Seven Happy Dog Breeds

Updated on February 26, 2018
DrMark1961 profile image

Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He has been working with dogs for more than 40 years.

Labs are friendly but not the best breed for everyone.
Labs are friendly but not the best breed for everyone. | Source

There is no way people are going to agree with this list. Everyone thinks they have the most loyal dog breed, most people think they have the friendliest dog breed, and I have been told numerous times, "My dog's breed is always the happiest." No matter which breed I leave out, there are sure to be complaints. I can see the comments now: “I have always had . . . and they are the happiest breed of dog.”

Sorry, but it does not work that way. I realize that dogs are individuals, and some individuals are happier and friendlier than others. In general, however, some breeds are usually happy-go-lucky, and some, well, not as much.

The happy, loving dogs are glad to see me. After years of seeing dogs come in for an exam, these are the breeds I am most likely to walk up to and start an exam on without having a good tech holding on. The top rated article on Google lists the German Shepherd dog as the second friendliest breed. I have to disagree. Shepherds are rarely as snappy as Doxies, but there are a lot of other dogs I would put on my list above the GSD. Here are a few:

Happy and Sweet Dog Breeds

Labrador Retriever
Golden Retriever
Basset Hound
Siberian Husky

The Labrador Retriever

Despite their large size, Labradors are happy and easy to work with. Older dogs can be very calm and easy going, but when young, a lot of these dogs will show off their hunting background by running around checking everything out.

Are they good guard dogs? Well, since they are such big dogs, they do work as guard dogs. This is often because they sleep in front of the door and manage to trip up any home invader foolish enough to try and walk around them. Most of them do love the water, so if you have a pool by your door, this happy dog will probably guard it.

There are other dog breeds out there that shed less, have fewer health problems, never bark, and make great watchdogs, but none of them are as popular as the Lab. They have been the most popular dog in the world for over 20 years. Being happy most of the time has a lot to do with that popularity.

Baby Playing With Yellow Lab

The Beagle is friendly right from the start.
The Beagle is friendly right from the start. | Source

The Beagle

This healthy dog is one of the easiest to work with. One of the best-known books on dog intelligence puts this dog down near the bottom. I don’t agree with that rating and certainly look forward to seeing this happy and sweet little dog on the exam table. They are also happy to be around cats.

Beagles are prone to weight problems, but of course, it is a problem with the owner, not the dog. As far as I know, even this smart, little dog does not know how to open the refrigerator.

Sleeping Beagle Puppy

The Golden Retriever.
The Golden Retriever. | Source

The Golden Retriever

There have been exceptions just like with any other breed, but I am almost always happy to see a Golden Retriever waiting in a room. They are happy, great with kids, affectionate with their owners, and one of the smartest dog breeds (easy to train).

Goldens, just like Labs, do tend to be a bit hyperactive, so they are not the best dog for someone who needs a calm dog. They do slow down, eventually, just about the time they reach old age. Most of them stay sweet right up to the end.

A Golden Retriever Playing With a Baby

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The Brittany Spaniel.Should the Brittany be classified as a lap dog?
The Brittany Spaniel.
The Brittany Spaniel. | Source
Should the Brittany be classified as a lap dog?
Should the Brittany be classified as a lap dog? | Source

The Brittany Spaniel

This affectionate dog is usually very attached to their owner, but they are also willing to put up with almost anyone—even me. Many Brittany owners have told me that their dogs like to cuddle, too.

Like Labs and Goldens, they are a hunting breed, bred to get out and work. If you need a calm dog willing to lie around all day, they are not your best choice.

Brittany Spaniels Playing

When awake, Basset Hounds are friendly.
When awake, Basset Hounds are friendly. | Source

The Basset Hound

This big scent hound is a little too lazy to be aggressive, and once he is scooped up and on the table, is willing to put up with almost anything. (Okay, no dog likes his temperature taken, so other than that.)

Besides being great with kids, the Basset is also a good medium-sized dog for an apartment. They are happy to be on their own for much of the day, happy to cuddle with their owner, and happy to just lie around and wait for you to pay attention to them. Why are they so happy? They are usually sleeping. Anywhere and anytime. They usually present at the vet clinic for ear infections. Imagine that?

A Bassett Hound Puppy

The Siberian Husky has been bred to be friendly, at least to humans.
The Siberian Husky has been bred to be friendly, at least to humans. | Source

The Siberian Husky

I have seen this breed listed among the “ten most dangerous dogs," and I usually have to stop and laugh at the list maker's stupidity. Have they ever been around one of these dogs? Yes, they look like a wolf, but the similarities end right there. Siberians are incredibly happy dogs, and almost always people friendly. They were so valuable and so much a part of the family that the Siberian women were known to nurse any extra puppies.

If a puppy was aggressive or bit one of the family members, it was dispatched onto a hard rock immediately. On the frozen plains of Siberia, there were no judges to appeal to, and no rescues that might save a dangerous dog. Thousands of years of culling and selective breeding have lead to a very friendly dog, at least if you are a human. For those chickens reading this article, keep on searching. Sibes are not your best choice.

Siberian Husky Puppies

Boxers are friendly and also get along with cats.
Boxers are friendly and also get along with cats. | Source

The Boxer

Since these dogs are actually one of the guard dog breeds, not everyone will agree with this choice. (Actually, no one is going to agree with all of these choices. A few vets or vet techs out there, especially those with scars on their hands, will agree with most of the list.)

Boxers are good dogs for a single woman who needs a guard dog, but they are almost always happy to see strangers that their owners like. They do a little “Boxer wiggle” when they are happy. (Since they do not have much tail to wag, they wag their entire back-end instead.) If I was looking for a big guard dog but also wanted a friendly dog that would be willing to visit with most of my guests, a Boxer would be at the top of my list.

Boxer Puppy With Hiccups


This list is based on personal opinion and no scientific research was done to back it up. The only reference I can cite is over 40 years of experience.

Finding Your Happy Dog

Do not use this list, or any single list, to select your new dog. Look at all the factors your new family member will possess—loyalty, health, affection, and, of course, how she will fit into your lifestyle. If you live in an apartment and work most of the day, find a dog that will do well in that life. Retrievers, Brittanys, and Siberians are friendly but are not suited for a life of confinement and boredom. You need to think about all of this and should not rush into your decision.

If you are looking for a happy dog, be sure to check out your local animal shelter first. The testing performed when a dog comes into the shelter usually removes the dogs with aggressive tendencies so most of them are happy-go-lucky. You will not always be able to tell about the dog on the first visit, so if you can spend some time with the dog before adoption that is really the best way to go.

Try looking for a breed rescue on the internet. You can also check to find other shelters that you can visit. If you do not find your puppy, consider a breeder, but do not buy a cute puppy from a pet shop or an internet puppy wholesale site just because he is happy. He will be from a puppy mill and you may end up with a poorly behaved dog that has housetraining problems. Good luck on finding that perfect new dog!

Questions & Answers

    © 2014 Dr Mark

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      • profile image

        Doge Law 3 years ago

        This is biased and I'm basing this on fact. Pitbulls score higher on the temperament test than a labadore. 84% to 77%. I don't understand why bad people give an awesome family dog a bad name... And yes, pit bulls are most indeed family dogs, voted #1 in America in the early 1900s and the only dog to be awarded with military medals for its service.

      • DrMark1961 profile image

        Dr Mark 3 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

        Years ago I had a little Lhasa, and in one of his "moments" he bit my god-daughter on the lip. Not a friendly breed, but, like our Pits, we love them anyway!

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        Rachel Koski 3 years ago from Pennsylvania, now farming in Minnesota

        DrMark! I love your list :) Have to take my hat off to your many decades of experience, and I'm sure you're close to 100% right about all of these. Neither of my crossbreeds would make this list, but we love our Pits anyway, right? Take care :)

      • DrMark1961 profile image

        Dr Mark 3 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

        Hi Torrs13. Little T sounds great, even with the weight thing. It is a constant battle with that breed, so go easy on your mom. He had a good lifespan; that it is a lot of years smiling for a dog.

        Thanks for stopping by.

      • Torrs13 profile image

        Tori Canonge 3 years ago from California

        My mom got a beagle when I was growing up and he lived a good life - 12 years. He was definitely overweight but I blame that on the fact that my mom would cook him his own piece of chicken sometimes! Like you said, it's more the owner's fault that anything. Little T (his name) was such an amazing beagle and was the sweetest thing. He was always smiling and saying hello to everyone who came over. I sure do miss him.

      • DrMark1961 profile image

        Dr Mark 3 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

        Thanks Audrey. I have read many of your hubs over the last few years here, and appreciate all the effort you spend here at HP.

        Pamela, that is a really cute story about Basset Hound Mountain (it sounds like it should at least be named that way). But Poms? I have run into a few snappy dogs. Usually they live with toddlers, and are angry at having their hair pulled all the time. Thanks for taking the time to comment!!

      • Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

        Pamela Kinnaird W 3 years ago from Maui and Arizona

        Pomeranians didn't make it onto your list?

        I enjoyed your hub. I've never met a Basset Hound but I point one out to my grandkids sometimes when we're out driving. It's a profile or silhouette of a Basset Hound lying down with his long face forward and his forehead high, followed by his body lying prone. He is how I find my way home. I identified him out of necessity a few days after getting lost for an hour on one freeway after another. This Basset Hound is the first mountain of the Superstition Mountains which are near San Tan Valley (Phoenix) Arizona. At least, he sure looks like a hound to me.

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        Audrey Hunt 3 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

        Send them all to me! I happen to prefer dogs over people. Your photos and informative list is a joy to read. Voted up and across and sharing. Thanks so much.


      • DrMark1961 profile image

        Dr Mark 3 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

        I have an aunt like that, GOL, and they both sit on the couch every evening watching TV. Her after work, him after....sleeping all day!

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        Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 3 years ago from Philippines

        The Basset Hound sounds perfect for my antipathy to exercise. You have led me to my dog twin.

      • DrMark1961 profile image

        Dr Mark 3 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

        Thanks, Solaras!

      • Solaras profile image

        Solaras 3 years ago

        For once I can agree that the border collie does not belong on your list! The tend to be aloof and a little reserved with strangers. Nice list - love the Labs and Goldens!

      • Lady Guinevere profile image

        Debra Allen 3 years ago from West By God

        My neighbor has a huge English Mastiff and he is gorgeous. His fur is like velvet and he always tries to come over and get some loving from me.

      • DrMark1961 profile image

        Dr Mark 3 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

        Lady Guinevere--she sounds great, a cute mix! Down here we would call her "mestizo", which is a crossbred. Vira-lata (a mutt) is reserved for those dogs who are a little bit of everything--we have plenty of those too.

        QuoteAmber--She sounds like she is starving. One of my neighbors has a Pit puppy and whenever she sees me walking my dogs she runs up and tries to snuggle up to my legs, and I end up tripping over her and getting my leashes all tangled. I want to get mad at her, but, like you said, it is really her owner´s fault. The puppy just needs some affection.

      • QuoteAmber profile image

        Amber 3 years ago from Earth

        Oh yes, too friendly. My neighbor has a lab that they let run around off-leash with no one watching it. It makes a beeline for me whenever she sees me and begs to be pet, literally begs and whines and rubs herself all over my legs. Which is fine, I am happy to oblige, until I need to get in the car and can't leave because she's too close to the car, or running around the car, and won't go back home. Which I guess thinking about it, it isn't so much the labs fault as the owners.

      • Lady Guinevere profile image

        Debra Allen 3 years ago from West By God

        I like mutts better than purebreds myself. Out of all the dogs that you listed my mutt is a mix of Yellow Lab, Boxer and German Shepherd.

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        Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

        Hey, now that you mention it, I recall a beagle a lady brought to church every Sunday without fail. The tame little boy just sat quietly when she went to receive communion. He hardly made a sound, and was the cutest dog ever! Thanks for sharing this!

      • DrMark1961 profile image

        Dr Mark 3 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

        Hi Elizabeth! Since you have Goldens you would do great with Brittanys--they are a little too affectionate and active for me. I want a dog that will lie around when I just want to sit in my hammock, which is why I am a Pitbull kind of guy. Glad you like them.

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        Elizabeth Parker 3 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

        I know all about golden retrievers, but I've never heard of the Brittany before. I think that might be my next favorite breed! How cute!!

      • DrMark1961 profile image

        Dr Mark 3 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

        Amber, having been the victim of more than one over-friendly tail, I tend to agree. Friendly is good, but too friendly....?????

      • QuoteAmber profile image

        Amber 3 years ago from Earth

        I completely agree with this list! Labs tend to be a little too friendly.