Everyone is looking for something different when they adopt a dog. Myself? I adopt dogs for companionship, and love to have a pup who wants to be around me all of the time. The 15 companion breeds on this list want just that!
Companion dog breeds include lap dogs like Chihuahuas and shih tzus, sporty dogs like golden retrievers and border collies, and dogs bred to hunt in packs like beagles. All require large amounts of attention and for someone to be home with them most of the day.
Their attachment to their humans doesn’t disappear when you’re busy! Companion breeds are more prone to separation anxiety than more independent dogs. They’re recommended for families who work or go to school at opposing times.
I don’t recommend these breeds for single people who work full-time outside of the home, as this isn’t fair to these clingy pups.
That said, let’s dive into our list of 15 companion dog breeds!
Chihuahuas are prone to nervousness and get cold easily. Many of them tremble or shiver often.
They’re seen as yappy, mean dogs, but much of this comes down to the way they’re treated. Chihuahuas are fragile, and it’s important to handle them gently.
Never force them to cuddle or be held, as this can make them less confident and they might turn to biting as a last-ditch effort to get away.
Instead, train, respect, and raise your Chi like you would a larger dog. Provide them with daily walks and playtime, mental enrichment, and lots of love.
A thriving Chihuahua is affectionate, playful, and, yes–sometimes sassy!
Golden retrievers were bred to hunt alongside humans. Unlike some hunting breeds that were bred to make independent decisions, goldens are taught to return and hand over the prey (aka retrieving!).
They’ll love to be at your side for outdoorsy, active fun. Goldens love hiking, swimming, playing fetch, and more!
When it’s time to wind down, they’re likely to still want to be at your feet as you watch TV or cuddled up next to you in bed.
Goldens aren’t good dogs for inactive people who would dislike taking them along for multiple long walks or runs a day. They also require quite a bit of grooming so that their coats don’t tangle.
They stand 21.5-24 inches tall and weigh 55-75 pounds.
Poodles are another retriever breed. They’re active, intelligent, and easy to train.
One great thing about poodles is that they come in three sizes: toy, miniature, and standard. Their heights and weights are as follows:
- Toy Poodles: under 10 inches, 4-6 pounds
- Miniature Poodles: 10-15 inches, 10-15 pounds
- Standard Poodles: over 15 inches, 40-70 pounds
Poodles are high-maintenance when it comes to exercise and grooming. Their thick, curly coats require daily brushing or to be trimmed short once every 4-6 weeks.
The smaller poodles will take less time to groom and also require less exercise to tire them out, but they will still need a daily walk, playtime, and mental enrichment.
When it comes to companionship, poodles will love to accompany you whether it’s spending time in your lap or racing around the backyard.
I do recommend avoiding poodle mixes unless you’re rescuing your poo. There are almost no reputable mixed-breed breeders.
In addition, those who breed poodle mixes often lie about their coat and maintenance. (Most poodle mixes will shed!)
Labradors, like goldens and poodles, were bred to hunt waterfowl. They’re high energy and love doing whatever their human families are doing!
Until recently, I had my own Labrador mix named Charlie. He required long daily walks well into old age–even cancer didn’t get him down until the very end!
Like most Labs, he thought everyone was his friend and always looked hurt if someone didn’t like him.
He wasn’t much for cuddling (though some Labradors love it!), but was a great companion. He loved walking with me to check out the veggie garden every morning, hanging out with my grandpa in the garage, and hated if we went on car rides without him!
While Labradors aren’t the clingiest dogs in my experience, do expect to involve them in your day to day life.
Labradors are 21.5-24.5 inches tall and weigh 55-80 pounds.
Yorkshire terriers, or Yorkies, are a lap dog breed, weighing in at just 7 pounds. They stand 7-8 inches at the shoulder and have long, silky fur.
While they’re incredibly affectionate with just about everyone, Yorkies are also playful and do require moderate daily exercise.
However, they’re also considered brachycephalic (or short-snouted). This means they have trouble tolerating vigorous exercise and hot climates.
Because Yorkies are so poorly bred, I recommend adopting from a rescue or shelter rather than supporting unethical breeding practices.
The American Kennel Club describes the bichon frisé as curious and peppy! These little dogs are 9.5-11.5 inches tall and weigh 12-18 pounds.
They’re truly everyone’s best friend, from family to strangers to other dogs. These pups will get along with almost anyone!
Bichon frisé dogs are playful, active, and eager to please. If you’re looking for a watchdog, though, these aren’t the most alert or protective of pups.
They also have high grooming needs and should be brushed once a day to keep their coat healthy and tangle-free.
As a kid, papillons were one of my favorite dog breeds. The long fur on their large, upright ears looks so unique!
This is another great lap dog breed. They weigh in at 5-10 pounds and stand 8-11 inches tall.
Papillons are outgoing, playful, and protective. They’re also quite yappy little things, and their barking can be problematic, especially if they aren’t getting enough exercise or affection.
Remember that, like the others on this list, these dogs aren’t meant to be left alone for long periods of time.
Papillons are also incredibly smart and thus need a lot of mental stimulation through games, puzzles, and other activities that challenge their brains.
Beagles were bred to hunt in packs. Thus, they aren’t only great companions for people, but also for other dogs.
Personally, I won’t be adopting a single dog again unless they’re compatible with all other pups. Dogs are incredibly social and do best, in my opinion, living with another canine friend.
But, I especially wouldn’t advise anyone to adopt just one beagle! It just doesn’t seem fair to these pups who instinctively want to be surrounded by other dogs.
The American Kennel Club describes beagles as “merry,” which is so cute! It also speaks to my own experience with the breed. They’re playful, vocal, and energetic.
Unlike the others on our list so far, beagles are quite independent. They can be a challenge to train and might not want to cuddle, despite being a good size for a lap dog. Beagles weigh under 30 pounds and stand under 15 inches tall.
So long as you’re okay with this, and their distinctly loud voices, a beagle might be the right fit for you!
Shih tzus are overwhelmingly popular, and for good reason! These sweet dogs are cuddly, outgoing, and adaptable.
They require only moderate exercise. Please remember that even small dogs benefit from a daily walk! But, shih tzus will need shorter, slower walks than many other pups.
They’re brachycephalic (even more so than Yorkies), so they do unfortunately suffer from breathing difficulties, intolerance to great amounts of exercise, and an increased risk of heat stroke, amongst several other medical problems.
I definitely suggest adopting a shih tzu from a good rescue or shelter, rather than supporting their breeding.
Also be aware that your shih tzu will need daily grooming unless their fur is cut short. In this case, they’ll need to see the groomer every 4-6 weeks for a bath and a haircut.
Maltese are little white dogs with long, soft coats. They weigh under 7 pounds and stand 7-9 inches tall.
They’re affectionate toward family, but may be wary of strangers. Maltese dogs make good cuddle bugs and great alarm systems, as they’re quite watchful but not prone to excessive barking.
They have fur that sheds like human hair, rather than the heavier shed of most dog breeds. This kind of coat requires either daily brushing or to be cut short every 4-6 weeks.
If you adopt from a breeder, look for someone who performs all of the necessary genetic health tests and who breeds for long snouts. Some, but not all, Malteses are brachycephalic.
Border collies are high-energy, intelligent, and affectionate. They make great companions for the right person or family.
However, it’d be irresponsible not to note that these dogs are different from the others on this list. Border collies are incredibly driven, working dogs.
They need higher activity levels than any other dog listed here, and aren’t the best for inexperienced dog guardians. Many who own dogs who are this driven refer to them as a lifestyle, rather than a pet.
While adopting any dog is life-changing, border collies are for people who want to exercise with their dog for hours a day. They’re great for people who like to train their dog on new things continuously, participate in dog sports, or who want a regular hiking companion.
Boxers are sweet, gentle, spirited companions. They’re friendly, playful, and easy to train. They also drool considerably!
Boxers were first bred for bull baiting, then used as hunting dogs. Today, most of them thankfully live in families where their only jobs are companionship. They’re also sometimes used as guard dogs or hunting dogs.
Unfortunately, many people choose to crop their boxers’ ears and dock their tails. These are unnecessary procedures done purely for cosmetic purposes, and they have little to no benefit to the dog themselves.
They’re also unethically bred, as they have short snouts that make breathing difficult, especially when exercising or when it’s hot outside.
Schnauzers come in three sizes: miniature, standard, and giant! Here are their heights and weights:
- Miniature Schnauzer: 14-14 inches, 11-20 pounds
- Standard Schnauzer: 17.5-19.5 inches, 30-50 pounds
- Giant Schnauzer: 23.5-27.5 inches, 55-85 pounds
Miniature schnauzers were mixed with toy dogs and are more likely to be little cuddle bugs than their larger counterparts. However, all of the schnauzers are very affectionate toward their families!
They may be more wary when it comes to other dogs, though. They can also be unsure around strangers.
Schnauzers love being around their humans, especially when it comes to exercise. These breeds make a great fit for active people!
They do have wiry coats that require special care, and must be hand-stripped by a groomer every five to eight weeks. While some people choose to clip the coat short instead, this damages the coat, changes its texture, and causes the dogs to shed much more frequently.
Italian greyhounds and other sighthounds are often described as aloof, cat-like dogs. They are independent, have their own ideas, and can also be quite shy around strangers.
Because Italian greyhounds were bred with toy breeds to achieve their small size, they tend to be clingier and cuddlier than some other sighthound breeds.
They’re high-energy dogs, but they were bred to sprint rather than endure long stretches of exercise. A daily walk and time to do zoomies in the backyard is perfect!
Your Italian greyhound will likely spend the rest of their time relaxing at home, and they especially like soft materials like dog beds, the couch, or even your pillow!
Italian greyhounds are 13-15 inches tall and weigh 7-14 pounds.
Pugs are one of the oldest dog breeds! They’re affectionate lap dogs who tend to be pretty friendly toward everyone.
These short-haired pups are 10-13 inches tall and weigh 14-18 pounds. They shed a lot but bark very little.
Although they’re incredibly playful, pugs can’t tolerate a lot of vigorous exercise, especially in the heat. This is because they’re extremely brachycephalic (short-snouted) which causes breathing difficulties and a host of other health problems.
I don’t recommend buying a pug puppy because of how poorly bred they are, but adopting one from a reputable shelter or rescue will provide you with a sweet, lovable companion.
These Three Sweet Dog Breeds Could Be Added to the List
All dogs are capable of being great companions but there is no doubt that for some breeds, that trait comes naturally. We composed a great list of companion dogs – but there are three more that are certainly worthy of consideration. They share a common thread – they were all favored by royalty before gaining popularity all over the world.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was a popular lapdog among the nobility in the 1700s before it became a favorite of people all over the world. With its soft, fluffy, floppy ears and adorable face, this little dog offers an affectionate, sweet, personality along with its cuteness – making it the perfect companion. These dogs love human contact and have a great reputation with children. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are also tolerant of other pets – even cats!
Coton de Tulear
Another of the preferred lapdogs of royalty, the Coton de Tulear was the favorite companion of the nobles of Madagascar. These charming dogs are known for their ability to walk on their hind legs to amuse their humans, as well as their soft, cottony, hypoallergenic coats. Affectionate, happy-go-lucky, and eager to please – the Coton de Tulear likes nothing more than to follow its people around the house. They are robust and healthy with long lifespans of up to 19 years.
Like other lapdogs, the Pomeranian is a companion breed made famous by royalty. Queen Victoria became smitten with the breed on a trip to Italy – and returned to Britain with Poms of her own. She was so obsessed with the sweet dogs that she became a serious breeder and is credited with reducing their size from 30 pounds to their current 3-7 pound toy status. Marie Antoinette and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart were also fans of the breed. People all over the world love these fluffy, foxy-faced pups who are as easy to train as they are to love.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/Juan Hernandez Carmona
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