Bringing a new dog into your family is a major step. And when it comes to narrowing down your choice of dog, you might be wondering which breeds are the most loyal dog breeds around.
Every dog is unique. But there are some personality traits that almost every owner looks for in a new dog. Perhaps the most important of these traits is loyalty.
But what do we mean by loyalty? In short, a loyal dog will prioritize its owner or family members over everyone and anything else. An extremely loyal dog may even prioritize its family over its own comfort and wellbeing.
Obviously, these traits are essential to a good work, service, or hunting dog. But they can also be a great attribute for a family pet or companion animal.
So how do you know if a dog will be loyal to you through thick and thin? And which dog breeds have the best reputation for being loyal to their owners?
Can Loyalty Be Trained?
When it comes to determining the most loyal dog breeds, there is one big question: Is loyalty bred or trained?
Many people associate certain breeds with positive traits like loyalty. And it's possible that loyalty is a genetic personality trait passed down through generations.
Or maybe the dog breeds we associate with loyalty are just more likely to be trained that way.
It's quite possible that loyalty is a learned attribute. Perhaps dogs learn to trust their owners, therefore developing a natural loyalty to us.
Ultimately, there's no reason that these two theories can't co-exist. Maybe loyalty can be bred and trained.
Even if you choose one of the most loyal dog breeds below, the way you treat your new companion can potentially make or break its loyalty. Whether you want to define this as formal training or simply building a relationship, you need to give your dog a reason to be loyal in the first place.
Michelle A. Rivera, director of an animal training non-profit organization, recommends using only positive reinforcement with your dog. Using outdated punishments can cause your dog to fear you, rather than want to stand by your side.
Other dog behaviorists support the theory that all dogs are capable of being the "most loyal." However, some breeds are treated with more care and respect than others, earning them a superior reputation.
So when you're searching for your new furry friend, it's not just about choosing one of the most loyal dog breeds. You also need to educate yourself on how to properly train and care for your dog throughout the rest of its life.
The Top 8 Most Loyal Dog Breeds
Even though there's some uncertainty over whether loyalty can be trained, many dog experts still have certain breeds that they consider the most loyal dog breeds around.
If you have your heart set on finding an eternally loyal companion, these breeds might be the best place to start your search.
Just because the most loyal dog breeds below are purebreds, that doesn't mean that you should limit your search to single-breed dogs. Instead, we encourage you to look for "mutts" or crossbreeds that have any of these breeds in their parentage.
Not only will you find a new best friend for a much cheaper price than a purebred puppy, but you'll also give a dog a home that otherwise might not have a chance at one.
Also, the most loyal dog breeds listed below are in no particular order. Even if they were, remember that individual dogs, just like humans, will have individual personalities.
Just because two puppies come from the same litter doesn't mean that they will have identical loyalty characteristics. But this uniqueness is what makes dogs so special.
The Rottweiler might have a rather intimidating appearance, but these large dogs are often considered one of the most loyal dog breeds. On top of being extremely loyal, well-trained Rottweilers have a reputation for being extremely gentle with children and smaller animals within their families.
Looking at the Rottweiler's sheer size and muscular build, it's no surprise that they descend from the Roman mastiffs of centuries past. Over time, the Rottweiler transitioned from working dog, to guard dog, to now being one of the most popular family dog breeds around.
If you're considering a Rottweiler for yourself, keep in mind that these gentle giants need plenty of early training and socialization. Without this structure and guidance, your Rottweiler could become aggressive or anxious with age.
Regular play, exploration, and socialization with new people or animals are necessities with many of the most loyal dog breeds.
One of the biggest mistakes a new Rottweiler owner can make is not stimulating their dog. Since these dogs are intelligent and love to learn, boredom can be one of their greatest downfalls.
The German Shepherd is an iconic breed in popular culture. From "I Am Legend" to your local K-9 unit, the German Shepherd is known for its discipline, loyalty, and intelligence.
This dog breed is extremely confident and courageous, which makes it a great guard dog for property or livestock. And with a reputation for risking their own lives for those of their owners, it's easy to see why the German Shepherd is one of the most loyal dog breeds.
The German Shepherd can develop into an extremely loyal and gentle family companion. But these dogs generally keep their distance when it comes to those they don't know. That makes the German Shepherd an excellent watchdog.
But it's not always the best choice if you frequently have guests over or plan to take your new best friend to local dog-friendly businesses. However, proper socialization from an early age can eliminate this concern.
With this breed's loyalty also comes a need for constant bonding and validation. If you're considering a German Shepherd as your new pet, keep in mind that you will need to spend plenty of quality time with your furry companion to keep them happy and stress-free.
Have you ever seen a giant, white dog and thought, "That's definitely a polar bear?" Or maybe you thought you saw a real-life version of Falkor from "The Neverending Story."
If so, you're familiar with one of the most loyal dog breeds, the Great Pyrenees.
Unlike the Rottweiler and German Shepherd, which offer a more protective form of loyalty, these massive, fluffy dogs show their loyalty through being patient, calm, and always staying by your side.
But this peaceful tranquility doesn't mean that the Great Pyrenees has no bite. These dogs will quickly spring to the rescue of livestock or their human family members with a moment's notice.
Since the Great Pyrenees arose as a herding dog, they are extremely independent. That can be both a blessing and a curse.
The Great Pyrenees requires little training to be an effective family dog. But if you do attempt to teach them tricks or commands, they aren't shy about showing their boredom or indifference.
The Great Pyrenees is simultaneously one of the most loyal dog breeds and one of the easiest to socialize.
If the Great Pyrenees wasn't big enough, the next breed on our list is the St. Bernard. Once used to rescue those lost in the Alps following an avalanche or storm, this breed has found its way into many family homes around the world.
Reaching over 150 pounds on average, the St. Bernard offers a calming personality that makes them an excellent modern therapy dog. But, with such a large frame, proper training is necessary to keep them from leash-pulling or playing too roughly as adults.
Despite their lumbering size, the St. Bernard often maintains its puppy-like curiosity and playfulness throughout its lifetime. This trait makes the breed a great companion for young children.
If there's a classic, all-American dog breed out there, it's probably the Labrador retriever. But this breed is also one of the most popular dogs in Canada and the United Kingdom. In fact, it's ranked number one in popularity by each country's kennel club.
While the Labrador retriever comes from Newfoundland, this breed gained traction as a popular hunting dog in 19th century England.
Following World War II, the breed gained popularity with hunters in the United States and Canada as well.
Today, Labrador retrievers are still a super common choice of hunting dog for pheasants, waterfowl, and more.
Known for being friendly and active, this breed is a great choice for those looking for a hiking or running companion. The Labrador retriever was bred for swimming (they even have webbed feet), so time spent in lakes, ponds, or pools is also a great form of exercise.
While Labrador retrievers are one of the most loyal dog breeds, they also require lots of attention and are extremely outgoing. These dogs require ample socialization and training from an early age. Plus, they'll need regular playtime and excursions throughout the rest of their lifetime.
Sometimes mistaken for the Shiba Inu, the Akita is a Japanese dog with a rich history of guard duty. While not intimidating at first glance, these dogs are one of the most loyal dog breeds and work diligently to protect their family and home.
Akita owners will often experience a silly, playful, and affectionate side of their beloved dog. But when it comes to strangers, the Akita can be standoffish or outright territorial.
Since protecting their loved ones is often the Akita's top priority, they require plenty of socialization at a young age.
Even with adequate socialization, though, the Akita will often remain wary of other dogs. That is one of the potential downsides of choosing one of the most loyal dog breeds as your new pet.
With their stubborn personality, the Akita might be a handful for inexperienced dog owners. But with proper training, you can develop a loving, trusting relationship with this breed without losing its loyalty.
Find Your New Furry Friend Today
You can choose to adopt a dog from one of the most loyal dog breeds mentioned above or opt for a mutt. Either way, building a positive relationship with your new friend is the most important step towards a lifetime of loyalty.
If your dog feels like you are loyal to it, it will surely return the favor.
Even if you have your heart set on a certain breed, you can find countless single- and cross-breeds in shelters around the country. Using the PetFinder search tool, you can filter your search results by breed, age, location, and other attributes.
With a little patience and the help of the internet, you really can find the perfect dog for you and your family — all without supporting puppy mills or unethical breeders along the way.
What dog breed do you think is the most loyal? Share your opinion in the comments!