Dogs display a fantastic range of personalities. Some working dogs have jobs to keep them occupied, and others are too lazy to cause trouble. Most fall somewhere in the middle, where they can learn what’s allowable and what their human will disapprove of.
Unfortunately, man’s best friend is not always on their best behavior. So how can you choose a pooch that you know won’t drive you crazy with its antics?
Read on to find out which are the best behaved dog breeds. One of them might inspire you to adopt and see their good manners for yourself!
What Makes a Dog Well Behaved?
Here are three key traits to help determine whether a dog is well-behaved.
There’s a lot of appeal in a dog that listens when you give them a command. Alert and focused, this type of responsiveness can result in a nice pet or working companion. However, a dog that’s too active will get into trouble when left to its own devices.
For example, Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes are notorious for being difficult to handle. Independent, stubborn, and easily bored, they tend to take off if they spot an open gate and aren’t easy to train.
While any dog can attend obedience school and learn to curb unwanted habits, below, I point out the ones who come by their behavior naturally.
If a dog breed is easygoing and not excitable, it scores major points toward its status as one of the best behaved dog breeds.
A pup doesn’t have to be a total couch potato to make our list – but it helps if they aren’t overly anxious, either. Dogs who are content by nature will be less likely to act up when the temptation to misbehave arises.
Of course, a dog that is well-behaved acts right not only around its family but also with guests. The last thing you want is a dog who listens to you but becomes a nuisance when company arrives.
Dogs that tend to be more protective of their humans don’t make our list. Dobermans, Rottweilers, and Pitbulls aren’t inherently aggressive but are guard breeds by nature. Some breeds are better with children and strangers than others.
Finally, dogs with a strong prey drive or distractible instincts aren’t good contenders for A+ conduct.
Now that we know what the qualifications are, let’s dive in!
Best Behaved Dog Breeds
Any dog has the potential to be well-behaved or up to go no good, depending on how their owner handles their upbringing and training. But these are the 11 breeds with the best behavior right from the get-go.
1. Golden Retriever
Beautiful, friendly, and loyal, Golden Retrievers are one of the world’s most beloved breeds. They grow from playful fuzzballs to mature and grounded adult dogs. Their gorgeous coat, ranging in color from sunny blonde to rich mahogany, only adds to their appeal.
These dogs are responsive to commands without difficulty and love their family unconditionally. Excellent with babies and young children, Goldens deserve the top spot in a ranking of good behavior.
2. Labrador Retriever
There are many reasons Labs are the #1 most popular breed in the U.S. Their agreeable disposition and trainability make them great family pets, as well as companions for the elderly. Brown, black, or blonde, these roly-poly pups hold sway over millions of American households.
From a young age, Labs are curious and friendly but aren’t known to cause more trouble than some other breeds that do better with experienced owners. We’ll forgive the older Labradors their laziness – after all, a lifetime of being good deserves an opportunity to relax.
3. German Shepherd
This breed is practically the definition of a “good boy.” Chosen as military dogs for their responsiveness, and also wonderful exercise buddies for the civilian owner, GSDs are never happier than when accompanying their human on an adventure.
You won’t find a dog more loyal than a German Shepherd, which tends to latch onto one person in their pack and provide endless friendship and protection. But they’re typically easy to introduce to new people and other dogs, too. As long as you’re happy, so are they!
Do you know the Peanuts cartoons that show Snoopy smiling and dancing? That’s because Snoopy is a Beagle – one of the most happy-go-lucky breeds. Colorful, cute, and with the signature bray of a Hound, Beagles are irresistible to dog lovers.
Bred to be hunters, they do best if they have something to chase. Inside the house, they’re just as fun and love to cuddle up to their humans after the play is over. You won’t have to worry too much about the behavior of a Beagle as long as they have a consistent way to get all their energy out.
5. Bernese Mountain Dog
Registering practically a zero on the aggression scale, Bernese Mountain Dogs are big floppy animals that more closely resemble Muppets than wolves. Their size is enough to scare off intruders, but the reality is that they’re giant softies.
If perhaps not the sharpest dog breed out there, Berneses make up for it with their personalities. Kind to strangers and patient with children, they’re winners in the behavior category. Choose one of these as your pet, and you’ll have years of smiles ahead of you.
6. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
This toy breed descends from English royal stock in the 1600s, and it’s no wonder they were favorites of the monarchs. Sweet as a lump of sugar added to a cup of Earl Gray, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are adorable lap companions to anyone – regardless of whether their human sits on a throne.
Due to their calm nature, many Cavaliers excel as therapy dogs. Quiet and obedient, they are happy to be the only pet in a home but also cohabitate well with other animals. Their silky fur and button noses make their willingness to make friends even more adorable.
7. Border Collie
Bright and active, Border Collies are a little smaller than Australian or German Shepherds and more gentle too. They’re consistently ranked one of the world’s most intelligent breeds but would rather spend their energy pleasing their humans than finding a way to escape the yard.
There’s no shortage of affection from this pettable breed. Provide them with ample entertainment – exercise, companion animals, or a favorite toy or ball – and they’ll thrive for many years as a well-behaved addition to your family.
8. Great Dane
Despite their massive size, Danes are notorious sweethearts. Often they don’t even know they’re comparable to small horses and try to sneak up onto their owner’s lap for a cuddle session.
A massive, throaty bellow at the front door means guests might be intimidated at first. But within seconds, it becomes clear that Great Danes are some of the nicest specimens of the dog world. Truthfully, they’d rather lay on your oversize couch than cause any kind of trouble.
9. Shih Tzu
On the other end of the size spectrum from a Great Dane, but similarly agreeable, are Shih Tzus. Sometimes small enough to fit in a purse, they are a source of intimate companionship and endless amusement to their owners.
Shih Tzus are perky and vivacious without being annoying and don’t have the incessant bark of some other toy breeds. In my opinion, they have a temperament closer to some of the large dogs of the world. Snuggly and mostly calm, Shih Tzus are surprisingly well-behaved for their size.
10. St. Bernard
Another gentle giant, this historic breed, was utilized for its search-and-rescue talents in Europe for hundreds of years. They have powerful bodies for hard work, but it’s coupled with extreme gentleness to comfort their rescued wards.
This lumbering, at-times-dopey breed is nothing like its portrayal in Stephen King’s movie adaptation Cujo. I’m baffled at the stereotype, as I’ve never met a St. Bernard that didn’t immediately show me how kind it was. If anything, this pooch is majorly dopey and never standoffish or mean.
11. Cocker Spaniel
Cocker Spaniels are sweet and charming, with no intentions of rocking the boat. This is true enough that Disney named their Cocker Spaniel character in Lady and the Tramp after her distinguished character!
Mid-sized and descending from hunting stock, they do retain some instincts that dominate their noses and ears. But for the most part, Cockers are content to lay around the house or go for a leisurely walk with their owners. They get along with cats and other dogs beautifully and fit into a large human family with no issues.
Just because a dog is a particular breed doesn’t guarantee it will behave well. However, if you start with a foundation of the right temperament, you have a better chance of your pup not causing trouble.
Make sure they are balanced with a good diet, ample exercise, and nurturing environment. After that, any pooch is more likely to stay on its best behavior.
Regardless of breed, a dog’s ultimate goal is to please and spend time with its human. On the spectrum of good dogs to best dogs, I have a feeling one of the breeds here will be the perfect four-legged friend for you!