Many dogs are loyal—this trait is one of the things that bonds people and dogs so closely. But some dog breeds are more loyal than others, fiercely devoted to staying by their humans’ sides, and willing to protect their people and property from danger if necessary.
Any dog of any breed, including mixed breed dogs, can be loyal. But some breeds tend to be exceedingly loyal, especially those that were bred to work in close cooperation with humans. Many breeds in the American Kennel Club’s Working Group, Herding Group and Sporting Group are loyal to the extreme. Companion breeds from the Toy Group can also be very loyal, often forming close bonds with one special person in the family.
Loyal dogs are closely connected and in tune with their human family. For this reason, loyal dog breeds are usually easy to train and willing to please. Most loyal dog breeds are good family dogs, though some might be better suited for older children.
If you’re looking for a loyal dog, consider the following breeds.
01 of 10
The Akita is a type of dog known as a spitz breed (also called a Northern breed), which have a double coat, long tail that curves over the back, and upright triangle-shaped ears. This breed has existed in Japan for centuries where they were employed for hunting and guarding duties. Akitas bond very closely with their families and are extremely loyal, but they can be willful or stubborn at times, so they need a family with experienced dog owners. They are naturally protective but never aggressive toward people when properly socialized. Akitas do best with older children who are taught how to interact with the dog responsibly.
HEIGHT: 26 to 28 inches (males); 24 to 26 inches (females)
WEIGHT: 100 to 130 pounds (males); 70 to 100 pounds (females)
TEMPERAMENT: Affectionate, loyal, independent, protective
COAT AND COLOR: Short, thick, double-layered coat in brindle or pinto (each with white markings)
LIFE SPAN: 10 to 13 years
02 of 10
Beagles are a type of hound known as scent hounds, which means they use their extraordinary sense of smell to assist hunters by sniffing out and tracking down prey. Beagles were traditionally used to hunt foxes, hares, and other small animals in large packs, howling and baying to lead the hunters to the animals. Hunters would travel along with the pack, either on foot or on horseback. Beagles love people and especially adore their family. They get along fantastic with other dogs and other types of animals, including cats and horses. Though loyal and eager to please, Beagles can be challenging to train because they are easily distracted by interesting sights and smells.
HEIGHT: 15 inches or less in height at the shoulder, with two varieties: those under 13 inches and those from 13 to 15 inches
WEIGHT: 20 to 25 pounds
TEMPERAMENT: Active, companionable, keen, attentive, fearless
COAT AND COLOR: Short hair in tricolor combinations of tan, black, white, reddish brown, or pale lemon
LIFE SPAN: 10 to 15 years
03 of 10
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
The Cavalier King Charles spaniel is sweet, loving, and extremely loyal. The breed is a toy-sized spaniel, which means their ancestors were bird hunters long ago. However, for the last century, the Cavalier’s main purpose has been being a devoted family companion. Playful and affectionate, the Cavalier needs only moderate exercise. They get along well with everyone, including gentle children, other dogs, and cats. Cavaliers are clean, calm in the house, easy to train, and a delight to live with.
HEIGHT: 12 to 13 inches
WEIGHT: About 13 to 18 pounds
TEMPERAMENT: Playful, affectionate, patient, graceful, sociable, gentle
COAT AND COLOR: The medium-long sleek, silky coat comes in four colors: tricolor, Blenheim (red and white), ruby, and black and tan
LIFE SPAN: 12 to 14 years
04 of 10
Weighing in at less than 6 pounds, the diminutive Chihuahua is one of the smallest breeds. Chihuahuas are feisty and don’t seem to realize they are tiny, so they respond to any perceived threat with the bravery of a Mastiff. The breed is extremely loyal, potentially to a fault—they can become overly possessive of their favorite people and not want others coming around. Extensive socialization as puppies is necessary to teach them to be accepting of friendly guests and other visitors. Chihuahuas are delicate and some don’t love children, so they do best in a home without kids or with older kids who can treat the dog responsibly.
HEIGHT: 6 to 9 inches
WEIGHT: About 2 to 6 pounds
TEMPERAMENT: Loyal, alert, lively, attentive, bright, companionable
COAT AND COLOR: Smooth and short or long, in many colors, including black, tan, fawn, cream, white, blue, silver, chocolate, and red
LIFE SPAN: 12 to 20 yearsContinue to 5 of 10 below.
05 of 10
Anyone who has seen a Lassie movie or television episode knows that there aren’t many breeds more devoted than the collie. Collies are from the United Kingdom, where they were used to herd sheep and other livestock. Mellower than many herding breeds, collies are extraordinarily gentle with children and most family pets, including cats. The rough coat is long and requires a good amount of brushing and combing to keep it clean and free from tangles and mats. The smooth coat is short and is considered wash-and-wear.
HEIGHT: 22 to 24 inches (female), 24 to 26 inches (male)
WEIGHT: 50 to 65 pounds (female), 60 to 75 pounds (male)
TEMPERAMENT: Loyal, affectionate, attentive
COAT AND COLOR: Rough (long) or smooth (short) in black, white, and tan; blue merle; blue merle and white; blue merle, white, and tan; sable; sable and white; sable merle; white; sable merle and white; white merle
LIFE SPAN: 12 to 14 years
06 of 10
When German tax collector Louis Dobermann created the Doberman, he wanted a dog that was intimidating in looks, fiercely protective, and exceedingly loyal. Today’s Doberman is just that—a great family dog that forms close bonds with their people. Dobermans needs lots of daily exercise but tend to be calm in the house. With proper socialization and training as puppies, Dobermans are highly obedient, well-mannered, and self-assured. They get along well with all family members, including children, but might be reserved with strangers.
HEIGHT: 24 to 28 inches
WEIGHT: 65 to 100 pounds
TEMPERAMENT: Intelligent, loyal, alert, energetic, attentive
COAT AND COLOR: Short and smooth in black, red, blue, or fawn with rust markings
LIFE SPAN: 10 to 12 years
07 of 10
The German shepherd is fiercely loyal, courageous, and highly trainable—no wonder these dogs have long been used as as a police and military dogs. The intelligent German shepherd bonds closely with their human family, including kids who are taught how to behave responsibly around dogs. Some German shepherds can become overprotective, so extensive socialization is mandatory early in puppyhood. German shepherds require lots of physical exercise and mental stimulation, something that can be achieved through training for a dog sport like agility.
HEIGHT: 22 to 26 inches
WEIGHT: 60 to 100 pounds
TEMPERAMENT: Intelligent, courageous, alert, bold, loyal, protective
COAT AND COLOR: Coarse, medium-length double coat in bicolor, black and tan, black and cream, black and red, black and silver, solid black, gray, sable
LIFE SPAN: 7 to 10 years
08 of 10
The Great Dane was developed not in Denmark as the name might suggest but in Germany. This gentle giant is one of the tallest and largest dog breeds, but they are generally friendly toward people. However, Great Danes are always alert to danger and will be protective if the need arises. Very loyal and affectionate with their human family, Great Danes can do well with kids. These enormous dogs don’t always know their own strength, so early and consistent training is very necessary in order to teach Great Danes good manners so they don’t knock anyone down.
HEIGHT: 30 to 34 inches (males); 28 to 32 inches (females)
WEIGHT: 120 to 200 pounds (males); 99 to 130 pounds (females)
TEMPERAMENT: Calm, gentle, friendly, loving, even-tempered, attentive, proud
COAT AND COLOR: Short, smooth coat in black, black and white, blue, brindle, fawn, harlequin, merle, silver, solid white, or mantle
LIFE SPAN: 6 to 8 yearsContinue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10
The Great Pyrenees has been used in the Pyrenees Mountains for centuries to watch over and protect sheep and other livestock from predators and thieves. Like most flock guardian breeds, the Great Pyrenees is protective and alert to danger—they enjoy being outdoors patrolling for danger. Early socialization can help them become more comfortable with and accepting of invited guests. Aloof with strangers, Great Pyrenees are very loyal and bonded with their human family. Though large, Great Pyrenees need only moderate amounts of exercise, like daily walks.
HEIGHT: 25 to 32 inches at the shoulder
WEIGHT: 100 to 150 pounds (males); 85 to 110 pounds (females)
TEMPERAMENT: Gentle, affectionate, patient, confident, strong-willed, fearless
COAT AND COLOR: Thick double coat is white but may have markings of gray, tan, badger, or reddish-brown
LIFE SPAN: 10 to 12 years
10 of 10
The Labrador retriever was developed in Newfoundland, where they ware used as a hunting dog retrieving ducks and assisting fishermen. The breed’s water-resistant double coat is designed to protect the Lab from cold weather, dense underbrush, and frigid water. Loyal, friendly, and very trainable, the Labrador is a wonderful family dog and has been the most popular dog breed in the United States for more than three decades. Highly energetic, Labs need lots of training and daily exercise.
HEIGHT: 22.5 to 24.5 inches (male), 21.5 to 23.5 inches (female)
WEIGHT: 65 to 80 pounds (male), 55 to 70 pounds (female)
TEMPERAMENT: Friendly, active, companionable
COAT AND COLOR: Short, dense double coat in black, chocolate, or yellow
LIFE SPAN: 10 to 12 years