Choosing a dog is a serious endeavor, requiring research, self-reflection and, if possible, meeting different types of dogs. If you are looking at breeds known for their sweetness and gentleness, remember that each puppy or dog has a unique personality. Almost all puppies can become wonderful companions, no matter what breed or mix of breeds they happen to be, as long as they are properly socialized with people and other animals. A friendly, gentle adult dog may be a good choice, because you can get a good sense of her temperament before you decide to bring her home.
The fluffy, white Bichon Frise possesses a "merry temperament," the American Kennel Club notes. These small, sweet dogs are curious, alert and eager to be with their people. Bichons love children and enjoy playing with them, running around indoors and outside, and cuddling with them at bedtime. A Bichon Frise's desire to please, combined with his intelligence and agility, gives him the ability to learn complex tricks, which he will demonstrate to anyone who wants to be entertained.
Both American and English cocker spaniels display cheerful, sweet and playful dispositions. Sensitive and gentle, they form deep bonds with family members and love accompanying their people on outings or spending time at home. The cocker spaniel's good-humored nature makes it a loyal, loving family dog, playful with children and easy to train.
Gentle, easy-going dogs, English setters get along with children, family members, people they meet and other animals. The English setter's friendliness and sweet nature makes the breed an outstanding family dog. Companionship of people and other animals is essential to an English setter's happiness, and they prefer to be with their people at all times. English setters have been described as having a sweet, soft, soulful personality, as well as a clownish side. They are excellent therapy dogs and do well visiting patients, the elderly and children in hospitals, senior homes and special schools.
Bernese Mountain Dog
While sensitive and devoted to their families, Bernese mountain dogs can be somewhat shy, though polite, with people they do not know. They are sweet, playful and patient with children, even those climbing on them. When they are not playing, they enjoy quiet time with the family and have been known to attempt to sit in people's laps despite their enormous size. Bernese mountain dogs are energetic puppies for a long time, but they eventually become calm, easy-going members of the family.
The basset hound's positive traits -- affectionate, sweet-natured, mellow and loyal -- make them excellent family dogs. They get along well with people and other animals, enjoy playing with children and are also happy to relax beside or on the lap of anyone in their family. The basset hound is typically one of the most easy-going dog breeds, although most do have a stubborn streak, especially evident on walks when they want to go in a different direction than the one you have chosen or when they simply stop walking and lie down. Bassets love their families, can be very amusing and enjoy making people laugh.
Lively, curious and friendly, these small dogs are intelligent and eager to please, so they learn quickly and love being the center of attention. Havanese enjoy entertaining people and delight in getting reactions from family members and strangers. They have a sweet disposition and establish strong bonds with the people they live with. Havanese are affectionate with everyone they meet, including adults, children of all ages and other animals. They do not like being left behind when the family goes out and are happiest when they are invited to go everywhere with their people. Fortunately, Havanese are well-behaved and good travelers, so they make excellent companions at home and on outings or vacations.
By Maura Wolf
DogTime: Finding a Puppy - Picking the Right Breed of Dog
AKC: Get to Know the Bichon Frise
PetWave: English Cocker Spaniel - Temperament & Personality
Animal Planet: Dog Breed Selector - English Setter
English Setter Association of America: English Setters 101: English Setter Owner's Guide AKC Gazette: English Setters Animal Planet: Dog Breed Selector - Bernese Mountain Dog Guide
Animal Planet: Dog Breed Selector - Basset Hound Guide
VetInfo: What Breeds Make Good House Dogs? AKC: Get to Know the Havanese