie
- Little-known fact: Most people know that the rough collie had a starring role in the 1943 hit Lassie Come Home. But few people know the canine star’s name: Pal. Pal was originally rejected for the role because of his gender. But he impressed producers so much that they changed their minds — and paid him twice as much as costar Elizabeth Taylor.
The rough or long-haired collie, also known simply as a collie, has gained a reputation as a devoted and loyal companion. According to the AKC, collies have become “legendary for their herding and protecting abilities.” Collies make enthusiastic working dogs but also love relaxing at home with their families.
According to DogTime, collie owners appreciate their dogs’ sensitivity, intelligence, “undying loyalty,” and ability to foresee their owners’ needs. They are good-natured and friendly, though sometimes suspicious of strangers. Collies also make excellent companions for children. And like their famous counterpart Lassie, collies often come to the rescue of people and other animals. They are good-natured and friendly, though sometimes suspicious of strangers. Collies also make excellent companions for children.
Next: This loyal dog breed originally helped find and save lost travelers in the Swiss Alps.
13. St. Bernard
- Little-known fact: The St. Bernard rescued travelers stranded in the Swiss Alps, but he never actually wore a brandy keg around his neck.
Anyone looking for a loyal dog can’t go wrong with a St. Bernard! As the AKC reports, these giant dogs number among “the world’s most famous and beloved breeds.” These imposing dogs are friendly and patient. They’ve also become known as wonderful “nanny dogs” for children. With early obedience training and daily exercise, St. Bernards make great family pets.
VetStreet recommends that anyone who wants a St. Bernard really do their research. Even with good breeding, they can have health or temperament issues. “If you want the calm, protective dog of legend,” the publication advises, “be prepared to do a lot of homework to find him and put in plenty of effort training and socializing him once you bring him home.”
Next: This Scottish dog breed became a fad among the Victorian aristocracy in the United Kingdom.
14. Skye terrier
- Little-known fact: Many people have heard the story of the famously loyal Skye terrier, Greyfriars Bobby. It turns out that the story isn’t exactly true — but Skye terriers still number among the most loyal dog breeds.
The Skye terrier, though a rare breed, should make any list of the most loyal dog breeds. The AKC characterizes Skye terriers as “famously loyal and devoted,” plus simultaneously plucky but dignified and calm but stubborn. Skye terriers enjoy long walks and vigorous play, but they require ongoing socialization to ensure a happy and outgoing — not bossy — personality.
VetStreet reports that this tenacious terrier has a reputation for barking and digging. He prefers adults to children and can pose some challenges during training. “But do right by your Skye and he’ll give you love and loyalty with the same tenacity he went after vermin in his ancestral Scottish homeland,” promises VetStreet.
Next: This little dog breed first belonged to the European working class, then became companions to high society families.
15. Yorkshire terrier
- Little-known fact: In the English county for which they’re named, Yorkshire terriers originally caught rats in clothing mills. They eventually got adopted as companions for high society families throughout Europe in the late Victorian era.
Another terrier that numbers among the most loyal dog breeds, the Yorkshire terrier is a little dog with a big personality. The AKC characterizes Yorkies as “brave, determined, investigative, and energetic.” These affectionate little dogs make loving companions whether you live in a tiny apartment or a sprawling house.
DogTime reports that Yorkshire terriers are “always on the lookout for adventure and maybe even a bit of trouble.” Despite their penchant for mischief, they want lots of attention from their owners. They don’t like to be left alone for long periods of time, but they do generally get along with the other dogs (and cats) in a household. A Yorkshire terrier will also display an “undying loyalty to his people.”
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