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Dog Personality: Seven Most Common Canine Personality Types

A dog's personality, much like a human's, is part-genetic, part-learned. Are you looking for a new dog to love or to understand your pup better? Learn more about the most common dog personality types amongst all your favorite doggo breeds!

Are you wondering, "what kind of dog should I get?"

When it comes to adopting your new best friend, you want to make sure you find a personality that fits in well with your own. That's why it's so crucial to meet a pup before you make a final decision to take them home and integrate them into your life - that initial meeting is the ultimate dog breeds personality test.

Though personality comes from how a dog's raised, it's also partly determined by the genes a dog possesses. Some dogs are more likely to be independent and aloof, while others are practically attached to their owner's hip. A Boxer dog personality will be pretty different from a Husky dog personality and even further from a Dachshund. 

Before you decide to adopt, take a long through our guide to determine which personality type you think would be the best fit for you and which breeds tend to possess those traits. 

The 5 Dimensions of Puppy Personality

You may already be familiar with "The Big Five" personality dimensions, as commonly discussed in human psychology. 

Here are the Big Five traits:

  • Neuroticism 
  • Extraversion
  • Conscientiousness
  • Agreeableness
  • Openness to Experience

Together, these aspects make up most of what we'd call a personality, whether in humans or dogs. For each trait, a pup will either rank high or low - a dog high in neuroticism may be prone to anxiety and oversensitivity, while those ranked lower in the trait will be better able to manage these emotions. A highly agreeable dog is friendly with anyone they meet, while a less friendly pup may be hesitant to make new friends.

Consider which traits are most critical for you to find the types of dogs with well-suited behavior. 

Seven Common Canine Personality Types

Here are the most common combinations of the Big Five you'll see in doggos. Not every dog or breed will perfectly fit into these categories, but many strongly lean toward one or two over others.

#1: The Anxious/Excited Pup

This dog's personality is pervasive across many breeds, especially in young puppies or adolescents that aren't yet fully developed. These puppy behaviors tend to make their attention wander, and they notice even slight changes to the environment out of anxiety, excitement, or a combination of the two. 

These pups often feel overwhelmed, and their fight-or-flight responses are on extra-high alert at all times.

Personality Traits

  • Lack the ability to filter out stimuli, leading to "misbehavior."
  • Difficulty listening or responding to cues in strange environments
  • Frequently pulls the leash to check out stimuli
  • May stop walking or attempt to run away when in intense situations
  • Enjoys playing with toys

#2: The Hard Worker Pup

These brilliant. dogs love to learn and "help" their owners by performing jobs. Naturally, most of these dogs are working breeds, with this drive written into their genetic code. 

They're high-energy, high-drive doggos that can be some of the very best dogs to own only with adequate training and exercise regimens from their owner. Includes shepherd, terrier, retriever, and Beagle personality.

Personality Traits

  • High energy - needs loads of rigorous daily exercise and playtime
  • More interested in humans than other dogs
  • Quick learner that picks up cues easily
  • Can be aloof with strangers, especially around their owner
  • Confident though not naturally social with dogs

#3: The Loving Pup

The loving pup is a sweet, pillowy pal that is easy-breezy in almost every situation. They're not overly social, but they'll tolerate just about anything you throw at them and love to cuddle their owners all day long. Includes large dogs like Bernese Mountain Dog personality, Great Pyrenees, or Newfies.

Personality Traits

  • Big snugglers and very affectionate with owners, though not always with strangers.
  • Prefer low-intensity exercise over rigorous play
  • Very relaxed in almost every environment - these pups are great travelers.

#4: The Policing Pup

These dogs tend to express themselves freely, especially if things aren't looking right in their world. A pup with this personality tends to exhibit lots of vocal tendencies in response to the behavior of others - be it dogs playing, people passing, or a simple cry for more attention from their owner. Includes Jack Russells, shepherds, collies, terriers, and other herding breeds. 

Personality Traits

  • Shows guard dog traits, like barking and growling at people or animals near the home.
  • May bark or lunge at dogs when on a leash
  • Barks when playing at the dog park or with toys
  • Unpredictable around new people and children

#5: The Best Friend Pup

The best friend pup is easygoing, outgoing, and friendly with every new animal or person they meet! Many of these dogs seem to literally have smiles on their faces, including retrievers, poodles, and the American Bull Dog personality.

Personality Traits

  • Enjoys lots of affection from both owners and others
  • Likes to stick close to their owner but suffers no anxious attachment when their owner leaves
  • Very social with a high tolerance for unfamiliar places and new situations
  • Loves attention from new people and not easily frightened by strange people or animals

#6: The Clingy Pup

These doggos show the most profound attachments to their owners and would spend 24 hours a day with them if they could. While it's true that most dogs attach firmly to their owners, clingy pups tend to be unable to relax when their owner is away, somewhat anxiously awaiting their return. It's helpful to invest in a bed ramp for dogs so these pups can get close to you on your couch or in bed whenever they need comfort. 

These dogs are best suited for an owner that's home often, without other animals in the house to compete for attention. Includes Pomeranian, Bichon Frise, Pekingese, and Chihuahua dog breeds - small breeds usually fit into this category.

Personality Traits

  • Hesitant to leave their owners to socialize with others
  • Pushy and possibly whiny behavior when not touching their owners
  • Snuggly dogs that love to sit in laps or their owner's arms
  • Somewhat fearful and anxious of unknown situations, especially when facing them solo

#7: The Shy Pup

The shy pup is highly sensitive, fearful, anxious, and under-socialized to the point of acting aloof. Though they can be loving with their family, they will only show such love if they're completely comfortable in their surroundings. 

Some training and socialization can help a shy pup to come out of its shell, but it will likely always be on the timid side. Includes rescue dogs, Chihuahuas, Greyhounds, and Shiba Inus.

Personality Traits

  • Disinterested in making new friends with strange people or dogs
  • Sometimes aggressive; barking, or snapping at strange people or animals that come too close
  • Love their own bed and space when it's time to relax
  • Overwhelmed and nervous in busy and loud places

Final Notes on Dog Personalities

"How will I know which is the best dog for me?"

Take a look through the list of personalities above, and choose the best dog according to your lifestyle - if you're home often or retired, you may select a dog that's loyal and highly attached as a constant companion. If you're away from home more often, you're better off with a breed that doesn't need much exercise and doesn't mind their alone time. 

Remember that personalities tend to vary across breeds - the ultimate dog personality test is the in-person meeting with an individual pup to find your perfect match!

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