The 8 Gentlest Dog Breeds

When you’re ready to add a laid-back, laid-back rescue pup to your family then you probably have a million questions on your mind. In general, what are the gentlest breeds of rescue dogs? The pedigree is just one thing to consider when adopting your new canine buddy.

About gentle dog breeds

“It’s important to remember that there is no guarantee that a particular breed will be completely gentle,” Blake Pilgreen, owner and head trainer at The Prodigal Pooch Dog Training, told Romper. “Some of the breeds that tend to be gentler are Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Poodles, or Poodle mixes. Pugs and French bulldogs are usually very cute too. ”But even if you are tuned into a particular breed of dog, keep in mind that they are all individuals. “Dog breeds have so many different variables. It can be difficult to isolate a particular breed based on its temperament, ”Thomas Davis, founder of America’s Canine Academy, told Romper. “Golden Retrievers can make great family dogs, but you can also have a not-so-gentle, intrusive Golden Retriever.”

Learn more about rescue dogs

In most cases, it is advisable to stay open-minded with rescue dogs. “While it is possible to find purebred or ‘designer breed’ dogs in a shelter, it is important to remember that all dogs, even within a particular breed, regardless of breed are individuals with their own unique personality and disposition and there is wide variation both between races and within a race, “Pamela Reid, Ph.D., vice president of the ASPCA Behavioral Sciences team, told Romper. The apparent breed of the dog is only part of the package. “All rescue dogs are individuals and their behavior or ‘personality’ is a cumulative result of all of their experiences, including: socialization as a puppy, experiences with their previous family or families, behavioral response to reintegration, and any underlying behavioral or medical problems you might have suffer, “Katie Kuehl, DVM, an animal shelter medicine clinical instructor at Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine, told Romper.

Mixed breed dogs

“It’s really hard to identify a breed of dog by appearance alone in shelter dogs, unless the dog is truly thoroughbred,” says Kayla Fratt, certified canine behaviorist with Journey Dog Training, to Romper. If you open up your search to mixed breed dogs, you certainly have more options. If you are open to a dog from any background as long as they are gentle then you definitely rely on the shelter staff. “Open your mind and heart by giving the adoption counselors at your local animal shelter the opportunity to use their knowledge of their resident animals to provide you with a great match regardless of breed,” says Reid. The adorable puppies are easy to get attracted to, but don’t rule out the older pooches either. In general, older or older dogs have a more established personality and energy level compared to puppies, as Reid explains. Finally, size can also be an important factor. “Bigger dogs tend to be calmer than smaller ones,” says Reid. A gentle, gentle giant from a dog who is a few years old could be just the thing for your family.

How to choose a rescue dog for your family

What characteristics should you look out for in individual rescue dogs? “I would recommend looking at the dog’s specific history, the shelter staff’s assessment, and what you observe with the dog for yourself rather than placing your hopes on a mix of breeds,” says Fratt. “Again, unless the dog is a thoroughbred, it’s SO hard to tell the breed by appearance.”

Also, keep in mind that getting to know your new pooch’s personality can take some time. “It is important to spend time with an animal outside of a kennel; the opportunity to take it for a walk or play in the yard will help you get to know it better, ”says Kuehl. At first, a dog can seem nervous just because he’s excited about getting out of the kennel for a minute. It may take a while for your true personality to emerge. Again, it’s a good idea to rely on information from the shelter staff or the dog’s foster family to get a better idea.

And with that mention, you should also consider dogs that will be living with a foster family while awaiting adoption. “Sometimes this helps the foster family learn more about the dog that can be shared with a future family. This can include interactions with children or different species, ”Erin Askeland, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA, Animal Health and Behavioral Advisor at Camp Bow Wow, told Romper.

With that in mind, if you’re still in love with a specific breed of dog that is known to be a sweetheart, it’s totally cool. “If you’re interested in a specific breed of dog and couldn’t find one for adoption at a local animal shelter or rescue group, contact a breed-specific rescue team,” Reid says. “By adopting, you not only save a life, but you also ensure that your money supports those who put the health and welfare of dogs first, while also making room for other animals in need.” Here are a few breeds that might be worth considering. By working with your shelter staff and staying open-minded, you can find that cool, carefree pooch that fits right into your home.



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With their big, soulful eyes, these dogs are more than adorable. Additionally, Beagles are “loving and lovable, happy and sociable – all traits that make them excellent family dogs,” according to the American Kennel Club (AKC). These dogs would probably love to join your pack. Look for an organization near you like SOS (Save Our Snoopies) Beagle Rescue to find your new buddy.


Golden retriever

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If you’ve dreamed of owning a golden retriever since seeing Homeward Bound or Air Bud as a kid, these dogs can make excellent companions. However, make sure that you are ready to take on the task of adding a big, strong dog to your family. “They need plenty of exercise and socialization with other dogs and people, but most of all they need time to help them find a safe place in the family pack,” said the Delaware Valley Golden Retriever Rescue. When you have the time and space for one, golden retrievers are amazing additions to your family.



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Known as a smart, athletic dog, Poodles are great dogs who tend to respond well to training, as the AKC’s breed standard explains. “Poodles are naturally sociable, so they can bond with multiple people. Most rescued poodles adapt beautifully to new circumstances, ”says the Poodle Club of America Rescue Foundation, Inc. From the stately standard poodle to the tiny toy size, there is a poodle for almost every family.


German Mastiff

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Don’t be intimidated by her (extreme) size. “Great Danes can be remarkably gentle,” according to the Rocky Mountain Great Dane Rescue. “Many Danes share their homes with small dogs and cats. Great Danes have a well-deserved reputation for being great with children and sometimes working as therapy dogs.” They tend to be cute and even sensitive dogs.


Shih Tzu

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If smaller dogs are more of your speed, then consider the sociable Shih Tzu. A total lap dog, the “Shih Tzu is known to be especially loving with children,” according to the AKC. As long as you are ready to care for this long haired dog, the Shih Tzu can be an amazing addition to your family.

Whether you’re looking for a gentle giant, little buddy, or something in between, there is a rescue breed out there to suit your home environment. As long as you are careful to get to know the dog as an individual as well, finding your ideal gentle rescue dog is absolutely doable.


Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retrievers, one of the most popular dog breeds in the United States, can make excellent family dogs, but are more likely to be active, according to Lab Rescue LRCP. If you’re looking for an energetic dog, look for a lab rescue near you.



Among the oldest dog breeds, pugs are known to be affectionate and generally good with children, according to the AKC. However, their pronounced flat appearance means that pugs can have breathing problems, so be aware of these particular health concerns.


French bulldog

French Bulldogs, a small but sturdy dog, can be loving additions to your family, according to the AKC. (Just know, they don’t swim well and shouldn’t be left unattended near water.) These playful dogs generally don’t bark as much, either.

Whether you’re looking for a gentle giant, little buddy, or something in between, there is a rescue breed out there to suit your home environment. As long as you are careful to get to know the dog as an individual as well, finding your ideal gentle rescue dog is absolutely doable.


Katie Kuehl, DVM, Clinical Instructor in Shelter Medicine at Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine

Pamela Reid, PhD, CAAB, Vice President of the ASPCA Behavioral Sciences Team

Kayla Fratt, Certified Canine Behavioral Consultant at Journey Dog Training

Blake Pilgreen, owner and head trainer, The Prodigal Pooch Dog Training

Thomas Davis, founder of the American Canine Academy

Erin Askeland, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA, Animal Health and Behavioral Advisor at Camp Bow Wow

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