The 23 Most Loyal Dog Breeds

Loyalty comes naturally to most dogs. They evolved from wolves (in fact, a recent study indicates they evolved from two specific lines of ancient wolf lineage) to become our companions. Bonding with us is basically hard-wired into their DNA—and we all benefit from canine loyalty. Devoted dogs serve in the military, watch over our kids, chase away predators and so much more. The most loyal dog breeds have either spent centuries protecting homesteads or comfortably clinging to our laps. They’re often wary of strangers or ignore them completely, preferring you and only you. Keep in mind loyalty is a two-way street. If you respect your dog, they will respect you back.

What does it mean for a dog to be loyal?

Loyalty manifests in different ways, depending on the breed. Many breeds on this list come from the working dog group. This means they’ve spent hundreds of years doing double duty as guard dogs and farm hands (among other tasks). These will be incredibly protective pooches who may be wary of strangers. Though independent-minded, they won’t hesitate to come if called or when they sense danger.

On the other hand, there are loyal dog breeds who live to please and want nothing more than your love and friendship. Their devotion is always present - in the way they follow you around, sleep next to you, initiate playtime and bring you gifts. Many of these pups will be obedient, learning and following commands easily because it brings them joy and fulfills their sense of duty.

Can you train a dog to be more loyal?

Loyalty is often inherent, though no dog is untrainable. Socialization and training commands should start from day one, as early as possible in puppyhood, to ensure good behavior later. Loyal dogs with reputations for being fierce guardians should receive consistent, firm, yet compassionate training throughout their lives to ensure they don’t lash out at strangers.

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most loyal dog breeds akita
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1 Akita

Height: 24-28 inches

Weight: 70-130 pounds

Personality: Loyal, Brave

Activity Level: High

Shedding Factor: High

Life Expectancy: 10-13 years

If an Akita isn’t part of your household, don’t expect them to welcome you with open arms. They are incredibly protective and territorial dogs the American Kennel Club calls “profoundly loyal.” Akitas are working dogs from Japan (where they are seen as symbols of health and happiness) who shed like the dickens. Socialize early to ensure well-behaved adults!

most loyal dog breeds american staffordshire terrier
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2. American Staffordshire Terrier

Height: 17-19 inches

Weight: 40-70 pounds

Personality: Highly Affectionate, Intelligent

Activity Level: High

Shedding Factor: Low

Life Expectancy: 12-16 years

Think of American Staffordshire Terriers—AmStaffs for short—as affectionate watchdogs. Their history as fighting dogs makes them a misunderstood breed. We have humans to thank for this poor reputation! In reality, they love to love and generally get along well with new friends. An AmStaff’s strength and courage definitely make them formidable opponents should anyone try to harm their loved ones. Their intelligence and alertness also mean they are tuned in and ready to protect. Remember all dogs are individuals and aggression is often a learned behavior. Train early and socialize often for a happy, healthy Am Staff.

most loyal dog breeds anatolian shepherd dog
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3. Anatolian Shepherd Dog

Height: 27-29 inches

Weight: 80-150 pounds

Personality: Independent, Patient

Activity Level: Moderate

Shedding Factor: Seasonal

Life Expectancy: 11-13 years

Anatolian Shepherds are ancient dogs born to protect territory, livestock and family members. They definitely lack the friendly, sweet nature of an AmStaff, yet they’ll go to any length to protect their charges. Anatolian Shepherd Dogs are not for novice dog owners or anyone without a large yard or space in which the dog can roam.

most loyal dog breeds beagle
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4. Beagle

Height: 10-15 inches

Weight: 15-30 pounds

Personality: Friendly, Doting

Activity Level: Moderate

Shedding Factor: Moderate

Life Expectancy: 10-15 years

Welcome to the softer side of loyalty! Beagles are loyal companions in that they are happiest when around you, their favorite person, or their family. Sweethearts with merry personalities, Beagles also get along well with other pets and kids. They’re also sensitive souls, so be kind if they make a mistake (like loving you too much).

most loyal dog breeds border collie
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5. Border Collie

Height: 18 - 22 inches

Weight: 30 - 55 pounds

Personality: Energetic, Smart

Activity Level: High

Shedding Factor: Seasonal

Life Expectancy: 12-15 years

As herding dogs, Border Collies have boundless energy and are incredibly smart. The loyalty you find in Border Collies falls into the obedience category. These pups love to learn and work alongside their people in agility and herding competitions. Teach them everything and they’ll happily follow you to the ends of the earth.

most loyal dog breeds chesapeake bay retriever
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6. Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Height: 21-26 inches

Weight: 55-80 pounds

Personality: Loyal, sensitive

Activity Level: Moderate to High

Shedding Factor: Moderate

Life Expectancy: 10-13 years

Chesapeake Bay Retriever people say once you go with a Chessie, you never go back. An all-American dog breed, they’re more sensitive than other hunting hounds. Chessies have been known to work wonders as therapy dogs, which proves how loyal they can be to a person. These dogs are with you through thick and thin!

most loyal dog breeds chihuahua
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7. Chihuahua

Height: 5-8 inches

Weight: 6 pounds

Personality: Charming, independent

Activity Level: Moderate

Shedding Factor: Low

Life Expectancy: 14-16 years

Out of Mexico comes the Chihuahua, a feisty, loyal pup who isn’t afraid to bark at someone they feel is encroaching on their territory (you). Meant to be lap dogs who go with you everywhere, Chihuahuas expect to be involved in everything you do. Be careful with these tiny canines around big dogs or rambunctious kiddos - and hold them close when it’s cold so they don’t freeze (they’ll love it).

most loyal dog breeds collie
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8. Collie

Height: 22 - 26 inches

Weight: 50 - 75 pounds

Personality: Devoted, Athletic

Activity Level: Moderate to High

Shedding Factor: Seasonal

Life Expectancy: 12-14 years

Collies pretty much invented the loyal family pet trope. Great with kids and eager to join in the fun, Collies are smart and athletic dogs. They thrive on companionship and won’t do well if left alone for long stretches of time. Collies are herding dogs, which means they love having a job to do, especially if it makes you happy.

most loyal dog breeds dachshund
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9. Dachshund

Height: 8-9 inches (Standard), 5-6 inches (Miniature)

Weight: 16-32 pounds (Standard), up to 11 pounds (Miniature)

Personality: Curious, affectionate

Activity Level: Moderate

Shedding Factor: Low

Life Expectancy: 12 to 16 years

Like Chihuahuas, Dachshunds aren’t afraid to bark at perceived threats. They are incredibly affectionate with their families and prefer their people to everyone else. Dachshunds get along well with other Dachshunds but may be stand-offish with other breeds.

most loyal dog breeds doberman pinscher
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10. Doberman Pinscher

Height: 24-28 inches

Weight: 60-100 pounds

Personality: Intelligent, alert

Activity Level: High

Shedding Factor: High

Life Expectancy: 10 to 12 years

Dobermans are basically brainiacs. One of the smartest breeds around, they’ve excelled at loyalty too through military service and working with people with physical and mental disabilities. Do they shed a ton? Yes. Will they cuddle with you at the end of a long day? Yes. Will they scare away anyone who tries to mess with you simply by looking intimidating? Absolutely.

most loyal dog breeds english springer spaniel
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11. English Springer Spaniel

Height: 19 - 20 inches

Weight: 40 - 50 pounds

Personality: Dedicated, Friendly

Activity Level: Moderate

Shedding Factor: Moderate

Life Expectancy: 12-14 years

The AKC says English Springer Spaniels “crave company and are miserable when neglected.” Take that as a warning! Leaving them alone for hours on end will result in some separation anxiety and perhaps destruction. These hunting dogs long to be with you and are dedicated to pleasing you (this is why they make excellent partners on outdoor excursions).

most loyal dog breeds german shepherd
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12. German Shepherd

Height: 22-26 inches

Weight: 50-90 pounds

Personality: Loyal, confident

Activity Level: High

Shedding Factor: High

Life Expectancy: 7 to 10 years

Like the Akita, the German Shepherd is a serious-minded dog wholly devoted to protecting its family. Literally known for their bravery (they work with police forces and on front lines in tumultuous situations), German Shepherds won’t hesitate to leap into action if they sense you’re in distress. They are not, however, the warmest breed. Expect a high level of independence and aloofness.

most loyal dog breeds golden retriever
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13. Golden Retriever

Height: 21-24 inches

Weight: 55-75 pounds

Personality: Friendly, Devoted

Activity Level: Moderate to High

Shedding Factor: High

Life Expectancy: 10-12 years

Come on, the Golden Retriever? Perhaps the poster dog for dedication! Known for their keen abilities as therapy dogs and emotional support animals, these smart, sweet pups will become your BFF in an instant. They can be trained to be vigilant watch dogs, but a Golden’s nature definitely leans toward being friendly with strangers and pals alike.

most loyal dog breeds great pyrenees
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14. Great Pyrenees

Height: 25-32 inches

Weight: 85-110 pounds

Personality: Calm, Sweet

Activity Level: Low

Shedding Factor: High

Life Expectancy: 10-12 years

Great Pyrenees are large and in charge. They’ve spent centuries as guardians of the mountains, protecting both livestock and homesteads. Though incredibly even-keel, they willingly spring into action if they feel their families are threatened. Great Pyrenees are also notoriously patient with little kiddos.

most loyal dog breeds kuvasz
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15. Kuvasz

Height: 26-30 inches

Weight: 70-115 pounds

Personality: Obedient, fearless

Activity Level: Moderate

Shedding Factor: Moderate

Life Expectancy: 10-12 years

Picture a Great Pyrenees but slightly smaller and in Hungary instead of France. You’ve got a Kuvasz. These are fearless dogs who learn quickly, happily obey commands and yet have a regal sensibility rivaling the most majestic monarchs. Kuvasz pups can be independent-minded, so go into training sessions with a firm resolve!

most loyal dog breeds labrador retriever
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16. Labrador Retriever

Height: 21-25 inches

Weight: 55-80 pounds

Personality: Outgoing, Fun-loving

Activity Level: High

Shedding Factor: High

Life Expectancy: 10-12 years

Similar to other Retrievers (Goldens and Chessies), Labradors are compassionate animals who dote on their favorite people. Energetic and outgoing, they are happy to meet new people. In terms of loyalty, they are highly trainable and constantly check in with their person. Labs have also been known to consider themselves lap dogs, so get ready for one to jump onto the couch with you.

most loyal dog breeds mastiff
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17. Mastiff

Height: 27-32 inches

Weight: 120-220 pounds

Personality: Courageous, patient

Activity Level: Moderate

Shedding Factor: Moderate

Life Expectancy: 6-10 years

Mastiffs faithfully protect family members and give strangers some side-eye until they know them better. Huge and intimidating, a Mastiff bores easily when it comes to training, so have patience and make it exciting. Despite their macho appearance, they’re true softies at heart.

most loyal dog breeds miniature american shepherd
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18. Miniature American Shepherd

Height: 13-18 inches

Weight: 20-40 pounds

Personality: Smart, sweet

Activity Level: High

Shedding Factor: Moderate

Life Expectancy: 12-13 years

Loving and devoted, Miniature American Shepherds are less like guard dogs and more like pals. They want to be near you and do stuff with you! Get ready for little balls of energy who will perk up if you get ready to go outside. Smart and eager to learn commands, Miniature American Shepherds enjoy obedience and agility training.

most loyal dog breeds rottweiler
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19. Rottweiler

Height: 22-27 inches

Weight: 80-135 pounds

Personality: Confident, loving

Activity Level: Moderate

Shedding Factor: Moderate

Life Expectancy: 9 to 10 years

At home, Rottweilers are playful and loving companions. Out in the world, they usually give off a distant, detached energy. The truth is, they are so loyal they simply don’t care much for others. Rottweilers have earned a reputation for being aggressive; this happens without proper socialization and training. Avoid encouraging aggressive behavior by wrestling with puppies (or adult dogs!). Including a Rottweiler in all family activities is the key to their heart.

most loyal dog breeds shiba inu
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20. Shiba Inu

Height: 13.5-16.5 inches

Weight: 17-23 pounds

Personality: Affectionate, Protective

Activity Level: High

Shedding Factor: Moderate

Life Expectancy: 13-16 years

As the most popular companion dog in Japan, Shiba Inus exude loyalty on a daily basis. In fact, they tend to adapt well (perhaps better than most breeds on this list) to a variety of environments, depending on where their people are. Once there, they’ll become territorial and likely won’t take kindly to new faces right away.

most loyal dog breeds siberian husky
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21. Siberian Husky

Height: 20 - 24 inches

Weight: 30 - 60 pounds

Personality: Social, Loyal

Activity Level: High

Shedding Factor: High

Life Expectancy: 12-14 years

Bred to work alongside large packs of dogs in service of their humans, Siberian Huskies are loyal through and through. The thing is, like Golden Retrievers, these dogs make friends with everyone. Their devotion to you is deep, but to them, the more the merrier.

most loyal dog breeds st bernard
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22. St. Bernard

Height: 26-30 inches

Weight: 120-180 pounds

Personality: Charming, Watchful

Activity Level: Moderate

Shedding Factor: Seasonal

Life Expectancy: 8-10 years

If you can get past the drool, you’re in good paws with a St. Bernard on your team. Known for their work as rescue dogs, these canines are patient, dedicated and strong—not to mention enormous. Great with kids and other pets, St. Bernards are friendly until they perceive a threat and their protective instincts kick in.

most loyal dog breeds welsh springer spaniel
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23. Welsh Springer Spaniel

Height: 17-19 inches

Weight: 35-55 pounds

Personality: Happy, Dedicated

Activity Level: Moderate to High

Shedding Factor: Moderate

Life Expectancy: 12-15 years

Dogs who follow their family members into the bathroom and stand guard are simply demonstrating loyalty. You can expect this from Welsh Springer Spaniels. Happy dogs with eager and friendly dispositions, they make great family pets (as long as you include them in everything).

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Sarah Ashley is a Chicago-based freelance journalist. She has covered pets for PureWow for six years and tackles everything from dog training tips to the best litter boxes. Her...