10 Best Companion Dog Breeds
Getting a furry companion is just about the best thing you do for yourself and your family: dogs are incredibly loyal, loving and protective of their human family members, bringing joy and happiness to every owner’s life. But not all dogs are created equal. Some canines are happy in urban environments, others need plenty of room to roam, and of course, and there are dogs that get along great with children, just like there are those who don’t. So how do you pick the right four-legged friend?
While finding the right dog for yourself and your family is a highly individualized process, there are some breeds that are simply friendlier with people and animals than others. Here are 10 best companion dogs to choose from.
Friendly, playful, trustworthy, loyal and smart, the Golden Retriever is the original “family dog”. They’re extremely patient and therefore great with both young and older children. But, since they’re very even-tempered (neither timid nor aggressive), they make for wonderful companions for single folks too. These dogs are also highly active – they love to play and require daily exercise, but walks/jogs are not required, at least not daily. The Goldens love their toys, so if you often find yourself exhausted after work and not in the mood for walking, just give your pet some interactive toys and play with them. That being said, if you work all day, every day, the Golden Retriever is not the dog for you – these animals are so human-loving, they prefer to spend most (if not all!) of their time with their owners, preferably outside, though they don’t mind being indoors either – as long as they’re with you.
The Goldens also make for excellent guides for the blind and enjoy competitive events.
Because they shed heavily on a continuous basis, Goldens should be brushed two to three times a week with a slicker brush. During times of heavy shedding, you may need to brush them every to every other day. They also need occasional baths and regular nail trimmings.
Another highly popular family dog, the Labrador Retriever is a friendly, outgoing, intelligent and high-spirited companion who does well in both large and small families. This medium-sized dog is playful, energetic and smart, meaning perfect for active individuals who like training with their pets. They’re also quite tolerable and both human and animal friendly, so they make for good additions to big families or people who already own a pet or two.
The Lab is the perfect companion if you can provide lots of affection and exercise for your pet. Ideally, you’ll like both swimming and running with your pet, although they don’t mind any physical activity, as long as it’s with you.
Because they’re short-haired, Labs require only weekly combing and occasional bathing. Regular nail trimming is also recommended.
One of the most intelligent small-sized dog breeds, the Beagles are used by law enforcement at airports to sniff baggage for non-permitted items. Because of their intelligence, as well as their calm temperament, they’re a wonderful choice for both singles and families with children. These dogs are not only very smart and easygoing but also playful, curious and energetic, making them perfect for folks who like being active. They require plenty of playtime and regular exercise (which is no wonder considering they were originally kept as hunting dogs!), so dog toys are a must-have with this breed.
Undoubtedly one of the cutest pups around, Beagles are kids’ favorite dogs that also make for fantastic adult-companions. Because they’re small (can easily be carried!), they’re suitable for small apartments as well as houses. The only minus, at least when it comes to living in apartments, is howling – Beagles are notorious for howling and barking when bored or left alone, but that can easily be avoided with early training.
Beagles shed moderately year-round, so weekly brushing is recommended. They don’t require frequent baths though, but like most dogs, do need regular nail trimmings.
Small, adorable and playful, the Pug is the ideal house dog. Happy both in the city and country, this small but muscular breed easily adapts to new environments, which is why they’re the perfect choice for both single folk and big families. These dogs are amiable and good-natured, and their large head and big eyes make them almost human-like – just what children (and many adults) love in a pet. The Pug is also highly expressive and quite curious – it’s not rare to see them making strange noises, cocking their heads and wrinkling their foreheads at interesting/unusual sights. Indeed, their child-like behavior is what most Pug owners love about them most.
Although very loving and easy-going, Pugs can also be stubborn. For this reason, housebreaking can sometimes be challenging, although this definitely depends on the dog and their personality. Nevertheless, once taught the right from wrong, these dogs will rarely break the rules. Another thing to note about Pugs is their low-energy behavior. Although not a couch potato, most Pugs are more than happy to spend the entire day snuggling on the sofa. But since they’re prone to obesity (pretty much all Pugs love their food), it’s important to provide them with regular moderate exercise.
The Pug’s short coat needs minimal grooming: weekly brushing and occasional bathing.
If you want a smaller, low-energy dog that is still courageous, the Bulldog is a great breed. Devoted, friendly and affectionate, this small breed pup is great with both small and big families, including younger and older children. Because they have a sturdy build, they’re perfect for kids (and adults!) who like to roughhouse. That being said, Bulldogs are far from high-energy pets: mellow and easygoing, these dogs are happiest curled up in their owner’s lap, or alternatively, next to them in bed. However, like all dogs, they too require regular exercise – an occasional romp as well as regular short walks are always welcome. In fact, because they’re prone to excess weight, it’s important to provide regular exercise to help them stay trim.
Bulldogs are comfortable living in both apartments and large houses, and they’re also very friendly with guests and other animals.
As for grooming, Bulldogs should be brushed two to three times a week with a soft brush, and bathed occasionally. Also, because of their wrinkled appearance, they need to be regularly cleaned and dried so that dirt and moisture don’t get trapped between the wrinkles, causing irritation and/or infection.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
If you’re looking for a toy breed that is gentle, lively and beautiful, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is for you. This regal dog wears his connection to British history in its name and its gentle nature in its big, adorable eyes. The Cavalier loves people and gets along nicely with both children and other dogs, so it’s suited for big and small families, as well as singles. Although royal in appearance, the Cavalier loves a good romp from time to time – and if you live in a house with a big backyard? Squirrels beware. That being said, this is a rather calm and gentle dog that loves spending time on the sofa, preferably next to their human parent. Speaking of which, the Cavalier loves being with their owner(s) so much, that they often suffer from separation anxiety. Because of this, they’re not suited for people who work all day and are often away on business trips.
The Cavalier is eager to please their owner, so they are easy to train. This, coupled with their sweet and even-tempered nature, makes them fantastic therapy dogs.
To keep a Cavalier’s coat silky and shiny, you’ll need to brush them regularly and frequently. Ideally, you’ll brush them every or every other day with a soft brush, and bathe them at least once every two months. Of course, you should also trim their nails regularly.
The Poodle comes in miniature and standard size, and both breeds have specific characteristics. The miniature breed (and toy breed within the miniature breed) tends to be extraordinarily loyal and dedicated to one person only, so they’re best suited for singles. Standard sized Poodles are more patient and therefore good with kids and bigger families. Both breeds are very smart and gentle and generally friendly with both people (including strangers) and other pets. These are caring, proud and elegant looking dogs who need quite a bit of comforting companionship when stressed and/or emotional.
Poodles are seldom bored, and although they do need exercise like all dogs, they’re not as energetic as some breeds. That is not to say they don’t need daily exercise – on the contrary, since they’re highly intelligent and athletic, they need quite a bit of challenge, both physical and mental, to stay happy and healthy. They like to be busy, so regular swimming, jogging or retrieving things is a great way to keep them happy. And if you don’t have time to exercise with your Poodle? That’s ok, just provide them with some balls, sticks or other dog toys and they’ll keep themselves occupied.
No matter the breed, all Poodles need regular, scheduled grooming.
Shih Tzu, also known as Chinese Lion Dog is a toy breed associated with imperial pets. Adorable, lively and mischievous, the Shih Tzu is the perfect dog for people looking to have fun with their pets, first and foremost. This small pup has a long, gorgeous coat that comes in many colors, and although it requires a lot of grooming, we say it’s well worth it. Not only are they some of the cutest dogs one could have, they’re also some of the happiest, sweet-natured pets in general. Perfectly happy to sit on a lap or sofa all day, Shih Tzus are ideal apartment dogs.
While affectionate and loving to their owners, some Shih Tzus have trouble warming up to strangers. They can also be stubborn from time to time. Keep this in mind if you often have guests over. That said, early socialization and training should keep them in line.
Shih Tzus require daily and thorough brushing – during every brushing session, you should make sure you reach the skin. Regular bathing is also a must-do, although once a month is usually more than necessary.
American Staffordshire Terrier
Good-natured, loyal, strong and courageous, the American Staffordshire Terrier is a trustworthy companion. This muscular, medium-sized dog is athletic and confident, perfect for singles or couples with children who like to stay active. The AmStaff is also highly trainable and easy to housebreak which means they do well both in small apartments and houses with big yards. But perhaps the most interesting thing about this tough looking dog is their lovable personality – the AmStaffs love their human owners and are usually game for anything, which makes them ideal for people with children.
Because they’re energetic and athletic, these dogs require lots of regular exercise. The best way to provide an AmStaff enough physical activity is to play and exercise with them: play fetch, jog, swim or do whatever both you and your pet enjoy. What’s really important with AmStaffs is to spend time with them and not leave them alone for long periods of time. It should also be noted that some AmStaffs are prone to chewing and digging, as well as aggressive behavior towards other dogs if not trained in time.
Thanks to their short and stiff coat, caring for an AmStaff is super-easy. Just brush them with a soft bristle brush once a week and bathe them occasionally.
This list wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t end it with the always beautiful and lovable mutts. When getting a dog for yourself and/or your family, what really matters is finding an animal that gets along nicely with people and its surroundings. So, whether you end up getting a purebred or a mixed breed, doesn’t matter at all! In fact, if you’re on the fence about whether to get a mutt or a purebred, let us nudge you in the right direction: get a mutt! With a mixed breed, you usually end up getting the benefits of both (or however many) breeds, including (usually) better health and longer life. Furthermore, if you adopt from the shelter, your pet will already be spayed or neutered, vaccinated and microchipped, so you’ll also save quite a bit of money. And, most importantly, you’ll also save a life.