A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

50 Cutest Dog Breeds You’ll Ever See

Updated: May 31, 2024

Prepare for cuteness overload! The cutest dog breeds will make you want to get a dog ASAP.

Woman in knitted sweater with her maltipoo poodle.
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Cute dogs to make you smile

Nothing can stop a social media scrolling spree quite like a puppy picture. What’s behind the magnetic pull that the cutest dog breeds have on us? Our affinity for cuteness is an evolved biological response, and it’s why we also ooh and aah over an adorable, defenseless baby. Not only do we light up inside when we see cute things, but it also compels us to want to take care of them, whether they’re humans or animals.

Here’s what’s fascinating about this phenomenon when it comes to dogs: A study found that puppies reach peak cuteness when they are about 8 weeks old, the same time mama dogs are ready to cut the ties and let the puppies fend for themselves.

“We look at these 8-week-old pups, and they melt our hearts, and we just feel compelled to care for them, and that guarantees their survival,” says behavioral scientist Clive Wynne, PhD, the study’s author and director of the Canine Science Collaboratory at Arizona State University. “It’s a beautiful symbiosis where what the dogs need and what we want blend and connect beautifully, so we have this lovely company, and they have greatly increased their chances of survival.” 

And that cuteness factor lingers. Once we’re smitten, we fall in love and consider a grown dog just as cute as it was as a puppy. But there’s more to dogs than good looks, so Reader’s Digest talked to canine behaviorists, a dog trainer and a veterinarian to get the goods on the most popular dog breeds when it comes to cuteness. 

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About the experts

  • Clive Wynne, PhD, is the author of Dog Is Lovea professor and the behavioral neuroscience and comparative psychology area head at Arizona State University, where he directs the Canine Science Collaboratory. Having long held a fascination with dogs and their wild relatives, he’s now the director of research at Wolf Park in Battle Ground, Indiana.
  • Jessica Apted, DVM, is a veterinarian who serves as the regional medical director of Sploot Veterinary Care. She extends her care to pets across all of Sploot’s clinics in Denver, particularly at Sploot Platt Park and Sploot 9+CO.
  • Renee Rhoades, MSc, is an award-winning, multicertified dog behaviorist with a master’s degree in animal welfare science and ethics. She founded R+Dogs, a virtual dog behavior consultancy. She also co-hosts Doglogical, a podcast about dog behavior.
  • Brad Phifer, CCPDT, is certified by the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers, where he serves as executive director. In his 17 years of experience, he has trained dogs of all breed types and temperaments.

brown labrador retriever is walking in high grass with dandelions
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Labrador retriever

The Labrador retriever is one of the most widely recognized dog breeds, and for good reason: These little dudes are known for being super friendly and easygoing. “Because they are so familiar to us, being around a Lab can feel like being with a good friend. You feel comfortable, light, and you always know that you’re going to have a good time,” says Renee Rhoades, an award-winning, multicertified canine behaviorist based in Elkton, Maryland, and the co-host of the Doglogical podcast. They’re fun, patient and tolerant, making them ideal dogs for families. The only dilemma is deciding which Labrador is the cutest: Will you go with black, yellow or chocolate? 

Portrait of an adult German shepherd dog in a garden.
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German shepherd dog

Known for its keen intelligence, high energy and loyalty, this German dog breed is absolutely striking and revered worldwide. After World War I, returning soldiers spoke so highly of this breed that its popularity exploded in the United States. Because they are wicked smart, German shepherds are often recruited for search-and-rescue operations and for work as police and military service dogs. “While [the dogs’] alert and suspicious demeanor can make them seem standoffish, German shepherd guardians know how sensitive and lovable this breed is behind closed doors,” says Rhoades.

Golden retriever lying on light floor

Golden retriever

If you relish the puppy stage and never want it to end, the golden retriever is for you. As one of the slowest breeds to mature, it’s a master of silly playfulness. Undeniably one of the cutest dog breeds, the golden retriever loves being social and becoming a real member of the family, so it will be much happier with you and not alone in the yard for hours on end. Looking for the perfect name to suit your fur baby? You can’t go wrong with Goldie, but for something less on the (wet dog) nose, browse the most popular names for every breed to find your pup’s pawfect moniker.

charming french bulldog puppy in summer on the green grass
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French bulldog

Look at those big, batlike ears! Is it any wonder this little cutie tops the list of the most popular dog breeds in America? Even its smooshed-in face is irresistible, though prospective owners should know that its short snout can cause breathing issues. The Frenchie is a brachycephalic breed, which means it has a flat face that can make breathing a little more laborious, especially in hot weather. But these dogs’ natural inclination to be couch potatoes suits their breathing condition, so they may not encounter issues. When they want to cool off and relax, they sploot, splaying their legs out behind them. And if you thought a French bulldog was the cutest thing you’ll ever see, just wait until you catch a splooting Frenchie. 

A young beagle dog lies on the floor. Pedigree dog. Home pet.
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Why do so many people consider the beagle one of the cutest dog breeds in existence? It may have to do with the fact that beagles retain their adorable puppy-like faces for most of their lives. Or maybe it’s because of those floppy ears. Their fun-loving personalities don’t hurt either. “Being a scent hound, the beagle can be quite myopic in its interests,” says Rhoades. “However, these dogs have quirky, fun personalities that come out when you get to know them.”

A desire to roam and explore is embedded in this breed’s genes, so a beagle will feel its best with a family that loves an active lifestyle and spends time outdoors. When you can’t be out and about with your four-legged pal, you can banish beagle boredom with doggy puzzles that will keep your pup entertained and happy.

Cute Poodle Sitting On The Sofa
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The fluffy and froufrou appearance of show poodles seems at odds with the breed’s original purpose: Poodles were bred to retrieve prey from the water. In fact, all of that glorious hair originally served to protect their joints from the cold water.

Speaking of that cute and curly coat: It doesn’t shed too much or produce too much dander, so a poodle is often a great companion for pet lovers with allergies who want a snuggle bug. That suits the poodle just fine—whether toy, miniature or standard size, a poodle will assume it’s a member of your family and prefer quality time with you. 

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The chonky cuteness of a “Rottie” face is undeniable. The breed’s stocky and muscular body screams guard dog, which it is, but when these dogs are “off duty,” they are very chill and affectionate with their human family. Interestingly, male Rottweilers have a harder time punching out, and they constantly watch for threats to their home and family. Females, on the other hand, tend to be a little more chill and more affectionate. Rottweilers require dedicated pet parents and consistent training from the start, so if you don’t have time to devote to this, you should adopt a lower-maintenance breed. Trust us, there are still plenty of cute dogs to choose from.

yorkie dog on the sofa
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Yorkshire terrier

Spunky and sassy, these cute little divas are viewed as pampered pets, but their origin is far from the penthouse set. They were initially bred to chase rats. (All terriers were bred to chase and kill something.) You probably won’t find them chasing rats anymore. Lap dog is their new role, and it is a skill Yorkies have mastered. They are affectionate and cuddly dogs, quite happy to sit pretty for as long as they see fit. That could be anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour, depending on whether a squirrel taunts them from outside the window. Once something catches their eye, Yorkies transform into vocal watchdogs with big attitudes.

Mastiff dog in a bed of colorful flowers
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The mastiff is one of the largest dog breeds, but it’s still cute as a button, despite its size. The droopy face is endearing, and the deep black eyes are soulful. Its mellow and affectionate personality only heightens its cuteness. That may be enough to offset the fact that mastiffs are gassy dogs. Oh, and they snore, drool and slobber—big time! This is not a breed for people who need a tidy household. On the plus side, mastiffs are gentle, intelligent and patient dogs that long to form strong bonds with their humans. They consider themselves bona fide family members and guardians, and they crave togetherness. Isolation or long periods of separation can cause anxiety or destructive behaviors.

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German shorthaired pointer

This breed’s hunting heritage means it loves tracking down furred or feathered prey, and you’ll know when it spots something like a rabbit. These dogs use their bodies and tails to point and lift one foot off the ground to signal that they have something in their sight. Even puppies that have never hunted are known to do this, and it’s downright adorable to see them acting all grown-up. But if hunting isn’t your bag, be prepared to meet your German shorthaired pointer’s exercise requirement by making your dog your new running or hiking partner—this high-energy pup won’t be satisfied with brief walks.

Boxer Dog standing in doorway at home
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Boxers are a lot like humans when it comes to maturity levels. When they’re puppies, they’re all about sowing their wild oats. They’re often dubbed “class clowns” and have seemingly endless amounts of energy to keep you in stitches—or aggravated when they go through the trash. If you can get past the rambunctious and mischievous puppy stage (which lasts around three years), your boxer will transform from the cutest puppy into a beautifully graceful and robust dog that’s dignified, calm and courageous. Maybe that’s why they were used in Germany for police training years ago. 

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Siberian husky

Go ahead, try to look away. Nah, forget it. Resistance is futile when your eyes land on this fluffy ball of cuteness. The Siberian husky is part of the spitz family, a breed of dogs with thick coats that shield them from the bitter cold, pricked-up ears and a wedge-shaped face. They love people and want to make friends everywhere they go. They might even strike up a conversation with you. That’s right: They don’t bark a ton, but they are chatty. They “talk” in the form of howling, grumbling and groaning. Don’t be surprised if you get a legit grumble when you ask a Siberian husky to do something it doesn’t want to do.

A Miniature Dachshund standing in long grass
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You don’t need a doorbell camera if you have a dachshund living in your home. “These little dogs generally have a lot to say about the world and are not afraid to let you [and everyone else] know,” says Rhoades. This breed is hyperaware of anything that moves outside and will bark nonstop to let you know. “While dachshunds can be vocal, they also generally have spirited, tenacious personalities that make having them around an absolute joy,” she says.

Don’t be fooled by their size, though. Just because they’re small doesn’t mean they’re content to stay indoors all day long. While dachshunds love indoor games, they still need the mental stimulation of outdoor scents and sounds, and they need physical activity to stay strong. 

big cute Great Dane outside in a grassy garden
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Great Dane

One of the tallest dog breeds at about 30 inches, the Great Dane tends to intimidate. But there is nothing scary about this gentle giant—except maybe its weight when it wants to sit on your lap. Yep, despite their size, Great Danes will nonchalantly plop down on you like you’re a human pet bed. It’s just more proof that giant dog breeds can be just as cute as their smaller canine cousins.

They come in an array of colors and patterns, from fawn and black-and-white to a distinguished brindle coat. If their size doesn’t deter intruders, their bark will. It’s a deep woof that sounds scary to strangers, but to families of Great Danes, it is the language of love and protection.

Happy and active purebred Welsh Corgi dog outdoors in the park on a sunny summer day.
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Pembroke Welsh corgi

There are plenty of features that earn the corgi its spot on our list of the cutest dog breeds, but none trump the adorableness of its little legs. A short stature is so integral to the breed that it’s part of the name: “The term corgi has Celtic roots, with cor meaning ‘dwarf’ and gi meaning ‘dog,'” says Jessica Apted, DVM, a veterinarian at Sploot Veterinary Care in Denver.

You may be familiar with corgis, but did you know there are actually two different breeds? The Cardigan Welsh corgi has a long tail, while the Pembroke Welsh corgi, a much newer breed, has a bobbed tail. The Pembroke is intelligent, happy and loving but has a streak of independence and stubbornness. Hailing from the herding category, these dogs sometimes take their role a little too seriously and can nip at your heels. But you’ll surely forgive them because their corgi “loaf” is irresistible.

Dog Elite Breed Doberman Sitting On The Footpath In The Park A Background Of Bushes
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Doberman pinscher

You may experience an entirely different scenario when walking a Doberman puppy versus an adult Doberman. The typical smiling and fawning associated with a puppy often disappear when your Dobie becomes an adult. It’s not that your Doberman has lost its good looks; it’s just that this breed boasts an intimidating presence because it’s in guard mode, protecting its family or home. But Dobermans also possess a very loving and sensitive side, though they require socialization at a young age to foster those qualities.

Portrait of and Australian Shepherd Dog
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Australian shepherd

With its piercing blue eyes and striking markings, the Aussie is a highly recognizable breed. We dare you to look at one of these cuties without smiling. (Fact: It’s impossible!)

Contrary to what you may assume based on its name, the Australian shepherd traces its ancestry to Europe, not Down Under. The mix-up happened centuries ago: California ranchers thought they were called Australian shepherds because they were associated with Basque shepherds who came to the United States from Australia in the 1800s. Misleading name aside, these pups are active and engaged pets. “They are highly intelligent and thrive on mental and physical engagement due to their working heritage,” says Dr. Apted. So set up that obstacle course in the backyard and watch this agile animal blaze through it.

Schnauzer stands in the grass
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Miniature schnauzer

There’s no denying the schnauzer’s trademark features, whether they’re on the 20-pound miniature version or the 85-pound giant variety. The arched eyebrows, distinguished beard and long mustache sometimes give off an aloof and pretentious vibe—and we’re here for it. The ‘stashe, while super cute, does have a purpose. Schnauzers were bred to chase vermin, and the mustache protected their face from attacks. Today, it’s just a cool feature that sets them apart at the dog park. Speaking of doggy hangout time: These pups won’t hesitate to “gossip” about the other dogs. Mini schnauzers love to bark, and they’ll whine to communicate about anything and everything.

Cavalier King Charles spaniel
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Cavalier King Charles spaniel

Commonly known as the “comforter spaniel,” this beautiful little dog with a heart of gold is an obvious choice for one of the sweetest dog breeds. As fast as you fall in love, a Cavalier King Charles spaniel does too. Their large, expressive eyes are the windows to their sensitive and empathetic souls. It’s no wonder they often serve as emotional support dogs.

But even therapists need a break for some “me” time. When they’re not comforting their humans, these pups like to go for walks or play with toys. Lovers of people and cat siblings alike, Cavalier King Charles spaniels prefer not to be alone, so a two-pet home or one with a stay-at-home owner would be ideal.

Cute Shi Tsu Dog At Home
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Shih Tzu

Shih Tzus are beloved for their adorable faces, furry mustaches and beards, and big eyes. They’re great roomies for homebodies because they’re not big fans of nature and like to stay inside. “Shih Tzus, while enjoying playtime, have relatively lower exercise requirements compared to some other breeds. Their needs can typically be met with short daily walks and indoor play sessions,” says dog trainer Brad Phifer, CCPDT, executive director of the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. If you run into someone on your trip around the block, your Shih Tzu may bark enthusiastically, but strangers shouldn’t worry. They’re not ankle biters, and they warm up quickly to new humans.

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Boston terrier

As you may have guessed, the Boston terrier hails from Beantown, with roots tracing back to the 1870s. This dapper black-and-white breed has a good sense of humor and doesn’t mind being the life of the party. These dogs are quick to pick up new tricks and love to please people, and they do well in competitive canine sports, like flyball, agility and obedience. Be mindful of those look-at-me eyes when you’re playing or taking your pup for a walk—because they protrude, they are prone to get hurt.

cute Havanese dog outside in the grass
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If you never want to feel alone again, get a Havanese. Bred in Cuba to be companion animals, these dogs hate being alone and will never leave your side. You don’t even have to leave them when you run errands because they travel well. That said, if your idea of human-canine bonding includes the great outdoors, you may want to pick a different puppy pal. Except for doing their business, Havanese aren’t fans of the great outdoors. In fact, if it’s cold or rainy, the only way you’re going to get them outside to go potty is to pick them up.

Cute Pomeranian Dog in the grass
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Maybe it’s the luxurious puff of fur around their chest and neck that gives them the courage of a lion, but Poms are famous for thinking they can take on big dogs with their feisty bark. These short-legged dogs‘ larger-than-life egos extend to their interactions with humans: They relish being the center of attention. Of course, it’s not hard to shower these dogs with affection—they’re a fantastic mix of playful, smart and curious.

cute sheltie dog in the grass
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Shetland sheepdog

Shetland sheepdogs are the smarty-pants of the canine world. In fact, the American Kennel Club regards the Sheltie as one of the most trainable breeds, and that’s due in large part to its high intelligence. This devoted little dog (a cousin of the collie) loves to be active, so it won’t be happy lounging in the backyard. It needs to exercise its herding, obedience and agility skills. But that doesn’t mean this busybody likes a lot of noise and action from humans; instead, the Shetland sheepdog prefers calmness and order, and it’s not a fan of tension, loud voices or kids climbing all over it.

cute Bernese Mountain Dog outside
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Bernese mountain dog

Weighing in at between 80 and 110 pounds, the Bernese mountain dog is an even-tempered and easygoing giant. It’s content to lay around the house for a bit but ultimately wants to go outside and have fun. The Bernese mountain dog is a hardy breed from the Swiss Alps that relishes the cold weather. The dog days of summer can be torture for this thick-coated pup. Berners would be happier playing in the snow with the kids than going to the beach on a hot summer day—that’s a heatstroke risk. Short periods outside with plenty of shade and access to water are OK, but lounging indoors with air conditioning blowing is where it’s at.

cute brittany spaniel dog on the couch with a red blanket
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This breed originated in the Brittany region of France, where it was (and still is) highly regarded as a first-class retriever from land and water. Pair that with its keen sense of smell and the ability to adapt to all kinds of terrain, and it’s easy to see why Brittanys are a favorite of hunters. Yet families that appreciate nature and enjoy outdoor activities are also well-matched for this cute dog breed. These pups need a good hour of activity every day, but once they meet their quota, they’re calm, patient and gentle in the house.

If Brittanys are your favorite, you’ll enjoy discovering these least-aggressive dog breeds celebrated for their gentle nature.

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English springer spaniel

Spaniels are thought to have originated in Spain many centuries ago and probably spread around the world via trading ships. “English springer spaniels are cheerful and thrive on interactive play, [and they’re] suitable for active families,” says Dr. Apted. They love the water and have extraordinary tracking abilities. Translation: Be prepared for a lot of stopping and sniffing when you walk them. Letting them linger provides loads of healthy mental stimulation, which also means they’ll be good and tuckered out when you return home. Because water and mud are no match for their impulse to explore, regularly bathing your dog is a must.

cute vizsla in the woods
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“Owners seeking an athletic yet less-intense sporting dog should look no further than the vizsla. They are affectionate family companions that form strong bonds with their owners,” says Phifer. Vizsla parents nod in unison when experts use the term Velcro dog to describe this breed. These red-coated beauties yearn to be with people all the time, and if they’re left alone a lot, they become depressed and anxious. When that happens, you’ll know—they’ll howl, bark or start chewing your shoes. Even when they’re relatively happy, they’re a vocal breed and can bark, howl, grunt, whine and moan throughout the day. If you’re looking for a quiet dog that doesn’t bark much, the vizsla isn’t for you.

Purebred short haired dog with sad facial expression.
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Nothing enlivens a dull party quite like the presence of an adorable pug. For the most part, these dogs are quiet and affectionate—minus their sweet snores and grunts. But they’re quick to break out their animated, happy-go-lucky side when necessary. The pug isn’t just one of the cutest dog breeds; it’s also a born entertainer. This little pup will amuse you with its playful antics and boisterous personality. On the flip side, if you tell your pugs the party is over, they can be stubborn and strong-willed but rarely aggressive. They’re great with young children, but if the kids are pestering them, they’ll make a quick exit.

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A tiny dog with a ginormous personality, the Chihuahua is forever soliciting attention. It craves physical contact and loves to be beside its humans, whether on a lap gettig petted or snuggled on the couch in a pile of soft blankets. If something disrupts its quiet time, you’ll know it—as will anyone in earshot. Let’s just say these tiny pups are exceptional watchdogs and barkers. If the “intruder” is a large dog, your Chihuahua won’t back down, so you’ll have to keep an eye on the dogs to ensure neither gets hurt. When you have a Chihuahua, expect an extended warranty on its watchdog service, as these pups can live up to 20 years.

American Cocker Spaniel sits in the grass
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Cocker spaniel

These small spaniels originated in Spain and get the “cocker” part of their name from the woodcock, a bird they flush and retrieve. Hunting isn’t a prerequisite for becoming part of a human family, though. “They epitomize the ideal family companion and are sociable, trusting and affectionate. They naturally thrive in the company of children, other pets and even strangers,” says Phifer. Though they don’t appear to be stellar athletes, they are well-suited for playing fetch and agility games. Those gorgeous floppy ears are prone to infections, so regular at-home ear cleaning is necessary.

Maltese dog sitting on bed
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Catch a dog show, and you may see a Maltese in supermodel mode: long, silky, white hair adorned with a cute topknot. But if theirs isn’t a show dog, owners often opt for a “puppy” cut that is shorter and takes less time to brush. No matter their hairstyle, Maltese are undeniably cute dogs. They hardly shed because they don’t have an undercoat, so they make cuddly pals for dog lovers with allergies. These pups have magnetic, playful, energetic personalities, and they make wonderful companions, sticking by your side as you go about your day. At bedtime, they’ll be your real-life teddy bear dog and snuggle in for a cozy night’s sleep.

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Repeat after us: “y-mar-honor.” Don’t feel bad if you’ve been pronouncing this dog breed all wrong—but learn the right way to say it to impress the next Weimaraner owner you see at the dog park. What can you expect from this gorgeous gray-coated breed? These dogs have loads of glowing attributes: They’re super smart, playful, happy, fearless and curious. Weimaraners become attached to their primary caregiver and are wonderful with kids.

That said, they require a lot of attention to stay in your good graces. Left to their own devices, they’ll unlock fences, escape crates and steal cookies off the counter. Keep yours busy by making it your jogging partner or teaching it to run alongside your bike—heck, this breed will even take a dip in the lake with you.

cute Chesapeake Bay Retriever outside
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Chesapeake Bay retriever

The Chessie is a beautiful short-haired breed developed in Maryland to be a robust retrieving dog. Worthy of the title it earned in 1964—official dog of Maryland—the Chesapeake Bay retriever is passionate about the water, an excellent swimmer and retriever, and an obedient and brave soul. When it’s not making use of its waterproof coat or playing around outside, it’s very loving and friendly with its human family. Chessies are more protective and less friendly toward strangers than other sporting dogs, making them excellent watchdogs. And like Newfoundlands, with whom they share a bloodline, they are lovely with children.

A miniature American shepherd side view outdoors
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Miniature American shepherd

The mini American shepherd is a relatively new member of the herding group. Like all herders, it’s highly intelligent, devoted, full of energy and willing to please. If you’re looking for a dog to join your family hikes and relax by your feet at the end of the day, the miniature American shepherd is for you. Its distinctive, watchful eyes accentuate its fetching markings. One or both eyes may be blue, hazel, brown, amber or a combination of those colors.

That fluffy coat practically begs for pets … and sheds a lot. And twice a year, most of the undercoat falls out during the breed’s shedding season. It might look like a sheep-shearing operation in your house. Brushing your dog a few times a week keeps it more manageable.

Newfoundland dog lying on floor indoors


Many historical accounts credit the Newfie with saving people from shipwrecked boats and hauling supplies and ammunition in blizzards during World War II. This is a large-and-in-charge breed, with males weighing around 130 to 150 pounds and reaching 28 inches tall. Newfoundlands excel at water rescues because of their webbed feet and water-repellent coats, making swimming second nature. On land, their muscular bodies can effortlessly pull a wagon of kids—a task they’d enjoy, as they’re known to have an affinity for kids. In fact, owning a Newfie is almost as good as having a human nanny when it comes to guarding children.

Cane Corso outside
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Cane corso

This Italian dog breed, a relative of the Neapolitan mastiff, is headstrong, large, intelligent and powerful. It may not be the most obvious choice for a cutest-dog award, but its winning personality earns it a mention on our list.

These dogs have a tender side and become very attached to their family and the children in the home. These massive dogs have an innate ability to play cautiously around kids, recognizing a child’s size and helplessness. Cane corsos have keen instincts when it comes to strangers, intuiting when they need to be protective and when a stranger can be trusted. But since they are hard-wired to protect (cane corso roughing translates to “bodyguard dog” in Latin), they don’t back down easily from a fight, so it’s essential to socialize them as puppies.

Border collie

Don’t bother having a staring contest with a border collie. You’ll lose every time. This breed’s hypnotic stare is all it takes to get a wayward sheep to move back to the flock. Border collies are all about duty, making them some of the easiest dogs to train. But they’re not all business, all the time. They are also super affectionate with their human family, if a bit standoffish with strangers. They are protective without barking (did we mention that stare?) and good watchdogs, but because herding is in their blood, they might try to herd small children and nip at their feet or bottoms.

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Basset hound

The basset hound’s long ears and mournful eyes pull at our heartstrings, and its bark and howl are endearing—unless you’re on a Zoom call. The loose skin is adorable, but it serves a function beyond making you say, “Aww.” It also helps trap scents. “Basset hounds are renowned for their remarkable sense of smell, making them exceptional in scent-hound activities like nose work,” says Phifer. In other activities, basset hounds are going to sniff out anything and everything in their environment. 

Unlike other hounds, these dogs won’t run off. And if yours does, you can probably catch it because those short legs don’t move fast. “Basset hound enthusiasts often describe them as joyful, easygoing and gentle,” Phifer says.

cute collie dog laying on a front porch
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We have Queen Victoria to thank for popularizing one of the prettiest dog breeds. She fell in love with the collie while visiting Scotland in the late 1800s and brought a few dogs back with her to England. The breed got another boost in the 1950s with the massively popular TV show Lassie. Today, the collie is the 40th most popular dog in America. The breed has two unmistakable looks: The rough collie features long, flowing fur (like Lassie), and the smooth collie has a short coat. Both are fearless yet sweet, loyal dogs.

It’s critical to mention that collies are affected by a genetic mutation that can lead to adverse reactions to some medications. “It is crucial to consult a veterinarian before administering any medications, over-the-counter or prescription, to ensure their safety,” says Dr. Apted.

Rhodesian Ridgeback (Canis familiaris) showing signature ridge
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Rhodesian Ridgeback

Also known as the African lion hound, the Rhodesian Ridgeback gets both of its names from its one-of-a-kind appearance. It’s the only dog with a distinguished ridge of hair running down its spine in the opposite direction of its coat. (Not every purebred Ridgeback has this.)

Ridgebacks are quiet with gentle temperaments, but their imposing physiques (they weigh around 100 pounds) can intimidate and turn away intruders. These dogs are super fast, and they’ll vault fences and run into the street with no regard for cars. Give them plenty to do so the action outside the fence isn’t so tempting. One more important note for prospective owners: The Ridgeback’s stomach never registers a “full signal,” so it will eat nonstop if you let it.

Happy West Highland White Terrier dog lying outdoors on tiles with its paws crossed in a city park in summer
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West Highland white terrier

The West Highland white terrier’s delightful face has graced the cans of Cesar pet food for years. It’s an easy mascot pick once you see that sweet little smile. One of the cutest dog breeds by far, the Westie may look super cuddly, but it’s not going to lay around on your lap for very long. These are high-energy pups that love to run, chase and pounce on small, furry creatures. The Westie is a terrier, after all, and not about to let its prey get away. To keep them busy when you’re not home, try setting out some puzzle toys that’ll engage their minds.

Red dog breed Shiba inu is lying on the grey sofa at home.
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Shiba Inu

These playful and funny dogs are always looking for a place to let their bold and spirited personalities shine, which means they love to run … and run away. Training isn’t going to stop this stubborn breed from fleeing, so find a leash you love, and use it when your pup isn’t in an enclosed area. The most popular dog breed in Japan, the Shiba Inu is, hands-down, one of the cutest dog breeds you will ever encounter. What’s not to love about soft and furry dogs with fox-like faces?

Shibas have an interesting quirk that owners find either endearing or annoying: “Their unique vocalizations, often referred to as a yodel by enthusiasts but more bluntly labeled as a ‘Shiba scream’ by those less familiar with the breed, add to their distinct charm,” says Phifer.

Cute Bichon Frise dog in the grass
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Bichon frisé

The bichon is a perennial favorite at dog shows. These dogs command attention and steal the show with their fancy, prancy gait and velvety fluff that you want to sink your face into. They ham it up at home or in a crowd and always keep an eye out for anything going on outside your house. You have to balance all that cuteness with a minor complaint: The breed’s alertness can be overwhelming if it learns to bark when something moves in its line of sight. Still, bichons make great dogs for seniors because they’re so chill and enjoy everyone’s company. Plus, they prefer leisurely strolls over cardio-pumping walks and are always up for long snuggle sessions.

Akita Dog
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The Akita originated in the mountainous and cold Akita prefecture, the northernmost area of Honshu, Japan’s largest island. It’s considered sacred and a good luck charm in its native country—so much so that Akita statutes are sometimes given to new parents as a gesture of good health and to sick people as a wish for a quick recovery. Maybe that’s why they’re one of the most expensive dog breeds in the world. At around 100 pounds and about 24 to 28 inches tall, they can be imposing. And, indeed, they’re not the right dog for every pet owner. Some Akitas do well in family settings, but some are aggressive and need supervision with children, especially when they are eating, as they are “food aggressive.” 

training of belgian shepherd
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Belgian Malinois

Hailing from the Belgian town of Malines, this is an extremely confident and top-notch guard dog. But why stop there? “Belgian Malinois are exceptionally intelligent working dogs, ideally suited for households driven by purpose and eager to provide their canine companion with a meaningful job and consistent training,” says Phifer. Jobs can include agility training or learning new tricks and commands—anything you throw at them, they can learn. On top of all of that, the Belgian Malinois is considered one of the healthier dog breeds. But because they are highly food-motivated, don’t hand out too many treats; they can really pack on the pounds quickly.

Gettyimages 856388558 Saint Bernard Jvedit2
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Saint Bernard

A 25-pound Saint Bernard puppy is so adorable and cuddly, you’ll never want to put it down. But you will eventually because it will grow into a 120- to 180-pound dog. The Saint Bernard’s colossal size can’t hide its sweet disposition; that loving personality is part of the breed’s allure. Appreciation for these gentle giants increased in the early 1800s, when artist Edwin Landseer painted a Saint Bernard with a brandy keg around its neck and the Alps in the background. People immediately became fans of the search-and-rescue dogs that saved lives.

Wheaten Terrier
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Soft-coated wheaten terrier

Wheatens are less feisty terriers than some of their cousins, but you wouldn’t know it if you showed up at their door. “They are exuberant and greet their owners with the ‘Wheaten greetin’,” says Dr. Apted. These cuties enthusiastically bounce up and down, high off the floor, when family or strangers enter the home. Their barks are worse than their bites, so put your guests’ minds at ease and give them a fair warning before they arrive at your place. Living with a Wheaten is like living with a puppy that never grows up. They are lively and animated, with boundless energy that can be scary and overwhelming to younger children, so it might be wise to wait until the kids are older before bringing a Wheaten terrier home.

bloodhound outside
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With wrinkled faces, long ears and loose skin, bloodhounds sit firmly in the “so silly-looking, they’re cute” column. But the characteristic bloodhound features do more than add to the breed’s charm; they also help the pups pick up scents. Aptly nicknamed sleuthhounds, they possess top-notch sniffing abilities. Their sensitive noses have sniffed out missing people, and evidence found by bloodhounds has been used as testimony in a court of law. When they’re not sniffing out crimes, they’re lovably dopey, lazy porch-dwellers that are pleased as punch to lay at their owners’ feet. Just make sure you don’t leave them solo, as they are notorious for baying, especially when left alone. 

cute fluffy chow chow dog outside in the grass
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Chow chow

Floofy, chonky and all-around adorable, this Chinese dog breed is enough to make you melt. Chows are compact and powerful dogs with a snuggle factor that’s off the charts. The breed is most well known for its lion’s mane ruff, blue tongue and deep-set eyes. Chow chows’ luxurious coats can be black, red, blue, cinnamon or cream, and they’re not just pretty to look at. The coats are clean and don’t have a doggy odor. These dogs can be independent and stubborn, so a dedicated owner who can provide early and consistent training is key to harmonious living.

Why trust us

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 as a reporter who has covered dogs and pets for seven years, 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. For this piece, we relied on reputable primary sources, including canine behaviorists, dog trainers and veterinarians. We verified all facts and data and backed them with credible sourcing, and we will revisit them over time to ensure they remain accurate and up to date. Read more about our team, our contributors and our editorial policies.


  • Clive Wynne, PhD, professor of psychology and director of the Canine Science Collaboratory at Arizona State University, and author of Dog Is Love; phone interview, Feb. 8, 2024
  • Jessica Apted, DVM, veterinarian and medical director at Sploot Veterinary Care; email interview, Feb. 8, 2024
  • Renee Rhoades, canine behavior consultant, dog trainer and founder of R+Dogs; email interview, Feb. 6, 2024
  • Bradley Phifer, canine behaviorist and dog trainer; email interview, Feb. 7, 2024
  • Frontiers in Psychology: “Baby schema in human and animal faces induces cuteness perception and gaze allocation in children”
  • Anthrozoös: “Dog Pups’ Attractiveness to Humans Peaks at Weaning”