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21 Least Aggressive Dog Breeds: Pictures, Facts & History

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on April 3, 2024 by Dogster Team

21 Least Aggressive Dog Breeds: Pictures, Facts & History

While some dogs are known for being a bit snappy, or potentially reactive around other dogs or even people, some are renowned for being friendly with everybody and every animal they meet. Whether you want a breed that is suitable for family life or something that will mix well with other dogs and people, the 21 breeds below are known for being some of the least aggressive breeds.

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The 21 Least Aggressive Dog Breeds

1. Bernese Mountain Dog

Bernese Mountain Dog harness
Image Credit: Anton Ogorodov, Shutterstock
Origin: Switzerland
Lifespan: 7–10 Years
Size: 10–115 Pounds

The Bernese Mountain Dog is a large breed that originates from Switzerland and is known for being friendly and affectionate. However, it is also known for its barking, sheds a lot, and its size means that it does need plenty of space.

Because they do bark, Bernese Mountain Dogs can make good watchdogs, but they make poor guard dogs because they are so friendly.

2. English Bulldog

english bulldog sitting on grass
Image Credit: AndreiTobosaru, Shutterstock
Origin: England
Lifespan: 8–10 Years
Size: 40–50 Pounds

The English Bulldog, or Bulldog, is a very popular breed, especially in the US and the UK. It has a distinctive look, with its squat face and heavy but short frame. The Bulldog not only gets along with people but will get along with other dogs and other animals.

Unfortunately, the face and frame that make the breed distinctive can also lead to multiple health problems and give the breed a relatively short lifespan.

3. French Bulldog

gray french bulldog jumping over a log
Image Credit: two_tees, Unsplash
Origin: France
Lifespan: 10–12 Years
Size: 20–30 Pounds

The French Bulldog, also known as the Frenchie, is a smaller breed, typically weighing around 25 pounds. It is known for being lively and playful, as well as friendly and loving. This sociable dog will approach most people, generally looking for a play partner.

Its family-oriented nature means that the Frenchie can suffer from separation anxiety so it is not the best breed for owners who work all day and aren’t at home.

4. Whippet

whippet dog in a park on nature against a trees background in a summer sunny day
Image Credit: Timchenko Natalia, Shutterstock
Origin: England
Lifespan: 12–15 Years
Size: 25–40 Pounds

Bred in England as a sighthound, the Whippet is very similar to the Greyhound but much smaller in size. It does share a lot of traits and characteristics with the Greyhound, though, which means it can achieve incredible speeds and will generally chase anything that moves, but will spend the vast majority of its time stretched out on the sofa at home.

As well as being unaggressive, the Whippet is also known for being a quiet dog.

5. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel in the snow
Image Credit: Katrīne Žuka, Pexels
Origin: England
Lifespan: 12–14 Years
Size: 12–20 Pounds

Although it is a small breed, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is actually one of the largest lap dog breeds. It is known for its doleful eyes and its beautiful silky coat and it is a sweet-natured dog that will lavish love on its owners.

This is another breed that doesn’t do well when left for long periods but it does get along with other dogs as well as people, which makes it a great choice even for a busy family home.

6. Great Dane

great dane dog standing on grass
Image Credit: belu gheorghe, Shutterstock
Origin: Germany
Lifespan: 6–8 Years
Size: 120–200 Pounds

The world’s tallest dog breed, the Great Dane, is a giant dog breed that, although it has an imposing presence due to its size, is considered a gentle giant. The breed does need a lot of space but it is very good with children, other dogs, and even cats.

It is a docile dog that will usually be quiet and unassuming, but the size of the breed means that injuries to people and other animals are still possible, even by accident.

7. Shih Tzu

white Shih Poo dog resting on rock surface
Image Credit: Lim Tiaw Leong, Shutterstock
Origin: Tibet
Lifespan: 10–16 Years
Size: 10–15 Pounds

The Shih Tzu is a popular small breed that is loving and loyal. It adores attention and can suffer separation anxiety whenever it is left alone, generally preferring to spend its time sitting on your lap. The Shih Tzu gets on with strangers but owners will need to put some effort into early and ongoing socialization of the breed.

8. Pug

pug dog sitting on the floor looking up on the camera
Image Credit: Dim Hou, Unsplash
Origin: China
Lifespan: 13–15 Years
Size: 14–18 Pounds

The Pug is a gentle and sweet-natured dog, although it can be playful and is known for being a comical, funny dog. It is recognizable for its bug eyes and unique expression. The breed doesn’t require a lot of exercise but is almost always up for a game.

Its small size, loving nature, and playful character have made the Pug one of the most popular breeds in the US and around the world.

9. Newfoundland

Newfoundland dog breed outdoors
Image Credit: Liliya Kulianionak, Shutterstock
Origin: Canada
Lifespan: 9–10 Years
Size: 100–150 Pounds

The massive teddy bear known as the Newfoundland is a loving and affectionate pet, but also makes a diligent working dog. It is very intelligent, incredibly loyal, and is generally very good with children and other pets. The breed’s size means it requires a lot of space and it does need a moderate amount of exercise every day to ensure that the breed stays healthy and fit.

10. Irish Setter

Irish red setter red dog breed
Image Credit: Kseniia Kolesnikova, Shutterstock
Origin: Ireland
Lifespan: 12–15 Years
Size: 60–70 Pounds

The elegant-looking Irish Setter is a medium to large breed with a beautiful red coat. It is a friendly breed that isn’t afraid of hard work and this setter will get along with humans of any age. However, it does have a strong prey drive, which means that it may not be the best choice of dog for those with cats or who have a lot of wildlife in the garden.

11. Basset Hound

Female Basset Hound
Image Credit: Ewa Studio, Shutterstock
Origin: France
Lifespan: 12–14 Years
Size: 40–65 Pounds

The Basset Hound may look slow and docile, and this is certainly true of the French hunter when indoors, but it is an incredible scent hound that will work and play hard when outdoors.

The Basset Hound is only bested by the Bloodhound when it comes to sense of smell, and owners are encouraged to offer scent work and games that involve the Basset’s nose because this will keep them entertained and allow them to show off their prowess.

12. Bichon Frise

white bichon frise dog sitting on the grass
Image Credit: Vladimir Nenezic, Shutterstock
Origin: Spain
Lifespan: 14–15 Years
Size: 12–20 Pounds

The Bichon Frise is a small breed that is lively and playful, as well as loving and fairly quiet. It is also said to be hypoallergenic because it doesn’t shed. The dog was originally used for trade, aboard Spanish ships, which meant it had to be friendly to appeal to potential buyers.

Although lively, Bichon Frises don’t need excessive amounts of exercise to stay fit and healthy.

13. Golden Retriever

canadian golden retriever dog standing at a hill
Image Credit: EB Adventure Photography, Shutterstock
Origin: Scotland
Lifespan: 10–12 Years
Size: 55–75 Pounds

The Golden Retriever is one of the most popular breeds of dog in the world and is widely considered one of the best breeds for first-time owners, families, and generally for any dog owner. The Golden is a reliable dog that is very intelligent, and it is widely used in service dog roles because it is easy to train and enjoys doing jobs asked of it.

It’s also a very friendly breed, with most owners joking that a Golden Retriever is more likely to help a burglar than stop them.

14. Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retriever dog standing on the lawn
Image Credit: Radomir Rezny, Shutterstock
Origin: Newfoundland
Lifespan: 10–12 Years
Size: 55–80 Pounds

Similarly, the Labrador Retriever is another popular breed that is suitable for owners of all experience and knowledge levels. Whereas the Golden Retriever has a long coat that takes a lot of grooming and care, the Labrador Retriever’s coat is much shorter and easier to manage.

However, the Lab does enjoy water, so you may still have to deal with a muddy and soggy dog after a walk in the country.

15. Beagle

beagle dog crawling
Image Credit: Masarik, Shutterstock
Origin: England
Lifespan: 10–15 Years
Size: 20–25 Pounds

Beagles are lively, bright, cheerful dogs. They are very energetic and they require plenty of good exercise as well as mental stimulation to prevent boredom. But, having been bred to hunt in packs, the Beagle typically gets along very well with other dogs and will also befriend most people.

They are usually very good with cats, although they may want to play, which can be taxing for the cat. The Beagle can be prone to barking but is a friendly dog that is usually gentle.

16. Boxer

Image Credit: Peakpx
Origin: Germany
Lifespan: 10–12 Years
Size: 50–80 Pounds

Boxers are lively and playful dogs that love people and can form very strong bonds with their humans. They are quite intelligent and, as long as you can keep a Boxer’s attention, it will usually do well with training.

As well as regular walks, you may want to find other forms of exercise that are more intense and help burn off more energy.

17. Poodle

White toy poodle dog on grass at sunset
Image Credit: NicoPerez, Shutterstock
Origin: Germany
Lifespan: 12–18 Years
Size: 4–70 Pounds

The Poodle has long been a favorite breed for owners. It is reliable, dependent, intelligent, and it doesn’t shed. It comes in a range of sizes from the tiny Toy Poodle to the large Standard. The breed tends to be friendly and confident and they are usually good with children as well as adults.

18. Havanese

close up of a cute little fluffy white havanese dog in a lush green garden
Image Credit: michaelheim, Shutterstock
Origin: Cuba
Lifespan: 14–16 Years
Size: 7–14 Pounds

The Havanese is a small breed that originates from Cuba. The breed is plucky, lively, and clever, and it tends to do very well in canine sports and agility. It is also a good breed for teaching tricks to, and this clever little pup will make up games of its own if you don’t provide adequate physical exercise and mental stimulation.

19. Brittany Spaniel

Image Credit: TanyaCPhotography, Shutterstock
Origin: France
Lifespan: 12–14 Years
Size: 30–40 Pounds

The Brittany is a sporting dog that is clever, loyal, and affectionate. It can suffer separation anxiety because it really does need human company. It is also a high-energy dog that will require plenty of exercise to keep it busy, but it is good with children, adults, dogs, and even cats, making it a great choice as a family dog.

20. Portuguese Water Dog

portuguese water dog standing outdoor
Image Credit: Brook Robinson, Shutterstock
Origin: Portugal
Lifespan: 10–13 Years
Size: 35–60 Pounds

The Portuguese Water Dog is from Portugal and, as the name suggests, is very comfortable in and around water. In fact, as well as providing plenty of exercise for this lively breed, it will benefit from being allowed the opportunity to dive and play in the water.

The breed can be independent but it is intelligent, friendly, and sociable.

21. Papillon

Papillon dog lying on the couch
Image Credit: Fayzulin Serg, Shutterstock
Origin: France
Lifespan: 14–16 Years
Size: 6–10 Pounds

The Papillon is a small, happy dog breed that usually gets along with everybody and all animals it meets. It will even get along well with cats and despite its small size, the Papillon makes a good exercise partner because it will happily trot alongside you as you run or bike.

It is clever, can be trained easily, and is considered a good breed for inexperienced dog owners because of this combination of characteristics.


Generally, individual character is more important than breed when it comes to determining the traits and personality of a dog. But, if you’re looking for a dog that isn’t aggressive, the 21 breeds listed above tend to be friendly with people and will usually get along with other dogs and even cats.

Whatever breed you choose, ensure your dog is well socialized from a young age and that you start with basic training when your dog is young. This will help ensure that they get along with others and that you have the tools to encourage good behavior and prevent bad behavior.

Featured Image Credit: Christian Mueller, Shutterstock

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