The term “man’s best friend” isn’t just an opinion. There truly is no better companion than a loving, loyal dog. From their unconditional love and support to the comfort and fun they provide, the bond between a man and his dog is a sacred one.
It goes back millennia, to the first domesticated wolf, and continues to this day.
If you love dogs and are wondering about some of the best breeds for men, keep reading. This rundown of the top 38 best dog breeds for men outlines their temperament, basic needs and other important information.
Regardless if you’re single, married with children, or perhaps live in an apartment, I’m going to share with you plenty of options to consider.
Now, you might be wondering why are these are my top choices? And what makes certain breeds better than others, I’ll tell you:
I was raised in family with dogs ever since I was a child. And while I still have a dog today, a rescue Polish Hound from the shelter, my connection with these animals goes far beyond that. Over the years I have meet well over 300 plus breeds and their owners.
For awhile I worked at a custom pet food start up, and oversaw an algorithm that based nutritional needs on exact breed, weight, activity level, health concerns, allergies, and far more. From training to nutrition to temperament and beyond, if you ask me, I’ll have an immediate answer for you.
However, just understand that ANY breed can be the best breed for YOU. This list reflects the breeds most gentlemen today adopt or prefer for things like companionship, hunting, protection and so on. If you really want a tiny toy-breed Chihuahua that’s your business, there’s nothing unmanly about it.
Remember, it’s not so much about size either (though most men tend to choose large or giant breeds), there are a lot of things to consider like health issues, energy levels, etc. Certain breeds have characteristics you can’t simply train around.
With that said, regardless of what dog breed you choose, with good training and strong leadership you’ll find the companionship you’re looking for in a pet.
Lastly, please adopt and don’t “buy a best friend”. ALL shelter dogs can be trained beyond their issues if you’re patient and willing enough to help them. Most, if not all, are perfectly normal and wonderful dogs who were simply abandoned and looking for a friend.
In addition to being intelligent, fiercely loyal and full of courage, Akitas make bonding with their families a very big deal. This breed developed centuries ago in Japan, where they were royal guard dogs and used for hunting. They can be aggressive, but with the proper training and attention, they prove to be very loving. Akitas are excellent guard dogs, but are just as comfortable gently roughhousing with their owners.
2. Alaskan Malamute
Known for their striking resemblance to the more popular Husky, the Alaskan Malamute exudes masculinity. Their fierce, wolfish features belie their incredible playfulness. Make no mistake, these are dogs that require a lot of time to run and exert energy. Originally bred for work, this breed is very affectionate and bonds quickly with their owners.
3. American / French Bulldog
This amiable breed, with its friendly face and stocky, muscular body may look like a clown, but don’t let the exterior fool you! Bulldogs are very strong, bred for hard work and lots of outdoor exertion. They can be sociable and affectionate, provided they are given the opportunity from the get-go. However, this breed appreciates a firm, but kind hand and will always prove to be a strong companion.
4. American Staffordshire Terrier / Pitbull
Though often mistaken for aggressive dogs, the American Staffordshire terrier, along with its relation, the Pit Bull, are very gentle and loving. In fact, they were prized “nursery dogs” in the Victorian era! Incredibly attached to their families, this breed is easy to groom and will provide a lifetime of devoted love and attention.
5. Australian Cattle Dog
Before considering adopting a dog of this breed, you need to understand the commitment they need. The Australian Cattle Dog is made for working. Without the proper exercise, motivation and competition, they can grow despondent. However, if you lead an active, rugged lifestyle and want a fiercely loyal companion on your various adventures, here’s your new best friend!
6. Australian Shepherd Dog
This beautiful breed, with its multitude of coloring, is actually not Australian! While the name may suggest so, they were actually bred in the US. However, like many Australian work dogs, cultivating the outback, they are very energetic and thrive on competition and having jobs to do. They make excellent guard dogs, but are very friendly and loving toward their families.
Beagles are amazing family dogs. They’re patient, playful and gentle around children. However, much like children, they find a way to get into everything. Adopting a puppy and beginning training immediately is a must when establishing boundaries with this inquisitive breed. However, beagles will reward you with a lifetime of love, fun and boundless energy!
While the Beauceron is not the most popular dog breed out there, they deserve a little more recognition. They may look fierce, and are very protective of their family, but with those that they develop a bond with, their gentle spirit and loving nature truly shines. This is a great breed to consider if you have children, but be aware that they do require training and a fair amount of discipline before they’ll truly open up and show their true colors.
9. Belgian Malinois
This German Shepherd lookalike shares more than just its coloring and build with the slightly more popular breed. They’re also popular with police forces and make fantastic guard dogs. However, they are rarely aggressive unless provoked. Their loyalty and love of family are what make them protective. Be aware, this is a breed that needs constant exercise and work in order to truly thrive.
10. Bernese Mountain Dog
They may look large and imposing, but make no mistake – the Bernese Mountain Dog is a true gentle giant! They love affection and attention, and in return offer dedication and love unlike anything else. This breed is rarely aggressive, their energy is more aptly channeled into fun playtime and sleepy cuddles when their energy is run off, making them perfect for families.
11. Black Russian Terrier
With their curly black coat and open faces, the Black Russian Terrier may seem like an ultra-friendly breed, but make no mistake. This breed was cultivated to be a guard dog, and they take their responsibilities seriously! Like most guard dogs, they are very loyal to their families, but do not take kindly to strangers. A firm hand and early socialization is essential if you are considering this beautiful, loving dog.
This well-known tracking and hunting breed have been around for a long time. First bred over a thousand years ago, they still need a lot of exercise and a job to do in order to feel happy. Just like other hunting dogs, they also need a lot of affection and reassurance that they’re doing a good job! Taking a Bloodhound on a few miles’ run and giving him some extra pats or treats will make this breed love you for life.
13. Border Collie
Border Collies are very smart, and very industrious. They were bred for running miles a day herding sheep, and they haven’t forgotten their roots. While the Border Collie isn’t for the lazy man, it does do quite well in a family setting. However, during the day, this breed needs a large yard to run around in as well as one-on-one play time to get the stimulation they need.
The Bull Mastiff is the perfect poster child for the term “gentle giant”. They are absolutely massive dogs, but also very gentle and loving. They can be very protective of those they love, making them great guard dogs, but are never aggressive toward their families. They love pets and cuddles and have a belief that they are much smaller and therefore much more manageable than they are!
15. Chesapeake Bay Retriever
This quintessential American breed of dog is known for its clever, curious nature. They will get into absolutely anything if left to their own devices, meaning distractions and toys are a must for the Chesapeake Bay Retriever! Originally bred to hunt waterfowl, this breed is fantastic for families and makes a great companion for hikes and runs.
16. Doberman Pinscher
Known for their athletic prowess and aggressive nature toward strangers, the Doberman Pinscher makes an excellent guard dog. However, the same loyalty that makes them defend their master also makes them amazing family dogs, provided they are trained and socialized early. They are very clever, so while training is essential, they pick up on cues and commands very easily.
17. Dogue De Bordeaux
Their squat bodies and square heads make this breed look a bit silly, but they are anything but. Much like the Bulldog, this French breed is very active and requires a lot of socialization. They become despondent when on their own, so be sure to have a lot of free time play, run and introduce this breed to others. They are intensely loyal and form bonds easily, so you’ll always have a true companion.
18. German Shepherd
Meet the German Shepherd, the granddaddy of them all when it comes to guard dog breeds for men. When it comes to working dogs, few can match the intelligence and hardworking nature German Shepherds bring to the table. From law enforcement to search and rescue, guide and therapy and beyond, if there’s one thing this breed loves, it’s being put to work. German Shepherds are extremely loyal, not to mention, well-respected for their consistent excellence and performance in training.
19. German Wirehaired Pointer
Like many pointers, this breed thrives on having work to do. If you are a hunter, the German Wirehaired Pointer is a perfect companion, known for sniffing out prey and helping their companion track. Laziness and lack of exercise will cause this breed to be rebellious, so be sure to go for long rambles and provide plenty of playtime to keep this breed happy and well-adjusted.
20. Giant Schnauzer
These dogs are huge. The term “giant” may have tipped you off, but if you adopt one of these dogs as a puppy, you may be unprepared for how quickly they grow. They are also beautiful, but very independent. While they adore attention, it’s essential to keep a firm hand and always stay in the “alpha” role. They are very intelligent, so early training is an absolute must!
21. Great Dane
Though the Great Dane was originally prized for its size and ferocious nature, this breed has since been bred to be a loveable giant. They are as at home playing with silly toys as they are walking regally alongside their human counterparts. One thing to take into consideration with this breed is their health. Their size makes them susceptible to hip dysplasia as well as other bone diseases.
While the Greyhound may be most commonly associated with racing or a popular bus company, the speed of this breed is actually more suited to recreational runs. They are very fine-boned and gentle animals, but need constant exercise. Let them run off their energy in a park or on daily runs, and this incredibly loving breed will follow you anywhere!
23. Irish Setter
The deep, rich auburn coloring of the Irish Setter is very well known. These dogs are popular for both work and play, though their exuberant nature may be too much for more sedate people to handle. Similarly, they can be a bit rough around very young children without meaning to be. This energetic breed thrives on a lot of playtime and loves a bit of roughhousing.
24. Labrador Retriever
The Labrador is one of America’s favorite breeds, and it’s pretty easy to see why! With their multitude of beautiful colors and incredibly friendly natures, this breed has worked its way into the family experience. Intensely loving and very good with children, the Labrador retriever is a perfect pet for a family who enjoys outdoor adventures and regular exercise.
The Newfoundland has its roots in search and rescue. With their webbed paws, they have historically helped drowning sailors find their way back to shore. This ability to serve and eagerness to please makes them ideal for families. They love roughhousing with adults, but also feel a tenderness toward children that is almost unmatched, making them great for growing up with, and fantastic for family adventures!
26. Norwegian Elkhound
This is quite an ancient breed. Originally prized by the Vikings for their energy and intelligence, the Norwegian Elkhound is also very clever and prescient when it comes to personality. They love their humans unconditionally and always try to make a bad day better with their cheerful moods and playful natures.
27. Pachon Navarro
While the Pachon Navarro may seem introverted, be aware that under their quiet exterior beats a heart yearning to run free. Setting this breed loose in an open field or dog park is essential, as they have energy abound and must express it. With the proper exercise and play, this breed is fun, loving and very charismatic.
The Plott breed is very independent, and its owner should be, as well. An American breed originally developed for hunting, the Plott still retains quite a few primal instincts. They are not the warm and cuddly “gentle giants” other hunting dogs can be, and even with meticulous training and socialization they are not great around the young. These dogs are solitary, and their ideal master is a lone wolf himself.
29. Polish Hound
Meet the Polish Hound, a breed you’ve probably never even heard of, let alone ever seen. As one of the rarer dog breeds in American, you’ll be surprised, perhaps even shocked at their temperament. Polish Hounds are a remarkably calm, casual and gentle large dog breed. While they make for the perfect guard dogs, they are still extremely friendly around children and other animals. In a sense, they take some of the best aspects of the German Shepherd, while being far more relaxed and kind spirited.
30. Rhodesian Ridgeback
The Rhodesian Ridgeback has an interesting history. Originally bred to tame the wild South African fauna, it soon found its place as a farm dog among settlers. These days, it’s a popular breed among those who enjoy hunting and camping, due to its loyal nature and attention to intruders in a secluded area. This dog may not be suited to the family life, unless children are a bit older, or it’s been socialized to them since puppyhood.
Though they may have a reputation for aggression, if treated with respect and handled with a gentle firmness, the Rottweiler makes an excellent family pet. They are very loving, loyal and gentle to their families, though also surprised easily and not very good with strangers. For this breed, early exposure to other dogs and humans is a must, but they’ll reward you with a lifetime of gentle love and protection.
32. Saint Bernard
Though probably best known for their massive amounts of drool, the Saint Bernard originated as a “hospice dog”, saving those in need. These origins are reflected in the giant heart and good nature of this giant breed. Eager to please and crazy for love, the Saint Bernard is a truly family-oriented, loving dog that will provide a family with a lifetime of affection.
33. Shiba Inu
While the Shiba Inu may not be the biggest dog on the block, he sure packs a lot of attitude! This Japanese breed is the slightly smaller cousin of the Akita, but no less fierce or loyal. They have friendly smiles most of the time, but are also fiercely protective of their families, full of tenacious courage that makes them excellent for families.
34. Siberian Husky
As the domesticated breed of dog most closely related to their ancestral wolf, the Siberian Husky is a force to be reckoned with. Incredibly beautiful, and very closely resembling the wolf, this breed of dog is prized by those who favor a primal connection with the past. They are bred to be work dogs, so don’t be surprised if this breed wants to get out and explore more often than others!
35. Sussex Spaniel
Like many spaniels, the Sussex spaniel needs quite a bit of grooming due to its long, wavy coat. However, the love, loyalty and friendship this breed provide make their upkeep well worth it. This English breed might be known for being a bit slow, but one whiff of a bird and he’ll perk up almost instantly!
36. Thai Ridgeback
The Thai Ridgeback is a very rare breed of dog in the United States. Originally bred for hunting and being a watchdog, this is not the gentlest of breeds. Single men with an active lifestyle and a firm hand when it comes to training dogs may handle them, but those with families featuring small children may find this breed difficult. The same goes for those who aren’t familiar with training dogs. However, if you welcome a challenge, are familiar with dogs and want a loyal companion for life, look no further than the Thai Ridgeback.
The Vizsla, or Hungarian Pointer, is a beautiful breed with a reddish-gold coat and floppy ears. They are very affectionate and enjoy feeling close to their families, making them perfect indoor dogs. They are also incredibly clever and train easily, though care should be taken to keep them out of messy situations!
This beautiful breed is well-muscled and very obviously used to working hard. Ideal for hunters or farmers, a Weimaraner is also well suited for guys who lead an active lifestyle. It is very important to establish dominance early on with this breed, as they are incredibly independent and used to leading their own pack.