You get up, he gets up.
You go into another room, he follows. If you seem upset in any way, he sits in front of you and gives you a good lick to cheer you up. He is your loyal dog.
Many of our canine companions are very loyal, regardless of breeding, but there are some that are known for this commendable trait. Integrative veterinarian Dr. Carol Osborne details six loyal dog breeds:
The Akita is a large dog originating from Japan that is a powerful, dominant, and independent breed.
“They are very loyal dogs, but usually to one member of the family,” says Osborne. “They would not be your typical family dog, but are very loyal to their handler or owner. They are very protective and [dominant] dogs. They not a low-maintenance breed; they have double-ply coats like Siberian Huskies. They are very loyal dogs…but their traits should not be overlooked. They should have a large yard to [roam] and again a sense of a job and purpose. This is not the kind of dog who should be kenneled all day, and requires daily exercise; it’s of most importance to maintain a sense of well-being.”
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a small breed dog with a smooth, silky coat, originating from the United Kingdom. These dogs have become the 18th most popular dog breed in the United States, according to the AKC.
“The breed is highly affectionate, loyal, eager to please and extremely patient,” says Osborne. “They easily adapt to any living situation and love people and other dogs. They would do well with a large or small family and are very intelligent and obedient. Unlike the breeds mentioned above, this is a very easy-going, low-maintenance dog; they have no vices. They do well in any situation and are one of the most loyal breeds. Even though they are small, they love the outdoors and love to hunt and play—which for some people is the best of both worlds, as they act like a large dog that is stuffed into a little dog’s body. This would be a great dog for someone who works all day or is at home all day, has kids or does not; regardless of the situation, the breed adapts well and is eager to please.”
According to the AKC, the Labrador Retriever is the most popular dog in the United States. Labradors often help the disabled and blind, and are military and service dogs as well. They are also prized hunting and sporting dogs.
“They are considered the ultimate family dog, as they do well with not only children but adults as well,” says Osborne. “They do need training during puppyhood to ensure they have good behavior and are well-mannered. Overlooking training could very well be a detriment to the livelihood of this breed. They again need a sense of a job and training to ensure their good behavior. This is a medium-maintenance breed, needs minimal grooming, but is high shedding. They have a lot of endless energy, so they need daily exercise and something to do. A Lab is great dog for a large or small family, but keep in mind the energy level of this breed and the requirements that entails. Energy requirements is something often overlooked and is one of the largest mistakes anyone could make when selecting a breed. Make sure you have enough time for a dog; they will be an active member of the family for at least eight to 12 years.”
The Rough Collie is a medium to large dog breed falling under the herding group of dogs. Originating in Scotland, the dogs were used for herding sheep, cows, and other farm animals.
“They show no signs of aggressiveness or nervousness, are wonderful with adults and small and older children,” says Osborne. “They need to be well-socialized to prevent shyness, which can make them timid. They are beyond loyal and are one-family dogs. They often like to participate in herding-like activities and agility. This is a breed that again should be an active member of the family, and have a sense of purpose and a job. They will do well in apartments or in a large home, as they do adapt well and are very calm. Training is key with any breed from a young age and is essential to the happiness of your dog. They do require some grooming and maintenance for their hair coat and general hygiene and cleanliness.”
The Golden Retriever is a large to medium breed. The dogs are known for their hunting ability and ability to retrieve game undamaged.
“They have a longtime love for water and are easily trained to the most basic or most advanced obedience,” says Osborne. “They are a long-coated breed and do well in any environment. They are most known to be kind, friendly, loyal and obedient. They are not one-man dogs like your Akita and German shepherd, and are friendly to almost anyone. They are active and fun-loving dogs, and like to be an active member of the family. They will play or work until they are ready to collapse and are devoted to the game, so one must take note when playing rigorously. This is a great breed for anyone—a single person or a large family. These are fun-loving, easy-going dogs. They do require training from a young age, as with any dog, to ensure proper obedience and manners.”
The German shepherd is a medium to large working breed that originated in—you guessed it—Germany. They’re often used as military, police, therapy and service dogs.
“Most will die to protect their families, and are one of the most loyal dog breeds,” says Osborne. “However, they are not a low-maintenance breed, and often are very attached to their owners. Most have separation anxiety in the absence of their owner. With that being said, it is important to realize the amount of time and energy it takes to properly ensure this breed maintains a healthy body and soul. Daily exercise is a must, they often need a sense of a job and duty, and need biweekly brushing. This would not be a dog for someone who works 9-5 and would have to kennel the dog daily. This is a breed that needs to be an active member of the home, they do best when they have a job. Hence their history as service, police and military dogs.”
If you are looking into one of these loyal breeds—or another—make sure you are as committed to them as they are to you.
“Make sure you are willing to take the time, energy and financial obligation to make this pet an active member of your family,” says Osborne. “If you are thinking of getting a dog and would have to crate the dog longer than five hours a day, make sure you are making the right choice. It is heartbreaking to see so many pet owners resolve to crating their pet all day while at work and even some at night. This is no way for a pet to live and often causes a multitude of problems, all starting with anxiety. Make sure you are able to really care for and love a dog, and have the time required to properly care for it daily. Having a dog is really the equivalent of having a child; both require the same amount of time and attention.”