17 Calm Dog Breeds with Easygoing Personalities
These adorable and lovable calm dog breeds fit right in with singles, couples or families who are looking for a mellow and chill furry family member
When it comes to calm dog breeds, our list includes low-maintenance dogs, lazy dog breeds and the best apartment dogs. Of course, we didn’t forget about large dog breeds that, despite their size, love to plop down on the floor or sprawl out across your body like a lap dog. These calm dog breeds might enjoy a game of fetch with kids in the backyard or be more inclined to let someone else fetch something—like their yummy treat. Some dogs don’t shed much, while others may need regular brushing, but what they all have in common is a mellow attitude that suits families.
The calmest dog breeds you’ll want to bring home
Some breeds are active or lazy by nature, according to what they were bred to do. “Herding dogs had to constantly be ready to gather and push livestock endlessly, so they tend to be bundles of activity,” says dog breed expert Caroline Coile, PhD. “Terriers are by nature very active, probably because they had to be quick and alert to find and dispatch rats and other vermin. On the other hand, livestock guardians tend to be very laid back, as their job was just to hang out with the flock until trouble arose. And there’s something to the expression ‘lazy ol’ hound dog,’ because many hounds like to just sleep unless they’re hunting.”
We spoke with four dog behavior experts, including a veterinarian and professional dog trainers, for recommendations on the calmest dog breeds. But regardless of breed, it’s important to note that all dogs are individuals, and training and socialization are essential for families and dogs to live happily ever after.
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About the experts
Reviewed for accuracy by: Caroline Coile, PhD, an award-winning journalist specializing in canine breeds, health and science. She’s the author of 34 books, including Barron’s Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds.
English cocker spaniel
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You might not think that an English cocker spaniel that is bred to flush and retrieve game birds would be content being inside and curled up next to the family, but it is. That’s not to say it won’t be excited to go for an inquisitive walk or retrieve stuffed toy ducks in the yard, but this sporting breed has the “work hard, play hard” mantra nailed.
“English cocker spaniels have a happy, wagging tail that rarely stops. They love to love,” says Colleen Demling-Riley, founder of Pawtopia Dog Training. English cocker spaniels are a calm dog breed and are eager to please and easy to train. When you’re snuggled up close and petting them, don’t be surprised if they nuzzle you or lick your face as a gentle reminder to keep going.
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“Whippets adore their family, are kid tolerant and rarely meet a person they don’t adore,” says Demling-Riley. That includes winning the hearts of judges at the AKC National Championship Dog Show, where siblings “Bourbon” and “Whiskey” won Best in Show in 2018 and 2020, respectively—a feat no other littermates of any breed have ever achieved.
“With proper exercise, whippets love spending the day as couch potatoes. Whippets are born to run (they’re one of the fastest dog breeds, after all), so having an enclosed area where they can stretch their legs is ideal,” says Demling-Riley.
They make for good playmates for the kids, because they can tire each other out. And they’re not known for being barkers, but they do have a high prey drive. “Like all sighthounds—that is, swift hounds that chase down their quarry—whippets like to chase anything that moves, and that can include other family pets, so they should be raised with or carefully introduced to small animals in the household,” Coile advises.
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It’s no wonder the golden retriever is continually in the top 10 of most popular dog breeds. They are easy-going, affectionate and playful, but gentle with children, making them an ideal family dog.
“Their temperament often makes them great service and therapy dogs, and while they can be playful and have a lot of energy in their youth, a 4-year-old golden retriever that’s emotionally and physically satisfied is most likely going to be calmer than a puppy of the same breed,” says Laura Nativo, a certified dog trainer advisor for DOGTV.
Goldens love to learn and to retrieve, and a great way to expend their energy is with obedience, agility or fetch games. Because they’re eager to please, they also respond well to obedience training, making them one of the best dogs for first-time owners.
“Tibetan spaniels were originally bred to hang out with monks, so they become very connected to their people. They’re also smaller, which often makes them a bit easier to manage in comparison to other small dogs who are very athletic,” says Nativo.
That’s not to say that “Tibbies” are couch potatoes. Like most dogs, they like to whoop it up during playtime. Once they get their fix for the day, their two favorite spots are on your lap or perched high on the back of the sofa so they can quietly keep an eye on things.
Does this behavior sound similar to a cat? That may explain why Tibbies are one of the dog breeds that get along with cats.
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A mountain dog breed known for heroic rescues is presumably calm and collected, but those traits aren’t necessarily a given, Nativo says. “If you have an adult Saint Bernard, who’s been well trained, well bred, well socialized, and is getting their physical and emotional needs met, they’re generally going to be a lot more calm and relaxed inside the house.”
Generally, Saint Bernards are well known for being patient, peaceful and gentle. They enjoy spending time with their humans, especially when they have a job to do. “Saint Bernards were also bred to pull, so you might want to think about giving the dog a job, having them pull a cart or going for a walk with a backpack,” recommends Nativo. An important note: Saints love the cold but don’t handle heat well at all. They need to lounge indoors in air conditioning on hot days.
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Your family will have to draw straws for who gets to cuddle and snuggle this adorable smushed-face muzzle. And the pug is so easygoing it won’t play favorites—just as long as someone is lavishing attention on it. Yet they’re not just selfishly soaking up long cuddle sessions all day. Calm dog breeds like the pug still like to be the center of attention once in a while and entertain the family with their playful and happy-go-lucky antics.
“The pug has a proven track record of being a calm, well adjusted and easygoing family pup,” says Demling-Riley. “It needs minimal exercise, loves kids, quickly turns strangers into friends and thrives in a variety of environments, from small apartments to larger properties.”
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The Newfoundland is dubbed “the nanny dog,” and you won’t find a more devoted and empathetic fan of your kids. This is great, because as a parent, there are times when you’re certainly not a fan of your kid’s behavior.
“Newfies are 100-plus pounds of fur and drool, but people who are fans of the breed love the affectionate and good-natured temperament of these dogs. They love kids and are easy to train,” says Demling-Riley.
You might think their larger-than-life size equates to being a watchdog, but they lean more toward the “guard and protect” side and keeping a vigilant eye on the kids. They’re also excellent swimmers and renowned for their lifesaving skills and pulling people out of the water to safety.
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Calm dog breeds and dogs from the terrier group generally don’t go hand in hand, but this one does. Pronounced “Beaver,” this adorable little nugget looks more like a Yorkie than a beaver. At just under a foot tall and around eight pounds, the mellow pooch is ultra-portable, with the sweetest disposition that just melts your heart.
Though they look super dainty, they are actually quite athletic and an energetic walker, hiker or competitor in the agility ring. “They are always willing to please and are very trainable,” says veterinarian Marthina “Marty” Greer, DVM, co-owner and medical director of Veterinary Village in Lomira, Wisconsin. Another bonus, they’ll be a loyal part of your family, with a life expectancy of around 16 years.
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We’re not sure what’s more swoon-worthy: the bulldog’s distinctive swagger from its stout and stocky body, or the (mostly) delightful snoring that emits from its cute smooshed-in nose.
“The English bulldog is a delightful companion for the family that does not want the demands of an athletic or hyperactive dog after a long day at work. They tend to be relatively calm, hanging out under the dining room table,” says Dr. Greer.
They might not seem like lap-dog material with their 50-pound muscular physique, but that won’t stop them from trying to be a lapdog. And while the bulldog’s smooshed-in snout is adorable, it can make it more challenging for them to stay cool in hot weather and also raise the risk of heatstroke.
Cavalier King Charles spaniel
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If there’s one thing your family will agree on, it’s the irresistibly cute face and sweet demeanor of the Cavalier King Charles spaniel. Just one look into those big dreamy eyes, and you’re hooked.
“Most dogs of this breed are quiet, gentle, love people and get along with other dogs, ” says Dr. Greer. They fit right in with active families or homebodies.
If they had a doggy profile, it would read, “I’m happy when you’re happy and content with whatever the family wants to do. We can curl up and watch TV, or I’ll be your silent co-worker while you’re on Zoom. Or if you prefer, I’m ready to rock-and-roll with the best of them and chase some balls in the yard.”
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Both the Cardigan Welsh Corgi and the Pembroke Welsh Corgi are two calm dog breeds that share similar characteristics. The two most important: They love people, and they’re happiest when spending time with their people. And you won’t find another dog with a unique physique like the corgi.
“Some people have described the corgi as a dog that looks like they were put together by a committee in the dark—that is, their parts and pieces just don’t quite match,” says Dr. Greer.
While it’s true that they have short legs, what they do match is a family that is searching for a friendly homebody that likes to chill and play inside the house. They’ll play hide-and-seek with the kids, but don’t be surprised if the corgi sneaks up on the seeker first. “As a corgi breeder for 30-plus years, we have enjoyed their quiet nature and keen sense of humor,” says Dr. Greer.
The Pembroke and Cardigan look very similar, and most people just remember that the Pembroke is “the one without a tail.” But there are other differences as well: The less-popular Cardigan is bigger boned, has a long bushy tail, larger ears, comes in more colors and its front feet point out the sides. But both kinds of corgis are cute!
“The Great Pyrenees is indeed great. They are a massive (about 100 pounds) but gentle dog,” says Dr. Greer. Their zen-like manner and lush coat are better than any teddy bear, so don’t be surprised if the kids fight over whose room the family dog sleeps in.
Dr. Greer says they can be a bit stubborn at times, but we’ll give them a pass on that. After all, they are a devoted guardian of the family. “They tend to be a laid-back dog that is quiet and not very active when in the home. They are great with kids, but due to their size, need to be closely supervised to prevent their sheer mass from overwhelming children,” says Dr. Greer.
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If your family is looking for a small, sweet, fluffy, cuddly breed with less-than-stellar athletic prowess, then the Pekingese might be the perfect match for you.
“The Pekingese is a quiet dog that does not require much activity or exercise,” says Dr. Greer. They have a shorter muzzle, so when they exert themselves too much, they could have a more challenging time breathing, so they’re naturally geared to be more sedentary.
“This dog makes a great companion for a quiet family but is rarely active enough to be a performance dog, in activities such as agility or obedience,” says Dr. Greer. And don’t let their long coat scare you off; it can be kept shorter for easier maintenance.
Adjectives like “playful” and “alert” might not seem to fit into the “calm dog breeds” category, but the Havanese bestows a healthy balance of mellow and playful. This happy and delightful toy breed is so outgoing and affectionate that they are often used as therapy dogs.
“All the Havanese I have met have been wonderful and playful but not too much for a typical family,” says certified professional dog trainer Nick Hof of Paws, Look, Listen. Like any dog, they need some form of physical activity every day, but it can be a leisurely walk or playtime inside.
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With a sniffer second only to the bloodhound, the Basset hound might occasionally ignore the family if it hits on a scent worth investigating. Still, a family can take it in stride and consider it a fun adventure of discovery.
“They tend to be lower energy than others and love to follow a smell to their heart’s content. This can sometimes make them be considered stubborn or hard-headed, but in the right home, they can be a wonderful member of the family,” says Hof.
The right home, Hof says, is one where the Basset hound’s characteristics of being patient, loyal, low-key and sometimes stubborn are expected and appreciated. After all, it’s not that difficult to accept the Basset’s tendency to be a bit bullheaded when it’s otherwise so lovable and charming.
Here’s another exception to the rule when it comes to calm dog breeds of the terrier group. “Terriers as a whole tend to have a love of energy and tenacity, but the Border terrier, in my experience, can be less intense while still having that bouncy energy that many terrier owners enjoy,” says Hof.
This adorable, scruffy and sturdy terrier isn’t as stubborn or independent as some of his terrier relatives and is pretty mellow and affectionate in the home. When it’s playtime outside, you might see the hallmark terrier traits of hunting, as they might turn away from playing with the kids if they see a squirrel scurrying up a tree. Dogs of all temperaments make better family members with training and socialization.
We’re not exaggerating when we say the Leonberger is huge—like, even bigger than the Newfoundland. When you welcome a Leonberger into your family, you’re getting a gentle giant that weighs as much (or more) than an adult. Females weigh about 140 pounds, while males can weigh up to 170 pounds.
Everything is super-sized on one of the largest calm dog breeds there is. There’s the big ole heart that loves everyone—and that includes people, other dogs and animals. Not to mention the tremendous amount of patience and heaps of affection and devoted companionship it readily gives.
“I find Leonbergers to be relatively mellow and calm family dogs. I’ve had the pleasure of working with many of them in loving families and see all the love they bring,” says Hof.
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At Reader’s Digest, we’re committed to producing high-quality content by writers with expertise and experience in their field in consultation with relevant, qualified experts. For this piece, Lisa Marie Conklin tapped her experience covering pet behavior and training, and then Caroline Coile, PhD, an award-winning journalist specializing in canine breeds, health and science, gave it a rigorous review to ensure that all information is accurate and offers the best possible advice to readers. We verify all facts and data, back them with credible sourcing and revisit them over time to ensure they remain accurate and up to date. Read more about our team, our contributors and our editorial policies.
- Colleen Demling-Riley, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA, CDBC, founder of Pawtopia Dog Training; interviewed February 2022
- Laura Nativo, CPDT-KA, KPA-CTP, a certified dog trainer advisor for DOGTV and host of the TV series Dog Masters; interviewed February 2022
- Marthina “Marty” Greer, DVM, co-owner and medical director of Veterinary Village in Lomira, Wisconsin; interviewed February 2022
- Nick Hof, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA, KPA-CTP, CSAT, professional certified dog trainer and owner of Paws, Look, Listen; interviewed February 2022
- Caroline Coile, PhD, an award-winning journalist specializing in canine breeds, health and science. She’s the author of 34 books, including Barron’s Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds.
- American Kennel Club: “Breed Temperament Guide”