The Most Friendly Dogs: Picking A Buddy that Is Just As Friendly As You Are

most friendly dogs
John Walton
Written by John Walton

Picking a dog is not an easy thing to do at all, and most of the time people tend to downright demand certain traits and characteristics upfront, completely bypassing the dog-master bonding experience and at the same time avoiding putting in the actual work needed in order to ensure that the dog’s upbringing and education will shape and mold him or her to be the best that he or she can be.

Naturally, friendliness is the most sought after trait, and it is easy to see why. A friendly dog is the polar opposite of a dangerous one, and it can be a great asset to the family. However, the friendliest dogs tend to not come as friendly by default. In fact, the decisive factor in whether or not your dog will be friendly is actually the dog’s upbringing and training. If the dog is comfortable with other humans and other dogs, he or she will naturally be a lot friendlier than a dog that is not as comfortable.

There is no such thing as a “bad dog”, especially not by default. True there are some breeds that can be a bit more aggressive than others, some can be a bit more protective than others, and some can be downright mischievous and clownish. Even the most hardened of pit bulls can make for loyal, friendly and playful pets.

Pitbulls are nice infographic

There are, however, certain breeds that are friendly by nature, the breeds that are not only pleasant to look at, but are also very approachable, curious and happy to be around people. The kind of dogs that would rather lick you to death than actually try to bite you.

That being said, let’s look at some of the most friendly dog breeds out there.

The St. Bernard

Nicknamed “The Gentle Giant”, this dog might look overpowering, too big for your own good, and from certain angles like a bear, however it is not what it looks like. These dogs are actually some of the most protective, gentle and friendly dogs out there, despite their enormous size.

They originated in Denmark, however they became famous in Switzerland where they were trained to carry a small keg containing a potent alcoholic beverage and seek out avalanche victims. The St. Bernard would dig in the snow around the victim and proceed to pull the victim out, warm them up a bit, let them drink from the little keg and then run off to find help.

The St. Bernard

Certain cases have been reported where St. Bernards would dig up small children from under the snow and proceed to carry them to the nearest town or cabin.

This dog is by far one of the best family dogs out there. It loves children, it can easily get along with other pets, including cats, and it can also be the best watch dog that you have ever had.

A St. Bernard is also a relatively intelligent dog, being able to spot danger and save a family member in the blink of an eye. There are just a couple of problems that people usually encounter when owning a St. Bernard.

  1. This is a really big dog, also a very strong one, and life in an apartment is not exactly the best for this kind of dog.
  2. The coat is a thick one, and this dog sheds a lot, plus the fact that this dog is not hypoallergenic does not exactly help its case.
  3. A St. Bernard is a loving and protective dog however it is also quite clownish and mischievous. The dog might prove a bit difficult to train due to the fact that he or she will learn the commands but will have his or her fun by pretending not to and watch you get frustrated over it.

The Border Collie

This dog breed is a rather strange one. Collies in general are medium sized dogs, some of them even small sized dogs, however they all excel at one thing, herding.

That’s right, these dogs are herders, they were bred and raised to do so over a few good generations, however due to heavy industrialization and the need for actual herding dogs dropping with every passing year, the vast majority of collies are now house pets.

The Border Collie is a special kind of house pet. This dog is devoted, and without any exaggeration, this dog will spend his or her entire life for the family that raises him or her.

The Border Collie

Very friendly and playful with kids, often acting like one just for the sheer pleasure of doing so. It is easily trainable, will not pose problems because the Border Collie is the kind of dog that likes to please.

There is an argument that keeps appearing when discussing the adaptability and the will power of the Border Collie, because it possesses the intelligence of a 6 year old child, making this dog a very curious and often times annoyingly active one.

It is recommended that the Border Collies get a lot physical activity and a lot of exercise in order to mellow them down a bit, however even with their childish personalities they are still interested in training and are eager to learn things.

As with everything, this particular breed has its own set of downsides. It is easy to consider the Border Collie as being one of the most friendly dog breeds out there, however there are some things that simply cannot be overlooked.

  1. Due to the childish nature of a Border Collie, they tend to not get along so well with other dogs.
  2. They are especially terrible with cats, mostly because they end up harassing the poor things as a result of their ambition to play with them.
  3. They tend to get in a lot of trouble and end up in quite a few precarious situations because of their curious nature.

The Bulldog

Why a Bulldog of all things? Simple, first of all they are not exactly full of energy, and they are quite strong and sturdy animals, making them more likely to simply sit there and put up with even the most annoying of kids rather than do something about it.

The Bulldog is not just a passive breed, the Bulldog is widely known for the clownish antics and the willingness to act like a pig just for the sheer amusement of everyone around the dog.

They are great with kids, often getting attached to them and putting up with even the most annoying of antics just so that they can experience the love and attention that kids give them.

The Bulldog

They are not particularly choosy when it comes to the environment that they live in. They have no problems living in a small apartment and they don’t require a lot of exercise either.

A bulldog puts up with a lot of things, especially other pets. It manages to get along quite well with cats, and generally displays a playful attitude in regards to other dogs.

To top it all off, they make for great watch dogs, being particularly aggressive and dangerous towards an unwanted intruder.

Even though the Bulldog is classified as being one of the most friendly dog breeds out there, there are still a couple of downsides that should be kept in mind.

  1. This dog might not be a big dog, but it has the strength of a big dog. These dogs were initially developed and bred in order to take down bulls, hence the name “Bulldog”.
  2. They are quite stubborn. They have very strong wills and will generally refuse to do something that he or she does not want to do. Combine that with a very powerful body and you have yourself a very annoying cocktail.
  3. They are very hard to train doe to their stubbornness and their ability to overpower people quite easily.
  4. They have the smallest life expectancy and they are prone to a whole slew of health issues.

The German Shepherd

Wait minute, a dog that fights side by side with humans in the special forces, takes on high risk law enforcement tasks, leaps into burning buildings to find and save people and generally does what no other dogs are able to do, can also be classed as one of the most friendly dog breeds out there?

Yes, quite easily as well. It is true that the German Shepherd has proven to be a heroic, fearless and all around badass of the dog world, it is also one of the best pet dogs that a family would ever have.

First of all, this dog loves kids, and will put up with literally anything in order to spend time with them. You can easily find videos of German Shepherds being ridden like ponies by small children, being annoyed and harassed by them, even have things thrown at them, and still putting up with it and playing with the kids.

The German Shepherd

The reason for that is the fact that German Shepherds are kids at heart, and even the retired Special Forces combat dogs, dogs that have been through hell and back, are sent to loving families where they live the rest of their lives as a loving and protecting house pet.

This dog is also a very protective one, and will not hesitate to defend you or your kids if trouble arises. They are also excellent watch dogs, and are labeled as being a criminal’s worst nightmare.

They are very intelligent and quite adaptable, being able to not only perfectly size you up and determine what kind of person you are, but also interpret your behavior and act accordingly.

This dog has a pack mentality, being closely related to wolves, making it very good with other dogs, however the vast majority of times a German Shepherd will rise as the alpha dog and take over the pack.

It does not do so well with cats because they are very inquisitive, and seeing the small and agile cats running around the place makes them want to play with them, this frightening the poor cats.

The German Shepherd might be the superstar of this category, however there are a couple of downsides that plague this breed.

  1. This is one very stubborn dog. Because of the high level of intelligence, combined with a love for mischief, this dog will prank you, annoy you and downright make fun of you just to get its kicks.
  2. This dog is excessively protective, and will take a bullet for you and your kids without hesitating, however if this dog detects a threat, it generally does not wait for the threat to manifest.
  3. This dog does not do well in a small apartment and he or she requires a lot of daily exercise.

The Beagle

This one if by far one of the strangest entries in our list, however it is a part of the friendliest dog breeds for a very good reason.

First off, the Beagle is a hunting dog; capable of picking up a scent from considerable distances, and will pursue the target relentlessly until finding it. This is not quite the thing that makes it a great family pet, but the fact that a Beagle loves being the center of attention. It is very good with kids, often playing with them for hours on end and enjoying every single minute of it.

Another thing to note here is the fact that Beagles like meeting new people and new dogs as well. They are generally curious and quite intelligent. Out of all the dog breeds out there, Beagles are among the fastest to get attached to their owners and their families.

The Beagle dog

They tend not to bite unless absolutely necessary, they love playing with people and generally fooling around, they can be kept in a small apartment if needed, and they enjoy frolicking around and running outside quite a lot.

They are not pretentious dogs, however you will need a lot of patience to own a Beagle because they have a unique quality that makes them notorious.

Let’s look at the disadvantages that the Beagle brings to the table.

  1. Beagles are widely known as being the most stubborn and the hardest to train breed of dog that has ever walked the earth. Beagles are smart, and they have very strong wills. That being said, they never hesitate in using their will power, so expect a quite the battle when trying to convince your Beagle to do something.
  2. Beagles tend to be hyperactive from time to time, and a beagle running around the house frantically is something normal. For this reason they are not so good with cats. They will tend to chase them around endlessly and go on playing with them until they cannot stand on their feet.
  3. The Beagle tends to be a very pretentious dog when it comes to food. It’s not exactly about the quality or quantity of food, but rather what the dog wants and likes to eat. And if you combine that with the stubbornness of a Beagle, you might have your work cut out for yourself.

Can any dog be friendly?

Yes, even breeds that are catalogued as being dangerous often have a very soft and playful side around their family. Truth be told, there is no such thing as a bad dog. They are just like us, and they act more or less just like we do.

Dogs that have lived a hard life, that have been subjected to constant stress, dogs that come from abusive backgrounds, they will be a bit aggressive at first, they will be shy and even fearful to a certain extent.

However even the hardest of dogs can be rehabilitated, and there are a lot of success stories where dogs were rescued from underground dog fighting circuits and have been reintroduced in society.

Greeting dogs

It’s all in the dog’s training and how people treat the dog. If people treat a dog with fear, if they disregard and neglect the dog, if they hurt the dog or abuse him or her, then that dog will not be as friendly as he or she should.

On the other hand, if the dog is introduced into a loving family, regardless of age and background, if the dog receives the training that he or she needs and if the family show affection towards the dog, then the dog will slowly begin to regain his or her faith in humanity and consequently he or she will start acting more friendly.

Don’t be afraid of adopting dogs from the pound, or rescuing dogs that are in desperate situations. Every single dog out there has the capability and the desire to be loved and to love in return.

All you need to do is be willing enough and patient enough to put the dog through the training that he or she needs and to make sure to provide a good home for the dog. The dog will provide the rest.

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.