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When asked to describe dogs, one word that almost always comes to mind is, “loyal.” There are hundreds of thousands of stories depicting the incredible connections found between man and dog, bonds that have survived the tests of time going back centuries.
Not every dog breed is the same, however; some were bred to work close to and guard their loved ones, while others were bred for their gregarious, outgoing natures. While welcoming, friendly-to-all dogs are incredible in their own many ways, there are many owners who seek a more reserved companion to build a friendship with.
So what breeds are the most likely to bond with one person and build that strong connection?
Dogs bred for herding and guardian work tend to have the highest likelihood of bonding with one person since their work relies on a close connection with a single human partner. That includes breeds like Akitas, Australian Cattle Dogs, Border Collies, Chihuahua, Chow Chow, Doberman, German Shepherd, Great Pyrenees, Rottweiler, and the Shetland Sheepdog.
Whether you’re looking for a strong protector or an energetic sidekick, each of these breeds have unique qualities they bring to the table – all while being amongst the most loyal pups out there. Let’s take a look at ten breeds that take the phrase “man’s best friend” very seriously!
Kicking off our list is the noble Akita, with origins hailing back to the untamed, mountainous areas of Japan in the 1500s. Brave and hardy, these dogs were bred to hunt large prey most would run from themselves – including wild boars and Ussuri brown bears!
Akitas also have a fascinating history serving as the main companions for samurai between the 1500s-1800s. Their incredible courage and stamina garnered them use throughout the Russo-Japanese War as scouts, trackers, and guards.
To truly appreciate just how loyal and devoted to one person Akitas are, there is the story of possibly the most famous Akita of all – Hachikō. Owned by a Toyko professor, Hachikō escorted his companion to the train station each morning , and awaited his return each and every evening.
When his master died unexpectedly at work of a brain hemorrhage, Hachikō continued to wait for him. Not just once or twice, either – this amazing dog diligently traveled to the station every single day for the next nine years. While he was cared for by family of his late owner, he still made sure to show up each day – just in case.
It should be no surprise, then, to hear that Akitas are known for their companionship and fierce loyalty when bonding to their one chosen human. Though their stubbornness leads many to suggest first-time owners steer clear of Akitas, experienced owners can win a friend for life if they lead with firm yet gentle guidance.
If you are looking for a dog who bonds strongly with one person, the Akita is truly a wonderful breed. That said, keep in mind that their temperament can be challenging.
These headstrong pups are friendly with trusted family members, but they are protective and standoffish with strangers. With high prey drives and territorial natures backed up by their powerful bodies, they’re also not recommended for households with other dogs, cats, or small pets.
2. Australian Cattle Dog
Next up is a speckled beauty; the Australian Cattle Dog – ACD for short. You may also hear them referred to as Heelers or simply Cattle Dogs. These energetic pooches were conceived back in the 1800s by a man named Thomas Hall who crossed the strongest working dogs he’d bred over time with tamed dingos!
The result of Thomas’s decades of work was the Halls Heelers, the dogs who later became known as the Australian Cattle Dog. The bonds ACDs form with their owners is known for their strength and devotion. They’re known for their knack of picking up on their owner’s emotions, and even springing into action to help them without waiting to be asked.
While this breed primarily bonds to one person, they can be socialized to be friendly and comfortable within a family unit. That said, expect them to be reserved with new people, things, and places. They are protective of their loved ones, and as a breed that was made for biting at cattle, this can lead to unwanted behavior without proper training.
Heelers come with a seemingly endless reserve of energy and intelligence, like most herding breeds! If you’re thinking of going for this particular one-person dog, make sure you’re prepared to keep their bodies and minds engaged and working.
ACDs have excelled in dog sports such as agility, competitive obedience, flyball, and more! Their compact size also makes them a great choice for many people, especially if you’re an active person searching for a fun-loving, active pup that will bond strongly with you, the Cattle Dog may just be what you’re looking for!
3. Border Collie
It shouldn’t come as a shock to see another herding breed on this list. That said, even amongst the other herders the Border Collie is highly revered. This incredibly energetic dog is known as one of the most intelligent dog breeds there is!
If you’ve ever seen a stunt show performance put on by canines, it’s likely you’ve seen a Border Collie in action. Likewise, these dogs dominate in dog sports such as agility, sheepdog trials, obedience, and disc dog. How can they seemingly do it all? With their chosen person by their side, of course.
This breed forms close bonds with its owner, easily recognized with its near constant attentiveness- sometimes to the point of clinginess. This and how smart they are can make them really appealing for those looking for their next companion, but those most familiar with the breed urge folks to slow down and really analyze whether they’re prepared to take on a Border Collie.
These dogs have a huge exercise appetite, often needing to run multiple miles a day. Their desire to stay with their owner at all times often triggers separation anxiety if not properly managed, which can lead to destructive behavior around the house. Likewise, if they are left without any mental stimulation, expect some holes chewed in your wall when you return.
If you believe you’re up to the challenge, owning a Border Collie can be an incredibly rewarding experience. You’d be hard pressed to find another dog as intelligent, capable, and loyal to you as these magnificent pups.
Despite its tiny stature, no list of one-person dogs would be complete without mentioning the mighty Chihuahua. This is a whole lotta dog in a deceivingly small package, and their strong personalities have made them a fast favorite amongst companion animals.
Believed to have descended from an ancient South American dog breed called the Techichi, there is even evidence of small Chihuahua-esque dogs as far back as 100 B.C.! Fierce and seemingly unbothered by their diminutive size, these pups will often animatedly defend their owners from anything they perceive as a threat even if they aren’t the first breed that comes to mind for guarding work.
Since they do tend to bond strongly with one person, without proper socialization and training, Chihuahuas will likely see strangers as a threat and may act aggressively towards them. On occasion, they’ll even lash out at other members of the owner’s family. That said, with steady guidance from their owner they can learn to be tolerant of others, and perhaps even affectionate.
If the Chihuahua sounds like the one-person dog for you, it’s important to keep a few things in mind! For one, despite their larger-than-life personalities, Chihuahuas are small and far more fragile than your average-sized canine.
Jumps or falls from heights, being stepped on, or becoming a speed bump for another boisterous pet are all considerations you must keep in mind – along with anything else that may severely injure such a tiny creature.
5. Chow Chow
With a history predating the 19th century and originating from northern China, Chow Chows have been turning heads for literally thousands of years. They were even the subject of Chinese legend; stories of large war dogs and even an emperor that supposedly owned 5,000 Chows!
Most people aren’t looking to take on quite so many, but they are firmly rooted in our society nowadays – primarily as pets. Their guarded personalities around strangers and their fierce bonds with their one “chosen” person have formed them quite the reputation!
Not recommended for the inexperienced owner, if you do ever find yourself up to the task, you won’t be disappointed by the depths of loyalty you’ll find in a Chow Chow. While they can be social and friendly with whoever finds themselves in their family unit, they are still known to be very protective of a select person.
Early and persistent socializing and training are a must for this strong-willed breed. If you have earned the respect and trust of a Chow Chow, it will be apparent. It can certainly be a challenge, but many have garnered the love and companionship of these dogs; notable names including Martha Stewart, Elvis, and Walt Disney!
6. Doberman Pinscher
Next on our list is a dog specifically created to be the perfect dog for protection. In the 1880s, Louis Dobermann worked to breed a dog with significant strength, intellect, and endurance. Believed to have drawn from German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Beaucerons, Weimaraners, and even Greyhounds, the Doberman Pinscher as we know and love them today quickly became a dog lover’s favorite.
Seeing a rise in popularity with their roles as guard dogs in World War II, these highly intelligent dogs were originally bred for work as personal defense, war, and police dogs. While this unfortunately led to a reputation of aggression, in truth the modern day Doberman has been bred to have milder temperaments while maintaining their incredible loyalty and intelligence.
While many enjoy a fairly relaxed lifestyle nowadays, the strong connections Dobermans form with their owner are well-known by breed enthusiasts. If properly socialized, these fun-loving dogs can be friendly towards others, but will likely naturally be protective of their family – especially the specific person they’ve most bonded with.
Doberman Pinschers are a very energetic breed, so if you’re searching for your next companion and are interested in breeds that bond strongly with one primary person, keep them in mind if you happen to be an active individual! Their mix of stamina and intelligence makes them perfect for a variety of sports such as agility and competitive obedience.
7. German Shepherd
Needing no introduction is a breed who sits at fourth place on the AKC’s list of Most Popular Dog Breeds in America. The German Shepherd is a relatively young dog breed, recognized for just under 125 years, yet in that short time it has made quite the impression.
These incredibly intelligent, curious dogs form powerful ties with their one person. They can easily learn to be a loving member of a family, as well, but they almost always retain their special fondness for “their person.”
They also sadly have a growing reputation for being overly aggressive, but when raised with firm yet loving guidance they can blossom into the wonderful dogs they were always meant to be. In fact, they are often highly sought after for police and search and rescue work!
Due to their substantial smarts, be prepared to provide a German Shepherd with plenty of mental stimulation. It is often said that these dogs need to be given a job of some sort. While that doesn’t mean you have to send your dog’s resume to the nearest police academy, it does mean it’s a good idea to look into appropriate outlets for their energy.
8. Great Pyrenees
Also known as the Pyrenean Mountain Dog or the Patou, the Great Pyrenees originated from the French side of the Pyrennes mountains and at one time were even decreed the Royal Dog of France by King Louis XIV!
Though the breed almost fizzled out entirely in the early 1900s, it saw a great resurgence once it arrived in the US in the 1930s. They are perhaps one of the most well known examples of livestock guardians, used around the world for protecting flocks from predators. To say they’re brave may be an understatement!
While they are known for their independent nature, Great Pyrenees are also known for their love and protection of their family. They even have quite the soft spot for children! Even then, this is a breed that will form its strongest ties with its primary owner – often whoever works closest with training the dog.
If you’re looking for a pup that is equal parts affectionate and independent (a quality not seen with many breeds!) then this may be the one for you. Unlike some of the very energetic breeds on this list so far, Pyrs make for a calm, mellow, self-assured companion.
Going all the way back to Roman times, the impressive Rottweiler is a breed with a whole lot of history. Bred with performance and working ability in mind, these dogs have been used as herding dogs, cart pullers, guardians, and priceless members of police and search and rescue teams.
Irresponsible ownership, improper socialization, and lax training have led to an undeserved reputation of aggression in recent years. In reality, properly raised Rottweilers make for a calm, confident companion who develops close bonds with their special person.
They are naturally protective of those they love, and thus do not often become fast friends with strangers. Patience is a virtue; once you have been properly introduced, you may be surprised to see the silly, goofball nature these dogs exhibit when they are with their pack!
For anyone thinking a Rottweiler may be “the one” when searching for a dog who will form strong bonds to them, keep in mind that the need for socialization and consistent training is key for unlocking the true potential of the breed. A small price to pay for the endless love and loyalty you’ll receive!
10. Shetland Sheepdog
Last, but certainly not least, is the truly beautiful Shetland Sheepdog. With long, flowing fur, these intelligent dogs resemble miniature Lassies and are known for dominating in herding, obedience, and agility trials.
While it would be easy to believe the Sheltie came about by purposely breeding smaller Collies together, it actually has quite a mix of ancestors. These include the King Charles Spaniel, the Pomeranian, and even a breed no longer in existence: the Greenland Yakki.
Years of trying to blend together the perfect set of characteristics payed off, and the result was an eager to please, attentive dog with remarkable trainability and intelligence. As for bonding with their owners, Shelties are commonly said to be “shadows” of their chosen person, following them dutifully.
They take some warming up to strangers, but have never been a breed known for being prone to aggression. Their ability to quickly learn new commands and genuine desire to please their owners can make the Shetland Sheepdog a wonderful choice for those seeking a fun and lively companion.
How To Strengthen Your Bond With Your Dog
Anyone looking to foster a strong, lasting bond with their dog has a variety of tools at their disposal to do so. Even if there is a dog in your life currently that you are looking to form a better bond with, keep these things in mind!
This essential part of dog ownership is not only important for good behavior. Research has shown, and many dog behaviorists agree, that use of positive reinforcement training in dogs was correlated dramatically with higher levels of attachment. This includes reported feelings of “closeness” with the dog, the dog actively seeking out attention from its owner, and increased playfulness.
Dogs have been encouraging their owners to get outside for years now, and it is no secret that there are physical benefits to exercise for both yourself and your dog. However, research indicates that exercise sessions, and the human companionship that comes along with them, noticeably reduces stress in dogs.
Perhaps it feels a little obvious to suggest that playing with your pup will increase your bond with them. There are studies that confirm this to be true! Dogs are playful creatures throughout their lives, so it makes sense that one of the best ways to increase your bond with your dog is to set aside regular, dedicated play times to share.
While it is fun to engage with dogs who seem to make best friends with everyone they meet, there is something to be said about the special one-on-one connections formed with more selective breeds. It can be an amazing feeling to know you’ve formed such a bond, not to mention the enrichment it can bring to you and your dog’s life- even if some dogs have a strange way of showing their love to their favorite person.
If you’re searching for a pup that will always put you first, the dog breeds covered in this article are all worthy of consideration. Who knows, you might just find your next best friend!