Some dog breeds are spastic, while others are incredibly calm. Some breeds have reputations for playfulness, while more athletic types work on farms bossing around sheep or find their calling doing police work.
But there are plenty of dog breeds that are just generally sweet and loving and gentle. Kids can crawl all over them, take toys out of their mouth or even mess with them at mealtime, and these sweet pups don’t care.
Here’s a look at some of the most gentle dog breeds around.
Look around parks and family gatherings and you’ll no doubt find at least one golden retriever romping with a slew of kids or chasing tennis ball after tennis ball. There’s a reason why these gentle dogs are so popular.
Golden retrievers are intelligent, friendly and devoted, according to the American Kennel Club. Goldens are good at whatever they do, from guide dog work to search and rescue, but they are also perfectly happy hanging out with the family.
They want nothing more than to please the people they love, says the AKC. They enjoy being silly, but need training and exercise to combat boredom.
The most popular dog breed in the United States according to the AKC, Labrador retrievers are friendly, active and intelligent, and have a great, gentle temperament. In addition to being perfect family dogs, these eager-to-please pets are also ideal as service animals.
Labs come in three colors: black, yellow and chocolate. A member of the sporting dog group, they can play and fetch balls over and over without ever getting tired or cranky, making them great for families with energetic kids or perfect for people looking for active, patient companions.
These loving dogs are curious and generally always happy. Because they were bred to hunt in packs, beagles enjoy being in the company of other dogs or people, and they are easy-going and funny, says the AKC. Their noses and curiosity can sometimes get these pranksters into trouble, but it’s good-natured trouble and their merry antics keep their owners entertained.
They are physically low maintenance because of their slick coats but because they are strong-willed, beagles can sometimes be challenging to train. That independent streak can occasionally keep things interesting, but their sweetness almost always makes up for their bit of stubbornness.
The bulldog only looks cranky with all those jowls. This calm, friendly dog has a sweet disposition and is “among the most docile and mellow of dogs,” according to Animal Planet. The comical, good-natured breed is typically happy to please, although some dogs occasionally can have a stubborn streak. They’re typically good around kids and are usually friendly toward strangers.
Bulldogs are a brachycephalic breed, meaning they’re short-nosed and can be prone to breathing issues. It can be especially difficult for them in heat and humidity, so watch the exercise on hot days.
Don’t let this large breed’s massive size fool you. This gentle giant has the most laid-back disposition.
“The most important single characteristic of the Newfoundland is sweetness of temperament. The Newfoundland is calm, patient, easygoing, gentle and amiable — a friend to all,” according to Animal Planet. But if someone threatens the Newfie’s family, they’re in big trouble. This sweet dog will have no problem acting protectively to step in and take care of his loved ones.
Newfoundlands have a heavy, dense water-resistant coat, reports the AKC. When full grown, they can weigh a whopping 130 to 150 pounds.
The playful, energetic Irish setter loves being around people. In fact, says PetMD, the breed enjoys being with its family so much that the dogs are on their best behavior when surrounded by the people they love. Irish setters are also immensely trainable and smart. They have boundless energy, but are sweet and eager to please.
In addition to their kind temperament, Irish setters are known for their graceful speed and flashy red coat. Like retrievers, they’ll happily play fetch all day long and never get ill-tempered or tired while doing it.
One of the world’s oldest dog breeds, pugs are also one of the silliest and sweetest. The AKC calls them “even-tempered, charming, mischievous and loving” and this small breed shows up on nearly every list of best family-friendly dogs.
Pugs are incredibly outgoing with a lot of dog in a little package. These people-pleasing pups come in fawn or black. They do well at obedience training, but don’t need a lot of exercise, making them perfect for small homes or apartments.
Cavalier King Charles spaniel
Once the lapdog of King Charles II, it’s no wonder these small pups are so affectionate and love to be held. But these spaniels are also smart and playful, making them gentle but fun pets, says the AKC.
These graceful yet fearless dogs don’t need a ton of exercise, but a fenced-in yard is a good idea. They can be easily distracted and obedience training doesn’t always sink in if something more interesting grabs their attention.
Dubbing the breed “playful, charming and mischievous,” the AKC says the bull terrier is one of the top breeds for families with kids because of its sweet and fun-loving disposition. Bull terriers can be very rambunctious, but it’s typically all in good fun. Obedience training as a puppy and lots of exercise will help keep that energy channeled.
Because these dogs resemble toddlers in personality, they typically get along great with their human counterparts.
Members of the collie family — including the classic “Lassie” collie shown above, as well as bearded collies and border collies — generally have sweet and gentle personalities, says PetMD.
Collies are sensitive and intelligent, making them easy to train. But they can often also be stubborn, so obedience training is a good idea.
If you have small children, remember that collies were bred to herd, so they may constantly round up your children as they’re playing in the house or yard.
Also known as a Hungarian pointer, the vizsla is very energetic, yet eager to please, gentle and affectionate. Bred to be a hunting dog and able to work in field, water and forest, the versatile vizsla takes to training well, says the AKC, and loves to be active.
The breed is sensitive yet confident, and forms strong bonds with his family. The vizsla comes in a distinctive golden rust color with a sleek, shiny, low-maintenance coat.
This smart, popular breed comes in a range of sizes, colors and hairstyles, but all tend to be eager-to-please and highly trainable.
While the miniature poodle can be shy around strangers, the standard poodle tends to be more outgoing, according to the AKC. They’re all typically gentle and caring with the people they love, and can be playful and loyal, and rarely annoyed or snippy.
People with allergies tend to gravitate toward poodles because of their hypoallergenic coat, but they require lots of grooming.
Bernese mountain dog
Another gentle giant, the Bernese mountain dog is a calm, laid-back breed with a sweet nature. Bred to do farm work in the mountains of Switzerland, these dogs are hardy, trainable and eager to please.
The Bernese are self-confident and rarely shy, but have kind and gentle personalities. They have thick, shiny, tri-colored coats, says the AKC, and are sturdy, but still remarkably agile for their large size.