Friendliest Dog Breeds Large and Small

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Recently, a big black Lab startled my dogs and me on our walk. However, the owners quickly calmed us down by telling us that this pup was a lover not a hater and a member of one of the friendliest dog breeds.

Of course, you should always ask before approaching a dog you don’t know. However, the truth is some dog breeds are friendlier than others.

Photo credit: Leah Ingram.

Friendliest dogs breeds large and small

Here is a list of the 11 friendliest dog breeds who are playful, loyal and ready to fill your heart with joy. From playful poodles to gentle giant bulldogs, there is a friendly dog breed for everyone.

Also, is rescuing dogs as important to you as is it to me? Then, you’ll probably want to look into breed-specific rescues nationwide.

There is no need to buy a dog from a breeder, unless you show dogs. Then, I know that pedigree is important. But for the rest of us, rescues are the way to go to get one of these friendliest dog breeds.

Friendliest large dog breeds

Here are two friendly dog breeds that tend to be fairly large as adults. And by large I mean north of 60 pounds.

Here are big, hypoallergenic dog breeds. Unfortunately, neither of these breeds is on that hypoallergenic list.

Labrador Retriever

love labrador retrievers calendar

Because of their renowned loyalty, intelligence and outgoing personalities, Labrador retrievers, sporting dogs from Newfoundland, make excellent family dogs.

These dogs are extremely adaptable and can live in any environment, whether it is a large family home with several children or a single person in a small apartment. Their kind, tolerant demeanor makes them ideal for families with children.

Labrador retrievers are typically playful and active. They are a dog breed that is always up for a game of fetch, a walk in the woods, a run in the park or even a swim.

Because they are very clever, obedient and eager to please, they are simple to teach. They are also unrivaled in their loyalty and devotion to their owners and they never hesitate to return their owners’ love and care.

“Labrador retrievers are the most perfect family dogs. They are quick learners, loyal and patient with little ones,” says Carrie Bradley of Flying with a Baby. “Our first one helped many younger children get over a fear of dogs. They become embedded in your life and become truly part of the family.”

Golden Retriever

golden retriever dog breed with basketball
Photo credit: Adobe Stock

Golden retrievers, originally of Scottish origin, are one of the most popular dog breeds in the world, thanks to their golden hair and friendly demeanor. They are great family pets since they are loyal, clever, obedient and have wonderful temperaments. No wonder they’ve starred in Subaru car commercials.

One of the most endearing characteristics of golden retrievers is their compassion for people, particularly children. If you are a family with young children, you might want to consider them due to their kind and tolerant nature.

Because they are lively dogs who require frequent exercise, they are ideal companions for those who enjoy outdoor activities, including hiking, swimming and fetch.

They are great for families looking for a dog who learns new commands easily since they are intelligent, eager to please and highly trainable. They have unequaled owner loyalty and are always ready to provide their family with absolute love and devotion.

Medium-sized dogs that are friendly

Petfinder defines medium-sized dogs as those that weigh between 20 and 60 pounds. Here are three breeds in that size range that are typically very friendly.


dean russo dog art
Dean Russo Art depicting a Beagle

Beagles are a breed that some call jokesters. That’s because they are a fun-loving and energetic breed of hounds with extroverted and cheerful personalities.

They are extremely social dogs who thrive in a family setting where they are active members of the pack. In addition, some have found them to be kind and patient, making them an excellent choice for families with children.

Beagles are adaptable enough to thrive in a variety of living environments, including in homes with limited yards or even small apartments.

Finally, Beagles are a breed that is trainable and intelligent. It is simple to teach them new commands and tricks since they are quick learners and respond well to praise.

On the other hand, they howl not so much as bark. We had a Beagle mix that always howled when he heard sirens. So, take note if you live near a police or fire station, or on a busy road that emergency vehicles use.

Finally, of medium-sized dog breeds, beagles tend to live the longest.


Boxers are energetic, playful, affectionate and loving. They are also extremely friendly dogs who like associating with humans. However, because they are devoted to their owners, on occasion they might be fiercely protective of their people.

Finally, they love to run so are an ideal option for active families.


Photo credit: Adobe Stock.

People call bulldogs the gentle giants of family dogs. They have pleasant personalities and are affectionate. That’s what makes them great family companions.

Bulldog owners adore these dogs for their special sense of humor and vibrant demeanor. They enjoy playing practical jokes on their humans and making them laugh — they’re very entertaining.

Finally, bulldogs require little maintenance in terms of exercise and grooming.

Friendliest small breeds

Any dog breed under 20 pounds falls in the small-dog category. Here are five that also fall into the friendly-breed category.


pug dog dressed up in baseball uniform with ball glove
Photo credit: Adobe Stock.

Pugs are small, friendly dogs with endearing personalities and amusing expressions. They have a loving nature, and are quick to bond with their family. However, people jokingly call them Velcro dogs since they cling to their owners’ sides.

Pugs are adaptable and don’t require the same amount of rigorous activity as other breeds. They like going for a short walk or playing fetch in the garden. This makes them an excellent choice for families who don’t have the time or space for long treks or strenuous exercise.

Finally, pugs make an excellent addition to any home. They are obedient, sociable, trainable and get along well with children and other pets.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel originated as a variation of the English toy spaniel. Many recognized them as being loving and affable.

If you have a family with young children, this is a breed to consider. Why? Because of their gentle temperament and remarkable devotion. However, never, ever leave a dog alone with a young child.

Plus, they have less energy than some of the other dogs on this list. Therefore, they are ideal for families who don’t have a lot of outdoor space or time to spend bringing the dog out for rigorous exercises.

Bichon Frise

Bichon Frise are excellent family pets. Often thought of as French, they are actually sailing dogs from Spain.

With their curly coats, they are extremely adorable, affectionate, vivacious, animated and charming. Their favorite hobby is spending time with their owners. For example, you can expect them to follow you around your home to ensure you don’t leave them alone.

Since Bichon Frises are so agreeable, friendly and sociable, they are one of the best therapy dog breeds. You can train these lovely pups to be calm in hospices, nursing homes, hospitals and schools.

Boston Terrier

Portrait in Studio of a cute boston terrier isolated on a white background
Photo credit: Adobe Stock.

Boston Terriers are gregarious and friendly dogs. Some people describe these little pups as cheerful and sociable. They enjoy being around people and are always looking for new friends.

The Boston Terrier is another low-maintenance breed; their tiny size and lack of exercise requirements make them well suited for apartment life. They are an excellent choice for first-time dog owners.

Shih Tzu

Originally from Tibet and likely sent to Chinese royalty as gifts, the Shih Tzu were bred to be companion dogs. They are well-known for being amiable, gregarious, loyal and loving.

Shih Tzu thrive on human attention. They like nothing more than spending time with their owners.

These dogs are kind, patient and great with children and other pets. Because of their modest stature and mild disposition, they are ideal for people who live in apartments or smaller homes.

Finally, while they don’t require much activity, they do require frequent grooming. Without it, it’s hard to keep their luxurious coat in excellent condition.

In-between size dog breeds

I’ve included this fourth category of in-between sizes for one specific, friendly breed—the poodle. That’s because poodles actually span different sizes of friendly breeds.

The American Kennel Club explains that there are three kinds of poodles:

  • Miniature
  • Standard
  • Toy

And they define them not so much by weight but height. So, standard poodles usually are taller than 15 inches. On the other hand, toy poodles are smaller than 10-inches tall. Finally, the miniature poodle is in between a standard (smaller than 15-inches tall) and a toy poodle (taller than 10 inches).

Now onto why the poodle’s personality makes the cut for this list.


Dog using online dating app on laptop. Pink romantic screen with match of male Labrador and female Labradoodle dog. Concept for breeding, pets searching for love online or pets using technology.
Photo credit: Adobe Stock.

There are many reasons people think of the poodle as one of the friendliest dog breeds. Poodles like mingling with their owners as well as other dogs.

Also, they make delightful pets because of how well they interact with others. Finally, poodles are typically cheerful, energetic, clever and quick learners.

American Eskimo Dogs also a great family dogs.

Final thoughts on friendly dogs

These breeds are all known to be friendly. However, it’s important to recognize that each dog is unique and will have their own personality and demeanor.

Therefore, for the best outcome with your pet, you’ll need to ensure they received proper socialization and training.

Finally, in addition to the friendliest dog breeds, there are also some of the dumbest dog breeds, too.

This article first appeared on Food Drink Life.

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