While any dog can be a loyal best friend, some breeds are inherently more loyal than others.
A lot of this has to do with what the dogs were bred to do. While some dogs were bred to work independently, others were bred to work closely with humans making them great family dogs.
Any dog can be taught to be loyal, but maybe you don’t want to work as hard to earn loyalty. That’s why we have come up with a list of the most loyal dog breeds.
This topic is subjective and a matter of opinion, but below we’ll provide are our picks for the most loyal dog breeds.
What is Loyalty When It Comes to Dogs?
Merriam-Webster defines loyalty as “unswerving allegiance.” When it comes to dogs, that means that while they may love all people, their family comes first. They might befriend any person they meet, but at the end of the day, they’ll only follow their own person home.
A loyal dog is one who willingly leaves the dog park when asked. They’ll do anything they can to make their owner happy. They’ll ignore temptations from others in favor of going with their family.
What is not a loyal dog is one that freaks out any time it is left alone. That is a sign of separation anxiety, a traumatic problem for dogs that must be handled with training. Loyal dogs are comfortable being alone but thrilled to see their people at the end of the day.
Common Traits of Loyal Dog Breeds
Apart from being bred to work closely with people, loyal dog breeds tend to have other traits in common, like:
- Protective instincts – While they may not outright attack anybody who gets near you, they may bark to alert you to strangers or stand between you and others. They want to keep their family safe from danger.
- Intelligence – It’s no coincidence that the most loyal dogs are often the easiest to train. Intelligent breeds were bred to work closely with humans, and that closeness required loyalty.
- Sensitivity – Since loyal dogs are eager to please, they don’t need a heavy hand during training. They need little encouragement to do what their people want.
15 of the Most Loyal Dog Breeds
Now that we’ve talked a bit about loyalty, let’s talk about our picks for 15 of the most loyal dog breeds that make great family dogs.
#1 – St Bernard
You might associate the Saint Bernard dog with rabid Cujo or rowdy Beethoven. However, the Saint Bernard was bred to rescue people from avalanches.
These days, a St Bernard is more likely to be a large lapdog than a rescue dog. However, those instincts to help people are still there, and they’ll do nearly anything for their family.
Bad breeding can lead to health or temperament problems. To ensure you get a healthy, loyal Saint Bernard, do thorough research to find a reputable breeder.
St Bernard Loyalty Story
Barry was a famous Swiss St Bernard who rescued somewhere between 45-100 people in the Alps from 1800-1812. His body rests in the Natural History Museum in Berne, Switzerland along with a monument to his legacy.
#2 – German Shepherd
German Shepherds were originally bred to herd sheep before becoming specialized police and military dogs. Both jobs required German Shepherds to listen closely to their owner or handler. As a result, German Shepherds are one of the most loyal breeds you can find.
While they are easy to train, they do need plenty of exercise. A bored German Shepherd can cause trouble.
German Shepherd Loyalty Story
A German Shepherd named Alice is 2019’s Service Dog of the Year. 5-year-old Alice alerts when her 13-year-old boy is about to have a seizure so he can lay down before falling. She will also stand between him and other people if she thinks he’s being threatened.
#3 – Rough Collie
When you picture loyal dogs, it’s hard not to think of Lassie, the Collie who kept little Timmy safe. While Timmy never fell into a well, he still got in plenty of trouble where Lassie needed to save him.
Originally bred to herd sheep, Collies bond closely to their people and may also act as guardians. They’re generally friendly with kids and other dogs making them great family pets.
Rough Collie Loyalty Story
Lassie is one of the most famous dogs in the world. The Rough Collie has been making fans since the first Lassie movie in 1943. The dog who played Lassie, named Pal, was paid twice as much as his female costar – a teenage Elizabeth Taylor.
#4 – Golden Retriever
The Golden Retriever is one of the most popular family dogs in the United States. Eager to please, the Golden Retriever will do anything for its family. They’re easy to train and love doing anything with their owners.
Golden Retrievers make great therapy dogs, service dogs, and guide dogs due to their calm nature, intelligence, and loyalty. It’s important to note that they need a fair amount of exercise to stay so calm.
Golden Retriever Loyalty Story
In 2018, Golden Retriever Todd tackled a rattlesnake that his owner had nearly stepped on. Todd saved his owner but was bitten in the face by the snake. Luckily, Todd recovered after saving his owner’s life.
#5 – Boxer
Even though Boxers are called the clowns of the dog world, they would do anything to protect their family. These sensitive souls may have focus issues, but they want to make their people happy.
This highly energetic dog breed loves a good run around the dog park. While they’ll have fun with everybody else, they’ll happily go home with their person.
Boxer Loyalty Story
Boxer Athens was so devastated when his dad was deployed to Iraq for 6 months that he would run around the house looking for him. Hide and seek was a favorite game the two played. When his dad finally came home, Athens was so overjoyed that he stuck to him like glue for an hour.
#6 – Labrador Retriever
The Labrador Retriever has been the most popular dog in the United States for nearly three decades, for good reason. Labs always want to be with their people. They make excellent service dogs, therapy dogs, and guide dogs for the blind. Their devotion to their family is limitless.
Labs love children. However, their enthusiasm can overwhelm a small child. Make sure your Lab gets plenty of exercise.
Labrador Retriever Loyalty Story
Labs Bella and Sadie saved their mom’s life after she had a stroke while taking a shower. They figured out how to open the unlocked front door, then ran to a neighbor’s house for help. When the neighbor brought the dogs back and discovered their owner unconscious, she called 911.
#7 – Great Pyrenees
Originally bred to live with and guard flocks of sheep, Great Pyrenees are quite happy to guard humans, too. This giant lap dog will love every member of your family yet will scare off intruders if necessary.
More independent and less clingy than some breeds, the Great Pyrenees would do anything for its family or flock. Because of their size, obedience training is crucial.
Great Pyrenees Loyalty Story
A Great Pyrenees named Zero gave his life to protect his family when a gunman opened fire at them. Despite being shot multiple times, Zero kept lunging at the gunman. Thanks to Zero’s efforts, no human was shot above the waist before the shooter fled. Sadly, Zero did not survive his injuries.
#8 – Rottweiler
The stereotypical guard dog, Rottweilers can make a loyal addition to any family. They can be gentle with children but aggressive with anybody who threatens their people.
Though they can be headstrong and stubborn, they adore their families and make better pets than their reputation might suggest.
Rottweiler Loyalty Story
Rottweiler Jack is so loyal that his dad made him the best man at his wedding. In fact, Jack’s dad met his soon-to-be bride while walking Jack. A tiny tuxedo made Jack the perfect best man.
#9 – Yorkshire Terrier
Yorkies become quite attached to their people, but don’t tell them they’re too small to be a guard dog. The Yorkshire Terrier is a big dog in a small body and will defend their person from any perceived threat.
Yorkie Loyalty Story
Fat Heath, a Yorkie, stayed with his 3-year-old human all night when she got lost in a cornfield. He responded to the bark of a search and rescue dog the next day, and searchers quickly found the girl. What a loyal dog!
#10 – Chihuahua
Like the Yorkie, Chihuahuas tend to bond closely to one or two people and may dislike strangers. Chihuahuas can be perceived as mean by strangers but would never harm a member of their family.
Chihuahua Loyalty Story
Two months after the passing of her 86-year-old owner, Chihuahua mix Deta was brought to the grave. Now owned by the daughter of her previous owner, Deta refused to leave the grave. She eventually had to be carried away.
#11 – Border Collie
Border Collies are the smartest dog breed and are naturals at obeying every command. While they thrive herding sheep, they are also excellent at dog sports like agility and flyball. They’re always up for any adventure with their human.
Border Collie Loyalty Story
Border Collie Buddy saved his owner’s life by barking to wake him up when the man’s electric blanket caught fire. The fire spread quickly, and waiting for the smoke detector may have been too late.
#12 – Brittany
Bred to spend all day alongside a human hunting companion, Brittanies are extremely loyal to their favorite person or people. If you don’t hunt, they’ll be happy to accompany you on any adventure. They do need plenty of exercise to keep them happy.
Brittany Loyalty Story
A couple was woken up by their Brittany, Cooper, after their two cars caught on fire. Thanks to Cooper, the family made it out of the home before it also caught fire.
#13 – Akita
This working dog is famously devoted to its family. Wary of strangers, the Akita loves its people and will protect them if necessary.
Akita Loyalty Story
One of the most famous loyal dogs of all time, Hachiko (also known as Hachi), was an Akita in Japan. He followed his owner to the train station every morning and waited every afternoon for him to come home. Sadly, Hachi’s owner passed away one day at work.
Hachi continued to go to the train station every morning and afternoon for the rest of his life (9 years) waiting for his human who would never come home again. There is now a statue of Hachi outside the train station to honor him and his loyalty.
#14 – Shetland Sheepdog
If a Rough Collie like Lassie is too big, a Shetland Sheepdog might be the loyal companion you’re looking for. A close cousin of the Rough Collie, Shelties are just as loyal but in a smaller package. They make excellent agility dogs since they are so attuned to their owners.
Sheltie Loyalty Story
Shelties Brumby and Sonnet work as therapy dogs. They bring joy to residents of a nursing home and help kids learn how to read. They enjoy helping others but love coming home with their mom.
#15 – Dachshund
Bred to hunt badgers, Dachshunds have a tenacious spirit that they will use to protect their family. The Dachshund has a big personality in a small package. They’re friendly but independent.
Dachshund Loyalty Story
The Dachshund has loyal followers of its own. In 2018, a Dachshund museum opened in Passau, Germany. It contains more than 4,500 Dachshund-themed items.
How to Encourage Loyalty in Any Dog
While some dog breeds are naturally more loyal than others, any dog can be encouraged to be loyal.
Here are a few ways to encourage loyalty in your dog.
Spend Time Bonding with Them
The more time your dog gets to spend with you, the more time they will want to spend with you. Most of us have to work, but when you get home, try to spend some quality time with your dog. Take them with you to dog-friendly places when you can and give them plenty of time and attention.
Give Them Lots of Praise
Dogs respond better to kindness than punishment. That’s why you should reward them every time they do something you like. When your dog learns that you’re a constant source of positive attention, they will become more loyal.
Hand Feed Them
If you’re directly responsible for every bite of food your dog gets, they may have a better appreciation for you. Even the most stubborn dog will be loyal to the person who feeds them by hand. A bowl of kibble plopped on the floor doesn’t have the same effect.
Give Them Plenty of Exercise
Most dogs don’t get enough exercise, and more than half of all dogs are overweight or obese. Your dog probably spends a lot of time sleeping while you’re at work. Giving them plenty of exercise when you’re home is good for your dog both physically and emotionally.
A Final Word on the Most Loyal Dog Breeds
Any dog can be the most loyal companion you could ask for. However, some dog breeds are naturally more loyal than others. While some dogs may need more encouragement than others, any dog breed can be loyal.