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Choosing a dog breed based on their personality

Adopting your first pup or adding to your family of furry friends? Learn which dog breeds are most compatible with your personality and lifestyle.

Updated August 20, 2021

Created By

Emily Johnson,

📷 by Jeremy Perkins

Not sure what type of dog is best for you?

So you want to bring a new pup into the family, how exciting! There are several variables that go into choosing the right dog — age, breed, temperament, and size. If you aren’t sure what breed you want, the first thing to consider is your lifestyle and how a dog’s personality would mesh with it. If you’re an avid runner or hiker, you’ll want to make sure your new pup is game for all the activities. If you’d prefer to lounge on the couch, you’ll want a more laid-back breed to snuggle up with. 

Not sure where to start? We’re here to help guide you in the right direction.

Get to know these 15 dog breeds and their personalities

1. Golden retrievers — Best for outgoing owners

Golden retrievers have a friendly, high-energy, and outgoing personality that’s perfectly fitting for an extroverted and active owner. These are the types of dogs who love going on walks through the neighborhood, only to stop and greet everyone that passes by.

Goldens are relatively easy to train and tend to keep their puppyish personality into adulthood, giving you years of a fun-loving partner by your side. And thanks to their hunting dog breeding purpose, these pups love to swim and can spend hours with you in the outdoors.

2. French bulldogs — Best for laid-back owners

French bulldogs, lovingly called Frenchies, are playful and smart pups that can easily adapt to their surroundings. This makes them great apartment dogs, along with their petite size. They typically don’t need as much daily exercise as other breeds, either, which is great for a more laid-back individual.

People love their big bat ears and wrinkly faces, but it’s important to remember that their short snouts add them to a group of breeds called brachycephalic dogs — these breeds are prone to heavy snoring and noisy breathing (but are always up for a good nap).

3. German shepherds — Best for adventurous owners

German shepherds are highly courageous and intelligent dogs who love to go on adventures with their owners. They like to work and are highly trainable, so it’s no surprise that they’ve been one of the top chosen breeds for police and military dogs over many generations.

These shepherds require ample exercise and love to have a mentally stimulating job — dog sports like agility, herding, tracking, and dock diving provide fantastic physical and mental exercise while being super fun for both dog and owner.

4. Standard poodles — Best for intellectual owners

Poodles are one of the smartest breeds of dogs, so they’re best paired with owners who can appreciate those smarts and put them to use. Standard poodles are the largest of the three size variations and are extremely athletic. A lot of owners also enjoy the fact they have extremely low-allergen coats, making them great for families that suffer from allergies.

Whether you want a family dog the kids will love to play with or an easily trainable athlete to work with, standard poodles are a great all-around breed for everyone.

5. Beagles — Best for curious owners

The beagle is an incredibly adorable breed with an easy-going temperament. Their loving, happy-go-lucky personalities make them fantastic family dogs. They’re very curious and love to explore, so their owners should be equally as curious and want to go on regular adventures with their pup.

Beagles are bred to work in packs and are happiest when with others, whether it’s their human companions or other canines. Those clever, curious personalities (and noses!) can get them into trouble, however, so it’s important to have a fenced yard that keeps them safe when a scent gets them wandering.

6. Collies — Best for loyal owners

The collie is one of the most recognizable dog breeds thanks to the TV star, Lassie. You can choose between the popular long-haired “rough” collie or the sleeker “smooth-coated” collie, and they both come in a variety of colors. Collies are famously known to be great with children and families thanks to their loyalty and desire for companionship.

They’re very intelligent and thrive on gentle training tactics, which is great for an owner who wants to truly bond with their dog. They do require a good amount of daily exercise to keep them physically and mentally stimulated, so they’re best for more active families.

7. Cavalier King Charles spaniels— Best for affectionate owners

Named after King Charles of Britain, the cavalier King Charles spaniel truly embodies the all-around beauty and grace of its royal history. They’re easygoing and have very even temperaments, making it easy for them to get along well with children and other dogs. They’re incredibly sweet and affectionate with their owners and are always ready to be a couch potato.

That being said, cavalier King Charles spaniels are very adaptable and can also easily keep up with a more active life — it all depends on what lifestyle the owner chooses.

8. Labrador retrievers — Best for friendly owners

The Labrador retriever is one of the most popular breeds for first-time dog owners, thanks to its friendly and easy-going personality. But don’t mistake their laidback temperament for low-energy — this breed is high-spirited and very athletic, so their owners need to give them plenty of exercise and mental stimulation.

Labs are a super social breed that bonds with the whole family and gets along well with other dogs and kids. Just make sure you keep everything picked up off the coffee tables — that strong “otter tail” can be deadly when they’re excited!

9. Basset hounds — Best for independent owners

The long body, short legs, and floppy ears are key features that make the basset hound such a well-known breed. They’re very laid back and low-key at home but can be stubborn while out and about. The Basset’s scent skills are impeccable and they have a loud, ringing bark.

Some bassets can be less affectionate or cuddly than other dogs, but what they lack in affection they make up for in loyalty to their owners and a spunky nature. They’re a great option for an independent person who isn’t looking for an overly loving companion.

10. Dachshunds — Best for strong-willed owners

The dachshund, also lovingly called the wiener dog, is famously known for its little legs and long, hot dog shaped body. These dogs are small in stature but boast a big-dog personality with a bark to match, making them great watchdogs. They aren’t built for long-distance running, jumping, or heavy swimming — but they’re pretty much game for anything else their owner throws at them.

Dachshunds are great companions for those who are strong-willed and determined thanks to their stubborn and somewhat independent personalities, but their charming nature is sure to win anyone over.

11. Great Danes — Best for introverted owners

The Great Dane is a giant, elegant breed that isn’t for the faint of heart. When on their hind legs, they stand taller than most people and can be intimidating at first sight, making them good guard dogs. What most people don’t realize is this breed is very laid back and friendly unless faced with trouble.

They’re great for those introverted owners who want a companion to lounge around the house with, rather than hitting the town. The Great Dane is patient and gets along with others, making it a great option for a family dog.

12. Bulldogs — Best for light-hearted owners

The bulldog is one of those breeds that you won’t mistake for anything else. Their thick, muscular bodies and wrinkled faces are hard to miss. They have a charming, goofy disposition that you can’t help but love. Bulldogs are easygoing and love to curl up in their owner’s lap (or try to, at least), but they’ll require ample exercise and a careful diet to stay at a healthy weight.

They’re another breed of brachycephalic dogs and prefer to spend hot days in the cool air conditioning — it also leads them to be extra snorty and make other funny sounds that you’re sure to get a kick out of.

13. Australian shepherds — Best for hardworking owners

The Australian shepherd is a hardworking breed that loves to have a job. Bred to work livestock, they’re high-energy dogs and thrive on ample amounts of both physical and mental stimulation — hiking, farm work, agility, flyball, and dock diving are all fun examples of activities to do with your Aussie to keep them working.

They’re a great match for someone who loves the outdoors and prefers to be out exploring rather than relaxing at home. Aussies also have very loyal personalities and will “velcro” to their person, so be prepared to have a truly bonded companion for years to come! And funny enough, they aren’t actually from Australia at all and were first bred in the United States.

14. Rottweilers — Best for confident owners

Rottweilers, also called Rotties, are a fiercely loyal and confident breed. They can have a gentle and playful personality with their trusted inner circle, but also tend to have a natural guard dog mentality, so they may be protective against guests or outsiders. Because of those tendencies, it’s important for owners of Rotties to be confident leaders and to get them well socialized and started in training at an early age — this will help shape their natural territorial instincts into something positive.

They have a signature shiny black coat with brown points and a muscular, strong stature that adds to their confident and courageous demeanors. Finding yourself a well-bred and properly raised Rottweiler will guarantee you a fantastic family dog and a loyal companion for years to come.

15. Shih tzus— Best for playful owners

The shih tzu is a playful and charming breed that is perfect for outgoing owners who like to have fun. They’re the perfect size for apartments or houses without big backyards. Shih tzus were originally bred for royalty, so they’re used to simply looking cute and relaxing in your lap throughout your day.

Their only true caveat is their coat — it requires a good amount of brushing and grooming to keep it looking silky and sleek. However, their patience and affection toward kids makes them all-around great family dogs.

What else to consider when choosing a dog breed

Your level of experience with dogs

If you’re new to owning a dog or it’s been a while since you’ve had one, consider that when choosing your next breed. It may be wise to select one that is lower maintenance and easier for first-time owners. Or maybe you already own a dog, in which case you’ll need to find a breed that likes to be social and can share your affection. These are all things to keep in mind when choosing the best dog breed for you.

Noise tolerance

With dogs comes noise in some way shape or form. Some breeds are more prone to barking at the drop of a hat while others are more laid-back and less vocal. Be sure to think about what kind of noise level you’re willing to handle while starting your dog search.

Time commitment

It’s said that owning a dog isn’t a privilege, it’s a responsibility. There’s a lot of time and energy that goes into dog ownership no matter the breed, but there are breeds that require more time than others. Some take longer to train, some need more exercise, etc. Something else to think about is how often you’ll be home with them — do you work in an office or from home? Certain breeds do better than others about being left alone for long periods of time.

Where you live

The type of housing you live in is something else to consider when searching for your next dog. If you’re in an apartment or a home without a big backyard, you’ll want to look into a more low-key breed that doesn’t require as much exercise or time outside. It’s also important to think about the climate you live in, especially for double-coated dogs or brachycephalic dogs (ones with flat faces like pugs and bulldogs).

Whether you have a family and children

If you have a family or plan to have one, it’s especially important to find a breed that’s good with kids. Not all breeds are patient or laid back enough to handle the hustle and bustle of kids running around. For tips on how to introduce your new dog or cat to your children, here’s a pet guide for parents.

Whether you have other pets

As mentioned above, not all breeds do well in multiple-dog homes. The same goes with breeds that may not do well with other animals in general, especially herding or working breeds that may have a high prey drive. Be sure to look into a breed’s willingness to be social and what kind of temperament they’ll have with other animals in the house.

Finding your forever furry friend

It’s easy to see that there’s a lot to think about when looking for your first (second or third!) dog. Finding the breed of dog to best match your lifestyle is a top priority, along with your overall level of experience in owning dogs and your personal preferences for a dog.

Getting to know a breed before adopting will help ensure you have a successful pet-owner relationship and helps prevent problems in the future. Have you done your research and are ready to start searching for your new best friend? Learning how to adopt a dog is your next step — good luck!

👉 If you’re looking for a specific dog breed, Pet Finder and Adopt a Pet will allow you to filter dogs and even sign up for email alerts for breed and location.