If you’re looking for a family dog or a pup who digs your laid-back lifestyle, then considering easy-going dog breeds is a must. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, but most calm dog breeds offer less potential for behavior problems.
As a certified animal behavior consultant, I routinely council pet parents about doggy personalities and breed tendencies. Too often, the “problems” my clients ask me to solve could have been avoided. After all, it’s unfair to expect a high-energy working breed such as a Border Collie to be a calm, lap-loving pup.
It’s best to be fair to the dog—and your family—by choosing wisely. Here are 17 typically calm dog breeds that might make a perfect match if you’re looking for an easy-going canine companion.
1. Bichon Frise
The Bichon is a small white powder-puff on legs that rates high on the “cute” factor. She is a gentle, playful and cheerful companion who excels at obedience training. Though she tends to do better with older children, she is a great family pet.
A massive yet compact dog of small but impressive and dignified stature, the Bulldog’s fierce expression belies the breed’s kind and affectionate nature. The Bulldog is an extremely lovable and friendly dog who doesn’t know his own strength and can bowl over the unprepared with his enthusiastic greeting.
3. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a sweet, gentle breed that is affectionate to family and strangers alike, and loves children. The size—about 12 inches tall at the shoulder—makes her an ideal indoor pet, and she learns quickly with gentle instruction. This is a great family dog who doesn’t require lots of exercise, but note that she can’t withstand a lot of roughhousing.
Known to most as the “Lassie dog,” this is an old sheep-herding breed who comes in long- or short-coat varieties. Collies are smart and sensitive dogs who need calm environments and readily accept training. They are affectionate, loyal and protective pets that known to love children.
5. English Toy Spaniel
This breed has the silky long coat, drop ears, docked tail and happy temperament characteristic of spaniels, but she’s much smaller and has a short, pushed-in nose. She is primarily a house and apartment dog. Known to be good with children, she is an affectionate and calm breed who may start out shy but usually warms up quickly to strangers.
6. French Bulldog
The French Bulldog is essentially a toy Bulldog with large bat ears. This medium-sized, short-coated pup and is very muscular. The Frenchie is a happy, gregarious breed who makes friends easily. A quiet dog, she requires minimal exercise and is ideal for apartment life. She tolerates polite children well.
7. Golden Retriever
The Golden Retriever is an outstanding hunting dog and family companion due to her winning personality, desire to please and high intelligence. Goldens are one of the most devoted and easy-going dog breeds, and because they’re eager to please, they usually are standouts for training. They generally love kids of all ages and easily make friends with strangers.
8. Great Dane
Despite his imposing appearance, Great Danes are friendly, dependable animals who are spirited and slow to learn, but willing to please. Their short, easy-care coats come in brindle, fawn, blue and harlequin. Danes typically love their own children but may be suspicious of neighborhood kids and other strangers.
Despite her aristocratic heritage and bearing, the Greyhound is a lovable, easy-going, sensitive dog who makes a great pet. Like most sighthounds, Greyhounds can be reserved with strangers and learn best with patient, slow training. She can adapt well even to apartment life as long as she has a good outlet for running.
10. Irish Setter
This dog’s handsome, moderately long coat comes in solid mahogany to rich chestnut red. An Irish Setter is described as clown-like for his love of play, he’s an outgoing, happy dog who often takes longer to mature and is known to remain devoted to his people. Slower to learn than some, the Irish makes a fine family pet.
11. Irish Wolfhound
The Irish Wolfhound is a giant dog that reaches 32 inches at the shoulders and 120 pounds. Despite his intimidating appearance, he is a mild-mannered, laid-back dog breed who matures slowly and may be timid. Wolfhounds need room to run, and he can leap a 6-foot fence. His quiet manner and gentle nature make him a good pet for those who understand his needs.
12. Labrador Retriever
Their high intelligence and willingness to please make Labrador Retrievers great hunters on the field, ideal companions at home, excellent service dogs to help guide the blind, and successful search-and-rescue partners. These gregarious dogs love just about everyone—kids, adults, strangers, even burglars (they aren’t great watchdogs). They are highly trainable but can be a bit pushy with their affection.
The Maltese sports cascades of white silky fur that reach to the ground. Her hair often is tied into a topknot to reveal striking dark eyes and a black nose. She is a quiet, gentle dog who is smart and thrives on status quo, so the unpredictability of small children isn’t the best environment. She’ll also require quite a bit of coat care.
This giant breed weighs up to 200 pounds. Despite her courage and off-putting appearance, the Mastiff is a calm dog breed and a good-natured, laid-back, docile dog who maintains a perpetual air of dignity. She is very protective, and though affectionate with the family children, may be suspicious of their friends.
The “Newfie” is another mastiff dog who is loyal, intelligent and, above all, sweet of temper. He is the quintessential child’s playmate and guardian, and an excellent family pet. Exercise is important—especially swimming, which the Newfie loves.
16. Saint Bernard
This breed comes in short-haired and medium-length coat varieties. This powerful, stern-looking dog tends to be a slow learner who easily is distracted by scent. Most are mellow and make great family pets, but because of their size, they may inadvertently hurt a small child simply by sitting on them.
17. Tibetan Terrier
The Tibbie is a medium-sized dog who carries his tail over his back and has a profuse soft double coat that falls over the face. He was developed purely as a companion, and today remains an affectionate, intelligent, quiet and happy canine who is known to easily make friends with strangers. He is one of the most easy-going dog breeds and gets along well with children and other pets—a wonderful choice for the family dog.
Remember: There are always exceptions to the rule, but these 17 dogs are generally considered to be some of the easiest dog breeds. In busy households, especially those with kids, it’s critical to find a dog who matches your lifestyle. One of these calm dog breeds may be the easy-going companion you’ve been looking for—and just might ensure your love-at-first-sight lasts a lifetime!
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