These adorable and lovable calm dog breeds fit right in with singles, couples, or families who are looking for a mellow and chill furry family member.
The calmest dog breeds you’ll want to bring home
When it comes to calm dog breeds, our list includes low maintenance dogs, lazy dog breeds, and the best apartment dogs. Of course, we didn’t forget about large dog breeds that, despite their size, love to plop down and sprawl out across your body like a lap dog. These calm dog breeds might enjoy a game of fetch with kids in the backyard or be more inclined to let someone else fetch something—like their yummy treat. Some dogs don’t shed much, while others may need regular brushing, but what they all have in common is a mellow attitude that suits families. We spoke with a veterinarian and two professional dog trainers/behaviorists for recommendations. It’s important to note that all dogs are individuals, and training and socialization are essential for families and dogs to live happily ever after.
English cocker spaniel
You might not think that an English cocker spaniel that is bred to flush and retrieve game birds would be content being inside and curled up next to the family, but it is. That’s not to say it won’t be excited to go for an inquisitive walk or retrieve stuffed toy ducks in the yard, but this sporting breed has the “work hard, play hard” mantra nailed. “English cocker spaniels have a happy, wagging tail that rarely stops. They love to love,” says Colleen Demling-Riley, dog behaviorist for Dogtopia. English cocker spaniels are a calm dog breed that’s eager to please and easy to train. When you’re snuggled up close and petting it, don’t be surprised if they nuzzle you or lick your face as a gentle reminder to keep going. These are the other dog breeds that love to cuddle.
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“Whippets adore their family, are kid tolerant, and rarely meet a person they don’t adore,” says Demling-Riley. That includes winning the hearts of judges at Westminster Dog Show: “Bourbon” and “Whiskey” are siblings who took home best in breed in 2018 and 2019. “With proper exercise, Whippets love spending the day as couch potatoes. Whippets are born to run (they’re one of the fastest dog breeds, after all) so having an enclosed area where they can stretch their legs is ideal,” says Demling-Riley. They make for a good playmate for the kids because they can tire each other out. And they’re not known for being barkers, but they do have high prey drive so a family that has a cat, rabbit, or other small pet in the house should choose another breed, Demling-Riley says.
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It’s no wonder the Golden Retriever is continually in the top 10 of the most popular dog breeds. They are easy-going, affectionate, and playful but gentle with children, making them an ideal family dog. “Their temperament often makes them great service and therapy dogs, and, while they can be playful and have a lot of energy in their youth, a four-year-old golden retriever that’s emotionally and physically satisfied is most likely going to be calmer than a puppy of the same breed, says Laura Nativo, CPDT-KA, KPACTP, a certified dog trainer advisor for DOGTV. And because they’re eager to please, they respond well to obedience training.
“Tibetan Spaniels were originally bred to hang out with monks, so they become very connected to their people. They’re also smaller, which often makes them a bit easier to manage in comparison to other small dogs who are very athletic,” says Natvio. That’s not to say “Tibbies” are couch potatoes. Like most dogs, they like to whoop it up during playtime. Once they get their fix for the day, their two favorite spots are on your lap or perched high on the back of the sofa so that they can quietly keep an eye on things. Does this behavior sound similar to a cat? That may explain why Tibbies are one of the dog breeds that get along with cats.
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A mountain dog breed known for heroic rescues is presumably calm and collected, but those traits aren’t necessarily a given, Nativo says. “If you have an adult St. Bernard, who’s been well-trained, well-bred, well-socialized, and is getting their physical and emotional needs met, they’re generally going to be a lot more calm and relaxed inside the house.” Generally, St. Bernards are well known for being patient, peaceful, and gentle. They have a great time spending time with their humans, especially when they have a job to do. “St. Bernard’s were also bred to pull, so you might want to think about giving the dog a jog or having them pull a cart, or going for a walk with a backpack,” recommends Nativo.
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Your family will have to draw straws for who gets to cuddle and snuggle this adorable smushed-face muzzle. And the pug is so easy-going it won’t play favorites—just as long as someone is lavishing attention on it. Yet they’re not just selfishly soaking up long cuddle sessions all day. Calm dog breeds like the pug, still like to be the center of attention once in a while and entertain the family with their playful and happy-go-lucky antics.” The Pug has a proven track record of being calm, well-adjusted, and easy-going family pup,” says Demling-Riley. “It needs minimal exercise, loves kids, quickly turns strangers into friends, and thrives in a variety of environments from small apartments to larger properties,” says Demling-Riley.
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Dubbed the nanny dog, you won’t find a more devoted and empathetic fan of your kids. This is great because as a parent, there are times when you’re certainly not a fan of your kid’s behavior. “Newfies are 100-plus pounds of fur and drool, but people who are fans of the breed love the affectionate and good-natured temperament of these dogs. They love kids and are easy to train,” says Demling-Riley. You might think their larger-than-life size equates to being a watchdog, but they lean more toward the “guard and protect” side and keeping a vigilant eye on the kids. They’re also excellent swimmers and renowned for their lifesaving skills of pulling people out of the water to safety.
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Calm dog breeds and dogs from the terrier group, generally don’t go hand-in-hand, but this one does. Pronounced “Beaver,” this adorable little nugget looks more like a Yorkie than a beaver. At just under a foot tall and around 8 pounds, the mellow pooch is ultra-portable, with the sweetest disposition that just melts your heart. Though they look super dainty, they are actually quite athletic and an energetic walker, hiker, or competitor in the agility ring. “They are always willing to please and are very trainable,” says veterinarian Marthina “Marty” Greer, DVM., member of the Independent Veterinary Practitioners Association and co-owner and medical director of Veterinary Village in Lomira, Wisconsin. Another bonus, they’ll be a loyal part of your family with a life expectancy of around 16 years. Here more lovable dogs with long life spans.
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We’re not sure what’s more swoon-worthy—the bulldog’s distinctive swagger from the stout and stocky body, or the (mostly) delightful snoring that emits from its cute smooshed-in nose. “The English bulldog is a delightful companion for the family that does not want the demands of an athletic or hyperactive dog after a long day at work. They tend to be relatively calm, hanging out under the dining room table,” says Dr. Greer. They might not seem like lap dog material with their 50-pound muscular physique, but that won’t stop them from trying to be a lapdog. While the bulldog’s smooshed-in snout is adorable, it can make it more challenging for them to stay cool in hot weather and raise the risk of heatstroke.
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Cavalier King Charles spaniel
If there’s one thing your family will agree on, it’s the irresistibly cute face and sweet demeanor of the Cavalier King Charles spaniel. Just one look into those big dreamy eyes, and you’re cooked. “Most dogs of this breed are quiet, gentle, love people, and get along with other dogs, ” says Dr. Greer. They fit right in with active families or homebodies. If they had a doggy profile, it would read, “I’m happy when you’re happy and content with whatever the family wants to do. We can curl up and watch TV, or I’ll be your silent co-worker while you’re on Zoom. Or if you prefer, I’m ready to rock and roll with the best of them and chase some balls in the yard.”
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Both the Cardigan Welsh Corgi and the Pembroke Welsh Corgi are two calm dog breeds that share similar characteristics. The two most important—they love people and happiest when spending time with their people. And you won’t find another dog with a unique physique like the Corgi. “Some people have described the Corgi as a dog who looks like they were put together by a committee in the dark’—that is, their parts and pieces just don’t quite match,” says Dr. Greer. While it’s true they do have short legs, what they do match is a family who is searching for a friendly homebody who likes to chill and play inside the house. They’ll play hide and seek with the kids, but don’t be surprised if the Corgi sneaks up on the seeker first. “As a corgi breeder for 30 plus years, we have enjoyed their quiet nature and keen sense of humor,” says Dr. Greer. The Pembroke and Cardigan look very similar, but the Cardigan has a low-set bushy tail while the Pembroke has a docked tail.
“The Great Pyrenees is indeed great. They are a massive (about 100 pounds) but gentle dog,” says Dr. Greer. Its zen-like manner and lush coat are better than any teddy bear, so don’t be surprised if the kids fight over whose room it sleeps in. Dr. Greer says they can be a bit stubborn at times, but we’ll give them a pass on that. After all, they are a devoted guardian of the family. “They tend to be a laid-back dog that is quiet and not very active when in the home. They are great with kids but due to their size, need to be closely supervised to prevent their sheer mass from overwhelming children,” says Dr. Greer.
If your family is looking for a small, sweet, fluffy, cuddly breed with a less-than-stellar athletic prowess, then the Pekingese might be the perfect match for you. “The Pekingnese is a quiet dog that does not require much activity or exercise,” says Dr. Greer. They have a shorter muzzle, so when they exert themselves too much, they could have a more challenging time breathing, so they’re naturally geared to be more sedentary. “This dog makes a great companion for a quiet family but is rarely active enough to be a performance dog, in activities such as agility or obedience,” says Dr. Greer. And don’t let their long coat scare you off; it can be kept shorter for easier maintenance. These are the most irresistible short-haired dogs.
Adjectives like playful and alert might not seem to fit into the calm dog breeds category, but the Havanese bestows a healthy balance of mellow and playful. This happy and delightful toy breed is so outgoing and affectionate that they are often used as therapy dogs. “All of the Havanese I have met have been wonderful and playful but not too much for a typical family, says certified professional dog trainer Nick Hof of Paws, Look, Listen. Like any dog, they need some form of physical activity every day, but it can be a leisurely walk or playtime inside.
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With a sniffer second only to the bloodhound, the Basset hound might occasionally ignore the family if it hits on a scent worth investigating. Still, a family can take it in stride and consider it a fun adventure of discovery. “They tend to be lower energy than others and love to follow a smell to their heart’s content. This can sometimes make them be considered stubborn or hard-headed, but in the right home, they can be a wonderful member of the family,” says Hof. The right home, Hof says, is one where its characteristics of being patient, loyal, low-key, and sometimes stubborn are expected and appreciated. After all, it’s not that difficult to accept the Basset hounds’ tendency to be a bit bullheaded when it’s so lovable and charming.
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Here’s another exception to the rule when it comes to calm dog breeds of the terrier group. “Terriers as a whole tend to have a love of energy and tenacity, but the Border Terrier in my experience can be less intense while still having that bouncy energy that many terrier owners enjoy,” says Hof. This adorable scruffy, and sturdy terrier isn’t as stubborn or independent as some of his terrier relatives and is pretty mellow and affectionate in the home. When it’s playtime outside, you might see the hallmark terrier traits of hunting as they might turn from playtime with the kids if they see a squirrel scurrying up the tree. Dogs of all temperaments make better family members with training and socialization. Here’s how to find the best dog obedience school.
We’re not exaggerating when we say the Leonberger is huge—like, even bigger than the Newfoundland. When you welcome a Leonberger into your family, you’re getting a gentle giant that weighs as much (or more) than an adult. Females weigh about 140 pounds, while males can weigh up to 170 pounds. Everything is super-sized on one of the largest calm dog breeds there is. There’s the big ole heart that loves everyone—and that includes people, other dogs, and animals. Not to mention the tremendous amount of patience and heaps of affection and devoted companionship it readily gives. “I find Leonbergers to be relatively mellow and calm family dogs. I’ve had the pleasure of working with many of them in loving families and see all the love they bring,” says Hof. If the glowing attributes of the Leonberger aren’t enough, here are more benefits of having big dogs.
- AKC Breed Temperament Guide
- Colleen Demling-Riley, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA, CDBC, Dog Behaviorist for Dogtopia
- Laura Nativo, CPDT-KA, KPACTP, a certified dog trainer advisor for DOGTV
- Marthina “Marty” Greer, DVM., member of the Independent Veterinary Practitioners Association and co-owner and medical director of Veterinary Village in Lomira, Wisconsin
- Nick Hof, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA, KPA-CTP, CSAT, professional certified dog trainer and owner of Paws, Look, Listen