We all know dogs are man's best friend, but which breeds rise to the top of the loyalty charts? David Frei, co-host of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show and expert analyst for Purina's National Dog Show, shares his picks for the trustiest breeds, along with some of the most loyal dogs in history.
A devoted family dog and incredibly versatile breed, German Shepherds have "intelligence, temperament and character in one package," according to Frei. Used as police, service, search and rescue, war and watchdogs, German Shepherds are protective of and loyal to their handlers and family members alike. Because they shed throughout the year, German Shepherds should be brushed weekly and require regular training and exercise to keep their minds and bodies active.
Used to represent heroic war dogs from around the world, Susan Bahary's "Always Faithful" statue features the Doberman Pinscher. Energetic, alert and fearless, the Doberman's nobility and temperament give it a well-deserved place on any "loyal dog" list, according to Frei. With a chiseled frame and strong build, Dobermans make popular show dogs in addition to family protectors.
A wonderful lapdog that wants nothing more than to be close to its owners, Yorkshire Terriers are friendly, loving and built for life in either the city or the country. Although the breed may be small, their loyalty and commitment to their owners is unmatched.
"One of my favorite stories is that of Smoky … an unlikely war dog found in the South Pacific during World War II," Frei said. "His owner tell of many deeds Smoky accomplished in spit of his size [and he] might also be the world's first therapy dog, visiting his owner and other troops in the military hospitals in the South Pacific. You don't have to be big to be loyal."
Known as the Great Japanese Dog, Akita's have been used as war, hunting and guard dogs in Japan for decades. Bred to be a large game hunter, the Akita has a quiet nature but remains a loyal, courageous and protective companion, according to Frei. Quite possibly the most well-known story of a dog's dedication and loyalty is about a dog named Hachiko, which happened to be an Akita. Hachiko would wait for his master every day at the train station to accompany him home and did so for nine years following his owner's death. A statue was built in the dog's honor after his death.
Known as the ideal family dog, Golden Retrievers are smart, agreeable, loving and able to do just about anything asked of them, including service work, search and rescue, bomb detection and more, according to Frei. The breed enjoys playing games and socializing with people, children and other family pets. Because of their coats, Golden Retrievers require weekly brushing and need daily exercise to keep up with their energy level.
Another equally popular family dog, Frei explained there's a good reason that Labrador Retrievers have been the top-registered breed in the American Kennel Club since 1991. Their loyalty, obedience and loving personalities make them perfect pets for families with children and other animals. A breed that loves to play on both land and water, Labrador Retrievers require regular exercise and interactive games to keep them entertained and help prevent obesity.
An elegant working breed, Skye Terriers are known for their courageousness and determination. They're effective watchdogs that are wary of strangers and succeed when they have a job to do outdoors. The most well known Skye Terrier was the legendary Greyfriars Bobby, who guarded his master's grave for 14 years until he died and was buried next to his master. A statue of the dog sits atop a nearby drinking fountain in the cemetery, Frei shared.
Rough Coated Collie
Used as a sheepherder for centuries, Collies are known for their loving and nurturing temperament. They're wonderful with children but have been known to herd them just as they would sheep. Protective by nature, Collies tend to bark and can be wary of strangers. Their long coats require regular grooming and weekly brushing to prevent mats.
Among the oldest dog breeds, the first recorded Irish Wolfhound appeared around 300 BC. Used for hunting wolves, deer, boar and elk, they're among the largest breed of dog with long, tall limbs, dark round eyes and a long, curved tail. A good companion dog that is friendly even with strangers, the Irish Wolfhound requires plenty of daily exercise in a secure area. Among the most legendary demonstrations of loyalty came from an Irish Wolfhound named Gelert who lived in England in the 1800s.
Originated in the French providence of Brittany in the 17th and 18th centuries, Brittanys were bred to hunt, retrieve and point and are known for their intelligence and playful nature. Loving and loyal to their families and good with children and other pets, Brittanys require plenty of exercise and do well with active owners.
Frei, who owns both Brittanys and (also loyal) Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, says loyalty is a two-way relationship when it comes to owning dogs. "I thank my faithful friends every day for letting me be the guy on the other end of the leash," he said.
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