You can’t hear the term man’s best friend and not have an image of a dog pop into your head. Have you ever wondered why we so closely associate dogs with deep, lasting friendship and loyalty?
It’s true that many dogs won’t hesitate to put themselves in harm’s way to protect their family, and most dogs’ greatest desire is to simply be close to their owners as much as possible. They’re intuitively attuned to our emotions and can lift our spirits when we’re feeling down.
Perhaps the fact that they choose to share their lives with us is the predominant reason we consider them to be loyal friends to the end.
While every dog is special and unique in their own way, some breeds have a reputation for being exceptionally loyal and willing to go to the ends of the earth for those they love.
Allow yourself to be amazed as we look at the most loyal dog breeds and see why each is considered to be incredibly devoted.
The 40 Most Loyal Dog Breeds
Anyone who has heard the true story of Hachiko, made popular by the movie Hachi: A Dog’s Tale, is familiar with the Akita’s legendary loyalty. Hachiko’s routine was to greet his owner as he exited his train after work each day.
When the owner unexpectedly passed away, Hachiko faithfully continued to arrive at the station everyday for more than nine years to wait for his owner’s return.
One of the oldest sled dog Arctic breeds, the Alaskan Malamute has great strength and fine character. Though somewhat independent, these dogs are trusting and friendly.
Pack animals by nature, these loyal dogs love to be an integral part of family life, whether that involves playtime outside or snuggling on the couch.
American Staffordshire Terrier
This highly trainable, courageous breed is actually quite trustworthy and kind natured, despite the negative publicity unfairly forced upon them. Well-bred and properly raised AmStaffs are devoted, playful family companions with gentle, stable temperaments.
Anatolian Shepherd Dog
This large, rugged breed has a deeply rooted instinct to protect. Though loving and gentle with his family, this devoted dog will be quite an opponent to anything that threatens those he loves.
He’ll typically choose to intimidate rather than fight any predators, but if the need to defend his family is clear, he’ll certainly get the job done.
Originally developed in Switzerland in the latter half of the 1800s, this energetic herding breed has long been held in high regard for his guarding skills. In their eyes, home and family come first, and they won’t hesitate to fearlessly guard both.
This loyal breed has been steadily gaining popularity in North America for this very reason.
This herding breed was intentionally bred to work in partnership with their master. Though their strong herding instinct may pose problems in multi-pet households.
Still, this breed will prove to be a faithful companion to those who lead an active lifestyle and desire a buddy with whom to enjoy numerous outdoor activities.
Barbets were once used primarily as bird dogs, but their sweet personalities and curly, shaggy coats quickly earned them the reputation of being wonderful family pets. These cheerful dogs have plenty of energy and a deep love for swimming.
They’ll easily form strong, long-lasting bonds with all family members and may even suffer from separation anxiety if left alone for too long.
A beagle will be a loyal, lifelong friend with his cheerful, easy-going personality and his clever, loving nature. These guys love their playtime and snuggle time equally but also are adept hunting companions, noted for their enthusiasm and skill for hunting rabbits.
Black Russian Terrier
Underneath all that heavy black fur is a smart, confident dog who was originally bred to guard and protect. This large breed (between 80 and 130 pounds) tends to be aloof with strangers and doesn’t appreciate intruders entering his domain.
They are, however, fiercely loyal and will instinctively protect their homes and loved ones.
This breed is considered to be one of the smartest breeds in the world. Although they’re masterful at herding, Border Collies can be great pets as well provided they’re given plenty of exercise and mental stimulation.
Because they were bred to spend many hours a day working alongside their master, this breed naturally develops a strong bond with their owners but can be distrustful of strangers. Their loyalty is evident as they shadow their master and diligently protect them as they would a flock.
With an expressive face and dark, soulful eyes, the Boxer gives the impression of being alert and ready for anything. Well known for being exceptional with children, the Boxer has ranked high in popularity for many years and currently holds the 11th position of the American Kennel Club’s (AKC) popularity ranking.
Owners of this playful, intelligent breed claim that no other breed comes close to the Boxer’s loyalty and ability to discern his master’s mood.
For many years, the Brittany has been treasured for being one of, if not the, most versatile bird dog around with superb stamina. Hunters aren’t the only ones who love this high-energy breed though.
Families find their Brittany to be an eager-to-please, dedicated friend who loves participating in a wide range of activities with both adults and children.
These little dogs do not care for being alone. They would much prefer to spend every waking minute (and sleeping ones too) snuggled up in your arms or your lap.
This breed’s utter devotion, big personality, and almost human facial expressions have firmly secured him in the hearts of his many fans.
Also known as the English Bulldog, this short, stout breed is known for being tremendously loyal and courageous. Its origins can be traced back to the 1200s when the “sport” of bull-baiting was popular.
When these bloody events became illegal, Bulldog breeders set to work to redefine the breed as a family companion instead of a fearless opponent. Their efforts paid off, and today’s Bulldogs are laid back, gentle, and affectionate pets.
Once used to protect English gamelands from poachers, Bullmastiffs still retain an instinctual need to guard their property and loved ones from harm.
Although they look intimidating with their broad heads, powerful jaws, and massive bodies, Bullmastiffs are actually quite docile, loving, reliable and loyal. Don’t tell that to intruders though.
Another bully breed praised for its loyalty is the Bull Terrier. This sturdy dog with an egg-shaped head and small eyes makes up for his unusual looks with a comical, entertaining personality.
They are playful and bright and will form closely knit bonds with their owners. As with other bully breeds, training and extensive socialization is critical when raising these exuberant pups.
Cardigan Welsh Corgi
The sweet, intelligent-looking face of this breed is easy to fall in love with. Their cattle herding background provides them with an obedient, trainable, protective disposition.
These devoted companions are known to get along very well with other family pets and children alike.
Catahoula Leopard Dog
These Louisiana natives are prized for their instinct to bravely create a living fence around wild herds while working closely with their master. This working relationship translates into enduring friendships when they assume the role of the family pet.
These active dogs will require plenty of daily exercise and correct training and socialization, but the result will be a treasured, lifelong friendship.
These bold little dogs have remarkably big personalities considering that they weigh less than six pounds. Chihuahuas are so loyal that they commonly become jealous if their owner lavishes attention on anyone other than themselves.
Due to their jealous nature, they’re often happiest in single-person homes without any other pets to steal their owner’s affection.
Chinese Shar Pei
Shar Pei are instantly recognizable with their abundant wrinkles and hippopotamus-like head. Although they’re resolutely devoted to their family, they usually don’t warm quickly to strange people or other dogs.
Guardians by nature, these independent dogs will willingly and actively defend their family if necessary.
This ancient breed dates as far back as 206 B.C. and is thought to be among the oldest of breeds. Despite all that fur, these dogs are able to keep themselves surprisingly clean.
The dignified Chow Chow tends to be aloof toward strangers but utterly dedicated to his family.
These charming dogs spent many years as America’s favorite breed for good reason. They’re gentle, playful, intelligent, and merry.
Their gorgeous coat does require frequent maintenance, but the breed’s famous devotion and cheerful temperament makes the extra grooming time well worth the effort.
Thanks to the long-running television show Lassie, Collies were elevated to superstar status many years ago. Both varieties of this loyal breed, the Rough and the Smooth, are easy to train, very intelligent, have a natural affinity for children, and will form strong bonds with the entire family.
Few people know that this German breed was developed by a tax collector who wished to create a dog who would dependably protect him as he went from house to house collecting owed money.
Since then, these dogs have been successfully used in police and military work as well as many roles such as search and rescue, therapy, and personal protection.
This elegant, cheerful breed is well known for its playful, friendly personality. Though these faithful dogs may somewhat resemble Labrador Retrievers, they are an entirely different breed and are believed to have St. John’s Dogs and several Setter-type dogs in their lineage.
Their expressive eyes, sweet faces, and feathered coats make this breed a true beauty and equally popular with hunters and families.
Noble is a word often used to describe this brave, confident breed. Most German Shepherds will willingly sacrifice their own safety, and even their very lives, in order to defend and protect their owners.
This breed is used extensively in police and military work but is also a favorite among families for their courageous spirit and loyal friendship.
With an eager-to-please attitude and cheerful, outgoing temperament, Golden Retrievers consistently rank among the top three in popularity charts. Noted for their happy-looking faces, gentleness, and trainability, they are excellent family dogs and loving, loyal companions.
Although they’re typically friendly to all they meet, they’re completely devoted to their loved ones and enjoy participating in all family activities.
Prized for their calm, mellow demeanor, these lovely, yet powerful, dogs are keen, attentive guardians. Often weighing more than 100 pounds, these gentle giants are usually well mannered and serene in the house and affectionate with all family members.
However, should trouble arise, these loyal dogs can move with surprising speed to protect their homes and loved ones.
This intensely loyal hunting breed is rare in that it developed rather naturally on its own on a South Korean island. Island dogs roamed freely and bred without much human interference.
Over time, characteristics such as temperament and appearance became standardized. This breed isn’t for everyone as they are known masters at escaping and typically don’t get along with other animals.
Of course, it’s no surprise to see the ever popular Lab included in this list. Since 1991, Labs have held onto the number one spot on the AKC’s popularity chart, shattering all previously held records.
They love to both give and receive affection, and their lack of aggression is a hallmark of the breed. Steadfastly loyal, Labs are always eager to be with their people whether the activity may be hunting, swimming, playing outside, or relaxing indoors.
Miniature American Shepherd
This relatively new breed is steadily gaining in popularity, thanks to its spunky, agreeable nature. These are versatile dogs skilled at both herding and guarding work and will enthusiastically complete any jobs asked of them.
They are particularly popular among equestrians as devoted travel companions though they’re wonderful, loving family dogs as well.
The massive, heavy-set Newfoundland is another gentle giant. Due to his imposing size, he’s an excellent guard dog, but despite his bulk and obvious strength, he’s known to be exceedingly patient and gentle with children.
His heart belongs to his family, and his reputation as a loyal companion is well earned.
This Chinese breed was once held in such high regard that stealing one was punishable by death. They seem to know that they were once housed in palaces among the emperor and his family as they still today are dignified and regal in their mannerisms. Many people find it hard to resist this little breed’s flat face, rolling gait, and steadfast devotion.
This powerful breed doesn’t plunge into situations with reckless haste. Whether meeting a stranger or defending their turf, these dogs are more likely to pause for a moment to thoroughly analyze the circumstances before acting.
Although they tend to be rather aloof to the world around them, with their families they are playful, gentle, affectionate, and altogether dependable.
While these dogs only weigh on average 20 pounds, they are alert watchdogs who are quick to bark at the first sign of trouble. They are known for their obedience and a knack for picking up on their family’s mood and responding accordingly.
Quite intelligent and loyal, Shetland Sheepdogs often excel in herding trials, agility, and obedience competitions.
Although the notion that these dogs once carried little barrels of brandy around their neck to help warm lost travelers upon rescue isn’t true, St. Bernards have been credited with saving over 2,000 lives in the past.
This faithful breed will lovingly look after their families and are patient, protective and gentle with little ones.
This dignified, independent breed is the most popular companion dog in Japan. With many personality quirks, such as not being overly affectionate and having a tendency to roam, this breed may not be suitable for everyone.
Though they can be a bit strong-willed when it comes to training, they’re fiercely loyal and will show their love in their own unique way. Read more about this fascinating dog here in our complete breed overview.
Also referred to as the Hungarian Vizsla, this sleek, richly colored breed is the very definition of a Velcro dog. They love to shadow their owners all day long, even following them into the bathroom if they can get away with it.
Smart and highly trainable, Vizslas are affectionate, energetic, faithful companions in both the field and at home.
West Highland White Terrier
This charming, snow-white breed is a joy to watch during playtime. Their entertaining antics and adorable faces have made these dogs the most popular of the Terrier group.
They are much tougher than their appearance suggests and were originally employed to keep rat populations under control. Their amusing personalities and steadfast devotion are sure to guarantee their continuing popularity.
Undeniably delicate in appearance, this lean, sleek breed will indeed need a bit of pampering. They are, however, built for speed and have been clocked at an impressive 35 miles per hour. When not running at full speed, these elegant dogs can often be found lounging on the most comfortable piece of furniture in the house.
Beloved for their sweet dispositions and loyalty, Whippets are adaptable to many environments provided that they’re given protection from cold weather and are regularly exercised.