Humans domesticated dogs more than 10,000 years ago, and certain breeds, such as hunting and herding dogs, were bred to have traits more associated with loyalty, such as following their master and responding to cues. In this list, we’re going to look at different breeds of dogs that are known for their loyalty (in no particular order), but it’s important to remember that grooming, not just nature, does play a role in a dog’s personality and that Mixed Breed Dogs Raised in a loving home can be incredibly loyal and loving pets.
Why are dogs so loyal?
Dogs, like their closest non-domesticated genetic relatives, wolves, are pack animals, and tend to trust and cooperate with other members of the pack. Animal researchers believe that humans selected certain dogs for an increased submissive propensity to minimize conflict over resources and ensure safe coexistence and coworking – so that humans lead and dogs follow. Since the 18th century, more than 400 specific races have been developed to perform specific functions in human society.
Staffordshire bull terrier
Staffordshire Bull Terriers or Staffies, also known as nannies, are a small, short-haired British breed. Descended from terriers and bulldogs, this dog was primarily designed for dog fighting, but has also consistently had a reputation as a loyal family pet, especially loyal to children. It is important for these dogs to come into contact with other pets early on, as their history as fighters has given them a tendency not to step back when challenged.
Shiba Inus, commonly called Shibas, is an ancient breed of dog in Japan that hunted over rugged mountains thousands of years ago. They came to the United States with a Japanese military family in the 1950s after they nearly died out in World War II. A particularly loyal Shiba named Mari’s story was turned into a movie after an earthquake struck Japan in 2004. Mari got her three pups to safety after their owner’s house collapsed and successfully woke the older owner up so he could be rescued. A helicopter flew the owner and when he was able to return two weeks later, Mari and her pups were waiting for him.
Beagles are the most popular dogs among American pet owners, known for their cheerful temperament and loyalty. The modern breed was developed as a scented dog in 19th century England, intelligent and with superior chasing instincts. These chipper dogs have worked as a team with human hunters in the past and are therefore believed to be closely related to their owner.
Saint Bernards, commonly referred to as gentle giants, are notoriously patient, kind, and watchful of children. Hundreds of years ago, monks used this powerful and loyal race to locate and rescue travelers buried in avalanches in the Swiss Alps. The dogs crossed snowdrifts several meters deep, found stranded people and returned to monasteries to lead the monks to the place of the missing.
These large, working mountain dogs were historically bred to deter wolves and other predators from harming livestock. As a result, they are known for being both territorial and protecting their families, although socialization with other dogs helps keep the Great Pyrenees friends off with other dogs. These dogs have a double coat that consists of an outer, waterproof layer and a softer, shorter inner layer that peeled off significantly each spring.
Dog breeders developed Border Collies around the border (hence the name) between Scotland and England towards the end of the 19th century. Known as one of the most intelligent breeds, Collies need a lot of exercise and stimulating play to be satisfied. They run for miles a day when they tend sheep or other livestock. Working dogs are known for the fact that they inherently want to please their owners, and Border Collies are no exception to what usually makes them loyal companions.
Bernese Mountain Dog
Also known as the Bernese, this great Swiss working breed is characterized as loving and strong-willed according to the American Kennel Club, and often devotes most of their attention to a special person. These intelligent dogs are usually easy to train and do not respond well to harsh training methods. They do not have a particularly long life expectancy and live on average between 7 and 10 years.
Australian cattle dog
Dog breeders developed Australian cattle dogs to herd cattle over long stretches of rough terrain. Also known as red or blue heels, depending on the color of their coat, these dogs are related to Australian wild dogs known as dingoes. As they guard by biting, early training is important to make sure this breed does not choke. Cattle dogs require a high level of physical activity and are considered particularly loyal to their owners.
Developed between the 17th and 19th centuries in the French province of Brittany, the Brittany dogs historically worked with hunters as hunting dogs, mainly to rescue birds. Obedient, agile, and excited, these dogs are best for those with active outdoor lifestyles, as well as those looking for a loyal hunting partner. Some breeders differentiate between American and French Brittany, with the former being larger.
Boxers, which have been used as hunting dogs for wild boars, bears and deer for centuries, are originally from Germany and have large, strong jaws and a smooth, close-fitting coat. Patient and protective, boxers are also very playful and energetic and should not be allowed to roam freely in public spaces given their history of hunting game. Boxers have consistently placed themselves in the top ten list of the most popular dogs in the United States and are usually easy to train if the positive reinforcement is consistently positive.
German shepherd dog
German Shepherds are the second most popular dog breed in the United States, known for their intelligence, bravery, loyalty, and self-confidence, according to the American Kennel Club. This dog is considered a little aloof among breeders and it takes a while to make friends with new people. Their intelligence, coupled with their strength, makes them a common choice for search and rescue dogs as well as guard dogs.
German breeders, also known as Viennese, badger, and sausage dogs, combined elements of English, French, and German dogs and terriers to develop dachshunds, primarily to hunt game such as badger and, in packs, even larger animals such as wild boar. Inquisitive and vigilant, these short-legged and long-bodied dogs have been known to make good watch dogs, although they are often tenacious as they were bred to be independent hunters of dangerous prey.
Irish wolfhounds are greyhounds, which means they hunt by sight and speed – as opposed to scented dogs like beagles, who hunt with scent and stamina. Originally developed in Ireland, these large, dignified dogs are considered good watch dogs, as their imposing presence alone is often enough to scare away most of the unfamiliar people. These dogs are loyal and calm, but they also take a lot of work because they are galloping dogs.
Yorkies are compact, toy-sized terriers with floor-length, silky coats that were developed in Britain in the 19th century. These terriers are brave and protective, intelligent, and usually easy to train, although they are also known to be stubborn and full of personality. These small dogs are low in allergies and have fur that is closer to human hair than typical dog fur. This makes them a favorite for dog lovers who live in a small space or with allergies.
Golden Retrievers are famous for their thick, gold coats and muscular, medium-sized dogs that breeders in Scotland developed to retrieve ducks and wild birds during hunting expeditions. These dogs have large, feathery tails and are sociable, trusting, and easy-to-be-satisfied pets. Golden Retrievers are popular all over the world and enjoy lots of play and exercise.
Hailing from the mountains of Northern Japan, Akitas are muscular, double-coated dogs known for their family protection and loyalty to their owners. Probably the most famous Akita is Hachikō, who was so loyal to his owner, a Japanese agronomist, that after the sudden death of his owner, he waited in the same place every day for nine years until Hachikō also died.
Also known as newbies, Newfoundland dogs are one of the largest breeds of dogs in the world. The males can weigh up to 150 pounds. As a showy and powerful working dog, newbies also have a reputation for being patient, loyal, and great with children, and having a gentle and easily trainable temperament. A famous Newfoundland, Gander, traveled to Hong Kong with a battalion of Canadian troops and rescued many of them from a grenade attack. He sacrificed himself by picking up a grenade and carrying it away from the soldiers.
Descended from the English bulldog, American bulldogs evolved from working dogs brought with immigrants to guard farms and sometimes to hunt and kill game, including wild boar. Bulldogs are considered loyal and confident and should be socialized early on to ensure they are not overprotecting strangers or unfamiliar dogs.
Great Danes, also known as German mastiffs, are descended from hunting dogs that were used in the Middle Ages. These dogs are one of the largest breeds in the world. They are friendly, patient, reliable, and are considered good watch dogs just because of their size. The males weigh up to 180 pounds. Despite their imposing size, these dogs are good-natured and easy to train, and enjoy spending time with other pets and people.
The Papillon is also known as the butterfly dog because of the shape of the long hair that extends from the edges of its large, wing-shaped ears. It’s a toy spaniel known for being vigilant and kind, and tougher than its lightweight looks might suggest. These dogs love to play and are very attached to their owners.