When choosing a dog as a pet, most people want an animal that is loving, affectionate, and will serve as a great companion. While these traits are common in most dog breeds, there are certain breeds that are held in high esteem for their affection towards humans. If you are looking for a family pet that will be gentle and kind around children, you will want to be especially careful when picking out the right breed. Not every dog is affectionate or even friendly, and your family’s safety should be your number one concern when making your choice.
This is why it is extremely important to understand what kind of dog you are looking for and do your research about different breeds before making a decision. While generalizations about different breeds are extremely helpful, every dog is different, so it is important to know that these stereotypes and characteristics do not hold true for every single dog or breed. Sometimes you may find a dog that is extremely friendly and gentle, even though they’re breed is not known for it. Similarly, you may find a dog that is hostile or unfriendly, even though they’re breed is considered a good, affectionate pet for families.
Obviously, “affection” is a difficult metric to measure, as it is relatively vague and subjective. That said, most people know an affectionate animal when they see one. Additionally, based on empirical evidence, there are certain breeds that stand out for being more affectionate than others. To get a better idea of how we composed this list, here are a few traits that help identify an affectionate dog breed:
- Tail Wagging – This is one of the most obvious and well-known signs that a dog is happy. If a dog wags its tail when it sees you, it means that they are excited and glad to spend time with you. Sometimes, dogs get so excited to see their owners that their entire back end shakes back and forth!
- Jumping – Though not everyone likes when a dog tries to jump on them, this is a common sign that a dog is happy to see you and is desperate for your attention. However, it should be noted that sometimes jumping can be a form of aggression, especially if it is accompanied by growling or snarling.
- Leaning or Nudging – It is a tell-tale sign of affection whenever a dog leans against you. This means that they want to feel your warmth and provide warmth to you in return. Nudging is another sign that a dog likes you, but it is also a cry for attention!
- Eye Contact – Eye contact can mean one of two things: your dog is in love with you, or the food bowl is empty! Either way, when your dog looks into your eyes, it shows that they trust you and want your undivided attention. Take it as a compliment!
- Following – Sociable dogs love to follow people around in general, but this is especially true when a dog has a strong connection with its owner. If a dog follows you through every room of the house, it means that they never want to be apart.
In any case, to ensure the happiness and tranquility of your family, it is best to know how certain breeds generally behave around strangers, children, and even other animals. So, let’s take a look at some of the most affectionate dog breeds:
Old English Sheepdog
The Old English Sheepdog is a large breed that hails from England. Originally used as a herding dog, the Old English Sheepdog is now a popular breed for family pets around the globe. This breed is highly intelligent and extremely friendly, especially with children. Though not aggressive, Old English Sheepdogs are very protective of their owners. Additionally, while they do have plenty of energy during playtime, Old English Sheepdogs are a generally docile breed.
This German breed is world-renowned for its size. In fact, some of the biggest dogs in the world are Great Danes. While some people may be intimidated by larger breeds like the Great Dane, there is nothing to worry about. The Great Dane is yet another large breed that loves to be around people. If you choose this breed for your next pet, expect to get plenty of sloppy kisses. Many Great Danes also like to think that they’re lap dogs, so be careful where you sit!
The Border Collie is another herding dog, however, this breed was originally developed in Scotland. Despite their relatively small stature, border collies are bursting with energy and personality. In addition to being very friendly, border collies love to have wide-open spaces to run and play. So, while you can expect your border collie to give you a lot of love and affection, they will expect you to give them plenty of playtime in return!
English Bulldogs are a short, broad-statured breed that has changed a lot over the years. Unfortunately, due to selective breeding, modern bulldogs experience a lot of health issues, especially related to respiration. Nonetheless, they are one of the sweetest breeds to own. They are not particularly active, so be prepared to spend hours cuddling with your bulldog every day!
The Miniature Schnauzer is a small German dog breed that is known for its signature “beard.” Loving, energetic, and playful, Miniature Schnauzers love to play with their owners all day, and then curl up on their laps each night. This breed is ideal for families with children, as they love to burn off excess energy.
Many people wrongly associate pit bulls with aggressive behavior. While it is a sad fact that many people train pit bulls for dog fighting, they are naturally very gentle, loving animals. The breed is loosely defined as a mix of bulldogs and terriers. As a result, size and features can vary with each individual dog. In any case, pit bulls love to play and roughhouse with their owners, and loving eye contact is one of the most common signs of affection for this breed.
The Newfoundland is a breed of large working dogs that hail from Canada. Though many Newfoundlands resemble small bears, they are actually one of the least dangerous breeds on the planet. Newfoundlands are notoriously lazy and easy-going, though they still love to play with their owners whenever possible. Despite their large size, Newfoundlands love to curl up with their owners and lick their hands and face to show affection.
The Maltese is a small toy breed that is always white or off-white in color. They are very popular as show dogs, due in part to their lustrous fur. However, their personalities also make them great house pets and companions. The Maltese is very gentle and trusting of its owner. Though sometimes they can be “yappy” dogs, most dogs of this breed are calm and not easily bothered. Additionally, Maltese are great lap dogs, as they are extremely light and love to keep warm with other people and animals.
The English Mastiff is another very large, yet gentle dog breed. Originally found in England, the English Mastiff is a very popular pet in many parts of the world. English Mastiffs love to do three things: eat, sleep, and spend time with their owner. Since they are too large to be lap dogs, Mastiffs often lay their head on the arm or leg of their owner to show their affectionate. They also love to give out kisses, but due to their excessive saliva, you may not enjoy it!
The Bichon Frise is a very cute and fun companion for any pet owner. In the past, the Bichon Frise was most often associated with dog shows. More recently, it has become an extremely popular breed, due to its friendly nature and beautiful fur. The Bichon Frise is small and does not require wide-open spaces as much as some other breeds. Most important of all, the breed is extremely friendly with just about everyone.
While this list includes some of the most affectionate breeds for potential pet owners, it is by no means comprehensive. There are many other dog breeds and individual dogs that are perfectly sweet and loving. Additionally, it is very important to note that pet owners do not need “pure breeds” in order to have a loving relationship with their pets. “Mutts” and mixed breed dogs make some of the best companions in the world, so don’t be afraid to mix things up when you are looking to adopt!