When choosing a new dog, one thing many people want to know is how affectionate the breed is. We were wondering too, so we’ve rounded up a list of the most affectionate dog breeds, with some faces you're sure to recognise and some that may surprise you.
Whether you are looking for a pal to engage in a game using one of the best dog toys or are looking for a best friend to go walking with, affectionate dogs are always on the lookout for an opportunity to be close to you. While some people may look for a more independent breed, often we want our canine companion to curl up with us on the couch at the end of the day for a cuddling session. But is it only certain breeds that are eager to show their love?
Not at all. While it’s true that some breeds are naturally more affectionate than others, all dogs can be affectionate when they receive the right love and care from their humans. With that in mind, we rounded up some of the most loving dog breeds around — and if you find that you end up with a real little smoocher on your hands and aren't quite keen on all those kisses, check out our guide to I love my dog but hate when he licks my face for some expert tips on how to handle excessive face licking!
20 of the most affectionate dog breeds
Pugs love their owners and can be very needy, demanding attention from them nearly all the time. They’ll often follow you around and want to sprawl out on the bed or in your lap - anywhere near you will do. They enjoy belly rubs, kisses, and cuddles and are the perfect snuggle buddy whenever you need a pick me up!
2. Golden Retriever
Golden Retrievers are by far one of the most affectionate dog breeds, which makes them excellent family dogs. They’re great with children, they’re gentle, they're loving and they're kind - and they'll never say no to a belly rub. They love to lay down and cuddle with you, and they’ll give you just as much affection as you give them. They’re loyal dogs that are loving and trustful.
3. Brussels Griffon
With funny faces and bags of personality, the pint-sized Brussels Griffon manages to pack a whole lot of love and devotion into their tiny frames. Smart and sensitive, alert and curious, the loyal and sociable Brussels Griffon has eyes that will make you melt.
Playful and rambunctious, this is a spirited breed who can’t get enough of those close to him. While they appear to be brimming with self-confidence, their bravado masks a tender heart that is unable to tolerate solitude or loneliness.
Their stubborn and mischievous natures can make them a handful at times and they can become terribly anxious when they don’t know where their humans are, but if you have the patience for training and you can tolerate having a second shadow, this breed will reward you with bucket loads of love.
4. American Staffordshire Terrier
American Staffordshire Terriers are cuddly little meatballs! They may look muscular and strong, but they're naturally affectionate and sociable, and can be loyal companions in any home. In fact, the Little Rascals dog, Pete the Pup, is an AmStaff, and he was clearly great with kids. These stocky little pups are fantastic cuddlers, and with short hair, you won't be pulling a ton of fur out of your mouth!
5. Bichon Frise
This smaller breed of dog is too cute not to cuddle, and lucky for you, the Bichon Frise loves the attention. Their fluffy coat makes them the perfect little lap dog, and they will happily curl up in a ball on your lap or on the sofa next to you. They feel safe with their owners and enjoy the company, so you’ll often find them making themselves at home at the end of your bed.
6. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
As cuddly as they look, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a calm dog that is very patient and makes a lovely companion. They’re highly adaptable and are great dogs to be around for people of all ages, and their sociable side makes them one of the most affectionate dog breeds you can get. They enjoy snuggling up in the warm and will show their owners a lot of love.
7. Jack Russell Terrier
Gorgeous little balls of energy, the Jack Russell tends to be very affectionate towards their human companions. They are highly intelligent, which can make them difficult to train and they have a tendency to dig, but you'll be hard pressed to find a dog with more heart and brains in such a neat little package.
8. Great Dane
Another gentle giant, the Great Dane adores humans. While they may seem intimidating to some, a Great Dane enjoys nothing more than a kiss and a cuddle to show them you care. They’re a great companion for chilling in bed or on the sofa watching Netflix, and they’ll watch over you while you sleep, keeping you safe and sound.
Warm, loving, and loyal, Labradoodles make great family dogs. Happy and easy to train, their delightful natures and love of humans often see them being used in pet therapy settings and they do well around both adults and children.
High-energy, this is a bundle of joy that needs plenty of exercise, but they'll happily reward you for all that running around with endless affection. They're people-pleasers at heart and love nothing more than a good snuggle at the end of the day when they're all tuckered out from play.
10. Bernese Mountain Dog
Bernese Mountain Dogs are good-natured and incredibly affectionate dogs. These sweethearts are incredibly calm and patient, and make great companions for families with children. They're believed to be one of the least aggressive dogs and can be incredibly caring towards their human family members. Expect this big cuddler to be a great dog to hang out and watch movies with, especially during colder months.
Known for being snappy and sometimes aggressive, you might be surprised to find the Chihuahua on this list, but with their one beloved person they are one of the most affectionate, devoted little dogs you can find. They’ll be glued to your side at home and are small enough to scoop up to put in a bag to take with you wherever you go. They’re fairly low maintenance dogs in terms of grooming and exercise needs, so can be the perfect companion for home bodies.
This gentle giant may look like a bear, but Newfoundlands have a loving and affectionate nature that might not be what you expect from their grizzly appearance. They are a working breed, so require a lot of exercise, training and mental stimulation, but as a commonly-used rescue breed, they are a great dog for families with small children. They love swimming, so are a great choice if you live by water or enjoy water sports like paddle boarding.
The Pomeranian is a pint-sized ball of cheerful energy. They are lovely, affectionate dogs who appreciate a cuddle just as much as they enjoy a game of fetch or tug-of-war. They are adaptable dogs, suitable for homes with kids, other dogs and even cats as long as everybody is introduced properly.
Despite their frankly mournful expressions, Boxers are very happy dogs who love a snuggle. They are protective of their family and fiercely loyal to their humans, but are also quite a goofy breed known for their hilarious ‘zoomies’. Boxers require a committed owner who will put the time and effort into training them properly and ensure that they are kept physically and mentally entertained. A busy boxer is a happy boxer.
These comically long dogs are excellent family pets absolutely brimming with love and affection. They’re great watchdogs, with a loud bark and are brave sometimes to the point of stupidity. They can be aggressive to strangers and other dogs, but with their favorite human they will be nothing but rainbows and sunshine. They are known for their loyalty and devotion to their owners, making them a great cuddle buddy.
16. Irish Wolfhound
Beautiful and gigantic, the Irish Wolfhound is a relaxed dog that, despite its potential for great speed, will probably spend much of its time at home asleep or lying on its back begging for belly scratches. They are sensitive dogs, good for people with anxiety, and are generally great with other dogs, strangers and other animals (although they are sight hounds so beware of their high prey drive).
The Papillon may look like a dog that is all ears and not much else, but they’ve got pretty big hearts too. Although they look like a cross between a Chihuahua and a Pomeranian, these little dogs are actually an ancient breed of toy spaniel. They’re known for their happy, outgoing personalities and shadow-like quality of following their owner about the house. As a lap dog, they are bred to love (and be a great hot water bottle substitute) so it’s no surprise that these dogs have affection in abundance.
18. Cocker Spaniel (show line)
Very similar to their cousins, the Cavalier King Charles, show line Cocker Spaniels (as opposed to working cockers) have hearts of gold. Their Disney-princess-like long eyelashes and deep eyes will melt your heart and their gentle, loving personality makes them a great family dog. Show cockers are still high-energy dogs (higher in energy than the Cavalier King Charles) so require lots of play, exercise and mental stimulation. But when they aren’t tearing around the yard, they like nothing more than a sofa snuggle.
While often shy with strangers, the Greyhound is a very loving dog with family, happy to curl up on the couch for a cuddle and a head scratch. Despite being extremely fast, they are notoriously lazy at home and their gentle nature makes them great family pets. Retired racing greyhounds make great, affectionate pets, as many people are discovering with a surge in ex-racing greyhound adoptions.
20. German Shepherd
German Shepherd Dogs (GSDs) are highly intelligent, which is why they are often used by police, military and rescue organizations, but they also make great family dogs. They are loyal, affectionate and want nothing more than to hang out in whichever room their favorite human happens to be in. They are very steady, brave dogs and also make great service animals due to their high levels of emotional intelligence.
Want to learn more about your canine companions heritage? Check out our vet's guide to answer; what breed is my dog?
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Sarah is a freelance writer and marketer, covering a variety of topics from lifestyle and fitness to sustainability and travel. When she’s not writing for PetsRadar or other websites, she can be found looking after her pet chickens or relaxing with a cuppa and a cute doggo snoozing on her lap!