Dogs make the world go round, especially the pups who love being around people and other animals. Even though there are some very dangerous dogs out there, most canines have a friendly disposition when owners put in the work to socialize them from a very young age. And, there are a select few of the most friendly dog breeds who are typically gentle and loving by nature.
I’ve gone on a research mission to find some of the friendliest dog breeds out there. We all have our own perception of what a friendly dog looks like. Some people picture a slobbery Labrador with a wagging tail, while others see a wiggling boxer with a goofy grin when they think about a friendly pooch. But some of these friendly dogs will surprise you.
What makes a friendly dog breed?
While any canine companion can become friendly when trained and socialized properly from an early age, some breeds are known to be more aggressive and anti-social by nature. This is due to the way and reasons for what these dogs were originally bred for.
For example, some canines that were originally bred for protection of cattle against lions in South Africa (Boerboel) or dogs bred for fighting (Pit Bulls) tend to be more suspicious of other people and animals, be more aggressive and protective of their owners. They'll be friendly with people they know well but less friendly with strangers. Breeds that were only bred to be pet dogs are likely to be much more friendly and social.
It's popular to say that “it's the owner, not the dog/breed.” While it's certainly true in part, the dog's genetic make-up does matter. A 2008 observational study of individual breed phenotypes and genes, while not giving a specific answer, did found that canines vary in temperament, personality traits and skills by breed. A 2017 study found that chromosomal regions, which vary by breed and its DNA, are directly associated with the dog's personality traits.
Therefore, some breeds are simply genetically more likely to be friendlier and social. They're more accepting of strangers, children and easier to socialize, and probably won't make the best house guard dogs. Below are some of these most friendly dog breeds we know. If your favorite breed didn’t make the list, don’t feel bad. Lots of dogs are friendly even though they aren't listed here. The way you treat and socialize your dog affects the way that he will act toward others, so be sure you’ve done the research and put in the work.
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20 Most Friendly Dog Breeds in the World
Pictured above, Samoyed isn't just a beautiful and smart dog. This very friendly breed is affectionate and widely renowned for their “smile.” They absolutely adore children because of their playful nature. Samoyed dogs love interacting with kids because they have just as much energy as a child does.
Samoyeds are great with other dogs and people, too. They would make an ideal family pet. This is one of the most friendly dog breeds you can adopt, as they tend not to be aggressive in nature and enjoy being around other animals and people.
2. Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, rarely mentioned on any lists, is one of the most friendly dogs in the world. This interesting looking breed is extremely energetic. Add to that a playful personality, and you have an amazing friend who will play with you for hours.
They’re known for jumping up and dealing out kisses to everyone. This behavior has been affectionately named the Wheaten Greetin’, and you’d be lucky to be on the receiving end. The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier tends to have a strong prey drive, but this isn’t a problem if you keep them busy and stimulated. They are also known for being very protective of their families.
3. Rough Collie
Collie is a broad term used for quite a few deviations in the breed. But, when it comes down to it they’re all pretty darn amazing and friendly companions. Sensitive, and one of the most intelligent dogs, the Rough Collie breed takes the cake for being exceptionally friendly compared to many others.
They get on well with other dogs and people, and enjoy being around kids. If you’re lucky, you might even see one try to herd a bunch of children to keep them safe. Herding and protective behavior without high levels of aggression is in Collie's nature.
4. Bassett Hound
The Bassett Hound is a loyal and active breed who gets along with people and other pets alike. They love playing with children, and are known as clown dogs in the Hound community – not just because they look funny, but due to their humorous personalities.
The Bassett Hound are known as one of the best hunting dogs, but will also keep a smile on your face as they work their way into your heart. This breed is not aggressive towards other dogs at all, and even less so towards people. As one of the most friendly dog breeds, they are accepting of virtually everyone (human or furry) that they meet.
5. Shih Tzu
The Shih Tzu is a gorgeous, sweet, and proud breed who isn’t as demanding as other small dogs. They love to play and cuddle up on the couch with their lazy owners. There are very few people that will have a hard time getting along with these dogs.
This breed is very friendly towards strangers and fine with other pets due to their relaxed personalities. They don’t need lots of exercise and prefer to be indoors close to their owners. The Shih Tzu also sheds less than other breeds, which makes keeping the house clean a lot easier.
6. Labrador Retriever
Labrador Retriever, known in short as The Lab, should probably be at the top of the list of the most friendly dog breeds, because for the years they kept the #1 dog breed title. These dogs have been a family favorite for many years. They have lots of energy and love nothing more than to run around or take a splash in the lake or your pool. The Labrador Retriever loves to be with their family, no matter what they’re up to.
Labs are affectionate and love a good cuddle after a day of running and romping with the kids. This is a fun breed that is perfect for an active owner. They have no problems with strangers or other dogs, which doesn’t make them the best guard dogs on the planet.
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Dalmatians have been made famous by movies, cartoons and firehouses. But this isn’t a breed you see very often, and that makes the owners somewhat sad. They are so smart and perfect for someone who is a first time dog owner.
As a working dog, the Dalmatian needs exercise and stimulation to keep them out of trouble. Don't let that stop you from adopting one of these dogs, because not only are they known as one of the most friendly dog breeds, but their beauty and love of children are worth it.
The Vizsla is an exotic dog breed that comes from Hungary, and they're one of the most beautiful canines. With their sensitive and affectionate demeanor, these dogs love people and are fine with strangers, which makes them a great pet for families.
However, they do need a lot of attention, and shouldn’t be left alone for very long periods of time. While they are one of the most friendly dog breeds, they aren't the best option for dog owners who don't have a lot of time to spend with their canine companion.
9. English Bulldog
You might think the English Bulldog is an aggressive and scary breed, but it’s actually quite the opposite. With their gentle personalities and patience with kids, they make outstanding family pets. These dogs love nothing more than to lay around and not do too much.
They are lazy and don’t need lots of exercise, but they can be very stubborn. The English Bulldog requires an owner that will be patient and consistent when it comes to training this dog breed. The English Bulldog's loving characters make up for it in leaps and bounds though.
10. Boston Terrier
The Boston Terrier, known as one of the cutest dogs alive, is a high energy, somewhat small dog who adores people and likes other animals. They enjoy snuggling on the couch as much as a run outside, so they’re an amazing all-round dog for any family.
These pups are clowns and social media have proved it – they snore, they joke, and they fart. This breed is any kid’s absolute dream. The Boston Terrier is a little dog breed with a huge personality, and they're definitely one of the most friendly dog breeds to adopt.
11. Irish Setter
The Irish Setter is one of the most famous dogs, an experienced and skill hunter, a very sensitive dog, with a calm disposition. They’re not aggressive towards other dogs, and they enjoy the company of people more than anything.
Friendly, playful, and high spirited, they are one of the most friendly dog breeds and make amazing therapy animals, too. Having an Irish Setter means dedicating a lot of time to your dog, in particular to his grooming and exercise needs.
The funny looking Papillons are friends with everybody. The Papillon means butterfly in French, and it’s easy to see why this breed has such a unique name. Their ears have tufts of fur that frame their head, and they resemble that of a butterfly wing. Did you ever notice that?
They’re known as a type of spaniel and are fragile due to their small size. But don’t let that fool you, because this dog has boundless energy. For that reason, the Papillon loves being around and playing with kids. They’re great with other dogs and even cats, so this breed will be great for a family who have other puppies, felines and children.
Ah the Pug, a stubborn and relaxed breed that sometimes wheezes when it breathes. They are known to be comical and highly entertaining, they love making everyone laugh, and they're one of the most friendly dogs on the planet.
Due to the fun loving personality of the Pug, they can fit into any household. They especially love kids, because they love to play all the time. They are a small breed, but are very sturdy, so they can withstand a bit of roughhousing from the children too.
Curious, affectionate and smart, the Beagle is another breed that was popularized by hunters and who absolutely adores kids. They have tons of energy and therefore need daily exercise to keep them happy and in shape.
The Beagle gets on with everyone, which makes them a very popular breed. They’re beautiful and fun to watch when they’re on the trail of a scent – a genetic habit that all dogs of this breed will have. Be warned, though, that the Beagle is known for having high levels of separation anxiety and would do best in a household where someone is home most of the time.
15. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a fearless and sociable breed with a playful and somewhat relaxed personality. They’re great for people who enjoy hiking in their spare time, and also anyone who goes swimming, since they love it.
This dog breed is amazing with small children and playful towards other dogs. Another one of the most friendly dog breeds that is very active, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel would match best with an active owner who loves spending a lot of time playing Frisbee with their dogs.
16. Mini Schnauzer
This is a very kid friendly dog breed that's always alert and is very intelligent. Both Schnauzers and their compact cousins, Mini Schnauzers, love being the center of attention, especially if you have visitors. Their unique appearance will certainly attract many looks; those beards and eyebrows are enough to make anyone give a double take.
The Mini Schnauzer loves being with people, but tend to have a favorite person who they’ll follow and be with whenever they can. They're a high energy dog, so they fit best in a home where they will get a lot of exercise and attention.
17. Standard Poodle
The Standard Poodle is high on the list when it comes to intelligence, so the are easy to train. They’re lively and fabulous, with an elegant demeanor. But don’t let that fool you, because these friendly dogs love nothing more than to play and be around people.
This breed has a very low aggression level, which means they’re fine with strangers and other pets. The Standard Poodle is also an amazing swimmer, so it won’t hurt to have a dog pool around or take him to the local lake or dam for a quick swim.
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18. Golden Retriever
Hollywood has gotten it right when casting the Golden Retriever as a family pet. With their friendly and affectionate personalities, these dogs are amazing with kids and don’t mind other dogs, cats and even livestock. Given how social this dog is, and how accepting and tolerant they are of kids, they're yet another poster-child of most friendly dog breeds in the world.
Golden Retrievers are very smart, and it's a high energy breed who needs plenty of grooming, exercise and stimulation to keep them from chewing everything in your house. The Golden Retriever is fine with strangers, and because of this, make terrible guard dogs. They’d much rather invite everyone in.
Keeshond is another rare dog breed not usually found on any dog breed lists. This medium size dog somewhat resembles the Pomeranian, but is a lot friendlier according to dog trainers. It’s a spitz breed who loves children. They’re quick and very playful, and get along well with other dogs too.
Because of their gentle personalities, Keeshonds are sometimes used as comfort dogs, therapy dogs and dogs for depression or anxiety. They're know to help people cope after something traumatic has happened, like PTSD. They aren’t aggressive towards strangers and visitors, which makes them poor watch or guard dogs but one of the most friendly dog breeds out there.
20. French Bulldog
If your pup is up for a photoshoot with a ridiculous hat on, you know he's game for other things too. So the last dog on the list of the most friendly dog breeds is the jester of the dog world. The French Bulldog is a clever yet stubborn breed who doesn’t need lots of exercise. They love people and enjoy playing with kids.
In the last couple of years they’ve grown in popularity due to their adaptability. Because of their low energy needs, they can easily live in apartments with one short walk a day. When it comes to other dogs, a proper introduction will go a long way in terms of them getting along well with other pets and dog breeds.