The Best Temperament Dog Breeds

Dogs with the best temperaments have several things in common, even though they vary in size and appearance. They aim to please their person, and enjoy people in general. While there's a wide selection of well-tempered dog breeds to choose from, decide which canine fits your lifestyle. The best breeds for suburban and country life might not do as well in cities. An active person likely will prefer a different breed than an individual who is primarily a couch potato.

Father And Son Sitting With Dog On Straw Bales
A young boy and father petting their golden retriever.
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Labrador Retriever

Dog sitting in snow
A labrador retriever sitting in the snow.
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There's a reason the Labrador retriever consistently ranks first in the annual number of American Kennel Club registrations. Labs are "active, friendly and outgoing," according to the AKC breed description. That, and their easy trainability, makes them the dog of choice as service and guide dogs. Although the Lab boasts an outstanding temperament, he's not perfect. The AKC's not kidding about the "active" part, and many Labs don't settle down under the age of 5 or so. Whether black, chocolate or yellow, the Lab is quite the shedder. If you bring a Lab home, invest in a good vacuum cleaner.

The Golden Retriever

Golden Retrievers playing tug-of-war with toy in garden close-up
Two golden retrievers playing.
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As of 2015, the golden retriever ranks third in the AKC's registration list. The golden shares many qualities with the Lab, including a good temperament. However, while active, he's not quite as high energy as his Labrador buddies. He makes an excellent family dog, as he's good with kids and other pets. One downside: Goldens suffer from a high rate of cancer. To avoid potential heartbreak, purchase a puppy from a reputable breeder who screens breeding dogs for the disease.

The Beagle

Beagle Puppy Sitting on Woman's Lap
A beagle puppy is sitting on a womans lap.
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Good natured and happy-go-lucky, the beagle makes a fine companion. Always one of the AKC's top 10 breeds, this smaller sporting breed gets along with cats and other dogs, and adores kids. No matter how much your beagle loves you, keep in mind that he's ruled by his nose. Letting him off-leash is always an iffy proposition, even if he's well-trained. A good scent will start him trailing after it.

The Bulldog

Cute happy english bulldog dog puppies playing outdoors
Two bulldog puppies running in the grass.
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If hanging out with your dog while watching TV is far more appealing than regularly taking a high energy canine on long walks, the bulldog is the pet for you. These wrinkly dogs don't need much exercise and don't have excess energy. They do have calm, friendly dispositions and love to please. Unlike many other dogs, the bulldog is generally good with very small children. The breed doesn't do well in hot weather, and should spend most of the summer months in an air-conditioned home.

The Collie

Boarder collie dog playing
Collie running across grass field.
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"Lassie" didn't become a superstar by accident. Common collie qualities -- intelligence, devotion, friendliness -- are complemented by the dog's trainability and desire to please. Although your collie might not single-pawedly rescue you from danger like that famous TV collie, he's brave and might have the ability to read your moods. Of course, that hair does require regular grooming, but you're rewarded with a beautiful dog.

The Irish Setter

Irish Setter looking
An irish setter is standing in a field.
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If you want a running or biking companion with a great temperament, the Irish setter could fill the bill. This large dog with the lovely red hair is friendly, active and loves to play. That playful nature doesn't mean he's not easily trained. This affectionate dog makes an exceptional playmate for active kids.