The Best-Temperament Dog Breeds

Find the perfect canine companion for your personality.
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Dogs by nature are loving and companionable toward humans, so it's easy to find breeds that exhibit even tempers. Nevertheless, dogs are complex creatures with many and varied attributes, so when choosing the right breed for you, consider a breed's exercise needs, grooming requirements and tolerance of small children or other pets; and be sure to know a breed's temperament as well.

Size Isn't Everything

The old saw about best things coming in small packages applies well to the diminutive phalene, the ancestor of the popular papillon. Only the ear shape offers a distinguishing difference between the two, and in America they are classed as the same breed. They are sweet, loving and happy little dogs that delight in greeting you with as many doggie kisses as you'll allow. They are energetic, full of fun and ready to please. Since they are intelligent, they are highly trainable quick-studies that love to perform tricks. Space is not a big consideration for this breed, as papillons are so small – only about 8 to 10 pounds – so they make excellent indoor dogs as long as they have a good walk each day. They should also have plenty of indoor toys and interaction with their favorite thing, which is you. As a bonus, their beautiful, long coats are surprisingly easy to maintain with only an occasional brushing.

Smallish, Sweet and Nosy

They don't come more perfect than a beagle if your idea of perfect is sweet-tempered and docile yet energetic, alert and ready to go the extra mile to please you. Though bred to hunt rabbits, this 15- to 30-pound bundle of pure happiness is adaptable to indoor living if given long, brisk walks at least twice daily. Never walk your beagle off-leash however, since this is a scent-driven breed. Left to her own devices, your sweet little girl will be off on the chase, ignoring everything else around her – including dangers like traffic – to find the thing that caught her nose's attention. She will do very well with children, visitors or other dogs, though, because beagles were originally bred for pack life and are highly social. Sadly, it is this breed's extreme sociability, tractability and even temper that is the reason so many labs use beagles in experiments.

A Golden Dog

The world's No. 1 dog is the golden retriever, and for good reason. This beautiful, large dog really uses up the adjectives: He is loyal, trustworthy, confident, polite, intelligent, discerning, sturdy, energetic, charming and affectionate, according to kennel club and enthusiast websites. He will stay companionably by your side in front of the fireplace or bound along with you on a family hike. He loves to swim, chase a ball or hunt, but he will not do well left alone for long. Seemingly designed by nature for human interaction, he may become destructive or depressed if given too little time with his beloved human family. He is slightly high-maintenance in the grooming department, requiring regular brushing and occasional dry shampooing to preserve a healthy, tangle-free coat.

A Big, Big Heart

If you want to wrap your arms around a big and big-hearted dog, who really likes attention and being cuddled, choose a Saint Bernard. He is definitely large and may be imposing to some, inside he is a sweet, sensible pussycat who may be a tad lazy. Since he isn't all that active, he actually requires less food than many other dogs his size and some that are smaller. He is adaptable to apartment living if he gets some daily play time, and you will need to walk him daily; but he can overheat easily, so limit the length of walks in hot weather. A daily brushing will keep his coat healthy and reduce shedding. Look out for drool.

Other Even-Tempered Dogs of Various Sizes

You may also want to consider the Icelandic sheepdog, an attractive, medium-size and ancient breed with a sweet-tempered, winning and active personality; or the Labrador retriever – almost as popular in America as the golden retriever, with similar characteristics but with an easier-to-maintain coat. The collie is another all-American choice that needs no description, especially if you are familiar with the TV and movie icon “Lassie.” If a real couch potato suits you best, though, choose the basset hound, which sometimes cannot really be bothered to move. If small and energetic is more your style, you may just fall in love with a Cavalier King Charles spaniel -- especially with those doelike eyes. All of these are lovely, sweet dogs whose temperaments are suited to any responsible family or homebody.

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