10 of the Most Loyal Dog Breeds Who Will Always Be by Your Side
It might sound cliché, but almost all dogs simply want to give us unconditional love. Innocent and true from the time they're born, they look to us to give them the best life possible and will adore us in return. We humans definitely get the better end of this deal! But what are the most loyal dog breeds, and are they naturally this way or trained to become so?
A smattering of both, actually. Curtis Kelley, CPDT-KA, is a trainer, pet behaviorist, and owner of Pet Parent Allies in Philadelphia. He says loyalty is a measure of behavior with one primary tipoff: when given the option of any activity or seeing any other person, your dog chooses you! Just don't make her choose between two of you like in this TikTok trend. Awww!
Why Are Dogs So Loyal?
Some loyal dogs watch and follow you like it's their job. Genetically, it might be, Kelley says. In fact, a 2019 study at the University of Arizona identified "131 places in a dog's DNA that may help shape 14 key personality traits." So for example, when you hear about canines naturally adept at shepherding, that guardian characteristic has passed down through many generations.
"Loyalty by that definition lends itself to dogs who are more selective and prefer a few people who are well-connected to their person," Kelley says. So how do loyal dog breeds demonstrate devotion to you? He assesses it with the following behaviors:
- Coming when called, even from far away.
- Checking in on you often.
- Eagerly following your requests.
- Asking for interaction with you across a variety of activities.
To encourage a greater bond, Kelley says to start positive reinforcement training with small scenarios and build up to greater challenges. "Just because your dog isn't necessarily listening to you doesn't mean she's disloyal. It could just be that she needs more practice!"
10 Most Loyal Dog Breeds
While the following good pups might fit into the stellar category of best loyal dogs, Kelley says we can foster loyalty in every pet by, well, being the most rewarding thing to them. "Reinforce that hanging out near you makes the best things happen!" he says. What? Gobs of quality time with our pups? Well, if you insist!
Don't be fooled by that ruff tuff mug. A Rottweiler is one the most popular dog breeds in the U.S., and it's because snugglebug is his middle name. Fans of Rotties coo about their companionship and dedication to family, especially when trained as puppies with proper socialization skills. (He's even the star of a children's book!) These hardy and clever working dogs are actually quite sensitive and don't like to be left home alone.
Oh sure, a Chihuahua will slip some sassy shade on you, but she's also most content tucked into the crook of your arm. This pint-sized pooch looooves her humans, and expects nothing less than glam strollers and gourmet treats in return. Chis are also some of the longest-living dog breeds, so you'll have plenty of time to treasure one another.
Brilliant German shepherds could certainly write the loyal dog breed manual. Calm, confident, and ever faithful, it's no wonder so many heroic dog stories feature German shepherds going above, beyond, and through for their people. You've heard of 'Velcro dogs', right? Yep, these are them—always wanting to stick with their people like the connective fabric. Train, exercise, and love a German shepherd and they'll be your best friend forever.
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Once you gaze into the soft brown eyes of a cocker spaniel, her sweetness completely washes over you, and that's a marvelous feeling. If you yearn for a loyal pooch who's absolutely happy to do whatever and trades snuggles with cats and kids, this silky-furred beauty is perfect. Apartments, condos, homes in the 'burbs—a cocker spaniel is so adaptable and good-natured, the neighbors will probably take their morning coffee with her!
A Labrador retriever, be he black, chocolate, or golden, nuzzles his way into your heart and never leaves. For 30 years, this pooch has held the first spot on the American Kennel Club's most popular dog list. That's three entire decades! Steadfast, true, and smart, he's a versatile buddy who does just about everything. Go on adventures? Sure! Comfort people as a therapy dog? Yes! Save you from a rattlesnake? Absolutely, but we really hope it doesn't come to that.
All you need to know is in the name: Great Pyrenees. So great! Cherished by queens, kings (she was once the 'Royal Dog of France'), and sheepherders alike, this snowball of love is fond of her family. But as an independent thinker, she might want to go her own way once in a while, so consistent positive reinforcement training keeps her close. What else should you keep nearby? Grooming supplies, as this polar dog sheds a lot.
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A trusty furred companion too proud to cling and too well-mannered to bark a lot, a Saint Bernard is a mighty dog with an even bigger heart. She has infinite patience for children who treat her kindly. Those slobbery kisses will wake you up, though! Because she's so bright, she responds well to gentle training and appreciates a casual stroll with you each day so you can share deep thoughts while she puts her sniffer to work.
Few sights are as wonderful as a greyhound sprinting. It's what they were bred to do. However, fans of this darling loyal dog breed say they're also the most smoochable '40 mph couch potatoes' you'll ever meet. Empty nesters can easily cozy up with this tender and mellow pup. Despite their history, greyhounds enjoy daily walks with you and exploring fenced backyards before resting their long snouts on your knee for head pats.
One of Japan's six treasured national breeds, if you approach an adorable Akita and she doesn't know you, expect a cold shoulder. She's 110 percent dedicated to her people, and playful and affectionate with them. The rest of us get a little side-eye. She might be happiest as an only fur child, but if she learns to adapt to other dogs and even cats in puppy kindergarten, she'll be more inclined to let them into your inner circle.
Of course merry golden retrievers love you. But Kelley says they tend to be hyper-outgoing and desire affection from anyone and everyone. This doesn't mean these sweet pups are disloyal, only that they enjoy being the life of the party. If you're also an extroverted and active pet parent, this trait won't matter a bit. Sing with him around the campfire, have him join your running group, or simply cuddle. It's all good to a golden!
If you're considering adopting a rescue dog, keep in mind that depending on her background, Kelley says she might have challenging experiences to overcome and initially have trouble trusting you. "Pet parents will do best to provide safety, security, stability, and routine," he adds. "Trauma can be hard, but the more stability in the environment, the more stability and loyalty you can build with your dog."
While loyalty is flexible and changes between breed types, Kelley says any pooch who spends enough time with you will generally want to continue doing so. "Dogs have their inner circle, acquaintances, and strangers—and will act differently accordingly," he says. "The best thing you can do to foster loyalty is to gain a dog's trust slowly and steadily. Try games, training, both mental and physical enrichment, and lots of snuggles in between!"