12 of the Friendliest Dog Breeds Who Love Everyone They Meet
All dogs love their family, but not all dogs greet everyone with the same enthusiastic perked-up ears and slobbery kisses. And when it comes to the friendliest dog breeds, there's no definitive rule as to which dogs are always friendly toward everyone and which pups prefer to stick to those they know and trust.
"Almost any breed can be taught to be friendly, and any breed can be shy and unpredictable, depending on their socialization in their first nine weeks of life," says Pam Nichols, DVM, past president of the American Animal Hospital Association.
A dog's friendliness depends on two major factors: her exposure to new people, animals, and situations early in her life, and genetics. If a puppy's parents are outgoing and friendly, Nichols says, there's a chance she and her siblings will follow suit.
"Demand a breeder who does early developmental socialization; that's the first step," Nichols says. "Because if you get a dog who's 12 weeks old and who's never been exposed to anything, you're in trouble. A 12-week-old who is shy and introverted is not going to get friendly and outgoing with training."
While every dog is an individual with their own unique personality, these are some of the dogs who are most likely to greet you at the park with bright eyes and wagging tails.
Bred to be hunting partners for trackers in the United Kingdom, beagles are typically a family-friendly favorite. Playful and chatty, beagles are fantastic backyard playmates for kids—as long as you have a fenced-in yard so they don't follow their super strong nose after a neighborhood rabbit. After a day of hard play, they'll be ready to cuddle up with their families for a lazy evening.
2. Boston Terrier
For a small dog, the gentlemanly Boston terrier has a big personality. They can be terrific playmates for kids and lazy couch potatoes—it all just depends on the time of day. Boston terriers are lively and amiable, so always make sure they're getting plenty of attention so they don't experience separation anxiety.
Smart, sweet, and enthusiastic about anything (and everything!) that involves their people, Brittanys thrive in an active family that will keep their sharp minds busy. From weekend hikes and swims to evenings practicing on the agility course, a Brittany wants a family that can keep up with his energy. And when you're out at the dog park, they'll greet new friends (both two- and four-legged) with a booty wiggle.
4. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
With a name this regal, you might expect the Cavalier King Charles spaniel to be a little on the snooty side. But that perception couldn't be more wrong. Friendly with cats, kids, and other dogs, Cavs typically fit right in with essentially any family and lifestyle. Do you spend a lot of time reading on the couch? A Cavalier will happily snooze on your lap. Are you more outdoorsy? She'll be by your side for walks and trips to the park, too.
5. Cocker Spaniel
It doesn't matter who you are—sweet and calm cocker spaniels will happily snuggle up with you. These lap dogs live well with small kids to seniors, and they get along well with other four-legged family members, too. Cockers can be a little reserved when meeting new people, but it doesn't take long for a stranger to become a new BFF (especially when ear scratches and treats are involved).
6. Golden Retriever
Golden retrievers are one of the most popular dog breeds in the U.S. partially because of their friendly demeanor. Mellow and easy to train, goldens want nothing more than to spend the day playing fetch with their favorite humans, though a hike or refreshing swim will also make their tail wag. "I really do believe [the golden retriever] is about the happiest breed, the friendliest breed," Nichols says.
The goldendoodle is a curly-haired combination of two of the friendliest dog breeds—the golden retriever and the poodle. This double dose of affectionate nature means goldendoodles are gentle and kind companions, ideal for first-time dog owners. And because of their low prey drive, you don't have to worry about your doodle taking off after cats or other small animals; they're too interested in making friends to chase.
When you live with a Havanese, you won't need five subscription services to keep you entertained. These little furballs are energetic and goofy at home, and their extroverted and friendly temperament makes them excel as therapy dogs. The best part: as long as his humans are by his side, the Havanese is happy to live anywhere, from expansive estate to studio apartment.
9. Labrador Retriever
If you're a runner or spend every weekend at the lake, the Labrador retriever will cheerfully join you for any (and every!) heart-pumping adventure. Most Labs will rarely meet a new person—or animal—they don't like. And as the most popular dog in the U.S., they make a go-to companion for families across the country.
10. Pembroke Welsh Corgi
If the Pembroke Welsh corgi had a tail, he'd always be wagging it (but we'll settle for a cute corgi butt wiggle instead). His perky ears and natural smile hint at his fun-loving and silly personality, too. And because he doesn't typically doesn't weigh more than 30 pounds, he's a perfectly-sized snuggle buddy.
There are three types of poodles: toy, miniature, and standard. And while they vary in size (the smallest toy poodle can be a mere 4 pounds; a standard weighs up to 70), they all usually have a friendly disposition. But while poodles are loving and people-orientated, they can be anxious in new, overwhelming situations—think: loud, chaotic environments. Socializing your poodle puppy will help her grow to be confident and outgoing.
12. Shih Tzu
Shih tzu dogs have lived side-by-side with humans for at least 1,000 years, and the dogs were bred specifically to be our furry friends. This small friendly dog breed used to keep Tibetan monks and Chinese emperors company, and today there's rarely a lap they won't climb into. They might bark when first meeting someone new, but these pups are all talk and that initial suspicion usually wears off after a few minutes (and a few treats!).