By Brett Janes
If you’re introducing a dog to your family, children, other dogs or a place where they’ll be around lots of people you’ll want a dog that’s friendly enough to handle that. In fact, there’s rarely a situation where a dog being friendly isn’t right at the forefront of your mind when you’re trying to research what kind of dog would be perfect for you. There are a few elements to this and it’s not as simple as you might think. While breed and size are big issues, you also have to consider training, environment and other factors when you’re trying to figure out how friendly a dog is, or rather, how friendly they could be.
There are things that will be slightly out of your control when you have a dog, namely other dogs. Having a community of friendly dogs at your local park or walking routes can really help encourage a dog to be as friendly as possible, but this can go the other way if there are aggressive dogs in the area. Consider it like your kids at school ‘getting into the wrong crowd,’ except it’s slightly easier to avoid with dogs. It can sometimes be worth changing where you walk if this becomes a problem.
Another issue that can arise with certain dog communities is fleas. Again this is easily comparable to school children and the problems that can arise when there is always one parent who doesn’t do anything about nits. If there is a dog that always has fleas it can be a big problem for your own, and one of the only ways round it is treating fleas with frontline.
As pedigrees are bred for specific purposes there are obviously some that are bred away from friendliness if their function is to be a guard dog, fighter or worker. That said, any opinions on which dog breeds are friendliest are just that, opinions. Here is a list from dogsbreedlist on their friendliest dogs:
1. Labrador Retriever
2. German Shepherd
4. Golden Retriever
5. Yorkshire Terrier
Now for some speculation on why they’re at the top. The two retrievers have been family favourites since dogs became a popular household pet. The only setback if you wanted a friendly dog for your family is that they require a lot of exercise, so are not suitable for someone without much spare time.
The Alsatian seems like an odd one to be on the list, given their reputation as being staunch guard dogs. Despite this, they are very loyal and friendly dogs, but also require large amounts of exercise. The only one on the list that doesn’t need a lot of exercise is the beagle, which means there seems to be a link between how active dogs are and what people constitute at ‘friendly’.
Does size have an impact on how friendly a dog breed is? Not by default, but because of certain expectations that owners have of their dog. Behavior can be altered to make them better or worse. The main issue here is that people ignore bad behavior in small dogs as it’s not as obvious. If a St Bernard constantly jumps up at people, the owners will quickly work on rectifying the situation. However, if a Chihuahua does the same thing, it will go unchecked. Sometimes people will even find it cute. It’s small issues like this that generally mean big dogs are better behaved by the time they get to adulthood.
Training is probably the most important aspect when you want your dog to be as friendly as possible. Here is a list of things to do and avoid when training your dog.
Brett Janes is a MA writing student at LJMU, UK, founder of literary organisation King Yeti and a member of The Wild Writers, a collective who run events and exhibitions throughout the Northwest. Also writes guest post for Vet Medic, who are one of UK’s leading pharmacists and vets who are genuinely passionate about pet health and medicines.