20 Most Loyal Dog Breeds That Will Always Be by Your Side

In good times and bad. In sickness and health. For richer or poorer. These loyal dogs have taken a vow to be hopefully devoted to you.

Let’s be clear, as pack animals, all dogs have an inherent sense of loyalty to their pack and crave love, companionship and security. Yet, some dog breeds are known for being hyperfocused on one human or the entire family. Loyal dog breeds just might be the perfect fit for first-time owners who are looking for a devoted companion. Some dogs on our list are known for being super affectionate, while other dog breeds take pride in guarding their family.

The most loyal dog breeds are the ones that are always by your side, no matter what life brings you. Though our list is by no means conclusive, here some of our favorites tell you about themselves in their own words.

woman petting her great pyrenees dog on a farmAriel Skelley/Getty Images

1. Great Pyrenees

Just last week, I heard a little kid say, “Dad look at that big dog. It’s as big as a horse!” The kid’s right. I am big! As one of the biggest dog breeds, I tip the scales at around 100 pounds, give or take. But hey, a lot of that is due to my abundant, super thick, and waterproof coat. I used to protect sheep from sneaky, sly wolves, so it’s in my blood to feel responsible for protecting my family and property. Yet, you could say I fall into the gentle giant category because I’m pretty mellow, gentle, and affectionate with my humans family. I’m not the only mellow and massive breed in town.

Portrait of Bearded man with a basset hound dog in natureeftoefto/Getty Images

2. Basset hound

Admit it, you’re kind of surprised to find me on this list. I have a reputation for being lackadaisical, preferring to be a spectator of life instead of an active participant. But loyal? You bet your buttered biscuits I am. Being loyal is part of my temperament. And I’m also charming and patient except when I want food. My vocal range is enviable among other breeds, and I use it to my advantage by howling, grumbling, and whining (it’s adorable, really) for food, treats, and affection—three of my favorite things.

young girl with her akita dogmilorad kravic/Getty Images

3. Akita

I’m proud to say devotion runs deep in my Japanese breed‘s lineage. Back in 1932, an Akita named Hachiko stole everyone’s heart after he sat at a Tokyo train station every day, waiting for his master, who never returned. Hachiko didn’t know his master died while at his office. His faithfulness touched so many; a statue was erected in his honor and still stands at the Shibuya Train Station in Toyko, Japan, and his story inspired the movie Hachi: A Dog’s Tale. Like Hachiko. An Akita will be your beloved companion and never leave your side. Plus, they have the cutest curly tail.

Portrait of a Kuvasz Dogsusanna cesareo/Getty Images

4. Kuvasz

I don’t mean to humblebrag, but if you’re looking for the most loyal dog breed, I’m known for being “profoundly loyal, “thank you very much. As a rare dog breed, you probably don’t know about you might not realize I tip the scales between 80 to 115 pounds, but I don’t get many complaints about taking up a sofa cushion. Everyone loves to snuggle up to my gorgeous white and thick coat. As a breed from the working class, I’m naturally inclined to be loyal and protective of my family. Yes, I might be aloof with strangers and show an independent streak occasionally, but really, does it matter as long as my loyalty lies with you first?

Man holding a Rottweiler puppy dogNikola Stojadinovic/Getty Images

5. Rottweiler

My robust and muscular frame makes me look more like a bouncer at that hip new dog park in the city. I may look intimidating and mean, but I’m not. Well, I should clarify that. I might be a bit standoffish with people I don’t know. It’s not that I’m rude—guarded is more like it. I love spending time with my family and would do anything to protect them and our home. Now that doesn’t mean I want to be on guard duty and isolated. That kind of life isn’t for me. Spending time with my fam, aka my top priority, is my jam.

close up of collie dog sitting in girl's lapGary John Norman/Getty Images

6. Collie

If I had a dog biscuit for everyone who says, “you look just like Lassie,” my mom would never have to buy them again. I haven’t saved anyone from a well, but I would put on my superhero cape if my family were in crisis. My unwavering devotion clearly makes me one of the most loyal dog breeds around. My humans show it by spoiling me because I’m smart as a whip, friendly, and super cute (my luscious, long-haired coat is to die for). Sometimes my enthusiastic barking gets “that look” from my dad, but it’s just my way of saying, “let’s get some exercise!”

Portrait of boxer puppy sitting on grass in the parkSStajic/Getty Images

7. Boxer

I’ve got a fast fact for you. Did you know that boxers were one of the first breeds used as police and military dogs? All that rigorous mental and physical training with our handler developed a deep sense of loyalty that carries through today. In the 1940s, we were all the rage and have been one of the most popular dog breeds since. I think families with kids really love us because we’re so playful and gentle with young ones. Fair warning— if the fam is preoccupied with their screens, I might get into a bit of mischief out of sheer boredom!

Little girl walks with big St. Bernard dog on prairie trailCavan Images/Getty Images

8. St. Bernard

Cue the Swiss Yodeling…the original search and rescue dog is here! People are ecstatic to see me if they’re stranded in the snow-covered mountains. Maybe that doesn’t happen much these days, but long ago, when I found a lost traveler, I would cozy up next to them and lick at them to keep them warm while we waited for help. To say I’m loyal and focused is just the tip of the iceberg. I’m a huge teddy bear and a calm dog breed, but I will fiercely defend my family if they are threatened.

full body portrait of German Shepherd Dog outdoorsSashaFoxWalters/Getty Images

9. German shepherd

Faithful, dedicated, and a workaholic, some might say. My German dog breed is well-known for its unfailing and tireless service for the police and military. I might look like I’m all business, but my commitment to you runs deep. That includes the kiddos too. Nobody’s coming into our yard without my permission—except for the family cat. I’m OK with family pets but a little cautious of other dogs. I’ll never leave your side, whether it’s in a fox hole or your backyard. My heart beats for you and our family.

Young girl cuddling her chocolate labrador retriever at sunsetJustin Paget/Getty Images

10. Labrador retriever

Hey there! Can I lick your ice cream cone? Can we see your friends with the kids who drop food? Oh wait, can we see my buds at the dog park? Never mind, I think I want to play fetch, collapse, and then snuggle. I know it seems like I’m the extrovert in overdrive, but at the end of the day, I’m one of the most loyal dogs—and smartest, too!—on the planet. I have so many things I like to do. And if we’re honest, I probably have more friends than you. Just kidding! Ultimately, I always choose you.

woman petting her golden retrieverWestend61/Getty Images

11. Golden retriever

Hey, did you see my buddy, Daniel take first place in the Sporting Group at the Westminster Dog Show in 2020? We’re always the fan-favorite at dog shows because we’re just so darn lovable and friendly. I love that people adore us for our easygoing nature yet appreciate our more serious side as service dogs. We’re basically the whole package: easy-going, smart, cuddly, playful, dependable, and trustworthy. Best of all: We’re true-blue devoted to you.

portrait of man holding his norfolk terrier dog outsidefotografixx/Getty Images

12. Norfolk terrier

Who knew one of the most loyal dogs would be in such an adorable package? I may only be about 10 inches tall and 12 pounds, but I’m a fearless, spirited, and lively companion who is not afraid of the big C—commitment. My pack dog camaraderie gives me an extra helping of sweetness. When humans compare me with other terriers, they say I tend to be a little more outgoing. My close bond with you might make me jealous of other people at times. When I feel jilted, I might start digging holes to let you know!

close up of Tibetan terrier dog on a walkSStajic/Getty Images

13. Tibetan terrier

I bet you thought I was a Lhasa Apso. It’s not difficult to make that mistake. We’re one of those dog breeds everyone always gets confused. I’m bigger than my goofy cousin, who covets being the center of attention. I’m like a dog with two tails when I’m with my human! Yet, I have enough love to share with other people, too—my sweet and affectionate nature comfort people in nursing homes and hospitals. Whether I’m wearing a therapy dog badge or not, my steadfast devotion to you will always be my top priority.

young girl hugging her beagle dogMaryna Terletska/Getty Images

14. Beagle

Go ahead and say what you’re thinking: “You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog.” How can I be a loyal sidekick to you if every time an exciting scent comes my way, I’m howling and barking and chasing it down?” My keen sense of smell and curiosity is something I satisfy by exploring. Kind of like what a hobby is for you. Let’s do it together! As a member of a tightly knit hunting breed, I’m genetically geared to be around other dogs or people. I would never be happy as a solo act. My irresistible adorable floppy ears are just the icing on the cake.

Man and his Portuguese water dog on a sailboatinhauscreative/Getty Images

15. Portuguese water dog

I have a strong pull to the water, no doubt. I love to swim and play in the water, but doing it alone isn’t much fun. Plus, you should never swim alone, right? Even if you’re not much of a swimmer, we can do other things together just as long as it’s physical. I need to expend some energy and get plenty of exercise. By nightfall, I’ll be ready to snuggle up on the sofa. I may be a strong-willed and spirited medium dog breed, but maybe it’s just my way of telling you I want more time with you.

Welsh Springer Spaniel dog portrait looking at cameraTayaCho/Getty Images

16. Welsh Springer spaniel

If you’re looking for a companion who will never leave your side, and I mean never, I’m your pup. It has been said that we need to be with our human every minute of the day. We’ll follow you to the ends of the earth—and to the bathroom. Sounds kind of needy? I guarantee that’s not the case. It’s not like I’m demanding belly rubs and petting around the clock. I’ll return your love with plenty of affection and happily hang out with the kiddos too. I’ll need socialization when I’m a pup, so I’m not so timid and shy around people outside of our family unit.

Young woman enjoying time outdoors with her belgian malinois dog pet.GoodLifeStudio/Getty Images

17. Belgian Malinois

I may not give off a warm and cuddly vibe, but any dog parent will attest that I’m a major softy inside. My sense of duty and dedication make me a blue-chip candidate for police work, military patrol, and therapy work. It’s that same commitment to my work that makes me so loyal at home—whether I’m a working dog or strictly a companion dog. I have a high-energy drive, but I like to direct that more toward serious things like obedience and agility training. Admittedly, with my high prey drive (I like to chase things), I’m probably not the ideal breed for families with young children. My unwavering devotion is to one person, and I literally would be a lost soul with my human.

Portrait of Skye TerrierLourdesPhotography/Getty Images

18. Skye terrier

I like to wear a bandana around my neck that says, “I’m with her” (or him!). Kidding aside, I don’t have a roving eye and am faithful only to you. I’m one of the most loyal dog breeds in the terrier group. Here’s another reason why I stand apart from other terriers—I don’t need much exercise. Some of my terrier cousins are in zoomie mode most of the day, but that’s not how I roll. I’m quite content with hanging out at home for long cuddle sessions, but short walks are good for exercise and mental stimulation for both of us. Though, we’ll probably be the talk of the town with too-cute short-legged swagger.

Cute american staffordshire staffordshire bull terrier in the parkIzaLysonArts/Getty Images

19. American Staffordshire terrier

Even though I’m one of the most popular breeds in the United States and the United Kingdom, I still get a bad rap for being aggressive and mean. Truth be told, the “facts” about my breed are totally wrong. If you took a peek inside my house, you would see that I’m good-natured, fun-loving, and can quickly pick up new tricks and commands. My bond with my human parents and kids runs deep. I generally reserve my devotion to them above all others. That said, it may take a little while to warm up to new friends, including dogs I haven’t met and small pets. Fun fact: I’m also a brindle dog breed!

Man holding his dachshundThais Almeida/Getty Images

20. Dachshund

Do you prefer your loyalty in a longhaired, wirehaired, or shorthaired package? Take your pick because if you pick one of us, you’re going to be amazed at how much love and affection pours out of our adorable little bodies. Historically, we used to hunt small critters that burrowed in the ground, so we still love to bark, scratch, and dig when something gets our attention. Inside we love to “burrow” under blankets—with you. We’re like cozy little heating pads, even in the summer heat. Speaking of short and cute, don’t miss the world’s tiniest dog breeds.

Lisa Marie Conklin
Lisa Marie Conklin is a Baltimore-based writer who writes regularly about pets and home improvement for Reader's Digest. Her work has also been published in The Healthy, Family Handyman and Taste of Home, among other outlets. She's also a certified personal trainer and walking coach for a local senior center.