The definition of a well-behaved dog varies from person to person. For some, it simply equals a canine that does its business outside and not in the house. For others, it means not chewing up their favorite pair of shoes. The definitive parameters of "well-behaved" dog for some extend well beyond the basics to include how much said canine wants to play fetch, ride in the car, graciously greet visitors and control barking. Whatever the threshold, the definition of a "well-behaved" dog is true in the expectation of its owner. Certain breeds are more adept at pleasing humans, which ultimately is the deciding factor in whether a dog is "good" or "bad."
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There's a reason why so many leading canine movie stars such as Buddy in "Air Bud" and Shadow in "Homeward Bound" are golden retrievers. The breed is known for its sweet and fun-loving nature and its joyful approach to life while remaining stalwart, loyal and stable. Golden retrievers are highly intelligent and trainable, making it a simple process to reward behaviors acceptable to their human companions and to discourage those that are not.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
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This smaller breed maxes out in size at approximately 25 pounds. But what it lacks in physical stature is quickly made up in personality. These dogs are highly social but known for a calm, soothing demeanor. They are just as happy going out for a short walk or taking a snooze in your lap or snuggled close by. They don't require as much exercise as larger, more active breeds. Thus, their low maintenance requirement reduces the amount of time necessary to care for them, which for some humans equals the same thing as considering the dog to be well-behaved.
Bernese Mountain Dog
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These massive dogs, colored in a "paint-by-numbers" style of black, tan and white patterns, are perhaps one of the canine world's most laid-back members. They are not overly excitable but respond enthusiastically to training. Their personalities thrive on having a sense of purpose. This earns them a place among well-behaved breeds when their human companions provide these dogs with a job and direction. They eagerly respond to filling a role, which humans tend to view as good behavior. It's also why they are frequently used as service dogs for the disabled. Another plus: these dogs tend to get along quite well with cats.
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Big is one way to describe this breed's physical characteristics. In combining its personality in that description, many often refer to the Newfoundland as the "gentle giant." Giant in that the average adult of this breed weighs approximately 150 pounds. Gentle in that the breed is so well known for its patience in being pestered that it is the breed of choice for therapy work with children in hospice care, according to the movie "Extraordinary Dogs" produced by the Documentary Channel.
Dogs to Avoid
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In July 2012, the Davis Law Group based in Seattle, Washington, which specializes in dog bite legal cases, released a top 10 list of canine species to avoid based on behavioral issues, with biting being the primary negative factor. The list is based on data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cataloging the number of human fatalities from dog bites per dog species. The top 10 dog species causing human fatalities are: pit bull, rottweiler, Siberian husky, Saint Bernard, German shepherd, Great Dane, Doberman pinscher, chow chow, Alaskan malamute and Akita.
Amy M. Armstrong is a former community news journalist with more than 15 years of experience writing features and covering school districts. She has received more than 40 awards for excellence in journalism and photography. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Washington State University. Armstrong grew up on a dairy farm in western Washington and wrote agricultural news while in college.