With the exception of some hounds who pride themselves on independent thinking, most dog breed representatives, when asked, insist they’re loyal dog breeds. Similarly, owners say their dogs (of any breed or mixed breed) are loyal. Perhaps it’s a matter of semantics. To whom, or what, does a dog owe his loyalty? A Siberian Husky source once told me her dogs were loyal to life more so than home. She had to bring in a German Shepherd to protect her dog kennels, for her Siberians would leave delightfully with any stranger opening the door. The Siberians were passionately loyal to adventure!
Let’s start with the supposition that dogs as a whole are loyal to mankind, certainly in comparison to other species not developed for human companionship. But some dog breeds were developed with an extra dose of loyalty to their own people. In fact, there’s an abundance of breeds jockeying to be named the most loyal dog breed. Let’s hear from the five most vocal:
The Bouvier des Flandres is a loyal dog breed. Photography courtesy Sandi Lyon (Margaux Bouviers)/ Nancy Villwock.
I was bred to work for farmers, butchers, and cattlemen. My early names evidence my working history: Toucheur de boeuf means cattle driver; koehond means cow dog. My protective nature, steadfast allegiance, and thoughtful nature make me a good watch dog. Now let’s delve into my mindset. Humans developed me with the drive to defend; I view the world outside my family as potentially troublesome. Newcomers will receive a somber, rather skeptical eye from me until they’ve proved their friendliness. And my aloofness will linger even longer if they tease about another earlier name of mine: Vuilbaard, meaning “dirty beard.”
Bullmastiffs are also known for their unfaltering loyalty. Photography courtesy Elizabeth Falk.
As our name suggests, we were bred from Bulldogs and Mastiffs in England. We assisted gamekeepers by protecting game on the estates from poachers. Our early ancestors needed to be tough enough to catch and hold thieves, yet live amicably with our family. Clearly we had to differentiate between strangers (potential thieves) and family. And while today few of us catch poachers, our loyalty remains fine-tuned. We’re self-assured, confident, and not overly reactive in general. You may, however, see our protective side emerge if our family is threatened.
Yorkshire Terriers make the list for most loyal dog breeds. Photography courtesy Mary Ingersoll-Ackerman.
I’m so honored to be listed. Terriers are often referred to as feisty or independent. But we Yorkies often bond intensely with family. How does our history explain our faithfulness? We were bred in England to control rat populations, and we took the job seriously. Today we’re mainly companions, but we’ve retained an intensity that we funnel into family devotion. And while in reality all I can do is bark when I sense danger, in my vivid imagination I’m tackling intruders with the same strength as German Shepherd Dogs.
German Shepherds are a no-brainer when it comes to loyal dogs. Photography courtesy Deborah Stern.
I’m proud to have the Yorkie above giving me a shout-out. I have a passion for working alongside and protecting my loved ones. Many soldiers and policeman, as well as individuals who use us for service work, will attest to our fidelity. I’m renowned for my heroism (perhaps not my humbleness). Many of my kin have given their lives to protect loved ones. I’ll demonstrate a calm politeness to newcomers, but by definition they’re outsiders. Because I was bred as a working dog with guarding and watching genes, I discriminate carefully between family (us) and strangers (them).
5. Cane Corso
Cane Corsos are loyal dogs. Photography by Shutterstock.
We descended from ancient warrior dogs, transitioning into a versatile guardian, hunter, and all-around Italian farm dog. Whether we were hunting boars, controlling herds of cattle, or guarding flocks of sheep from wolves, we served our family with a steadfast and tireless devotion. Today we continue to take our protection role seriously. We’re self-assured and rather aloof with strangers. I save my enthusiastic greeting for family. I highly value possessive pronouns, specifically: My, mine, and ours.