Personality Profiles of 15 Popular Dog Breeds
Are you considering adopting a dog as a pet? Maybe a perky little poodle, a compact, precious pug, or a perfect-for-pampering Pekingese? Well, before you pick out your new pal, it might be a good idea to ponder some basic facts about which pet, and his/her personality, might represent the most perfect pairing for you. Why run the risk of picking a pet whose personality is the polar opposite of yours? Because even though there's probably no such thing as the "perfect personality prescription" for you and your prospective new canine pal--there might possibly be a match that will make you think it was planned in heaven, instead of in that other place. So, if you're in the market for a new pet, I hope you will pay particular attention to the personality profile of potential prospects. With this in mind, I've put together, for your perusal, some general personality characteristics and patterns of behavior of fifteen popular pet breeds.
Pay attention: This listing is not in any particular order, so the numbering is purely for organizational purposes.
1. Lhasa Apso/Lhasa Terrier
Size-wise/Coat: Small dog with long, straight fur.
Personality Profile: Smart, lively, generally very friendly. Strong-willed, but very affectionate. Needs a "leader of the pack" type/dominant owner. Protective, suspicious of strangers. Likes to play outside, needs moderate amounts of exercise.
You Also Need to Know: Generally easy-going, does not like to be startled or irritated. Won't abide abusive children. Living in a home or an apartment is fine, as long as adequate time is spent out of doors. Sheds moderately; coat needs daily brushing/combing, to keep tangles tamed.
Size-wise/Coat: Compact but sturdy; short, easy-to-care for coat.
Personality Profile: Smart but stubborn, need respect-based obedience training. Athletic, loves exercise/play/outdoor activities. If it gets the exercise it needs, is incredibly obedient and calm. If not, can be incredibly destructive, might howl and/or dig holes. Generally good with children, love play and adventure. Play well with other pets, love companionship (canine or human).
You Also Need to Know: Not designed for apartment living or for inactive owners. Beagles need a lot of exercise! They need long walks where they can stretch their legs, off leash. Love to explore, they can become distracted with sights and smells, and will sometimes ignore you when you call. Great climbers and diggers, not good to leave them alone too long outside.
Size-wise/Coat: Strong, sturdy "powerfully" built medium-sized dog; short, easy-to-care-for coat.
Personality Profile: Young or older, usually playful and loving. These dogs love to be cuddled up, snuggled close to those they love. Intelligent and alert, they are protective and make good watch dogs. Their lean, mean look helps since they are guardians, instinctively. They must have lots of "hearty" exercise, love to run (not in hot weather, though. Susceptible to heat stroke). Mental and physical stimulation needed; lots of chew toys help keep them busy. Always "a big kid," establish leadership early. They need a "take charge" owner to train for them for obedience and agility, with persistence and patience. Respond best to kindness (no strict or cruel tones/discipline).
You Also Need to Know: Bred to be a "working" dog, can be high-spirited, rough and rowdy if not well-trained. Stubborn and sensitive, might shut down/pout, if you're not kind to them. Need to be socialized when young to be around other dogs. Can be "cat chasers," and/or aggressive towards other dogs of same sex.
4. Bull Dog
Size-wise/Coat: Short, sturdy, and bow-legged gait, usually weighs around 40-60 pounds, fully grown. Short coat needs little grooming but sheds year round.
Personality Profile: Two things are a sure-bet, they love to sleep, and they will slobber! In fact, this may be the perfect pet for the couch potato! They love children and are easy to train because they're intelligent, loyal, caring, clever, and determined. They make good family pets--as long as you understand this is a "lounging at home" dog, not an athletic animal. Single-minded, they're sort of "lazy" and don't respond well to commands. Not for those needing a pal to partake in an active lifestyle, and not designed for running, jumping, swimming (they will drown!), or even extended periods of play. An extended soft palate (back of the roof of the mouth), and small windpipe (trachea) hampers breathing, so this dog is not made for roughness. This is an affectionate pet that needs lots of TLC!
You Also Need to Know: Cannot tolerate much heat or stress (can die of heatstroke). This is an indoor dog that should never be exposed to very warm/hot weather.
5. Cocker Spaniel
Size-wise/Coat: Sturdy, compact body size (15-30 lbs), "Cockers" are the smallest of the spaniel breeds. Silky coat can be flat or wavy. Regular brushing and bi-monthly trimming needed to keep coat neat and mat-free.
Personality Profile: This is an active dog of average intelligence that can be a good family pet, or a hunting dog. Generally, a "happy" dog, it is trustworthy, gentle, sweet, and playful. They need daily exercise to remain happy. They also need a master with firm leadership skills, or else they can grow to believe they are leader of the pack (above humans)--and this can lead to behavioral problems. They're usually easy to train and are capable of speed and great endurance. Can be overly shy if not socialized well while they are young.
You Also Need to Know: Tendency toward hyperactivity if they don't get needed amounts of exercise. Need mental and physical exercise, daily, or may exhibit aggressiveness, barking, or roaming behaviors.
6. Golden Retriever
Size-wise/Coat: On average, weighs 55-75 pounds, fully grown. Color of coat can be light, medium, or dark golden, and sheds seasonally. Needs regular brushing to remain stunning.
Personality Profile: Even-tempered, playful, smart, active, friendly and obedient, these dogs usually come out on top in competitions. Well-mannered, they make near-perfect pets, and are at their best with large, active families. Need lots of exercise and activity. Long walks in the park, a game of chase with children, playing fetch, swimming, anything that allows them to move around. Sensitive, they love praise and will do just about anything to get it! This makes them very easy to train. Make sure they have plenty of chew toys, because chewing is a favorite activity.
You Also Need to Know: Goldens don't like to be caged/confined. They love working with people and make great guide dogs. Their keen sense of smell also makes them perfect as search-and-rescue helpers, and for helping police sniff out narcotics! Not good guard dogs. They love people so much, they're even kind to strangers! Never leave them alone too long, or without needed exercise, or they will chew, destructively.
7. German Shepherd
Size-wise/Coat: Strong and muscular, can grow to 26 inches in height and weigh from 77-85 pounds. Shorter-haired coat; sheds a little, constantly, and heavily, seasonally. Need daily brushing to keep shedding to a minimum.
Personality Profile: Smart, strong, courageous, loyal, and faithful, this is a great "companion" dog. Protective by instinct, they have loads of self-confidence to match their fearless countenance. The best bred will be patient, unemotional, non-aggressive, calm, cool, and collected. Although they can be determined and bold, these dogs are also attentive and obedient. Good with children, once they bond, expect lifetime devotion. Being eager to please enhances ease of training. Respond best to firmness tempered with kindness. Unless they know "who's the boss," they'll get away with as much as they can! Still, they are world-renowned as the best police, guard, and military dogs.
You Also Need to Know: They are not happy being left alone for long periods of time, and are not for couch potatoes. They need to be socialized and trained while very young. Tendency to become overly protective, and need to be trained to know welcome vs. unwelcome visitors. Although they love activity, including walking, hiking, swimming, running, or a good game of fetch, they don't require massive amounts of daily exercise. Need owner dedicated to devoting time and energy to train them properly, or else this is not the dog for you.
8. Labrador Retriever
Size-wise/Coat: Muscular and athletic, on average, grows to 55-75 lbs. Short, water-resistant, easy-to-care-for coat. Sheds seasonally, needs regular grooming.
Personality Profile: For over 20 years, has taken the American Kennel Club's No. 1 spot among top dog breeds in America. Excellent family dog, is bouncy, young-at-heart for many years, and loves children of all ages. Intelligent, energetic, and cheerful, this dog is happy to be alive! Dependable, friendly, wants to be at peace with people and other animals. Outstanding in being obedient makes them easy to train. Although even-tempered and good-natured, can sometimes show stubbornness. Originally bred to retrieve game, makes a good hunting or rescue dog. Although at peace inside with family, needs plenty of physical and mental challenge/activity.
You Also Need to Know: A good "assistance" animal for the elderly or handicapped. Not a good watch dog. They love people so much, likely to befriend strangers or even home invaders.
This dog has a high tolerance for both hot and cold weather. When boredom sets in, love of chewing might become destructive. Needs lots of chew toys.
Size-wise/Coat: Small, pint-sized with long, low body. Can be miniature or standard-sized (Standards is 16-32 pounds; Miniature, 11 pounds or under). Coat can be smooth or wiry, short or long. May need regular grooming depending on coat type.
Personality Profile: Breed has four basic personality traits, and hunting/tracking is number one. They love to track scents, and, if not leashed, their noses can lead them astray when you're out for a walk. Basic instincts make them lovers of games allowing hunting/tracking. Digging is their second basic personality trait. These dogs were originally bred to hunt, dig up, and destroy badgers! Provide a place and train as to where he/she can dig, or else your fence, flower garden, or carpet, might be next. Being active is another personality trait. They might look lazy, but most aren't. They're active, and have lots of energy that's best channeled through walking and light play (not too rigorous).
You Also Need to Know: Being a clown is the final part of the puzzle. Dachshunds are showoffs that love being the center of attention. Lots of attention and praise gets best behavior. Easy to train, ignore when behaving badly, and he/she will stop. Does not like being ignored!
Size-wise/Coat: Strong, muscular, powerful build. Can grow from 22 to 27 inches tall at shoulder, and weigh from 85-130 depending on whether male or female. Short coat, average shedding, needs minimal grooming.
Personality Profile: Are they vicious attack dogs? No. Not unless they're trained to be that way. Their primary instinct is to be a protector, and that's why they're among the best of watch dogs. Incredibly loyal, they're intelligent, obedient, and also discriminating. That's right, they don't hand out the love to just anyone (strangers often get the cold shoulder). They must actually love you to show it, and then they're extremely affectionate, and playful too. Originally bred as working dogs, they like the feel of having a job to do. They excel at games and activities requiring them to think and obey, at the same time. This big dog needs space, so a suburban or country setting (with a yard) is preferred over an apartment.
You Also Need to Know: To stay healthy and happy, needs moderate amounts of exercise, daily (not too much on hot days, large size/dark coat makes them prone to overheating). Not giving them needed activity will cause boredom, and with boredom will come chewing and destruction (and furniture is fair game). Might be a challenge to train. Although smart, they are large, strong-willed, and want to be "leader of the pack." R-e-s-p-e-c-t is what they must have for you, so they require a confident, firm, leader/trainer who rules with unquestionable dominance (tempered with kindness and understanding). Train and socialize early in life for best results.
11. Standard Poodle
Size-wise/Coat: Medium to large, sturdy and athletic, but with graceful elegance. The Standard Poodle grows to over 15 inches tall at the shoulder. (Miniature: over 10 but under 15 inches, and Toy version, 10 inches or under.) Poodles are widely known as the lightest-shedding, most hypoallergenic of all coated breeds. Clipped properly (every six to eight weeks), hair is easy to brush.
Personality Profile: Widely hailed as among the smartest, most easy-to-train breeds. "Quick thinking" dog, learns fast, is obedient, alert/attentive, and from moderately to highly energetic. To remain happy and calm, requires good amounts of vigorous exercise, as well as mental stimulation. Proud, cheerful, and good-natured, this animal excels in advanced obedience training and in mind-challenging games. Does not like being alone, is good with other dogs. Calmer than smaller poodles, may become "high-strung" without needed amounts of exercise.
You Also Need to Know: Does not respond well to harsh discipline. Responds best to leadership that is calm, yet firm and unquestionably in charge (is sensitive to tone of voice, will take over if owner's tone is not decisive). Socialize early to inhibit timidity. If overly sensitive, not good around small children.
12. Yorkshire Terrier
Size-wise/Coat: Small/petite, portable. Full grown, from 4-7 lbs. Long coat needs to be brushed regularly.
Personality Profile: Affectionate, make great companions. Trained properly, are gentle and loving with children. Most are energetic, enjoy being busily engaged in activity. Need daily walks. Alert and intelligent, bent on figuring out how to get what they want (can be willful). Easy to train. Curious and independent, without proper training, will create their own rules. Cautiously courageous, they were bred to be "rat wranglers," and instinctively enjoy chasing smaller animals.
You Also Need to Know: Do not pamper to excess--it spoils the animal's naturally independent, vibrant nature. Establish early in life that you're the "leader of the pack." Require firm and confident, yet gentle, leadership. Establish and stick to boundaries to inhibit stubbornness. Apartment life is fine, loves indoor activities. Prefers warm, rather than cold, climates. To keep dog safe, teach it to obey basic commands, and to come when called.
Size-wise/Coat: Small, stocky/square, thick bodied, weighing from 14-18 lbs. Strong, with short legs. Smooth, short-haired coat sheds (heavy seasonally), but requires minimal grooming.
Personality Profile: Good-natured, well-behaved, good with children, usually happy and playful. Likes to be a "showoff," and is generally pleasant and eager to please. Very smart dog, easy to train. Protective, makes a good watch dog. Friendly, good with other dogs, other pets. Best behavior, lowest stress levels, when firm, confident owner establishes self as "leader of the pack." Need minimal levels of exercise.
You Also Need to Know: Wheezes and snores due to short muzzle. Must keep skin folds clean, or will develop dermatitis. Good in apartments, does not have to have a yard. Do not overfeed, obesity will shorten its life.
14. Chow Chow
Size-wise/Coat: Medium-sized, powerful, sturdy and muscular body. Can grow 17-20 inches in height at shoulder, and from 45-70 lbs. Coat may be smooth or rough. Needs regular grooming to maintain dense, furry coat.
Personality Profile: Lion-like in appearance and "regal" attitude. Well-mannered and smart, Chows learn quickly and easily, but need a firm hand. Naturally affectionate and devoted, this is a "dominant" or "alpha" breed that is also independent, and can be stubborn. Needs confident authority for best behavior to become apparent. Passive, nonchalant owners (or other meek family members) make the Chow think he/she is leader of the pack. When trained and socialized (allowed to be around other people and other dogs/pets) early in life and properly, is polite, patient, a great companion. Naturally protective, makes a great guard dog.
You Also Need to Know: Short muzzle, may snore. Although relatively inactive, Chows need daily walks. Even though they are heat-sensitive, in cooler climates, they are comfortable in or out of doors.
Of the dogs mentioned in this Hub, which is your favorite?
Size-wise/Coat: Massive and powerfully built, "well-balanced" body type, can weigh from 75-120 lbs. Straight, course outer coat, fine/smooth undercoat. Needs regular grooming with firm-bristle brush. Sheds heavily twice a year.
Personality Profile: Extremely loyal, they are docile but very intelligent. Naturally protective, is a courageous guardian. Will tolerate strangers when family is present. Must be trained to recognize human owners as leaders of the pack. A dominant breed, needs to be trained by owner. R-e-s-p-e-c-t is the word for how training should be approached.
Gentle firmness works much better than harshness. Does not bark a lot, but makes a variety of interesting sounds, some say they "mumble" to themselves. Loves being with family, boredom will set in if ignored, left alone too much.
You Also Need to Know: Is moderately active indoors. Can live in an apartment, but will do better with large yard, and needed exercise/activity.
Without proper training establishing humans as pack leaders, might become aggressive around strangers. If teased, may bite. Likes to carry things in his/her mouth (can be taught to retrieve newspapers, mail, keys, etc.).
© 2013 Sallie B Middlebrook PhD