One of the great things (we think!) about a big dog is being able to show your affection with things such as hugs, which are hard to do with a small dog.
This means that many people want an affectionate dog. So, the question then becomes are big dogs more affectionate than little dogs.
The short answer is no. Both big dogs and small dogs can be very affectionate or they can be standoffish and mean. A lot of how affectionate a dog is depends on its breed, its personality, and its socialization.
For example, certain large breeds like Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers are almost always very affectionate and loving with nearly everyone they meet. On the other hand, Airedale Terriers and Chow Chows are often single-person dogs and can have stand-offish personalities.
With small breeds, Shih Tzus are usually quite affectionate and will sit on your lap for hours, while Lhasa Apsos attach to a single person and don’t usually like strangers.
If you are looking for an affectionate large breed dog, many breeds fit that description and mixed breeds are also often quite affectionate.
How To Tell If a Big Dog Will be Affectionate
An aggressive or mean dog is something that very few people want. Several factors go into a dog’s personality. The breed of the dog is one of those factors, as is how the dog is raised and socialized.
If you want an affectionate large dog, it’s important to consider both factors.
Do Your Breed Research
If you are looking for a purebred dog or know the breed background of the mixed breed you are considering, then the AKC can be an excellent resource for doing breed research.
It’s extremely important to get a breed of dog that matches what you are looking for in a pet. Some breeds learn more easily, are friendlier, and get along with people and other animals better than others.
Other breeds need a lot of exercise in order to not become destructive.
The AKC has breed charts and a detailed overview of breed characteristics for every official breed of dog. The breed chart shown above is for a Labrador Retriever, which is an extremely friendly and affectionate large breed.
The breed chart below is for an Airedale Terrier. You can see the difference in personality from these charts.
Airedales are clever dogs but are not as naturally friendly or affectionate as some other large breeds and it’s important to know that going in so that you have the best match possible from the beginning.
You can use this type of research for both purebred dogs and mixed breeds (when you have an idea of their background).
Mixed breeds aren’t quite as straightforward, but by looking at the breed makeup of your dog it can give you a general idea of what the dog’s personality might be like.
Deal With Reputable Breeders
If you are getting a purebred or hybrid designer dog like a Labradoodle, working with a reputable breeder can help you to get the type of personality that you desire.
A good quality breeder will be able to tell you how affectionate are the mother and the father of the dog you are considering. They will also be careful not to inbreed their dogs so that you don’t end up with personality issues due to inbreeding problems.
Another thing a good quality breeder can do for you is to help guide you to a puppy who is more affectionate early in life. Even breeds that are known as being affectionate can produce litters of puppies with varied personalities.
Breeders who care about their animals will be honest with you about the personality of the dogs and some will even give you a personality guarantee.
It’s important to be honest with your breeder about exactly what you are looking for so that you can get a great match.
Observe The Dog’s Behavior
Before you take a dog home from a shelter or from a breeder you want to critically observe the dog’s behavior with yourself, your family members, the breeder or shelter staff, and other animals.
You can often tell how affectionate a dog is going to be by observing their behavior in these situations.
An affectionate dog will seem friendly and not growly or standoffish. They will want to interact with you and may even want to sit on your lap.
It’s important to not fall in love with a dog too fast during this evaluation process. You want to evaluate this new member of your family and see how affectionate they are, and not just what you are hoping for them to be.
Socialize Your Dog Correctly
If you want a large breed dog that is affectionate then you need to make sure your dog is properly socialized.
Remember that both breed and environment play a role in your dog’s personality.
Walking your dog in public places is the key to socializing it properly. This will help your dog gain confidence around all kinds of distractions and people.
You want to make sure your dog is exposed to:
- All different types of people
- People in different types of clothes, including hats, scarves, and sunglasses
- People touching the dog’s paws, tail, and ears
- Rural and urban settings
- Cards, trucks, and buses
- Grass, concrete, and different types of flooring
- Other animals including cats and dogs
- Common objects around the neighborhood like signs, strollers, and benches
Being exposed to different environments and people can help keep your dog from becoming anxious and nervous. That’s a good thing because a calm dog is going to be a more affectionate dog.
A dog’s size is not a good indicator of how affectionate they are. If that is a trait important to you, we suggest you begin your research on the AKC website to get a general idea of the traits of various breeds.
If you’re looking for a purebred, be sure you use a reputable breeder.
Then, be sure to socialize your dog properly so that it doesn’t end up as an anxious and nervous pet.
Above all, give your dog the unconditional love that they will give you, regardless of how affectionate they may or may not seem.