These Calm Dog Breeds Are the Perfect Laid-Back Companions
It’s hard to imagine yearning for more chaos, which is why, if you’re thinking of adding a pup to your family, picking a calm breed has never sounded like a better idea. Yes, the exuberance of an energetic breed can be joy-inducing. Cleaning up the vase he shattered with his hyperactive tail? Definitely less so.
“For dogs, breeds are hard-wired to have the temperament of the breed,” says Mary Burch, Ph.D., who helped developed the American Kennel Club’s Canine Temperament Test. Dr. Burch is based in Tallahassee, and is a certified applied animal behaviorist with the American Kennel Club. While you can likely work with a trainer to deal with specific behaviors you don’t love your dog performing, you can’t change a dog’s whole temperament.
Of course, dogs, like humans, are individuals. So, while some breeds may be known for their active natures, there may be some exceptions within that breed, says Marissa Sunny, a certified professional dog trainer with Best Friends Animal Society, which runs a large shelter facility in Atlanta. “The best thing to do when looking for a dog with a specific temperament is to talk to the people that know that dog best,” she says.
If calmness is your top priority, Sunny suggests avoiding working breeds or mutts that trace back to working breeds—like huskies and sheepdogs. If a dog was bred to work, it is probably not going to be happy snoozing on your sofa all day.
Another essential thing to remember is that, while breeding can significantly influence temperament, so can age. “Adopting a senior dog is a win-win because seniors are often passed over in a shelter, but they are typically more relaxed, have good manners, and reintegrate to a new family quicker,” says Sunny.
For a dog that’s most interested in naps, snuggles, and the occasional meandering walk, seek out one of these super chill breeds.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
This adorable, toy-sized breed is known for its adaptability. If its owner is active, it will gamely march along on hikes or go fetch. If its family is more into lounging, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are happy to chill. Dr. Burch describes these pups as “friendly, affectionate, sweet and gentle,” making them a perfect family dog.
One only needs to look at those short legs and heavy-set bodies to realize this dog was not designed to set speed records. And, Bassets seem to know it. Happy to plod along on slow walks or just nap in the sun, the only time you’ll ever see them in a full sprint is when a rogue hot dog hits the floor. As a bonus, they’re known for being exceedingly patient and loyal, says Dr. Burch. And what mortal can resist those ears?
Don’t be fooled by their streamlined torsos and racing pedigree. Greyhounds are a surprisingly lazy breed despite their swift history, says Dr. Burch. She adds that greyhounds are known to be gentle, sweet-tempered, and affectionate, which makes them ideal family dogs. According to the American Kennel Club, however, greyhounds can require more dog food than many breeds their size, so know you’ll be buying kibble in bulk.
If you can’t stand barking, the French bulldog may be a great choice, since, according to the American Kennel Club, they aren’t big yappers (snorting is another matter). Short, sweet, and full of luscious rolls to smoosh your face into, French bulldogs are known for their even temperament and low energy levels, says Dr. Burch.
If you’ve never heard of this breed, you’re not alone. The AKC lists the Clumber Spaniel as “very rare” even in England, where the breed likely originates. Low to the ground but built solidly, these were once hunting dogs. Now, however, they’re mostly content to hunt for crumbs in the kitchen. Dr. Burch describes the Clumber Spaniel as, “a sporting dog that is gentle, affectionate, and has a desire to please.”
A dog with wolf right there in the name doesn’t seem like a promising candidate for a mellowest dogs roundup. And, indeed, the breed historically was known for its capacity to hunt big game. However, over the years, selective breeding has led to a creature that is more serene than severe. In fact, the American Kennel Club doesn’t even recommend Irish wolfhounds as guard dogs. While their size may intimidate, anyone who breeches your premises may end up getting hit up for pats rather than being viciously attacked.
Is there a more happy-go-lucky creature than a pug? All wiggles, snorts, and snuggles, pugs tend toward being low-key. While, technically, yes, pugs can get wound up and want to play, those bouts of energy never last very long—and then it's back to napping. Dr. Burch describes pugs as being the perfect mix of even-tempered, playful, and loving. They’re great family dogs and ideal for apartment living.
These stout pups naturally tend towards wanting to lounge around all day. If you’re looking for a calm dog, that’s an attribute. However, it’s important not to give in to a bulldog’s natural lazy tendencies. According to the American Kennel Club, bulldogs can quickly become overweight if you don’t keep them active, so you’ll need to keep yours moving. Still, Dr. Burch says they have steady and kind temperaments, making them great family pets.
This is one breed that bucks the “working breeds tend not to be calm” trend. Technically, Saint Bernards were bred for locating and rescuing lost souls in the snowy Alps. However, they have also become legendary for their gentleness with children—now that we have snowmobiles and rescue squads for their original task. Because Saint Bernards can be quite large, you do, of course, need to watch them around kids (like any dog). However, they are lovable, kind, and surprisingly unflappable in the face of kid-created chaos.