Any dog has the potential to become your best friend, but some breeds are known for being super loyal companions. So what are the distinctive qualities of a faithful, four-legged friend?
“Key traits of a loyal dog include being confident, devoted, and affectionate,” says Gina DiNardo, executive secretary at the American Kennel Club. That devotion is one of the big reasons people gravitate toward loyal dog breeds. “Many breeds that possess loyal traits tend to be very sensitive, due to their intelligence and close attachment to their humans,” DiNardo adds.
Like all breeds with a dominant personality trait, there are certain factors to consider before committing to a loyal dog. “Some loyal breeds can be protective of their families and wary of strangers, so proper training and socialization at an early age is important,” DiNardo notes. Even within the family unit, “giving your dog one-on-one time with each family member…is important to keep your loyal breed from becoming too protective over one person,” she advises.
If you’re searching for a true-blue canine companion, look no further than our list of the 10 most loyal dog breeds.
10 Most Loyal Dog Breeds
German Shepherds are known for their intelligence and ability to adapt to a variety of roles. This courageous, confident breed is just as loyal when working on the battlefield with armed service members as they are at home protecting their family. “Their defining attribute is…the willingness to put their life on the line in defense of loved ones,” DiNardo says. “German Shepherds will be gentle family pets and steadfast guardians” no matter who they’re protecting.
“Lassie” made this breed synonymous with loyalty, and for good reason. “Much like the breed’s fictional representation, the breed is a great companion dog, happy and active as well as being good with children and other dogs,” says Bill Lambert, head of health and welfare at The Kennel Club, the official kennel club of the U.K. Be advised that Collies require a lot of exercise, so they are best suited for active homes.
The Labrador Retriever earns its place as one of the most popular dog breeds out there, much in part to its affectionate and outgoing personality. “Labs are companionable housemates who bond with the whole family,” says DiNardo. Unlike some of the more profoundly loyal dog breeds, “they socialize well with neighbor dogs and humans alike.”
Little dog, big personality. Weighing in at 4 to 6 pounds, these pint-sized pups are full of confidence, and typically love to go everywhere their owners go. “They were bred to be companion dogs, so they love attention,” Lambert says. Remember: Even small dog breeds need training. When it comes to good manners, there are no size limitations!
Rottweilers are first and foremost known for their protective nature, earning them a reputation as a guard dog. They require “a calm, stable, and firm ‘pack leader’ or they will assume that role for you,” DiNardo advises. However, if you’re willing to put in the time, you shouldn’t be intimidated by this sturdy, loyal dog breed. “Rottweilers are confident, powerful, and loving companions,” she says. Lambert agrees, adding that a Rottweiler can make “a wonderful family companion, with a responsible owner.”
These gentle giants are “known for being a patient and loyal family companion,” Lambert says. In fact, they’re commonly referred to as “nanny dogs” because they are often good with kids. These working dogs once specialized in rescuing drowning victims at sea, but these days many Newfies happily fulfill the role of loving family pet. At 100 to 150 pounds, the devoted Newfie is the largest loyal dog breed to make our list.
This majestic breed is not only a natural guard dog but also gentle and good with children. Their large frame moves with speed and agility, yet they’re known for their calm demeanor. As DiNardo puts it, the Great Pyrenees is “a mellow companion and vigilant guardian of home and family.”
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Don’t let their muscular frame fool you—many Staffordshire Bull Terriers are sweet-natured companions that “feel most at home with a family,” Lambert says. “As a breed, they are known to be loyal, intelligent, and affectionate, especially with children.” Make sure to socialize this breed early to ensure good behavior with other people and dogs.
It’s not hard to figure out why Golden Retrievers are also among the most popular dog breeds. “Goldens are outgoing, trustworthy, and eager-to-please family dogs, and relatively easy to train,” DiNardo says. As one of the more easy-going dog breeds on our list, the Golden Retriever is “a devoted family dog” that would make a nice addition to many households.
This Japanese breed is one of the most profoundly loyal on this list. “Akitas are often wary with strangers and other animals but thrive on human companionship,” says DiNardo. “They are hard-wired to protect those they love.” Given their larger size (70 to 130 pounds) and independent spirit, it’s important to socialize Akitas from a young age with both other dogs and people outside of the family.
Tips for Loyal Dog Breeds
While all of these dog breeds are known for their loyal nature, it’s important to remember that each dog is an individual. “Anyone considering a dog must remember that temperament is specific to each individual dog and their upbringing, and training is vital, especially if the dog will be a family companion,” Lambert says.
Lambert reiterates the importance of proper training and socialization early on, especially for super-loyal breeds. “With all dogs, but particularly those that are extremely loyal, it is important to get them used to being left alone when you are not there to prevent them suffering from separation anxiety as they get older,” he says.
If your loyal dog is always by your side, chances are you’ll be spending plenty of time together outdoors. No matter where your adventures take you, it’s important to protect your dog against harmful parasites. Some monthly chews, like Interceptor® Plus (milbemycin oxime/praziquantel), are effective against heartworm disease and hookworm, roundworm, tapeworm, and whipworm infections. For protection against ticks and fleas, consider a tasty chewable like Credelio® (lotilaner).
Loyalty goes both ways. Keeping our canine companions happy and healthy shows we care about them as much as they care about us!
Credelio kills adult fleas and is indicated for the treatment and prevention of flea infestations, treatment and control of tick infestations (lone star tick, American dog tick, black-legged tick, and brown dog tick) for one month in dogs and puppies 8 weeks and older and 4.4 pounds or greater.
Credelio Important Safety Information
Lotilaner is a member of the isoxazoline class of drugs. This class has been associated with neurologic adverse reactions including tremors, incoordination, and seizures. Seizures have been reported in dogs receiving this class of drugs, even in dogs without a history of seizures. Use with caution in dogs with a history of seizures or neurologic disorders. The safe use of Credelio in breeding, pregnant or lactating dogs has not been evaluated. The most frequently reported adverse reactions are weight loss, elevated blood urea nitrogen, increased urination, and diarrhea. For complete safety information, please see Credelio product label or ask your veterinarian.
Interceptor Plus Indications
Interceptor Plus prevents heartworm disease and treats and controls adult roundworm, hookworm, whipworm, and tapeworm infections in dogs and puppies 6 weeks or older and 2 pounds or greater.
Interceptor Plus Important Safety Information
Treatment with fewer than 6 monthly doses after the last exposure to mosquitoes may not provide complete heartworm prevention. Prior to administration of Interceptor Plus, dogs should be tested for existing heartworm infections. The safety of Interceptor Plus has not been evaluated in dogs used for breeding or in lactating females. The following adverse reactions have been reported in dogs after administration of milbemycin oxime or praziquantel: vomiting, diarrhea, decreased activity, incoordination, weight loss, convulsions, weakness, and salivation. For complete safety information, please see Interceptor Plus product label or ask your veterinarian.
Disclaimer: The author received compensation from Elanco US Inc., the maker of Interceptor Plus and Credelio, for her services in writing this article.
Credelio and Interceptor are trademarks of Elanco or its affiliates.
© 2020 Elanco or its affiliates. PM-US-20-2196