Child cuddling a dog

Affectionate Dog Breeds Australia -
The Cuddliest Canines

Written By Eloisa Thomas | Canine Coach, Double M.A in Anthropology.
Edited & Fact Checked By Renae Soppe | B.A Journalism & Science. 
Last Updated: 18th January 2024

What does your ideal dog look like? Are they cuddly and happy to see you, jumping up onto your lap and showering you with kisses? Do they cuddle up to you when they sense you are having a bad day, just to let you know they will always be there for you with their love? Sorry to break it to you, but not all dog breeds are enthusiastic about showing their affection. 

No worries, if you’re looking for the most affectionate dog breeds to adopt, we’ve got you. Our dog experts have gathered their favourite, most cuddly dogs for you to choose from!

Are All Dogs Affectionate?

Not really. Like people, some dogs are loving and will gladly show you how important you are for them, and others… aren’t. The stereotype of people-pleasing golden retriever is just that, a stereotype! I know I’ve known my fair share of aloof dogs.

So how do you choose an affectionate dog? Every dog is a distinct individual, but general breeds have personality traits that will give you a better idea of their adult behaviour [1], meaning it’s a good idea to choose one that’s predisposed to affectionate traits - if that's the kind of canine companion you crave. 

There isn’t a simple answer to explain why dogs are affectionate, and why some dogs love cuddling more than others. While some breeds, like the Chow-chow, don’t like cuddles at all, others need physical contact to thrive. But disliking cuddles doesn’t mean your dog doesn’t love you! Some breeds are just more affectionate than others: their loyalty to you is still unparalleled!

How To Choose A Cuddly Dog

So you’ve decided you want an affectionate dog to be the next addition to the family. That’s great news! It means you’ll have a cuddly partner to snuggle on the couch with. Here’s what to look out for when you’re meeting potential candidates:

  • Choose an adult dog: Adult dogs have well-established personalities, so you’ll be 100% sure of their affection levels before adopting them! While puppies might be cuter, they can and will change as they grow. In fact, I’ve known of many affectionate puppies that grew up to be independent adult dogs that enjoyed their own company better. By adopting an adult dog you’ll be able to see their developed personality before making a decade-long commitment.

PRO TIP: Nervous about adopting an older dog? Go to your local RSPCA and try volunteering. You can take care of rescued dogs, or even become a foster family! It will give you a chance of interacting with pups without the pressure of adoption, and you can have a better feel to know whether an adult dog is right for you.

  • Ask their previous handlers: This is the easiest way to ensure you’re adopting an affectionate dog! Just ask the people that are in charge of taking care of them. Of course, this is even easier if you’re considering adopting from a rescue centre or your local RSPCA. They will have first-hand experience interacting with your future pup and will know if they love a hug.

PRO TIP: Are you considering getting a young puppy? Then asking their handler about their personality won’t work. But you can ask about the parent’s personality! Talk to your breeder or the owner of the mother and ask about her personality. While there’s some degree of variability even among litter mates, you can have a better idea of your puppy’s future personality by knowing that of their parents.

  • Set your expectations: Being “affectionate” can look very different for very different people. Do you expect a dog to spend hours cuddling on the couch with you? Do you want a pup that’s always ready for a walk and some playtime? Or are you looking for a smart pup that goes with you on your day-to-day? Whatever affection means to you, make a list of what you’re expecting. Then choose a pup based on that. Some affectionate dog breeds can be very clingy, while others love their time with you but can handle being alone. It’s important to make sure you know what you want!
  • Choose a smaller dog: This is a generalisation, and of course you can find small and aloof dogs. However, small dog breeds were generally selected to be companion dogs. This means only the cuddliest, most affectionate of them were bred. As a result, it’s more common to find cuddly dogs among smaller breeds than among larger ones. You should still ask the previous handler or breeder to make sure the specific dog are affectionate though!

PRO TIPS: How To Make A Dog More Affectionate

What can you do if your dog doesn’t seem interested in showing affection?

Dogs have distinct personalities. This means that there are core traits that won’t change, regardless of what you do. Plus, you can’t ever force a dog to show affection they don’t feel - that won’t work either. Nevertheless, you can train, socialise and reinforce positive traits to make your dog the cuddliest version of themselves.

  • Reinforce bonds: A dog will only be affectionate if they love you. And, while this seems obvious, you need to interact with your dog to make a bond with them! Of course, a newly adopted dog won’t necessarily feel attached to you in less than 24 hours. To make the bonds with your dog stronger, it’s important to create positive interactions filled with love, praise and patience.
  • Plan some training sessions: This works in two ways. First, you’ll spend more time interacting with your dog, which will strengthen your bonds. Second, it will mentally stimulate your pup. A mentally tired dog is much more likely to want to snuggle in the couch!
  • Make sure you offer enough exercise: Is your dog too active to be cuddly? Then you’re probably not giving them enough playtime. Make sure you’re scheduling a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day, plus training sessions, to keep them occupied and healthy.
  • Only use positive reinforcement: This might sound obvious, but your dog won’t trust you if you yell, hit or scare them. Make sure all your interactions with your dog (and whenever your dog is in the room) are positive, calm and convey affection. This way, they’ll instinctively know you’re trustworthy and they can love on you.

The Most Affectionate Small Dog Breeds

Since many cuddly dogs are small and toy breeds, we’ve dedicated a whole category to them! No worries, we’ll also cover the most affectionate large dog breeds below. In the meantime, here are some of the most loving dogs with a small frame:


Chihuahua Puppy

Of course, we couldn’t make a list of the most cuddle dog breeds without mentioning the popular Chihuahua. These small dogs are also smart as a whip and have the biggest personality you’ll find. These tiny dogs are very strong-minded and want to take charge if you don’t train them well.

Chihuahuas are great for people looking for some sass in-between snuggling. These pups will give you a run for your money and they demand consistent training and socialisation to be happy.

In general, this breed is better for households with calm older adults and teenagers. Young children can unknowingly hurt chihuahuas, and these dogs can get snippy if they are handled roughly. Chihuahuas generally choose a special “person” in the household to whom they get attached and they’ll be especially cuddly with them.

On the flip side, their strong devotion and loyalty can make them overprotective, noisy and reserved around strangers. It’s important to provide ample socialisation to ensure your Chihuahua stays well-behaved. Although they are small, this breed needs consistent exercise to stay happy and a daily walk is a must.

Despite their amazing character, Chihuahuas are commonly abandoned by irresponsible owners. Adopting a rescue pup is a great way to add a Chi to your family while giving a second chance to a pup waiting at the pound! Here are some Australian rescue groups that will probably help you:



Have you ever heard about the Cavoodle? This is one of the most popular designer dogs, and according experts, it’s currently the favourite dog in Aussie households.[2] The Cavoodle is the mix between a purebred Poodle and a purebred Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

They are very affectionate, gentle and good with kids of all ages, Cavoodles have increased in popularity in the last 10 years and also make our list of the best family dogs. Of course, since they are a crossbreed, their exact size and personality can vary greatly. In general, Cavoodles are small to medium dogs, weighing between 5 and 12 kgs.

Related: Cavoodle Dog Breed Profile.

Merging the personality of a Poodle and a Cavalier, this crossbreed is smart, playful and eager to please. They are very easy to train and make great pets for first-time owners. On the flip side, they tend to be very vocal, so if you dislike constant barking, this isn’t the breed for you!

Do you want to add a Cavoodle to your family? Then we recommend adoption. While there are no Cavoodle-specific rescue groups, their increasing popularity also means they are abandoned more often. Try these poodle rescue and ask if they have any Cavoodle pups waiting for a home, surely they’ll be able to help:


Funny pug puppy sittng

Funny and unique, Pugs are playful by nature and also make our list of best dogs for first time owners. This breed was created by Chinese royalty, which explains their distinctive appearance! For centuries Pugs have been bred as lapdogs, so it’s no wonder they are so loving towards their family!

These dogs are pretty adaptable and fit well with young families and elderly people alike. Because they are a brachycephalic breed they are relatively inactive and can’t be left unattended in the heat. Heat exhaustion is a real threat with this breed, so they aren’t the right choice if you want a sporty companion to go on jogs with. Pugs love to snuggle with their people, play tricks and make you laugh. They also have a mischievous streak, and they tend to get in trouble a lot, so you’ll need to be patient and have a sense of humour!

We recommend adoption instead of buying! Check out some local rescues here:

Jack Russell Terrier

Jack Russell Terrier

Although Terriers aren’t known for being the most loving breed, Jack Russels are very affectionate. This is a very active breed that loves their daily walks and to be petted. Attention-seeking, playful and smart, Jack Russels are compact and muscular.

This breed has a lively spirit and, like all Terriers, enjoy being outdoors. Nevertheless, after a day of playing and hard work, the Jack Russell will happily cuddle with you on the couch.

It’s important to note this breed has a very strong prey drive. This means they need socialisation from a very young age to make sure they respond well to recall. They also need consistent exercise, so moderate intensity walks once or twice a day are a must. If you can’t commit to that kind of physical activity, it’s best if you choose another breed!



Elegant and poised, the Papillon is a beautiful dog to look at, and great a companion at the same time! This breed was selected to be a dedicated lap dog, so snuggling up with their loved ones is their favourite thing to do. They remain curious and playful well into their adult years, making them great for families with school-age children.

Due to their small size, Papillons do well in apartments and homes without a lot of backyard, although they still need at least a daily walk. These energetic dogs can get destructive if you don’t provide them with enough exercise, so make sure to take them on walks to burn off some playful energy!

The Most Loving Medium & Large Dog Breeds

Small pups aren’t the only cuddly dogs! Some medium and large can be very affectionate towards their people. If you’d rather have a larger dog, here are some of your options:

English Bulldog

English Bulldog

Despite their serious looks, the English Bulldog is a sweetie waiting for cuddles. Even though in the Eighteenth Century this breed was originally bred to fight other animals, nothing could be farther from the current English Bulldog.

Related: Low Energy Dogs

These gentle pups love their people fiercely, and can even withstand grabby children! English Bulldogs love to snuggle on the couch and their naturally sweet character makes them relatively easy to train. These dogs are people pleasers with a funny streak, so you’ll have a lot of fun training them and playing.

Labrador & Golden Retriever

Lab & Golden

Of course, we couldn’t make a list with the most affectionate dog breeds without mentioning the ever-popular Labrador and Golden Retriever [3]. These are two different breeds, but since they share many similar traits we decided to count them as one.

Both Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers have been considered the pinnacle of family dogs for decades and are great breeds for first time owners. Their gentle nature and sweet disposition make them great with kids. While they are very active, they’ll gladly join you for a lazy afternoon of cuddles… after going on their daily walk of course! This is one of those breeds that, if you offer enough exercise, will enjoy being couch potatoes while at home.

Want to add either of these breeds to your family? Then adopting is the way to go. Here are some local rescues that can help:

Border Collie

border collie

The smartest of dogs, Border Collies have been one of the most popular breeds in Australia for decades. These dogs are muscular, highly energetic and love having work to do. Due to their herding traits, Border Collies are independent workers that form strong bonds with their handler and top our list of the most loyal dog breeds. On the flip side, they do need a lot of consistent exercise if you plan on keeping one as a pet.

Despite their active nature, Border Collies can be real love-bugs if given the chance. Of course, this only happens when they want to rest after a long work day! You will need to provide at least one hour of moderate physical exercise, as well as weekly training sessions, to make sure your Border Collie stays challenged.

Related: Border Collie Breed Profile

Once you’ve made them part of an active lifestyle, Border Collies love to goof around, receive pets and snuggle in front of the TV!

Interested in this breed? Try contacting one of these rescue groups. They’ll surely have many pups waiting for a home like yours!

Mixed-Breed Dogs

Mix breed dog

Cross-breed, mixed-breed or mutts, these can be one of the cuddliest dogs ever. In general, it’s fair to say rescue dogs or dogs adopted from the streets are loving and loyal to their people. These dogs are proof that a pup’s character is mostly a result of their training and socialisation, not their breed!

After being trained, socialised and educated, a mixed-breed dog of any size can be as cuddly as the fanciest designer lap dog. Luckily, more and more Aussie households are considering the possibility of adopting from rescue centres. This is a great way to find a new life companion, while also giving a second chance to one of the thousands of dogs abandoned every year in the country.

If you’re interested, contact your local RSPCA, the South Australian Humane Society, or other community dog rescue group for more information.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for the most loving dog breeds, try meeting one of the ones above! All these dogs will be more than happy to play, cuddle and receive all the pets you’ll want to give them.

What traits are you looking for in a dog? Let us know in the comments below!


  1. Holmes, B. (2017). "Not just a hound dog". New Scientist, 233(3117), 38-41.
  2. "List reveals Australia's 20 most popular dog breeds for 2020". August 9, 2020. Western Advocate. Retrieved August 19, 2023. 
  3. Persson, M. E., et al. (2018). "Sociality genes are associated with human-directed social behaviour in golden and Labrador retriever dogs". PeerJ, 6, e5889.

Eloisa Thomas

Eloisa Thomas is Gentle Dog Trainers Canine Coach & Anthropologist.

With a double master's degree in Anthropology and awarded a Chancellor's International Scholarship to pursue a PhD in History at the University of Warwick (UK), she's well equipped to write well written and factual canine information that will actually help people understand their dogs better.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}