Which Breeds Make The Best Canine Companions?


The old adage that ‘dog is a man’s best friend’ is certainly true for the hundreds of thousands of dog owners in the UK. And statistics show that the main reason for owning a dog is companionship. When it comes to which dog breeds make the best¬†canine companions though, the answer is a little trickier. The breed that makes the best companion for an elderly, inactive person is going to be totally different to the breed that makes the best companion for a hyperactive, outdoors family.

Although scientists disagree about when dogs were domesticated, conservative estimates put it at about 10,000 years ago. Therefore, as one of the oldest domesticated animals, it’s only natural that dogs make fantastic companions. Loyalty to their owners would have been an attribute that was encouraged through breeding and it’s safe to say that all dogs are loyal companions. However, let’s look at the breeds that are particularly compatible with certain owners.

Best breeds for the outdoors enthusiast.

The best canine companions for long days in the hills need to have high energy levels and plenty of stamina. Although there are smaller dog breeds with quite a lot of energy, such as the Border Terrier or Jack Russell, a medium-large dog is probably going to be well-suited to this type of companionship. The gundog breeds (retrievers, spaniels, pointers, setters etc) have very high energy levels as do sheep dog breeds such as the Border Collie. These breeds are also highly intelligent and easy to train. In wide open spaces, around livestock and in difficult terrain unswerving obedience is vital. Best companions are: Labrador Retriever, Springer Spaniel, Border Collie, Hungarian Vizsla, Large Munsterlander.

hungarian viszla gun dog portrait

Best breeds for city dwelling.

Sometimes, the busiest places can also be the loneliest and many people living in a city enjoy owning a dog for the company. These breeds need to have a high tolerance for the hustle and bustle of city life: crowds, busy streets, transport, other dogs in the park and sirens. This tolerance usually comes with early socialising, but some breeds are more ‘fearless’ than others. With most city dwellers working out of the house, this companion needs to be happy at home alone during the day and content with a quick walk morning and evening. Living space in the city is usually at a premium, so smaller breeds that don’t need much room indoors are perfect. The smaller terrier breeds are a good choice. Best companions are: Bulldog, Pug, Boston Terrier, Corgi, West Highland White Terrier.

Pug Dog

Best breeds for non-active lifestyle.

A non-active lifestyle covers anyone who finds it hard to leave the house. This could be an elderly person, someone with mobility issues or someone suffering from anxiety problems. In each of these cases, the benefits of dog companionship far outweigh the extra responsibility of owning a dog. That is, as long as the owner chooses the breed carefully. Small dogs make the best canine companions here, being content to spend long periods indoors and loving human company. A short walk each day and games in the house or perhaps playing in a garden or yard will form the majority of their exercise. Asking a neighbour or relative to oblige with a longer walk every so often is a good idea. Best companions are: Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Bichon Frise, Chihuahua, Pekingese.

Running King Charles Spaniel

Best breeds for families with young children.

To a certain extent, whether a dog is good with children relies on the socialising they received as a puppy and ongoing training throughout life. However, there are certain breeds that are more compatible with family life than others. Families with small children need a breed that is tolerant of the unpredictable behaviour of small children. They also need to be patient and enjoy the fun and games of family life. Depending on the energy levels of the family and their activities, this breed may need medium to high energy levels. Best companions are: Labrador Retriever, Border Terrier, English Cocker Spaniel, Schnauzer, Golden Retriever.

Border Terrier

Best breeds for coastal living.

For all those bracing walks on the beach, the best canine companions are going to love the water and have reasonable energy levels too. There are a few breeds that were specifically bred to spend a lot of time in the water. They tend to be high energy gundogs, originally used to hunt waterfowl.  Best companions are: Otterhound, French/Spanish/Portuguese Water Dog, American/Irish Water Spaniel, Lagotto Romagnolo.

Finding the best companion is very much about choosing the breed that fits your needs. The Labrador Retriever may be loyal to the last, great with children and loves spending time with their owner. However, it needs a couple of hours exercise per day and has a working dog instinct. If you can’t dedicate that much time to exercise, a smaller breed with lower energy levels would suit you better. Choosing carefully will ensure that you have the best canine companion for you.

Otterhound Image