Your sidekick. Your best friend. Your inspiration. Your shoulder to lean on. The Robin to your Batman. Your dog.
Did you think I was talking about your romantic partner? Psssh. The best dog breeds for women are better roommates than the majority of humans.
If you select the right dog (and do a bit of training), you never have to worry about your dog leaving dirty dishes in the sink or disappearing for long weekends “with the guys.”
Sure, you have to pick up your dog’s poo and your dog will literally never give you good advice about that fight with your sister. But men don’t own a monopoly on canine companionship – dogs are a woman’s best friend, too.
With hundreds of breeds, thousands of mixes, and millions of dogs looking for homes, picking the right dog is a daunting task.
As a starting place, let’s narrow down your dog selection to the best dog breeds for women in particular.
Is There a Best Dog Breed for Women?
Women are as diverse as dog breeds when it comes to personality, style, living situation, and activity level. There’s really no one “best dog breed for women.” There probably isn’t even a “best dog breed for you.” You could live with and love a variety of different dogs.
Personally, I am totally obsessed with my Border Collie and plan to have more Border Collies over the course of my life. But I also love Australian Shepherds, Labradors, Dobermans, and Shetland Sheepdogs. I have a huge soft spot for long-haired Chihuahuas, though I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that.
Still, we’ll do our best to help you narrow down your dream dog list.
Use this list as a starting point. It’s a launching pad for ideas of what you’re looking for in your canine companion. The best dog breed for women doesn’t exist – but the best individual dog for you is out there.
Breed Matters, But Purebred Dogs Aren’t Clones
It’s incredibly important to understand what your chosen dog breed was bred for.
A dog that’s bred for guarding sheep outside 365 days per year (like a Great Pyrenees) is going to be quite different from a dog that was bred for pulling sleds for hundreds of miles (like a Siberian Husky), which is different still from a dog that was bred for sitting on laps and looking cute (like a Pug).
Even within a litter of purebred puppies, there will be some variation in energy level, confidence, friendliness, coat type, color, and so on. You cannot adopt or purchase a dog and expect it to be the perfect clone of your past dog in every way – even if the dogs are siblings.
Think of a dog breed like a bell curve.
Most Golden Retrievers are friendly and outgoing with lots of playful energy. However, some Goldens fall on the extreme end and are either shy or overly exuberant.
Getting a Golden Retriever does not guarantee that your new dog will love people. Goldens give you a better chance of friendliness than getting an Akita, a dog bred for hunting bear, fighting dogs, and guarding homes – but there’s never a guarantee that your purebred dog will perfectly display all the traits it is known for.
The same applies to humans too. You might the only one who is severely lacking hand-eye coordination in a family of athletes, or you might be a brainiac born into a family of Hufflepuffs.
There will always be outliers within a breed, and there will always be variation. Dogs grow up with different life experiences that give them different personalities. Single-event learning situations can dramatically change a puppy’s behavioral trajectory in life. But all dog breeds were developed with a purpose in mind, and that purpose dictates the “breed tendencies” seen.
It’s important to think about breed when selecting a dog. It’s one of the biggest easily seen factors to give you the dog of your dreams.
Selecting a breed will give you a good idea of the “average” dog within that breed. At the same time, breed alone is not a guarantee of temperament, energy level, or personality.
How to Pick the Best Dog Breed for Women
What sort of woman are you?
While your energy level and temperament may change from one day to the next, there’s a sort of “average you” hidden in there somewhere. That day-to-day average of your life will help dictate what sort of dog is best suited to being your sidekick.
- Your energy level. Are you a couch potato who’d rather skip the daily walk, or are you a runner and hiker and biker and skier? Or somewhere in between?
- Your time commitment. All dogs take up lots of time in training and exercise. But some dogs require regular grooming and exercise beyond the basics. Is that something you’re up for?
- Your living situation. Some dogs are better suited to living in apartments than others. Some dogs can’t be trusted with small animals or without a prison-grade fencing setup around your yard. If you’ve got small children, other pets, shared walls, or an unfenced yard, that all comes into play with selecting your new dog.
- Your social life. Not all dogs are social butterflies. Some are homebodies who’d rather hang out one-on-one. Other dogs get anxious when left alone. Some dogs just love the party. If you spend a lot of time out and about, look for a dog that either wants to join in the fun or is fine hanging out alone.
- Your interest in training. Some dogs practically require their owner to be a professional trainer. These dogs are what I call “aficionado dogs.” While you might not need to work on extreme behavior problems, these dogs really crave the mental stimulation of training. Owners of dogs like Border Collies, Belgian Malinois, and other dogs on our smartest dog breed list should have a keen interest in training. Many professional trainers seek out these dogs for that reason. Several professional trainers even got into the field because they adopted a dog like this.
- Your hobbies. If you’re looking for a new hobby, certain types of dogs can be your buddy when embarking on new activities. From truffle-hunting and Treibball to barn hunting, agility training, nosework, and rally obedience, dogs can introduce you to new sports you can both participate in together!
- Your safety. Some women living alone may be interested in getting a canine buddy in part for protection. While basically any dog will deter would-be burglars, certain dog breeds are more intimidating than others.
We created a dog selection scorecard to help you organize your thoughts around what you want in your canine companion.
If you’re flexible on some metrics, that’s great! I personally don’t care much about my dog’s coat type, but I really want a dog who is highly athletic and intelligent. Your priorities might be the opposite.
Check out our full pre-adoption series to learn more about where to look for a dog, how to tell if your dog is right for you, and how to navigate the first few weeks.
If you are looking for a purebred dog, Google breed-specific rescues or learn how to find an amazing dog breeder.
Our Picks: The Best Dog Breeds for Women
Now that you’re armed with your list of desired traits and know how to pick out a dog, let’s look at some of the best dog breeds for women. This is just a starter list.
Remember that mixed breed dogs in shelters around the country also make amazing pets, no matter what you’re looking for.
The best dog breed for women who want a protector: Doberman
Dobermans are big, beautiful, and imposing. They can be incredibly dorky and goofy, but are intimidating when it counts. They’re also incredibly loyal and loving, often earning the nickname of “velcro dogs” for always wanting to be by their owner’s side.
Due to often playing the “bad guy” in movies, Dobermans as a breed have dipped in popularity, and so they are less subject to the poor breeding that causes major reactivity and anxiety in German Shepherds, while still providing a similar sense of security.
In three words, Dobermans are:
Be sure to select a Doberman who is friendly and stable with people. You can hire a trainer later to teach your new Dobie to intimidate strangers – if that’s what you’re looking for. Selecting a dog that is suspicious of all strangers is a recipe for scared mailmen and angry neighbors.
Like the idea of a protective dog, but don’t love the idea of a Doberman? Consider:
- Rottweiler.s They’re huge, they’re striking, and they’re goofy.
- Pit Bulls. They’re energetic, tenacious, and misunderstood.
- Boxers. They’re spunky, energetic, and courageous.
The best dog breed for women who love pampering: King Charles Cavalier Spaniel
The King Charles Cavalier Spaniel, or Cavalier, is a peppy little dog. With this little cutie, you’ll be able to cuddle and groom to your heart’s content. Cavaliers come with fewer major genetic health problems than many other small, cute breeds.
In three words, Cavaliers are:
If you’re excited about a best friend who also happens to bring your outfit together, look no further. Dogs aren’t fashion accessories (but the Cavalier would be a good one, if they didn’t need to be walked and fed and loved).
Like the idea of a dog to pamper, but don’t love the idea of a Cavalier? Consider:
- Pomeranians. They’re spunky, energetic, and pocket-sized.
- Poodles. They come in every size, are smart, and have a distinctive coat.
- Papillons. They’re smart, trainable, and attentive.
The best dog breed for active women: Australian Shepherd
You want athleticism, brains, looks, and cuddles? Look no further than the Australian Shepherd.
Australian Shepherds need a lot of mental and physical exercise and might turn you into a dog trainer or marathon runner. If that sort of thing appeals to you, you’ve found your match. Do your homework if anxiety or clinginess is a dealbreaker – they’re common in the breed.
In three words, Australian Shepherds are:
Look at other breeds if you aren’t interested in learning a bit about grooming, training, and exercise. Some Australian Shepherds are bred for herding and dog sports, while others are bred for show and family homes. Be sure to do your research before diving in headfirst with your new Australian Shepherd.
Like the idea of a workout buddy dog, but don’t love the idea of an Australian Shepherd? Consider:
- Vizslas. They’re short-haired, energetic, and smart.
- Labrador Retrievers. They’re playful, attentive, and great family dogs.
- Huskies. They’re independent, athletic, and outdoorsy.
The best dog breed for low-maintenance women: Great Dane
Big dogs don’t need huge homes. In fact, Great Danes are great apartment dogs. They often don’t know their size and love to cuddle. Many Great Danes are very playful and goofy. They’re so big that they tire easily, making exercise easy.
In three words, Great Danes are:
Like many giant dog breeds, Great Danes don’t have the best lifespan. If you want to purchase your Great Dane from a breeder, do research on their health testing practices and the lifespan of their dogs. Adopting a Great Dane from a rescue is a great way to let that dog live out the rest of its life in your loving home.
Like the idea of a low maintenance dog, but don’t love the idea of a Great Dane? Consider:
- Whippets. They’re medium sized, a bit wimpy in the cold, and ultra-cuddly.
- Long Haired Chihuahuas. They’re tiny, cuddly, and gorgeous without requiring intense grooming.
- Bullmastiff. They’re gigantic, lazy, and loveably dopey.
The best dog breed for elegant women: Saluki
Leggy and little-known, the Saluki is part of the Sighthound group. This breed group includes Whippets, Greyhounds, and Afghan Hounds.
Salukis are long-haired and gorgeous, but don’t need intensive grooming. They are bred to run short distances after hares or a lure. Most are happy to relax around your home and impress your neighbors on relatively short walks.
In three words, Salukis are:
Like most sighthounds, it’s important to find the right Saluki for you. A Saluki that is bred to be in a house or show home will be more relaxed than one that is bred to compete in races. You are unlikely to find a Saluki in a shelter near you. Similar breeds include the Longhaired Whippet and Silken Windhound, but they are also difficult to find in some areas.
Like the idea of an elegant dog, but can’t find a Saluki, Silken Windhound, or Longhaired Whippet? Consider:
- Greyhounds. They’re common in rescues, enjoy couches, and will turn heads with their long legs.
- Irish or English Setters. They’re gorgeous, smart, and athletic.
- Samoyeds or American Eskimo Dogs. They’re white, fluffy, and talkative.
What’s the Best Dog Breed for You?
No two women are identical, just like no two dogs are perfectly the same. Spend time thinking about what you want in your canine companion, then do your research on a few breeds.
If possible, meet with several dogs of that breed, the breeder, the dog’s parents, and the dog’s siblings.
Use this list as a starting point for selecting your dog – then let us know what you ended up going with!
Are you a woman who has found their dream dog? Tell us about your perfect pooch in comments, and share why he or she is your best sidekick!