Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He has been working with dogs for more than 40 years.
What Breeds Make the Most Loyal Dogs?
This is really hard to write because almost all dog breeds are loyal. If almost all dogs are loyal, how do you pick out the best?
Most websites choose to pick “the most loyal” based on “the most popular” list of dog breeds. Yes, Labradors, Goldens, and Beagles are all loyal dogs. Chihuahuas are one of the most loyal dog breeds, and will usually pick their “favorite” owner and do anything they can to take care of that person.
Loyalty means a lot of different things to different people. To me, loyalty is when a dog is willing to lay down his life to protect you. A few dogs are like the Whippet and will run off before facing an intruder. Some dogs are like my pit bull. She is faithful and not at all disloyal, but if there is anything unusual she will hide behind my legs.
The breeds listed here are not likely to hide between your legs. They are all loyal, maybe to a fault.
Personal protection dogs always have to be loyal. It's in the job description. If these dogs were humans they would probably all be employed by the US Secret Service and would sit around telling each other how they were waiting for the chance to take a bullet meant for the president.
Dobies are dogs, however. They do not go home at the end of their shift, and, unlike Secret Service agents, anyone can have one.
They are known to bite strangers but rarely bite their owners. In fact, a study in the Journal of Applied Animal Behavior Science showed that Dobies are less aggressive to their owners than “mellow” breeds like the Cocker Spaniel, but rank higher in stranger-directed aggression.
Dobies are not as large as many other breeds, but they do use every kilo to protect their owner. Since their development by a tax collector in Germany, Dobies have been one of the most loyal breeds. They listen to their owner and protect him when told to do so.
Most of them live about 11 years. This breed of dog is not the first choice for a lot of people, but if you are looking for a loyal dog there really is no better choice.
This personal protection dog from Italy has been known for his loyalty since Roman times. Cane Corso was expected to walk next to their owner, watching him even when he was relaxing in the evening.
Their popularity is increasing but there still are not many of them around. If they were included in more studies they would be praised for their courage, but anyone studying the breed would also have to discuss how difficult they are to train.
They are not as easy to train as a Dobie, and since they are larger it is important that this be done when the dog is young.
Cane Corso dogs live about 10 or 11 years, and can be one of the most loyal dogs during that whole time.
If this dog were more popular he would probably be on a lot of “top 10 loyal dog” lists. He is not well known, and most of the lists are replicas of the top 10 most popular.
Neapolitan Mastiffs are the best family guard dogs. They are one of the most loyal dogs because they are willing to lie quietly in the yard and then attack and take down a stranger. Since Neos are so large (60 to 70 kilos, or about 130 to 150 pounds) they can do their job effectively when needed.
There are not a lot of studies on intelligence or behavior that include Neos. Like Dobies, they are a dog that would rarely bite an owner, but would do so to a stranger.
Strangers might not even be out to hurt a family, but a dog is not able to tell this.
Neos are prone to skin and eyelid problems plus have a lot of giant dog problems, and thus they only live about 7 or 8 years. They never run away, do not bark much, and will be loyal to the family during their short lives.
This big dog comes from Africa where he was developed to protect the homestead of farmers against lions and other predators. Loyalty was what was needed for a dog like that.
The Boerboel could not run off and hunt, even if interesting animals happened by. Unlike a coon dog, he could not be gone for days at a time, chasing a good scent and stopping whenever he felt so inclined. These dogs were not bred to be hunters, but were used as family guard dogs.
When they are still young they should be socialized and obedience trained. When they become adults, and weigh anywhere from 60 to 80 kilos (130–170 pounds) training is not going to be so easy.
The Boerboel was probably bred using Bullmastiffs, another loyal guard dog. The best dogs survive about 10 years and will be loyal and protective that whole time—against whatever they have to face.
Most of the incredible stories of loyalty involve dogs of this breed. I have books that tell stories about GSDs coming home from far away, about waking up the owners to escape from the house during a gas leak, and even one story of a dog that broke into a house, saved his owners from a burning house, and jumped back into the house to save the child still sleeping.
They are intelligent and loyal, but they are also one of the most common dog breeds. If there were more Dobies, Cane Corsos, and Neos, would there be more heroic stories about those dogs? No one can know for sure. It is my opinion that there would be, but that does not take away from the incredible things that this dog has done.
German Shepherd Dogs are the most popular animal in personal protection competitions. Since they are intelligent and easy to train, they are also a popular choice in obedience trials, and have always been popular as guard dogs because of their size and strength.
Like all large and powerful dogs, they do need to be socialized and trained. GSDs live about 10 or 11 years if healthy and taken care of.
This giant is not a personal protection dog, and not a guard dog, but he is one of the most loyal and has become famous for his willingness to give up his life to save his human master. Other dogs may work in snow, and some breeds are better known for walking the streets of tough cities, but the Newfoundland is the dog most likely to jump in there and rescue a drowning child.
Newfies have a coat that is almost waterproof, webbed paws that allow them to swim fast, a powerful breaststroke, an excellent lung capacity, and a heart that makes them one of the most loyal dogs when it comes time to save someone caught in the waves.
This is the kind of dog I would want to take care of my kids.
Newfies have been used in several crossbreeding programs. The breeders hope that the amazing loyalty of this breed will be inherited. Some others do not want to use them because of their health issues. Only about 38% of them even make it to their tenth birthday.
If you do not agree with the dogs I have chosen for this list, all you have to do is look on a different site. There are a lot of people who will disagree and choose the most popular dogs. There are others who disagree and choose a dog breed they have seen in a movie—Hachiko the Akita, Lassie the Collie, and a few others. They are not wrong; it is just that this list is more accurate.
When you visit your local animal shelter, you are probably going to find a loyal dog, even if the dog is not on this list. She might be a mutt, she might be a purebred—as far as loyalty goes, it really does not matter. Take a minute to look around. If you are looking for a special breed you can enter Petfinder.com and see which dogs are available in your area. You can also look for breed rescues by using your search engine.
Remember, almost all dogs are loyal.
When out searching for a loyal dog, do not buy from a pet shop or an internet puppy wholesaler. The dog you buy will probably be the product of a puppy mill, and you may end up with a problematic puppy that is neither loyal nor able to be housetrained.
More About Dog Breeds
- Five Best Personal Protection Dog Breeds
If you need a protection dog find out which breed will do the job.Photos, videos, and descriptions of the five best will help you decide.
- Five Best Family Guard Dog Breeds
A guard dog can protect your family when no one else is around to do it.Photos, videos, and descriptions of the five best breeds available will help you choose the dog your family needs.
- Five Best Dog Breeds for Women Living Alone
Do you live alone and need a good companion to protect you? Here are five great choices.
© 2013 Mark dos Anjos DVM
Mohan Babu from Chennai, India on November 07, 2018:
Very informative even for someone who likes to flee on spotting a dog.
Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on August 06, 2013:
That is a really cute story about the ladder. My dog would just sit on the ground and bark!
I think of Beagles as more faithful than loyal, but then again loyalty means a lot of things to a lot of people. That is one reason this list was so hard to come up with.
I´m sorry I missed your first comment. My ISP has been working really slowly the last few weeks and sometimes I cannot even get into my email. I have my comments set to "must be approved" since I have had some nasty messages left on a few of them and do not want them showing up until I have approved them.Thanks for taking the time to leave this again!
i scribble on August 06, 2013:
I tried to leave a comment here a couple days ago, but I guess it wasn't saved. I have a beagle and love the breed, wondered how they compared on loyalty. Glad to know they are loyal. But my most loyal dog was a mixed breed. She once followed me up a ring ladder onto the roof, then had to be carried back down. When we took her swimming, she would swim to me and paw at me. She broke an expensive necklace I was wearing and it was lost in the river where we were canoeing. My husband always said these behaviors were her being protective of me.
i scribble on August 04, 2013:
I'm a beagle owner and wondered how beatles would rank in loyalty. Interesting that your pitbull hides behind you! I used to have a mixed breed dog who was my most loyal. She once followed me up a metal ring ladder onto the roof, then had to be carried back down. My husband always said she was being protective of me when she did things like that.
Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on July 11, 2013:
I agree with you on Chows, but Poodles and Labradoodles seem much more faithful, not as loyal (at least as I define it). As I mentioned above, this list was really hard to put together, as so many are loyal, and in so many ways (like you found out from your Chow!)
Justin W Price from Juneau, Alaska on July 09, 2013:
Mark, I'm surprised not to see Chows, Poodles or Labradoodles on this list. I recently lost a chow and she was one of the most loyal dogs I ever had. doodles and poodles also bond really closely. I had no idea about dobermans. Thanks for sharing!
Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on June 25, 2013:
Thanks for taking the time to comment, RJ Lefebvre. I am glad you enjoyed the hub.
R. J. Lefebvre on June 25, 2013:
We have had many pets, mostly with dogs and cats. Your hub described many pet dogs of which we have had as part of our family. I believe you did a great job of describing many of those lively critters.
Mark dos Anjos DVM (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on June 25, 2013:
With all of those things to worry about, I would still love to have a Newfie if they could take the heat here. (One of my clients has Siberians and she runs her air conditioner 24/7, even in our mild winter. Her dogs spend most of the time in her bedroom, which I do not think is fair.) Give me a "vira lata" (mutt) anytime!! The right dog will love the beach, accept the heat, and be loyal, too.
Mary Craig from New York on June 25, 2013:
You've named some beautiful dogs here Dr. Mark, each one a beautiful animal. I've always loved Newfies but the size, slober and short life span are hard to deal with.
You are so right about mutts though. We had one when my kids were small and she protected and followed each of my kids, even when they were in the baby carriage. Dogs are the best!
Voted up, useful, and interesting.