Writer, Proud Dog & Cat Mom
Randa is a writer & former assoc. digital content editor at the American Kennel Club. She’s also mom to 1 Corgi & 2 orange cats.
Dogs have been our happy, fun, and sociable companions for thousands of years. But did you know that it was Frederick the Great of Prussia who invented the phrase, “a dog is a man’s best friend”?
Now, three centuries after the time of Frederick the Great, this phrase has become a common saying used to explain the inherent friendliness of dogs, in just a single sentence.
Of course, although dogs are generally friendly animals, there are certain breeds whose personalities are naturally more sociable than others – especially considering all the different types of dogs out there.
So, which are the friendliest dog breeds? Let’s dig in…
The Friendliest Dog Breeds
Whether you’re looking for a new pet for your family or you’re simply curious about the most amicable dog breeds, this list has you covered.
Here are 20 of the friendliest dog breeds:
Often described as “happy-go-lucky,” Beagles are extremely easygoing, curious, and friendly. Bred as hunting dogs, Beagles are used to running in packs – which likely contributes to their friendly nature.
These are great family dogs and all-around loyal companions. Beagles are active and energetic, requiring regular exercise and lots of playtime.
Full of energy and excitement, Bearded Collies are herding dogs known for their shaggy coats. These family dogs are always friendly and can get along with everyone, but definitely require regular exercise to release their energy and keep boredom at bay.
Along these lines, Beardies are smart and outgoing, but can also be independent; so consistent and dedicated training is necessary.
Like the Bearded Collie, the Border Collie is a high-energy herding dog. These dogs are incredibly smart, highly trainable, and aim to please.
Of all the dogs on our list, Border Collies are perhaps the most friendly with their families – but can be a little more reserved around strangers. Border Collies require a lot of exercise and excel when they have a job to do.
Border Collies are great for active dog owners and families – especially those that want to participate in dog sports or other stimulating activities.
A small dog breed full of personality, it’s hard not to befriend the Boston Terrier. Boston Terriers are fun, friendly, sociable companions.
These dogs love to meet new people, are good with kids, and although they require regular exercise, they don’t necessarily need a yard or a ton of space – they’re great city dogs.
Boxers are fun-loving, smart, and loyal. It only makes sense, therefore, that they’re one of the many friendly dog breeds that’s great with children. Boxers make excellent watchdogs for their families – but don’t worry, they’re not always serious.
These dogs are known to be silly and are unlikely to pass up an opportunity for playtime. Boxers have a lot of energy, so daily exercise is important. They’re easy to train, however, and training can help channel their energy.
They may look grumpy sometimes, but there’s no doubt that Bulldogs are one of the friendliest dog breeds around. Bulldogs are easygoing, low-maintenance, and make steadfast companions.
Willing to go wherever you go, the Bulldog is happy to meet new friends – city, suburb, or countryside. These dogs only need moderate exercise, which can be great if you don’t have a lot of space for activity. Bulldogs are generally agreeable to training as well.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
The sweet eyes of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel speak volumes. These dogs were bred to be gentle, loyal companions, and it shows.
Cavs are versatile family members. They’re great with kids, eager to please, and friendly with other animals as well as people.
These dogs are very easy to train, they’re incredibly smart, and can participate in a variety of sports and activities – generally, they’re happy whenever they’re with you.
Just like the famed Lassie of the big screen, Collies are well-known for their sociable and loyal personalities. One of the best dog breeds for kids, Collies are athletic herding dogs that love play and regular exercise.
These dogs are smart and easily trainable; they love having an activity to participate in with their families.
Consistently one of the most popular dog breeds in the U.S., the Golden Retriever is almost synonymous with “friendly dog.”
Goldens are happy, loyal, and outgoing. They are also eager to please – making training easy.
Golden Retrievers make excellent family dogs, their friendly nature extending to kids, other dogs, and other animals. These dogs are very active, so daily exercise and play is a must.
Recognizable for their beautiful red coats, the Irish Setter is sweet-natured, outgoing, and affectionate. An active sporting breed, Irish Setters are excellent with children – they love to play, make new friends, and are generally eager to please.
Irish Setters have a pretty high energy level, so will do well with exercise and training to keep them busy.
A smart companion dog with a sociable nature, the Havanese is a toy breed with an animated personality. These dogs are adaptable, outgoing, and fun – they love to attract attention and meet new friends.
Havenese are excellent city dogs and despite their small size, are also great watchdogs. They are easy to train, require moderate exercise, and generally excel in their role as family companions.
There’s a reason that the Labrador Retriever has been named the most popular dog in the U.S. according to American Kennel Club statistics every year since 1991. With a friendly, outgoing, and active personality, everyone loves the Lab.
Labs are one of the best dogs for families – known for their ability to socialize with children, other dogs, other animals, and strangers alike. These dogs love to play, have a pretty high energy level, and can be trained very easily.
Don’t be intimidated by the size of this working dog – the Newfoundland is truly a gentle giant. Known for their sweet, patient, and gentle demeanor, Newfies are often called the “nanny dog” for children.
These dogs are trusting and sociable, making them excellent companions. Although Newfies are large dogs, they aren’t too high-energy – they simply require regular exercise (or playtime!) to stay happy and healthy.
Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen
The Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen, or PBGV, is a happy, spirited, hunting dog originally bred on the west coast of France (which is where they get their name). Like the Beagle, the PBGV was bred to hunt in a pack – and now they enjoy the company of other dogs, kids, and people.
PBGVs are outgoing, energetic, and smart. They can, however, also be stubborn at times and a little independent, so training is important.
Pembroke Welsh Corgis are smart, affectionate, and energetic herding dogs with a lot of personality. These dogs are quick, independent, and outgoing; they make excellent family pets, especially for those who are looking for a mid-sized dog.
Pembrokes are great watchdogs and very loyal, but can be a little stubborn, so dog owners will want to devote time to socialization and training.
Like the Lab and the Golden Retriever, the Poodle is another dog that always tops the list of the AKC’s most popular dogs. A hypoallergenic dog breed that’s great for families with allergy sufferers, the Poodle is friendly, smart, and active.
Poodles are very people-oriented, they love all kinds of activities, and generally make excellent dogs for children and families. Plus, Poodles come in three different sizes – Toy, Miniature, and Standard.
The mischievous Pug was bred to be a companion dog for Chinese emperors – and now, this breed is one of the most well-known toy breeds out there. These dogs are often described as “multum in parvo” or “a lot in a little“; they’re small dogs with big dog personalities.
Pugs are extremely sociable, agreeable, and love to be with their family members, as well as meet new friends.
Shih Tzus are outgoing, social, and agreeable – their personality, combined with their size makes them excellent city or apartment dogs.
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier may look tough, but this breed is sweet-natured, friendly, and playful. These dogs are known for their patience with children – making them excellent family companions.
Staffordshire Bull Terriers are very energetic and smart, but they can also be a little stubborn, so training is definitely important.
Recognizable by their gold-rust-colored coat, Vizslas are affectionate and gentle sporting dogs. These dogs are known for the bond they build with their owners, they’re friendly, eager to please, and love to do anything their family is doing.
Vizslas are very active and high-energy, so they should get a decent amount of daily exercise.
Which Friendly Dog Breed Is Right For You?
Although some dog breeds have what we’d consider naturally friendlier personalities in comparison to others, there are a variety of dogs out there that might be right for you and your family. At the end of the day, it depends on what your family is looking for in the friendly breed: an active and playful furry friend, an easy trainable pup, or a kid and stranger pleasing doggo with a loyal heart, or all of the above!
And – whichever dog fits your family – learn how Pumpkin can help keep your pup healthy.