13 of the Best Companion Dogs Who Are the Best Friends We Could Ask For
Some dog breeds have long, rich histories as herders, working dogs, or hunting companions. But more recently—recent being a loose term, as dogs have been around for ages—some pups have been primarily bred to fulfill their duty as man's best friend.
History of Companion Dog Breeds
Many dogs are commonly referred to as companion breeds, especially those classified as miniature or toy breeds. Unlike their ancestors, these pipsqueak pups have only known life as lap dogs because that was their original purpose starting out. Breeds like the toy poodle, bichon frise, and Cavalier King Charles spaniel come to mind.
But there's no need to be rigid about what constitutes a companion dog. The best companion dogs come in all shapes and sizes and span beyond just lapdogs. If you're searching for a dog as loyal as a bestie should be, look no further. Here are a few of our favorite companion dogs we submit for your consideration.
Best Small Companion Dogs
Whether you have children you don't want pounced on or live in an apartment, these fun-sized furballs are perfect addition to your family.
The Havanese dog is incredibly charming, whose miniature size is hidden under a luxurious coat. This dog loves all members of the family, including cats and other dogs. They are also adaptable to nearly any living space and don't need a ton of room to roam around in. As long as you're around (and offer up a few treats now and then) they're content.
Pugs might've been the original lap dog—and are still just as great at fulfilling that purpose today. Pugs are very playful but not a particularly active breed and are fine taking it easy. Whether you're lounging around or need a quick mental health walk, they're happy to join.
Not far off from the smushy-faced pug is the French bulldog, a lover of kids and couches alike. French bulldogs are perfect for patient owners with gentle hands and stand barely a foot off the ground. They're very easy-going as long as they're socialized early.
Best Companion Dogs for Seniors
For mature owners with a little extra time on their hands who would do well with another friendly face around the house, here are a few great options.
If you're looking for a relatively low-fuss pup, the Japanese chin is a perfect pick. They are low-energy and enjoy being around people who match their calm demeanor. If you're a cat person who wants to venture into dog ownership, the Japanese chin is, legend has it, half cat and half dog. (We jest.) Even better, they make excellent travel companions due to their relaxed nature. If you're needing to drive across state lines to visit grandkids, there's no need to leave your pup behind. Zip them up in a pet carrier, and you're ready to hit the road!
The Tibetan terrier is not a terrier at all, but they're too well-mannered to spend time correcting you. Tibetan terriers have been companions since ancient times, nearly 2,000 years ago. If you're looking for a prosperous retirement, you need one of these dogs—they're good luck! Plus, they'll happily accompany you on a hike when you want to get out of the house.
These mellow creatures are perfect for senior living. Their exercise needs are low but their capacity for love is off the charts. Saint Bernards are incredibly gentle, especially with children half their size, so you can still host all of the important holidays. Spend your spare time getting them acquainted and socialized so they know how to navigate relationships with small humans and other animals despite their large size.
The Chinese crested, although loud in appearance, is a small, calm companion. They require less exercise than most other small breeds, which is great for older adults. And if you opt for a hairless Chinese crested, they're even more low-maintenance when it comes to grooming. Already own other pets? No problem. These pups get along famously well with others. Just abide by the guidelines we shared above!
Best Companion Dogs for Current Pet Owners
Make room! This collection of dogs can't wait to join the pack you've already started to assemble.
Cardigan Welsh Corgi
This corgi is used to being around animals; the Cardigan Welsh corgi was a historically terrific sheepherder. Today, they bond well with other household pets—even cats! And having other pets around will help your corgi stay physically and mentally stimulated. Sometimes, these pups are go, go, go! Don't have other pets? If your dog is the social type that enjoys it, take them to doggy daycare or the local dog park for some friend time.
Bred as an original companion breed, the Bolognese dog is not meant to fly solo. And with such an easy-going personality, these white tufts of fur get along with everyone. They don't need a ton of exercise, either. Playtime with your or other doggies can be enough to tire them out. Bolognese dogs are sometimes confused with the Maltese, but if you stumble upon the opportunity to adopt an actual Bolognese, don't pass it up. They're rare!
If you fancy many mouth kisses and a playful attitude, the goldendoodle is a great choice. They are an incredibly affectionate and gentle breed, which makes them a popular choice for many families. Because of their laid-back, gentle nature, they also generally know how to get along with cats. Goldendoodles are also a very adaptable breed who thrives on positive reinforcement training. Their super-smart brains are almost as big as their hearts!
Best Companion Dogs for Active Pet Parents
Although these sporty pups are a bit bigger than other dogs on our list, they are extremely loyal to their humans and wouldn't enjoy being outdoors quite as much without you with them.
The pointer, commonly referred to as the English pointer, has an independent streak but should absolutely be your go-to for hunting or if you've always been interested in dog training. They are smart and absolutely dedicated to training together. Not a hunter? Not an issue. Pointers love wide, open spaces and love to go on hikes or miles-long walks with their humans.
Portuguese Water Dog
As one of many Velcro dogs, Portuguese water dogs are as friendly as they are fluffy. But with the added bonus of loving the outdoors. The Portuguese water dog will especially thrive under the ownership of an experienced dog owner who is constantly moving. They love learning tricks, playing games, and romping around outdoors—especially in a body of water. You might even be able to train them to fish, just like their ancestors!
Have a fenced-in yard? Own a bike? The English setter is begging you to add them to your home. Nicknamed the "gentleman of the dog world," this medium-sized breed is super laid back and can win anyone over with their beautiful looks and winning personality. As long as you can devote time to giving them physical exercise, this floppy-eared beauty will fit right into your household.
Considerations When Choosing a Good Companion Dog
If You Have Other Pets
If you have other pets, there are a few considerations for you to make when you're looking to adopt a dog. You'll want to seek out a dog with a personality fit for getting along with other animals. Cats and other pets are typically smaller than most dogs and not all canines get along with them.
Amelia Wieber of Caring Behavior, CPDT-KA, certified pet behaviorist, and Daily Paws Advisory Board member suggests most dog owners have the best luck with their pets getting along if they adopt two dogs of the opposite sex rather than the same.
Above all, the best indication of how a pet will get along with other pets is their previous living environment. All dogs are individuals with a unique personality. While some breeds have more affectionate personalities than others, there's no guarantee every dog of any breed will be just alike.
If You Can't Decide
Sometimes, two puppies from the same litter can capture your heart, making it hard to decide on just one. But Wieber warns that puppies from the same litter do not always thrive equally as they grow up together and that extra effort is necessary to make sure both puppies are mentally healthy.
"When people get two puppies from a litter, one puppy tends to thrive while the other tends to kind of hang back," Wieber says. "You end up with one that seems to sort of take on more—like one ends up more socialized than the other—so it's really important to do some separate play dates with them and get them their own experiences so that they can be confident on their own."
If You're Working a Lot
Many people have adopted dogs since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and are now heading back to the office after being remote. This can sometimes lead to increased separation anxiety in dogs, especially in companion breeds. That's why it's important to invest some time into gradually training your dog to be home alone, even if you're home more often than not. You have to leave for the grocery store sometimes, after all.
All in all, Wieber recommends you meet with a behaviorist prior to adopting a new canine companion so they can set you up for success rather than perform damage control down the road.