19 Well-Mannered Dog Breeds That Make Great Pets

Written By Jill Taylor

A canine companion can be a loyal friend and beloved family member, but some breeds are easier to live with and train than others. Although each dog is an individual, some breeds have a reputation for being more laid-back and friendly than others. This article focuses on the 19 registered U.S. breeds that are known to be the most well-behaved and amenable companions.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

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These royal lap dogs were bred to be the perfect companions for British Kings and Queens, and they are appropriately gentle and affectionate. Although they are a small type of spaniel, they are not excessively energetic or destructive and are often eager to please and happy living in a wide range of homes. Their playful, laid-back nature makes them excellent pets for children, too.

Boston Terrier

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Nicknamed the “American Gentleman” for their tuxedo-like markings and dignified personalities, Boston Terriers are intelligent, clownish, and highly trainable. Orvis asserts they are friendly with other dogs, cats, and children and are rarely known to be aggressive or destructive in the home. Their affectionate, playful temperament and small size make them an ‘easy’ companion to live with.

Labrador Retriever

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The Labrador is America’s favorite dog breed for a reason—they’re intelligent, loyal, and keen to please. Bred as working dogs for retrieving waterbirds and other games during shooting exhibitions, Labs now make excellent guide dogs. They tend to be gentle yet playful and are highly receptive to training and positive reinforcement.


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Despite their curious, independent streak, Beagles are surprisingly well-mannered when raised responsibly. Although their high prey drive may be tricky to curb, they are very attentive, loyal, and clever, so they are easy to train using treats or toys as a reward. Although they might not fit with cats or other small pets, Beagles are great with children and other dogs.

French Bulldog

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These very popular small bulldogs have huge ears and charmingly affectionate personalities. They’re also known to be entertainingly clownish and playful, like the Boston Terrier. They tend to be low-energy and fairly laid-back, requiring minimal exercise and often sleeping when left alone. Their even temperament and intelligence also make them well-behaved dogs.


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So long as you have the time and space to provide enough mental and physical stimulation, a Collie will be a well-behaved and attentive companion to the last! Pet Plan writes, “Border Collies are energetic, even-tempered, and eager to please, making them a good choice for a family pet. They get along well with children and other pets.” They are highly trainable and rarely aggressive.

Golden Retriever

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Like other retrievers, Goldens were bred to be cool and obedient ‘under fire.” They have a ‘sunny’ personality and generally laid-back demeanor that is perfect for families with children. Their above-average intelligence and strong bonds with their human caregivers also make them receptive to training, and they can be taught to obey house rules and perform tricks.


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Poodles aren’t all fancy haircuts and showground fussiness. They’re smart, athletic dogs that are extremely easy to please and very responsive to training techniques. All three sizes—toy, miniature, and standard—tend to be easy to live with when raised in a household environment, and their hypoallergenic coats make them especially good for allergy sufferers.


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They might look amusing, but these squashed-faced, curly-tailed little lap dogs are no joke when it comes to obedience. They are relatively low energy, bond closely to their favorite humans, and are keen to please them. This makes them relatively easy to train and a good choice for smaller homes, especially considering they are not known to be excessive barkers either.


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Want a gentle giant who will follow you to the ends of the Earth? Consider a loyal and calm Newfoundland. According to Forbes, males can reach 150 pounds in weight, and they were bred for water rescue, making them naturally strong swimmers with a strong desire to please people. These giants tend to be even-tempered, highly trainable, and great with children.

Basset Hound

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Famous for their distinctive droopy ears, long back, and laid-back attitude, Basset Hounds are surprisingly well-behaved despite their famous independent streak. They aren’t prone to being highly reactive, aggressive, or neurotic and respond well to firm, consistent training methods. Although they can howl (or ‘bay’), they rarely do so for more than a few minutes before taking a nap!

Bichon Frise

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These French lap dogs certainly look cute and fluffy, but they tend not to yap a lot—something other small dogs have a reputation for. Although you need to maintain their white, curly coat, Bichone Frises are typically friendly, affectionate, and adaptable. They are also playful and trainable and make great, non-nonsense small dogs for children or apartment dwellers.

Bernese Mountain Dog

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Bred for working on Alpine farms, the Bernese Mountain Dog is a huge, strong, and intelligent companion that fulfills the ‘gentle giant’ stereotype well. So long as you have the space and can commit to maintaining their long coat, they make fantastic family pets. They are known to be patient and affectionate with children and have a laid-back nature that’s easy to live with.


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Canna-pet warns that these Welsh herding dogs can be stubborn but are also friendly, playful, and outgoing—perfect for busy, active families with children. They are extremely smart and eager to please, making it easy to train them with the right motivation. While you might never curb their independent streak, they remain an even-tempered, rarely destructive breed.

English Bulldog

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The third bull breed on our list, the docile and cuddly English Bulldog, is a laid-back companion content with minimal exercise, so long as it has human company and plenty of affection. Although not known for their high intelligence, Bulldogs aren’t stupid. They like praise and want to please their caregivers, so they respond well to positive reinforcement training.

Shetland Sheepdog

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Shelties are intelligent, athletic, and incredibly trainable dogs originally bred to herd sheep in northern Scotland’s cold, mountainous regions. They are exceptionally eager to please and attentive to commands, making them very obedient and well-behaved when given the right training. But they aren’t too serious either and can also be playful and affectionate.

Shih Tzu

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These charming little lap dogs are low-energy, so they don’t need to be exercised a lot and are a good choice for apartment dwellers or small homes. They’re also known to be affectionate and playful. They generally have an even temperament, with a tendency to be affectionate, loyal, and easy to train. However, they can be prone to excessive barking when left alone.

Bull Terrier

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They might look a little fierce, but long-nosed Bull Terriers are misunderstood. In fact, they make affectionate, gentle, and goofy companions who are highly intelligent and playful. Despite being bred for violence, they are wonderful with children when raised in a loving home and respond well to training, especially when food treats are used as a reward!

Portuguese Water Dog

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These dogs were bred to retrieve water birds and fish. They are necessarily intelligent and athletic, with a strong desire to please their human masters.  Due to their even, calm temperament and gentle, patient demeanor, they are now used as therapy dogs. They’re also a good choice for children because they’re typically playful and laid-back.

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