Which Dogs Are the Most Affectionate?

Updated on July 9, 2019
Leonard Tillerman profile image

Leonard is a former teacher and principal who has also been a writer for the past two decades. Writing and animals are his true loves.

Which dogs are the most affectionate?
Which dogs are the most affectionate?

The world is full of dog lovers. If you want proof of that, simply go out for a drive in your community. Almost everywhere that you look, you will see someone walking, playing with, or petting their four-legged friend. There can be little doubt about the fact that the vast majority of people truly love and care for their dogs. Have you ever wondered if these feelings are reciprocated? How would you possibly know?

Essentially, people have dogs for a variety of different reasons. They may need a watchdog, or they may simply crave a physical playmate who will accompany them on those evening walks or runs. However, the most overwhelming reason that human beings have dogs is for the mutual affection which they provide. For instance, in a research paper by John W.S. Bradshaw, he claims that dogs enter into a “relationship of mutualism” with their owners. Owners feel that they give and receive vital love and affection from their animal. Considering all of this, the obvious question which then arises is which dogs are the most affectionate? Read along to discover the most cuddly and affectionate dog breeds.

The Bichon Frise is a cuddly and affectionate dog.
The Bichon Frise is a cuddly and affectionate dog.

1. Bichon Frise

With any dog breed, their affection level will certainly be a nature versus nurture blend. Upbringing and life experiences will obviously have a definite impact as well as heredity. Nevertheless, some breeds are genetically inclined to be overwhelmingly affectionate. The bichon frise is one such breed.

When looking at the bichon frise, the words cute, soft, and cuddly come instantly to mind. They look like a giant cotton ball! The bichon frise is a very happy, playful, and curious dog. They are also extremely affectionate. This cute, little dog is very warm-hearted and becomes very attached to their human owners. They unequivocally love and want to be loved. This can be problematic at times due to such concerns as their tendency to suffer from separation anxiety. However, they are most certainly one of the most cuddly and affectionate breeds of dog.

If you are seeking a partner to cuddle with on the couch…the Pug may be exactly who you are looking for!
If you are seeking a partner to cuddle with on the couch…the Pug may be exactly who you are looking for!

2. Pug

Recent studies which were published in a multidisciplinary science journal, PLOS ONE, found that short-nosed dogs tend to be more affectionate than their long-nosed counterparts. The pug certainly fits in quite nicely with this description!

They are a fun, friendly, loyal, and affectionate breed of dog who absolutely love and adore their human owners. Considering this, the pug is not a good choice for owners who are away from their house frequently. They crave company and do not like to be left alone. Pugs are not great exercise partners either as they tend to be a tad lazy and prefer short periods of activity rather than long extended outings. Nevertheless, they are wonderful with people of all ages and are tiny, highly affectionate dogs who are very loyal and loving to their family. If you are seeking a partner to cuddle with on the couch, the pug may be exactly what you are looking for!

Chihuahua's are fiercely loyal and affectionate to their immediate owner.
Chihuahua's are fiercely loyal and affectionate to their immediate owner.

3. Chihuahua

Chihuahua owners will vehemently let you know that they are the most affectionate breed of dog on the planet. Whether that is actually a true statement or not would be a matter for debate. Nevertheless, something which cannot be questioned is the fact that Chihuahuas are absolutely one of the most affectionate dog breeds.

The Chihuahua is a fairly misunderstood creature. Many people see them as snappy with a very poor temperament. Experts and dog behaviorists are quick to point out however that any such actions are typically the result of their strong attachment to their human owners. They can be highly protective, suspicious, and temperamental around those who are not immediate family members. On the other hand, they are intensely loyal, loving and affectionate with their human owner and crave constant contact and cuddling. If you have a Chihuahua as part of your family, you will more than likely support the notion that they are one of the most affectionate types of dog.

Brussels Griffon Facts

4. Brussels Griffon

As with many other toy breeds, the Brussels griffon was originally bred in Europe as a rat hunter. They were known to be tough little “ratters” whose amiable nature eventually led to them being transformed into cherished companion dogs. Indeed, they have come a long way since those times.

The Brussels griffon is an extremely affectionate dog who has an unwavering need to be with their family at all times. They simply love to be close to their owner and crave the attention and affection. When the Brussels griffon is left alone to its own devices, the result is typically mischief in the form of chewed up or destroyed household items. As such, they are dogs which fit best with people who have a lot of time to give the little pet the attention it desires. If you are looking for a loyal, cuddly, and affectionate dog, the Brussels griffon is right up your alley!

If you want a smart, loyal and affectionate dog,  the Labrador Retriever makes an excellent choice.
If you want a smart, loyal and affectionate dog, the Labrador Retriever makes an excellent choice.

5. Labrador Retriever

According to statistics, the most popular breed of dog in the United States in 2016 was the labrador retriever. In fact, the number of registered labs is virtually double to the second most popular dog breed on the list, and the labrador retriever has held this top position for 25 years! There are a wide variety of reasons that the labrador retriever is so popular. They were originally bred to be friendly human companions and a working dog breed. As such, they are intelligent, playful, energetic, and relatively easy to train.

The lab is also exceptionally loving and affectionate to its human owners. For instance, when described in local dog forums they are characterized as “. . . oozing love and affection and in a perpetually happy mood.” They are also very sociable, friendly, and intelligent. It is no mere coincidence that the labrador retriever is the most popular service animal which acts as therapy and guide dogs. If you want a smart, loyal, and affectionate dog, which you cannot carry around with you, the labrador retriever makes for an excellent choice.

Boxers are"perpetual cuddle bugs!"
Boxers are"perpetual cuddle bugs!"

6. Boxer

For whatever reason, the boxer does not always come to mind when considering dog breeds which are affectionate. Perhaps this is due to the word association with their actual name, imposing appearance, or inherent rowdiness and likely aggression towards other dogs. However, the boxer is a breed which is completely loyal to their human family. If given proper training, socialization, and exercise, they make very obedient and loving family members.

They are also quite affectionate, as many of their owners will quickly point out on PetWave: “They are perpetual cuddle bugs. Boxers will try to squeeze into even the tiniest places to get close to the ones that they love.” Frequently referred to as the “Peter Pan” of dogs due to their unyielding youthful playfulness, the boxer needs to be trained properly with defined limits. When this is done, they are a totally loyal, loving and affectionate dog.

The English Toy Spaniel is a perfect choice for someone looking for a cuddly and affectionate dog.
The English Toy Spaniel is a perfect choice for someone looking for a cuddly and affectionate dog.

7. English Toy Spaniel

The English toy spaniel has a strong association with the “rich and famous.” Historically, they were favorite toy breeds in Europe and were very popular among the wealthy as pleasant companions who also acted as efficient lap and foot warmers. The English toy spaniel is not known to be an overly active or energetic type of dog. Instead, they are quite calm and gentle and are very eager to please their human family.

While the English toy spaniel is quite dedicated to their familiy, they do tend to form the strongest bond with only one person. As such, they are excellent dogs for empty nesters or senior citizens. They are also another type of dog which does not like to be alone. Indeed, they like to be with their human owner all the time and crave comfort, attention, and constant affection. The English toy spaniel is a perfect choice for someone looking for a cuddly and devoted dog.

The beautiful Golden Retriever is a very loyal and affectionate dog.
The beautiful Golden Retriever is a very loyal and affectionate dog.

8. Golden Retriever

Another hugely popular dog breed in the United States is the golden retriever. Originally bred as hunting dogs, they are very intelligent, athletic, and energetic dogs. As such, they require a lot of attention and playtime. They are not a suitable dog for those who are unable to devote a lot of attention, playtime and mentally stimulating activities to keep the dog engaged. Due to their high intellect, golden retrievers become bored quite easily and will resort to mischievous behavior such as chewing on or destroying items. Other traits that potential golden retriever owners should be wary of is their absolute aversion to being left alone, and the tendency to have a multitude of serious health concerns.

Considering the aforementioned traits, one could be excused for wondering why they are such a popular breed of dog. The simple fact of the matter is that the golden retriever has a very loving and affectionate disposition. They absolutely love and adore their human owner and will do whatever possible to cuddle and maintain physical contact with them. Their beautiful appearance combined with their loyal, sweet and cuddly nature make the golden retriever a much sought after dog.

Labradoodle Facts

9. Labradoodle

One type of breed which should absolutely be considered in any list considering affectionate dogs is the labradoodle. Originally, a labrador and poodle mix, the labradoodle was first bred to be a hypoallergenic guide dog. Since that time, the unique nature of the labradoodle has made it a wildly popular breed. They are quite intelligent with an abundance of energy. Typically, if they are not provided with a lot of attention they will tend to misbehave.

What makes the labradoodle stand out, however, is their inherently loyal, loving, and affectionate nature. They absolutely love their human family and are totally devoted to them. They are also a very gentle and kind dog (although they will have a tendency to get rambunctious . . . particularly if they have not been socialized properly). Such a sweet disposition has made the labradoodle a top choice for people looking for cuddly and affectionate dogs.

The Maltese is a top choice for those looking for a loyal and affectionate dog.
The Maltese is a top choice for those looking for a loyal and affectionate dog.

10. Maltese

The maltese is another clever toy breed. In fact, they have a reputation for being very intelligent and active. While they may be quite lively, they do not require a lot of exercise in comparison to larger dogs. Their tiny size negates the need to take long walks or runs. Also, they can be very difficult to groom, so poor weather will quickly lead to "indoor play days."

According to the American Kennel Club, the maltese is "gentle, playful, affectionate; fearless in a charming toy-dog way." They are tiny, fiercely loyal, and devoted to their family or individual owner. The maltese does not tend to adapt very well to strangers and much prefers to be with their "own human." They are a wonderful companion for the elderly or those who are unable to get much vigorous exercise. Undoubtedly, the maltese is a top choice for those looking for a loyal, cuddly and affectionate dog.


The characteristics of ten dogs who are extremely loyal and affectionate have just been outlined. As with any type of ranking, there are sure to be disagreements with the list. Owners of such dogs as the collie or rat terrier are sure to wonder why their beloved pet did not make the list. As owners, most of us believe that our dog is most certainly the best and most affectionate. That is a perfectly normal reaction.

It is also quite important to remember that although nature and heredity play a significant role in the personality of dogs, so does nurture. How the human owner socializes and raises the dog will have a dramatic impact. For instance, a poorly raised maltese is not going to be cuddly and affectionate. Conversely, a lovingly raised collie will be totally loyal and affectionate. The human nurture effect is significant and cannot be ignored. All this being said, extensive research points to the aforementioned breeds as overall being the most cuddly and affectionate dogs. Please participate in our poll below and let us know your pick!

Add Your Favorite:

Which Dog do YOU think is the most affectionate?

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  1. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) 2016
  2. Social Interaction Between Pets and People...A New Biological Framework. John W.S. Bradshaw. 1995
  3. Snub-nosed dogs more affectionate and make better guard dogs, study suggests. Anna Salleh. Science News. 2016
  4. Five Universal Personality Traits of the Pug Dog. Pet Forums
  5. The Chihuahua. Christine Adkins. Modern Dog Magazine
  6. Brussels Griffon. Pet Guide
  7. Dog Breed Statistics. Statistic Brain. 2016
  8. Labrador Retriever Guide. 2017
  9. Boxer-Temperament and Personality. Pet Wave. 2017
  10. English Toy Spaniel. PetMD
  11. Golden Retriever Temperament: What's Good About Em, What's Bad About Em. Michele Welton. Your Purebred puppy: Honest Advice About Dogs
  12. Labradoodle. Dogtime. 2017
  13. Maltese. American Kennel Club (AKC) 2017

Questions & Answers


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      • profile image

        Sara Chana 

        9 months ago

        Great article. Thanks

      • profile image

        Suzan St Maur 

        10 months ago

        It's interesting that there is only one "oodle" cross in this list, yet it seems there are now more "oodle" crosses than there are single breeds. One wonders when people will start crossing poodles with horses as the dog breeds run out...

        I think one of the problems with "oodle" crosses is that there are no guarantees of what you will get. I have two cockapoos, litter sisters, and there is a substantial difference in their sizes - more than you would expect in a pure-bred litter. I've also heard stories of cockapoos with tight curly coats which they shed profusely!

        Thank you for this article - it's very helpful and I was particularly pleased to see Boxers being celebrated. My parents used to breed Boxers and one female was my constant companion from my infancy - I learned to walk holding on to her back.

        Sz StM

      • profile image

        Anna Casamento Arrigo 

        12 months ago

        I agree with the Labradoodle but,socialization is so important for all pets. That being said, like most owners,my mini Australian Shepherd should have been on that list as well!

      • profile image

        Aimee Cabo Nikolov 

        12 months ago

        My little dogs are my love. They sleep with me and cuddle with me so well. I am truly blessed to have them in our lives.-3 Maltese’s and 1 shiutzu

      • profile image

        Shay Mills 

        13 months ago

        I have two Chiweenies and I love them both. Very affectionate and loyal dogs. Great article and well written. Thank you for sharing Mr. Tillerman.

      • MARK SCHULTZ profile image


        13 months ago from Portland, Oregon

        I certainly agree with you Leonard, about Chihuahuas! Very affectionate and fierce to protect their pack!

      • profile image

        DG Lamb 

        13 months ago

        Yes agreed - Bichons are extremely affectionate and loyal.

      • profile image

        Michelle Kidd 

        13 months ago

        Not a bit surprised to see Bichon Frise on top. Love my little girl, and she never leaves my side.

      • profile image

        Joni Martins 

        13 months ago

        Actually, my Rhodesian Ridgeback was pretty affectionate as well. She was a real lapdog and when she did sit on my lap, there was no way I could see the telly. (She was as tall as me when she stood on her hind legs.

      • MARK SCHULTZ profile image


        14 months ago from Portland, Oregon

        Great post, Leonard. I didn't know that about a lot of these dogs.

      • profile image


        15 months ago

        Love most dogs but my absolute favourite is the 'dog on wheels': wire haired fox terrier. Alert, loyal and immensely humorous, if I were not an habitual nomad this is what I would choose.

      • Just Ask Susan profile image

        Susan Zutautas 

        21 months ago from Ontario, Canada

        I'm surprised that you don't have Newfoundland dogs on your list. They are super affectionate.


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