Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He has been working with dogs for more than 40 years.
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 and 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
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
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
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
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
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
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 Petfinder.com 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!
More About Choosing Dogs
- Best Seven Dog Breeds For Someone Who Works All Day
If you work all day but still want a dog, check out descriptions, videos, and pictures of these low energy breeds and find out which will suit your lifestyle.
© 2014 Dr Mark
Doge Law on October 23, 2014:
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.
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on July 19, 2014:
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!
Rachel Koski Nielsen from Pennsylvania, now farming in Minnesota on July 19, 2014:
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 :)
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on July 02, 2014:
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.
Tori Canonge from North Carolina on July 01, 2014:
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.
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on June 13, 2014:
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 Dapples from Just Arizona Now on June 13, 2014:
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.
Audrey Hunt from Idyllwild Ca. on June 13, 2014:
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.
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on June 10, 2014:
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!
Mona Sabalones Gonzalez from Philippines on June 10, 2014:
The Basset Hound sounds perfect for my antipathy to exercise. You have led me to my dog twin.
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on June 06, 2014:
Barbara Fitzgerald from Georgia on June 06, 2014:
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!
Debra Allen from West By God on June 05, 2014:
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.
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on June 05, 2014:
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.
Amber from Earth on June 05, 2014:
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.
Debra Allen from West By God on June 04, 2014:
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.
Michelle Liew from Singapore on June 04, 2014:
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!
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on June 03, 2014:
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.
Elizabeth Parker from Las Vegas, NV on June 02, 2014:
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!!
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on June 01, 2014:
Amber, having been the victim of more than one over-friendly tail, I tend to agree. Friendly is good, but too friendly....?????
Amber from Earth on June 01, 2014:
I completely agree with this list! Labs tend to be a little too friendly.