When choosing a new dog to bring home, it is vital to understand each breed’s unique temperament and traits to make sure they are the correct breed for you. Some dogs are naturally bursting with energy, while some will take a fair amount of persuasion to go for their daily walk. The same goes for aggression; some breeds seem to be naturally inclined toward protective and thus, aggressive behavior.
Almost every dog can display aggressive tendencies, and it is more a case of how a dog is raised that determines how aggressive they are — case in point: the American Pitbull. This breed is well known as one of the most aggressive breeds on the planet, but in reality, they are calm, docile, and ideal family pets when raised properly. When raised for fighting, though, they are one of the most intimidating breeds on the planet.
Some breeds are just naturally laidback, however, and when socialized early and raised in a loving household, they are rarely if ever aggressive toward humans or other dogs. We put together this list of the 18 least aggressive breeds to help you find a perfect family-friendly pooch.
1. Basset Hound
The highly adaptable Basset Hound is an ideal family pooch with a calm personality and easy-going disposition. They are friendly dogs that are always happy to meet new faces and do extremely well with other dogs and pets, provided that they are socialized early. Their high intelligence and eager-to-please temperament make them a breeze to train, although they can be stubborn at times. Still, they are an ideal choice for novice owners who have patience, and they are great with children.
The even-tempered Beagle is a merry and curious breed that loves to stay active. Although these dogs can be somewhat stubborn and independent at times, they make ideal family pets, and with a little patience and dedication, they usually take well to training. With their soft brown eyes and comical drooping ears, it’s easy to see that Beagles do not have an aggressive bone in their body! That being said, they are highly vocal animals that make excellent watchdogs, and they will dutifully protect their family should the need arise.
3. Bergamasco Sheepdog
The large and robust Bergamasco may have an intimidating appearance with their one-of-a-kind shaggy coat, but they are as sweet and gentle as they come. These dogs were bred as loyal and vigilant guard dogs and retain this calm and protective nature with families. They are highly social animals that are known to develop unique relationships with each member of the family. These dogs have an almost telepathic sense of awareness of their environment, making them excellent watchdogs.
4. Bernese Mountain Dog
A gentle giant at heart, the Bernese Mountain Dog is a great choice for families living on farms or in homes with big yards. Despite their imposing size, these dogs are docile and gentle in nature and are as loyal, diligent, and hard-working as they come. They are eager to please and highly intelligent animals, making them easy to train and ideal for novice owners. They are devoted to their families and are patient and loving with both children and other animals, although they may attempt to herd them occasionally!
5. Border Collie
The supremely athletic Border Collie has seemingly never-ending reserves of energy and is about as intelligent as they come. Border Collies are agile, quick-thinking, and loyal and have been close companions and allies to farmers for centuries. These faithful dogs are great family pets that are fine with other animals and pets, provided that they are socialized early and kept busy. Bear in mind that while these dogs are rarely aggressive, they need a ton of exercise every day to stay happy and balanced.
Boxers are fun-loving and active dogs with high intelligence and striking good looks, making them one of the most popular breeds in the U.S. They have endless patience and highly protective nature that has earned them a reputation for being great with children. While they are rarely aggressive when socialized correctly, they are protective pooches that will fearlessly guard their families. Indeed, they were one of the first breeds in Germany that were selected for police training.
The elegant yet agile Brittany was bred to hunt, but this highly trainable breed’s hunting skills can easily be channeled into dog sports too. They make great family dogs and are friendly and gentle with kids and other pets, but they require a great deal of regular intensive exercise to stay happy and out of mischief. These dogs are perfect for owners who lead an outdoor life, as Brittanys are always eager for an adventure.
The regal, dignified, and proud Bulldog is an unmistakable breed with their loose folds of skin and short snout. Bulldogs are calm and easy-going, but they love their daily walk in the park just as much as their afternoon naps. They are adaptable dogs that do well in apartments and are happy as long as they are close to their owner. Their docile nature and unmatched loyalty make them a popular family pet.
9. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
With a royal history and a name to match, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a gentle, friendly, and affectionate pooch that graceful yet athletic. These dogs love to play and run outside on adventures but love to cuddle on the sofa with their family too, making them a versatile family pet. The breed almost disappeared at one point and was brought back from the brink by Queen Victoria, though they were changed radically from their original form.
10. Golden Retriever
The quintessential family dog, the Golden Retriever is a friendly, intelligent, and easy-going as they come, making them deserving of their place as one of the most popular breeds in the U.S. While these dogs enjoy a reputation as calm and ever-joyful family companions, they are also highly capable gundogs. Their high intellect and ease of trainability make them one of the most adaptable dogs around, and they are commonly used as service dogs, police dogs, hunting dogs, sniffer dogs, and of course, loyal companions.
11. Great Dane
The Great Dane is indeed great, and their large and imposing stature matches their loyal and regal character. This is one of the most dependable breeds around, and their easy-going nature makes them a popular family companion. While these dogs are rarely aggressive, owning a Great Dane should not be considered lightly — these massive animals need a great deal of affection, space, and of course, food! If you have space, a Great Dane makes for a wonderful family companion and an alert and protective watchdog.
Known for their lightning speed more than their gentle nature, the Greyhound is as easy-going as they come. Although they are known mostly for their running ability, these dogs are content to spend most of their day relaxing in the shade because what they have in speed, they lack in stamina. They are peaceful, calm, and docile dogs that prefer quiet environments and rarely bark. They can be wary of strangers and may chase smaller animals, so early socialization is key.
13. Irish Setter
The striking Irish Setter is as calm and friendly as they are beautiful. Although bred for hunting, the Irish Setter’s hunting instincts are easily redirected toward agility training, and they are generally easy to train. They are gentle and patient with young children and make great family companions, although they have a boisterous nature at times and may accidentally knock over small kids. Due to their hunting history, high energy, and shyness, these fun-loving pooches need early socialization.
14. Labrador Retriever
An iconic family companion, the Labrador is a gentle and easy-going dog, making them one of the most popular family-friendly breeds around. They are loyal, friendly, and outgoing and love to play with small children and other dogs, and they adapt well to almost any living environment. Although these dogs are as friendly as they come, they are highly energetic and require a great deal of exercise to keep them from misbehavior.
The Maltese is an affectionate toy breed that practically invented the term “lapdog.” They are famous for their friendly nature, luxurious coat, low maintenance, and surprisingly capable agility capabilities. These dogs are a classic toy breed with a bark far bigger than their bite, leading them to be overly protective of their owners at times. This is largely mitigated by good training and early socialization, and they are usually eager to make new friends wherever they go.
The Newfoundland is the definition of a gentle giant: They are intelligent, loyal, and courageous dogs that are famously loyal to their families. Despite their large size and working history, they are docile and gentle dogs that are patient with children and usually unfazed by other dogs and pets. Newfoundlands are highly capable swimmers with their thick coats and webbed feet and love a regular swim. They are also adaptable dogs that usually fit well into most living environments, provided that they get adequate exercise and socialization.
With their highly recognizable squashed faces and comical natures, Pugs make excellent family dogs,. They are the clowns of the dog world and will provide endless fun and laughter in any home they live in. Their large eyes and wrinkled face are famous for their human-like expressions, and you always know exactly what’s on a Pug’s mind. They are low-maintenance dogs that adapt easily to any environment, provided that they are always close to their beloved humans.
The sleek and athletic Whippet is gentle and friendly, but also fast and athletic when given the chance. These bursts of speed and agility are short-lived, though, and they can be found relaxing in the shade most of the day. These dogs do well in apartments because they rarely bark, and provided that they get sufficient exercise, they are happy to live in small spaces. They are intelligent dogs that are easy to train and low-maintenance and make loving and gentle family companions.
Breeds to Avoid:
While all breeds can tend toward aggressive behavior if not raised correctly or mistreated, some breeds have a protective streak that is difficult to keep at bay. This loyal and protective nature, combined with a history of guarding or hunting, makes for breeds that need a confidant and firm leader with experience in proper training. If you are looking for a laidback pooch that seldom tends toward aggressive behavior, the following breeds should be avoided. Remember, these breeds are not inherently aggressive, but it will take more time, patience, and dedication to keep them passive:
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