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17 Most Affectionate Dog Breeds: Pictures, Info & History

Written by: Greg Iacono

Last Updated on May 1, 2024 by Dogster Team

dog standing on owner in bed

17 Most Affectionate Dog Breeds: Pictures, Info & History

Dogs have been at our sides for millennia and were domesticated between 14,000 and 29,000 years ago. Why has the relationship between humans and dogs lasted so long (and gotten ever stronger)? Most would agree that it’s the affection that we share with our canine companions. We love our dogs because they love us more than almost any other domesticated animal.

Of course, not all dogs are known to be cuddly and quick to curl up and snuggle. If you want to adopt an adoring pup and wonder which is the most affectionate breed, the info, facts, and history here will be a big help! Read on to learn about the 17 most affectionate breeds so you can adopt one that will love to love you back!

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How Are Affectionate Dogs Classified?

There’s no true classification regarding how affectionate a particular dog happens to be. The American Kennel Club (AKC) has an “Affectionate with Family” listing for all breeds,1 but that’s about as good as it gets. It doesn’t judge dogs on their affection level.

It’s also worth noting that all dogs have unique personalities. A well-behaved Chow Chow raised in a loving family might be quite cuddly, while a Golden Retriever raised in an uncaring home with little socialization might not want to be touched at all.

The 17 Affectionate Dog Breeds

1. Great Dane

a great dane dog lying outdoor
Image Credit: Emma Forsyth 88, Shutterstock
Origin: Germany
Lifespan: 7 to 10 years
Size: Extra large

While giving a small dog a big hug might seem counterintuitive, you’ll have no problem doing it with a Great Dane! After all, Great Danes have been known as the “gentle giants” of the canine world for years. Not only are they gentle, but the average Great Dane loves to be held and hugged, and they seem to enjoy snuggling immensely.

One thing you need to know about Great Danes is that they don’t like being left alone. When young, they’re also quite rambunctious and “puppy-like.”

2. Golden Retriever

Golden retriever wagging his tail
Image Credit: Hollysdogs, Shutterstock
Origin: Scottish Highlands
Lifespan: 10 to 12 years
Size: Large

You can thank President Gerald Ford for America’s affinity for the Golden Retriever. The ex-POTUS had a beautiful Goldie named Liberty. Today, Golden Retrievers are well-known as one of the most affectionate breeds in the world.

They’re so devoted, calm, and kind that they are used as therapy dogs in many situations and help people recover from trauma, PTSD, etc. Golden Retrievers also make wonderful family pets, including families with young children. They gladly tolerate all sorts of touching, hugging, pulling, and petting from energetic kids.

3. Pug

pug dog standing in the grass
Image Credit: Antin82, Shutterstock
Origin: Ancient China
Lifespan: 13 to 15 years
Size: Small

If you’ve ever heard the term, “Velcro dog,” it’s likely that the person was talking about a Pug. Pugs are known to completely ignore any rules about “personal space,” following their owners everywhere they go and inserting themselves into every situation. When you’re a Pug parent, much of your time at home will be spent with them very close by.

Unlike some other small breeds, Pugs get along with everyone, not just their close family members. They’re also a bit on the goofy side; they act out to get attention and put a smile on the faces of anyone nearby. Plus, their small stature makes them the perfect lap dogs!

4. Dachshund

red dachshund dog in the autumn forest
Image Credit: Anna_Bondarenko, Shutterstock
Origin: Germany
Lifespan: 12 to 16 years
Size: Small to medium

Thanks to their small size and a burning desire to be held and hugged, you’ll often find Dachshunds cradled like babies in their pet parents’ arms! Known affectionately as a “wiener dog,” the Dachshund has a fierce and deadly history as a badger hunter in Germany.

The average Dachshund today would much rather cuddle with you in bed than chase a badger down its hole. They’re sweet dogs that will spend as much time with you as possible, preferably in your arms or lap.

5. Rottweiler

rottweiler dog sitting on the grass outdoors
Image Credit: KevinSeibel, Unsplash
Origin: Ancient Rome
Lifespan: 9 to 10 years
Size: Large

Although they will send a chill down the spine of those who don’t know them, the Rottweiler is an incredibly gentle, patient, and calm dog. In other words, they only look dangerous. Of course, any dog can be turned into a mean dog if raised by mean parents, and Rottweilers have had more than their fair share of being trained to fight. However, when raised in a loving home, they are loving, affectionate dogs.

Not only are Rottweilers affectionate, but they’re also surprisingly playful and sweet. They make wonderful companion dogs and are great with small children when socialized correctly. Rottweilers can also be clingier than some of the other dogs on this list and need a lot of attention to be happy and content.

6. Bichon Frise

bichon frise dog sitting on a wooden surface
Image Credit: Spill Photography, Shutterstock
Origin: Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands
Lifespan: 14 to 15 years
Size: Small

If you see a cotton ball running around your home, chances are it’s just your Bichon Frise! This little bundle of fur is energetic and friendly. The Bichon Frise is a great fit for pet parents who can keep up with their constant demands to play.

After playtime, the average Bichon Frise will expect you to cuddle with them just as much. That makes them a good choice for owners who spend most of their time at home. Also, expect your Bichon Frise to sit in your lap whenever (and wherever) you sit.

7. Russell Terrier

parson-russell-terrier on grass with bone
Image Credit: Jeannette1980, Pixabay
Origin: United Kingdom and Australia
Lifespan: 12 to 14 years
Size: Small

One of the smartest affectionate dogs on this list, the Russell Terrier (a.k.a. the Jack Russell Terrier) is a “Velcro dog” that loves nothing more than being around their pet parents full-time. Russell Terriers are incredibly active and will keep you on your toes all day. They’re also confident to a fault and learn quickly.

The typical Russell Terrier has a zest for life that needs to be experienced at least once. They’re always happy, with a smile and a spirit that seems unbreakable. As for affection, Russel Terriers love being held gently and are athletic enough to jump into your arms. They will also gladly lick your face all day long, so be prepared!

8. Bulldog

fawn french bulldog walking on grass
Image Credit: Irina Nedikova, Shutterstock
Origin: 13th-century England
Lifespan: 8 to 10 years
Size: Medium to large

There are few canines sweeter than the Bulldog. These gentle dogs are known to be laidback, calm, and ready to snuggle. Most Bulldogs will gladly take a nap with you whenever and wherever you like, and they strive for as much attention as they can get.

However, Bulldogs aren’t particularly patient with younger children who pull, tug, and roughly handle them.  They’re quite playful with older kids and are open to strangers, though. Bulldogs have a tendency to snore and pass gas, however, so be prepared to have a good laugh regularly.

9. Labrador Retriever

a long haired labrador retriever on grass
Image Credit: Angel Luciano, Unsplash
Origin: Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Lifespan: 11 to 13 years
Size: Large

What does it take to become, as the AKC once called them, “America’s Favorite Dog”? It takes a canine that’s calm, even-tempered, and affectionate. The Labrador Retriever ticks all those boxes, like their close cousin, the Golden Retriever. Labradors are well-known as excellent therapy dogs. They’re also incredibly patient and allow you (and anyone else) to hug them to your heart’s content.

10. Newfoundland

Newfoundland dog breed outdoors
Image Credit: Liliya Kulianionak, Shutterstock
Origin: Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Lifespan: 9 to 10 years
Size: Extra large

Like the Great Dane, the Newfoundland is a gigantic dog that’s surprisingly gentle and loves to snuggle. Many “Newfie” owners liken them to gigantic teddy bears because of their looks and huggable nature. Newfoundlands are also known to be averse to biting for any reason, and they find less harmful methods of getting out their aggression if angered.

Knowing how gentle and affectionate they are, you might not be surprised to learn that author J.M. Barrie based the dog Nana in “Peter Pan” on his experience with the Newfoundland breed. While you might not need a dog to watch your kids, this is the breed for you if you want one that will gladly give you all the hugs you can get.

11. Collie

rough collie
Image Credit: Grigorita Ko, Shutterstock
Origin: Scottish Highlands
Lifespan: 12 to 14 years
Size: Large

Depending on your age and generation, the name “Lassie” might bring a tear of joy and nostalgia to your eye. It’s the name of a beloved fictional dog from TV shows in the 1940s through the 1970s that was gentle, caring, and quick-witted.

The Collie is one of the most huggable large dogs and has a disposition that is the definition of “sweet-natured.” They’re a fantastic family dog and do well with young children. They’re also active, so they will make a perfect partner if you’re an adventurer or outdoor person.

12. Shih Tzu

Happy Shih tzu dog sitting on green grass.
Image Credit: Orawan Pattarawimonchai, Shutterstock
Origin: Ancient China
Lifespan: 10 to 18 years
Size: Small

The Shih Tzu gets along especially well with children, and they have a loving personality that far outweighs their diminutive size. The average Shih Tzu loves nothing more than to curl up in your lap and let you gently stroke their long, beautiful coat. They’re also playful pups and one of the most adorable on this list; it’s nearly impossible to resist those big, beautiful eyes! If a tiny dog with a giant love for attention is what you seek, the Shih Tzu is a great choice!

13. Labradoodle

labradoodle sitting in grass
Image Credit: Josh Borup, Pixabay
Origin: Late 1980s in Australia
Lifespan: 12 to 15 years
Size: Medium to large

As the only “designer” dog breed on this list, we couldn’t pass up the Labradoodle! They are a cross between the highly affectionate Labrador Retriever and the Poodle. The Labradoodle is sweet and energetic and requires at least an hour or more of exercise to keep them physically fit and happy.

They can be bred from Toy, Miniature, or Standard Poodles, and the Labradoodles bred from Standard Poodles are massive canines. If they inherit the curly Poodle coat, they don’t shed often but need regular grooming.

14. Poodle

Standard Phantom Poodle dog enjoying a pasture at sunset
Image Credit: Tanya Consaul Photography, Shutterstock
Origin: Germany
Lifespan: 10 to 18 years
Size: Medium to large

Poodles come in several sizes, but no matter the size, they all have a big heart and an affectionate, gentle nature. They’re the national dog of France, but you might be surprised to learn that the Poodle originated in Germany in the 1600s. They thrive on attention and are active, fun-loving dogs. The standard Poodle is a bit less of a hugger than the miniature and toy variety but is still open to the occasional cuddle session.

Poodles are sensitive dogs that can become overwhelmed when there’s too much noise and commotion around them. Unlike, for example, the Golden Retriever, a Poodle will look to retreat rather than lean into the chaos.

15. Brussels Griffon

brussels griffon_otsphoto_Shutterstock
Image Credit: otsphoto, Shutterstock
Origin: Brussels, Belgium
Lifespan: 12 to 15 years
Size: Extra small

A Velcro dog, the Brussels Griffon originated in the land of chocolate and beer, Belgium! Although they’re a bit hyperactive, the Brussels Griffon is an absolute sweetheart of a dog and will eagerly follow you all over your home as you work, do chores, and go about your day. Don’t expect bathroom time to be off-limits, since they have no idea about personal boundaries!

If you feel like you’ve seen a Brussels Griffon before, you’re probably right! A Brussels Griffon starred with Jack Nicholson as his adorable companion when he won an Academy Award for the film, “As Good as It Gets,” in 1997! A little over 100 years earlier, the Brussels Griffon was also a favorite of Belgium’s Queen Henrietta Maria, thanks to their sweet nature.

16. German Shepherd

black and tan German Shepherd playing with a ball dog toy
Image Credit: Reba Spike, Unsplash
Origin: Germany
Lifespan: 7 to 10 years
Size: Large

Although they might look and sound fierce, the German Shepherd is affectionate with their family and wonderful with children of all ages. They aren’t the kind to cuddle for hours but are loyal and loving. The German Shepherd is also one of the most courageous dogs and is known to risk their life for their owner, putting themselves in harm’s way time and time again.

The average German Shepherd will be sweet, gentle, and caring if raised in a loving home and socialized well from puppyhood. They are also highly intelligent and make great companions for outdoor adventurers.

17. Bernese Mountain Dog

Bernese Mountain Dog harness
Image Credit: Anton Ogorodov, Shutterstock
Origin: Bern, Switzerland
Lifespan: 7 to 10 years
Size: Large

According to the AKC, the Bernese Mountain Dog wins the affection trifecta! They get perfect scores for being affectionate with family, good with children, and good with other dogs!

Bernese Mountain Dogs are also more open to strangers than most large dogs and more playful. They’re surprisingly adaptable to many living situations, but we wouldn’t suggest having this breed if you live in a small apartment. Wherever you live, though, your Bernese Mountain Dog will do what they can to make you happy, including all the cuddle time you crave.

What Makes a Dog Affectionate?

Determining the “affection level” of any breed can be challenging. While some breeds have always been known for their affectionate nature (Golden and Labrador Retrievers are great examples), you may wonder how to know if your dog is affectionate. To help you figure it out, here are a few ways that a dog will show affection to their owner.

Affectionate dogs will usually:
  • Wag their tail vigorously when they see you
  • Bark in excitement when you get home from work
  • Nuzzle you while they lean into you
  • Jump into your lap when you’re sitting
  • Roll over on their back and give you access to rub their belly
  • Cuddle with you in bed or on the sofa
  • Sleep near you at night
  • Lick your face

Can Any Dog Breed Be Affectionate?

According to Brandi Munden, a representative for the AKC, “Any breed with the right amount of love and care can be affectionate.” While some breeds are known to be more affectionate than others, nurture seems to take precedence over nature. In other words, if you raise your dog from a puppy to be affectionate, chances are that they will become a friendly, cuddly adult dog.

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Final Thoughts

Unless you’re looking for a pet to provide a service, like a working dog, most people want an affectionate pup because we all crave affection. Dogs are the number-one pets in the United States because they love us nearly as much as we love them!

If you plan to adopt a new canine companion sometime soon, we wish you the best of luck raising them to be sweet, cuddly, and huggable. Remember, the sweeter you are to your dog, the more affectionate they will be to you in return!

Featured Image Credit: Tatyana Vyc, Shutterstock

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