The 20 Happiest Dog Breeds

Who doesn’t love happy dogs? We know when they are happy because their body language and voices tell us so. They have different barks for different reasons, and they use their barks in intelligent ways. One of the best signals is when their bodies wag all over, and they “laugh” special dog barks when they play with us.

Though they have their own ways to communicate, they let us know they are content. They may gaze at us with relaxed eyelids and ears. Their tongues may loll out of their mouths so they look as if they are smiling at us. They may wag their tails with gusto or hold them high to let us know they are excited to be with us. They may play and bark happily, or they may simply roll over and show their bellies as the ultimate sign of happiness. Some will give us a great cuddle when they lean into us and let us hug or pet them. There’s no doubt that dog language helps humans to understand when our companions are happy. For the record, here’s a list of 20 of the happiest dog breeds, based on the experiences of the American Kennel Club.

1. Labrador Retriever

Listed as the most popular dog in America according to AKC records, the Lab always seems to have a smile. The breed is known for its friendliness, outgoing nature and welcoming expression. Labs enjoy playing with children and their owners. They are gentle and enjoy pleasing their masters. They are in high demand for their hunting talents when employed as narcotic detectors working with law enforcement officials. They also are excellent guide dogs as they are very loyal. They are active, with high spirits to match.

2. Bichon Frise

These cute little balls of fluff look much like cotton balls on legs. They are curious, cheerful and quite charismatic. At one time, they were owned by French royalty and regularly pampered. This makes them quite tolerant of attention. Many owners enjoy dressing their Bichon Frises with cute bows and sparkly bling, simply because the Bichon’s curly white coats pair well with so many different colors and styles. They are easily trained, and enjoy short periods of playtime paired with cuddle time. Their playful nature and curiosity is evident in their cute button eyes; which carry an inquisitive look.

3.Golden Retriever

Golden Retrievers love to work, and they are very intelligent. They are eager to please their owners, and will work side by side as search and rescue experts, assistance or guide dogs, and hunting companions. They enjoy having treats and lots of affection. They are devoted to their family members, and their wide-mouthed grins make them look like they are a little goofy. In fact, they will do most anything to receive love from their owners.

4. Italian Greyhound

The Italian Greyhound is quite small in comparison to other Greyhounds. He is very slender and just over twelve inches tall. But for all his small size, he is one of the most playful and affectionate of all dogs. IGs are alert, sensitive and active. It is thought that they were bred to hunt small game, or perhaps serve as companion dogs. Their combination of small size and coursing hound abilities allows them to do well with families both indoors and outside. They love to be inside with their owners just as much as they are happy when having a run in the countryside. Their wide, round eyes show their intelligence, and readiness for fun activities.

5. Beagle

In the United States, the Beagle is one of the most popular dogs. The AKC describes the Beagle has happy-go-lucky, merry, and friendly. They have a long breed history of living in packs-hundreds of years, in fact. For this reason, they are naturals when it comes to enjoying company. Their friendly nature also makes them excellent as family pets. They are best known for their hunting skills, and are often called to work for the United States Department of Agriculture sniffing out contraband items and foods carried across the borders into the United States. Beagles enjoy barking, and are curious. They do respond well to training, and need lots of exercise.

6.Great Dane

For owners who have the space required for great Danes to live well, these are among the most friendly, dependable and patient of all the dog breeds. They are often taller than their owners when they stand on their hind legs. Immediately recognizable, these gentle giants are extremely strong, but very easy-going. Though their faces often look as if they are sad, the opposite is the case. They are as eager to please their owners as some of the smaller breeds. They enjoy taking walks several times a day to stretch out their long legs, and their stride is elegant and smooth. Danes were originally bred to hunt fierce European boars, which were not only powerful but savage. Great Danes met the need, opposing the boars with powerful muscles and large size. Danes have a reputation for being laid-back, but their owners known that they also like to be busy and right next to their owners for all sorts of activities. They love their families, but their size also requires that they be supervised when playing with young children. They are truly gentle at heart and bond well with their families.

7. Brussels Griffon

With his human-like expressions and cheerful intelligence, the Brussels Griffon is well known for his affectionate disposition. Griffs loves to perform tricks when their owners have the time and ability to train them. They are capable of a wide variety of playful movements when trained. They are a loyal breed; curious and alert. Quite spunky, they enjoy taking long walks with their owners every day. They are easily trained and somewhat active. They do best with children and other dogs while under their master’s supervision, as their curious nature can often get them into trouble. They were originally one breed of many which were kept in horse stables because they were excellent at getting rid of rats. Coachmen customarily kept various types of small terriors as ratters during the early 1800s. The Griffs were the perfect size and temperament for this work. They are extremely clever, and will be very sad when kept away from their families, so welcoming them and including them in daily activities is a must.


8. Maltese

The Maltese have been companions to royalty for more than 28 centuries. They are depicted in artwork since the 5th century. The Greeks built tombs for these ancient dogs and there are countless numbers of paintings of them throughout history. Though they can be agile competitors in games, and are known as fearless, stubborn, and determined watchdogs, they also love to sit on laps and receive affection. They like nothing better than being the center of attention, but they also enjoy making new friends. They are gentle and playful, and this makes them charming members of any loving family. They are part of the toy class, with medium energy levels and smaller size. Part of their appeal is that they are covered from the tips of their head to their feet in silky, white, long hair. Their cute button noses and eyes are frequently and happily looking forward to the next cuddle or activity.

9. English Toy Spaniel

This breed is known for its merry personality. The English Toy Spaniel has chubby cheeks, soft dark eyes, and long soft ears. These three combined to attract plenty of affectionate cuddles. The breed is a true spaniel, with an active level of energy. The breed plays with curiosity, cavorting and alert, but able to be dignified and well-manner when not playing. Very good with children and other dogs, English Toys excel when given intelligent activities to share with their families. Their smaller size is perfect for living in small homes or apartments. They tend to be stubborn while training, but are generally easy going, making wonderful companion dogs for families with children. They are not fond of hot weather, and shouldn’t be left outdoors when the days are hot, but overall, they enjoy taking daily walks as long as they are confined to a leash to keep them contained.


Collies are wonderful companion dogs. They are graceful and known for their ability to herd and protect. Considered to be among the most elegant, they have long and beautiful coats which flow gracefully when they run. They are strong and fast dogs. They are also devoted and loyal to their owners. They are affectionate and responsive to love and training. They can run quickly, and tend to have a proud disposition. Though their exact origin remains unwritten, they are part of the history of great herding dogs in Scotland and the North of England. They have been companions for herding peoples for as long as Great Britain has existed. What makes Collies wonderful is that they are very intelligent. They are fond of being with children, and they do understand the moods of their humans. Their intelligence helps them to learn very quickly and easily. They don’t take much more than some gentle training to understand their roles. Throughout their history, they have been known as friendly and happy dogs who enjoy being with their families.

11. Bearded Collie

Beardies are often confused with Old English Sheepdogs. That’s because they have similar color, long and shaggy coats. But Beardies differ from the other breed in that they are leaner and more angular underneath their lavish coats. Their owners characterize their personalities as bouncy, friendly, charismatic and smart. Beardies are also energetic and boisterous. They love to exercise outdoors regardless of the weather, and this tendency to enjoy activity makes them very good with children and other active dogs. They have plenty of hair on their faces, but their expressions remain gentle and dreamy; as they are intelligent dogs. Beardies are happiest when they are busy. They were bred to be herding dogs for centuries, and they can be trained to excel in dog sports, as long as they are exposed early to many different experiences and people. The more they see and hear when they are young, the more easily they are trained. They are boisterous and enjoy activity more than anything else.

12. Bedlington Terrier

Bedlingtons look very much like lambs. They are English dogs with fleecy coats and long ears that end with fluffy tassels at the ends. It is thought that their slender and graceful build comes from an ancestor such as the Whippet. The curvy, athletic appearance is indicative of sighthound heritage. Bedlingtons are small and lithe. They stand about 15 inches tall, and when encouraged to pursue they have the sprinting speeds of coursing hounds. They are charming and fun-filled family members. They are also loyal to their owners and love nothing better than to have a rollicking good time. In history, they were famous as ratters and for drawing badgers out of hiding. Their name “Bedlington” is shared with the mining city located in Northumberland, England. Because they have natural instincts for hunting, they do very well in all kinds of dog sports and they need much exercise. They are not fussy, but have a gentle and mild spirit which makes their energy very good for companionship with children. They are happy and enjoy regular walks and playtimes to help keep them fit.

13. American Staffordshire Terrier

AmStaffs are good-natured and confident. They enjoy being challenged physically and mentally, because they are smart. They have courage which is often mentioned in stories shared about them. They thrive when they are given jobs to accomplish, and their athletic nature prompts them to enjoy participating in tracking, obedience, and agility skills. They have a reputation for being comedians, and they can be quite stubborn at times, which is very funny. They will easily respond with patient training, but it must be interesting, fun, firm and kind, or they may rebel. In the 18th and 19th centuries, AmStaffs were primarily bred to become baiting and fighting dogs. Sometimes, they were turned out in packs to attack a bear or a bull which was staked in one position. AmStaffs are part of the dog breeds expected to participate and win at blood sports for entertainment. But these spectacles have been outlawed, and AmStaffs now use their intellect and abilities within the realm of dog sports. Their wide-mouthed grins now endear them to their owners.

14. Irish Setter

These wonderful redheads are known for their high-spirited antics. They are one of the clowns of the work dogs as they enjoy playtime, fetching balls, and working days equally. They are outgoing and friendly pets who adore activities with an active family. They are originally from Ireland, where they traditionally helped hunters to find game. In the past, setters used their excellent sense of smell to find birds, and then would settle down on their bellies to show the hunters where to use their nets to capture the birds. Trained falcons often worked together with Irish setters. Their red coat helped hunters to see them from far away, and Irish setters run so readily that they could travel across the countryside easily and all day.

15.French Bulldog

This is a playful and affectionate breed, with amusing wrinkled faces and ears like bats. They are incredibly loyal to their families. They are smart and irresistible because they insist on pleasing their owners and being part of activities. They do well with brisk walks and they are very good with children. Though breed historians differ concerning their origins, it is almost certain that one important ancestor was the toy variety of English Bulldog. It is thought that the French Bulldog traces its ancestry to the 1860s in England. Frenchies are excellent at giving alerts when danger is present. They are cute and cuddly, but their nature is to take command of keeping things safe. However, they also like to spend their time warming laps. When young, they need lots of training to help them follow commands and become social, but once grown, they are faithful and will guard their homes and sleeping crates with loyalty. Outsiders view them as stubborn, but their families know that they happily work to please their masters. Food is their best training motivation, as they enjoy the pleasures of life quite readily.

16. Boston Terrier

This highly popular dog has earned the nickname the American Gentleman. It is known for its sweet and gentle nature and its high intelligence. Bostons are happiest when part of a family that adores them. They are exceedingly loyal and devoted companions. These compact little dogs have large, round, dark eyes and a short muzzle with a black button nose. They are famous for being adaptable to many circumstances, and for amusing their owners. They eagerly work to be friendly, and will wait for their owners to play with them. Favorite activities include chasing balls and flying discs.

17. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

This breed was named after King Charles II of Britain. It has been depicted for centuries in tapestries and paintings made for aristocratic families. The Cavalier has always been bred to be a companion, and for this reason the breed has a gentle and sweet nature. While the Cavalier will be trustworthy when playing with children, it enjoys spending its time with the entire family. The Cavalier is happy, affectionate, eager to please and graceful. Most enjoy having a good walk with their family each day. Owners adore their sparkling, inquisitive eyes and the way they love their families regardless of what they are doing.

18. Flat-Coated Retriever

The Flat-Coat makes a wonderful companion. He is a hunting dog by breeding, and excels with flushing and retrieving upland waterfowl and game. It’s his focus on his work that makes him determined, but he also brings his enthusiasm to family activities. He is cheerful, good-humored, optimistic and filled with zest for life. Flat-Coats, in general, are known for having tails which are always wagging, as their readiness for activities rarely stops.

19. Havanese

With origins in Cuba and the Caribbean, these sturdy little dogs are playful and enjoy dexterity games. Nothing makes them happier than snuggling in laps. They are some of the most gentle and peaceful dogs. Their intelligence makes them want to learn tricks, and they respond to food rewards readily when they have done something well. They crave companionship, and depend upon their owners for affection. In return, their playfulness comes with a happy nature and the ability to be very entertaining.

20.Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen

Vendéen refers to hounds from the area of La Vendée. So, the English translation would be “the little wirehaired hound from the French area of Vendée. The Griffon Vendéen was his powerful, and larger, ancestor which existed in the 16th century. This small hound often goes by the title PBGV, for short. The American Kennel Club describes them as energetic and full of enjoyment for life. They enjoy being with children and other dogs because they were bred to work together in packs. They are enormously cute, and their excited way of tackling activities is catching. That’s why the AKC ranks them among the happiest of dog breeds.

This small French hound is an ancient breed. Here’s the way to translate this hound’s French name into English:

  • Petit- little
  • Basset- hound
  • Griffon- wirehaired
  • Vendée- an area in the Loire region of France



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