What makes a dog loyal?
We like to think it's a breed that's shown acts of heroism and bravery in the face of danger to protect loved ones. Perhaps it's their protective nature that makes an exemplary guardian for your family. Or, maybe it's just the way they look at you and follow you around the house making sure you're okay, acting as a therapist and friend when you need it.
In any case, we've listed the top dogs that check all these boxes on a regular basis. We sorted them into 3 simple categories - big, medium, and small, so you can find the right sized companion for you.
Most Loyal Big Dogs
Boxers are the class clowns in the dog world, and have no shortage of energy and playfulness (which often leads to mischief). They love nothing more than to play with loved ones, kids, and other animals.
You'll find they're a natural protector and very alert to their surroundings, always inspecting to make sure the area is safe. Training Boxers may be difficult, but they're especially sensitive to scolding, and need instructions to be light hearted and fun.
2. Doberman Pinscher
Looks can be deceiving with the gentle hearted Doberman. Bred for the specific duty of guarding, military, and police work, we humans have also been trained to see these dogs as threatening. But if you look through that tough-guy exterior you might find a gentle and compassionate companion. The Doberman is truly a fearless family guardian, but treats loved ones with kindness and cuddles.
3. German Shepherd
This should come as no surprise as the German Shepherd is famously portrayed as a guardian, protector, and working breed. Also one of the most popular breeds in North America, you'll often find them on the job in military service, police duty, or human assistance. It's because of their desire to work and brilliant mind that make them so adaptable, and their acts of heroism are well known among us humans.
4. Giant Schnauzer
The Giant Schnauzer was bred to herd and guard, but also to be an intelligent companion. They are a working dog, and as such, they need a job or daily activities to keep them content.
Like all Schnauzers, they have a big heart, and want to share that affection with their owners all day. They are experts at making you smile, and love nothing more than playing and exploring. They are also keen to please and are very receptive to training.
5. Golden Retriever
Golden Retrievers are ready to be your new best friend from the instant you meet. It's easy to fall in love with these dogs. Their humor, personality, and joy for adventure are absolutely contagious.
Golden's are incredibly intelligent and gentle, and are highly attuned to our emotions, so it's no wonder they're often used in service and human therapy, treating everything from PTSD to comforting children in stressful environments. Golden Retrievers are heroic in their ability to uplift us in our darkest moments.
6. Great Pyrenees
The word "Great" doesn't come lightly with a Great Pyrenees. Not only are they physically strong and majestic, but they carry huge hearts and a desire to protect the ones they love. Pyrenees were once used in mountains to guard sheep, so they can often be very stubborn and independent (as is their nature). However, they're also known for their calm demeanor and devotion to family.
7. Irish Wolfhound
Loyal, gentle, and caring, the Irish Wolfhound is a lovable shaggy dog who gets along with everybody. They're quite flexible to your lifestyle as well; while going for walks is great, they're okay with just hanging out on the couch for the day.
The greatest obstacles to owning this breed is their sheer size (typically weighing 150+ pounds), and their short lifespan. Irish Wolfhounds are called "heart break" breeds, simply because their time here is short, and generally don't live past 8 years.
8. Labrador Retriever
Lab's are ready to be your best friend for life the second you meet them, their friendliness and silly attitude runs deep into their soul. But these are also a working breed, often used for hunting, rescue missions, and even emotional therapy. Being so intelligent and emotionally attuned; It's no wonder these multi-talented dogs are so compatible with our lives. Even with their friendly reputation, Labrador's are very high energy and need a lot of daily training and exercise to flourish.
9. Newfoundland Dog
"Newfies" are very big dogs with very big hearts, what you're getting is essentially 150+ pounds of love. They're known to be incredibly patient and intelligent, making them perfectly suited for a family. But even with all that love they're still alert to danger and can respond to a situation quickly. In fact, they are commonly used for search and rescue missions, and there are countess tales of Newfies saving humans and other animals in the face of danger.
It's no surprise that the bold and strong Rottweiler has made this list, they're a popular guard dog often used in police and military force, and to guard family homes. But looks can be deceiving, and you might find the Rottweiler is a fun loving and often goofy character. They love hanging out with their owners and always up for a good time, but may be suspicious of strangers.
They have undying love for their family, and therefore take guard duty that much more seriously. Their strength and power can be used to protect, but can also be a dangerous weapon if not trained properly.
11. Rough Collie
Just like you'd expect from Lassie, Rough Collie's are loyal, intelligent, and always on the lookout for potential danger. They're protective, but not aggressive, making them a great family watch dog.
Despite their guarding duty, Rough Collies are quite emotionally sensitive and sometimes shy. You'll quickly find they're attuned to your emotions, and respond according to how you're feeling, which makes them especially good therapy dogs. It goes without saying, Rough Collies win the award for most family friendly dog.
Most Loyal Medium Dogs
1. Australian Shepherd
Austraillian Shepherd's are quite literally party animals, their energy levels are off the charts and they're always up for a good time. As the name would imply, these were originally bred for herding, but they're happy as long as they have a job. Aussies excel at agility, assistance, and even police work, just as long as they have something to keep their mind occupied they're happy. They have a natural guarding instinct for their herd which makes them excellent protection and work dogs.
2. Basset Hound
You may not look at a Basset and instantly think of loyalty, that is, until you own one. They're stubborn, difficult to train, and somewhat lazy, but passionately attached to their loved ones. These dogs were originally used as scent hounds for hunting, but today you can find examples of their noses being used to track down on-the-run criminals or even lost children. They're friendly and playful disposition makes them an excellent family companion, if you have the patience for their stubbornness.
The incredibly popular Beagle is instantly recognizable, and well loved for their happy and energetic attitude. These were originally bred as scent hounds, and are still popular among hunters, but you may also find them a popular choice for drug and contraband detection at airports. That's because they are cute and friendly which is less intimidating, but comes with a super powered nose that can detect from miles away.
4. Border Collie
Border Collies are the very definition of a herding breed, it runs deep into their core and comes with seemingly endless amounts of energy. To this day they are the ideal choice for herding, but being so intelligent and trainable they excel at agility, tracking, obedience, and many other sports competitions. Collies are incredibly attuned to their owners actions and emotions, and respond accordingly, making them an ideal companion if you can accommodate their very active lifestyle.
5. Brittany Spaniel
Brittanys are energetic, loving, joyful, and did we mention energetic? While their enthusiasm for life is absolutely contagious, it can be a challenge to keep this one occupied. However, if you can accommodate their over-active tendencies, you'll end up with the ultimate companion for life. Brittanys have huge hearts, and are incredibly intelligent, and often excel at overcoming challenges and winning sports competitions.
6. Chinese Shar-Pei
Instantly recognizable for their adorable wrinkles, Shar-peis will make you the love of their lives, but in most cases it's you and only you. While they have undying loyalty for their owner (and can be an excellent guard dog), Sharpeis have an unkind manner towards strangers or those outside your relationship,
7. Cocker Spaniel
Cocker Spaniels were bred as a companion breed, so loyalty is embedded in their very genes. They have a contagious enthusiasm for life, and are adaptable to your lifestyle, whatever that may be. Their entire goal in life is to make you smile, whether it's acting silly and making you laugh, or being a friend when you're down, your Cocker Spaniel is a companion you'll never forget.
8. Finnish Lapphund
These cute fuzzballs are actually a hard working herding breed originating from Lapland, Finland (hence the name). But the Lapphund has since retired from reindeer herding into a more comfortable lifestyle of being close to family and friends.
These are incredibly friendly companions, and combined with their desire to please they excel in obedience and agility. They have a natural guarding instinct from their years of herding, making them excellent watchdogs and an instinct to protect.
9. Shetland Sheepdog
"Shelties" have a long history of herding and working with farmers, making them incredibly hard working and fiercely intelligent companions. It's no wonder these dogs can always be found in the agility and obedience rings. They also have endless love for their family, and want to please their owners at every turn.
Similar to Greyhounds, these dogs are a popular racing breed, and were once used for hunting rabbits. Because of their athleticism and intelligence, Whippet's excel in training, obedience, and learning from their human owners.
But even with all that energy these dogs are surprisingly very relaxed and quite enjoy a good nap. They love spending time with your entire family, and can adapt to nearly any type of home. Also, they rarely bark, and the only time they tend to make noise is when they're left alone.
Most Loyal Small Dogs
1. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
The Cavalier is a gentle soul who wants to share their love with everyone around them. Their friendly attitude is immediately contagious and it's difficult not to smile in their presence.
These dogs are intelligent and are very willing to learn - so long as you have a treat for them in return. But, their gentle demeanor means yelling or scolding will cause this dog to run and hide from you.
Cavaliers are "Velcro" dogs, meaning they want to spend every second or every day with you. They certainly do not like being left alone, so consider this dog a travel companion, or have someone at home who can keep them company.
Chihuahuas get a bad reputation, but these tiny little dogs are actually amazing companions, and ready to spend the day with whatever you have planned - whether that's traveling in a tote, car, or going on a vacation. Chihuahua's are just content to be at your side, and can be described as "Velcro" dogs. So be prepared to have this little guy follow you everywhere you go, for life.
3. Coton de Tulear
Often referred to as the Velcro dog, the Coton wants nothing more than to be stuck to your side, their adaptability is what makes the Coton such an amazing companion. Whatever the situation, this dog is just content with being in your presence. They'll love your family and friends too, and they always like to make a good impression.
Dachshunds (or sometimes called "Doxies") are small bundles of joy that spend their days playing and napping. They adapt well to just about any family routine, as long as it's with the ones they love. They have an innate ability to make you feel better with their warmth and will follow you to the ends of the earth.
These little dogs are incredibly bright, which makes teaching new tricks and routines an absolute joy, but they do come with a certain amount of stubbornness that is a challenge to overcome.
5. Finnish Spitz
Finish Spitz are very unique hunting breed that are known to be quite "talkative". They are described as active and alert, and therefore make excellent watchdogs. But you won't find any aggression here, they're extremely friendly and gentle with kids and new people. They are loyal right down to the bone, and always ready to tell you how their feeling with their talkative nature.
6. Miniature Poodle
You may have already heard, Poodles are among the the most intelligent dogs, and that makes training an absolute joy. They are eager to please their owners at every turn, and live to overcome new challenges and seek a little adventure.
Poodles are actually incredible athletes, and love a daily routine of exercise, mental stimulation, and some playtime.
7. West Highland White Terrier
Westies are confident, active, and a bit of a trouble maker (but it's all in good fun). They are a sensitive soul, being attuned to your emotions and ready to warm up your lap after a long day. They're also known to be very social and energetic, which is why these dogs work well in pairs, and flourish with other dogs or a full-time play companion.
8. Yorkshire Terrier
Yorkies live for companionship, and show endless love and trust for their owner. But their owner is the only love in their life, and sometimes no one else is welcome into that relationship. These dogs can have an unkind manner with strangers, dogs, and sometimes other family members.
That being said, they will follow their owner to the ends of the earth, being absolutely love-stricken to the ones of their choosing.