Personalities are what sets us apart from others and make some of us get along while others don’t. This is just as true for animals, who all have their own distinct personality.
That’s probably why there is constant debate around cats vs. dogs - because people of different personalities get along with cats or dogs…depending on their personality! But personality isn’t just limited to species.
That is, even individual animals have their own personalities, which is what makes your pet so different from someone else’s pet.
Let’s take a look at the types of dog personalities and see which one fits your dog the best.
Worker type dogs are not easy to care for, though. They have a lot of energy and want to have daily jobs to keep them busy. If your lifestyle is more laidback and there isn’t a lot to do around the house, a worker type dog may be a challenge for you to care for.
These dogs are very smart and need a lot of training and exercise to keep them mentally and physically satisfied, so if you’re looking at breeds that fall into the worker category, you should first consider whether you’d be able to give them enough exercise and mental stimulation. A working dog without work can be a very unhappy dog.
One thing to note: these dogs don't always have to be "working a job"; they can also be perfectly happy pets as long as they still have a purpose. Even if it's herding kids 🙂
Guardian type dogs are the ones that, as the name suggests, are protective and watchful. They will do anything it takes to protect their families and can be very imposing to unfamiliar people. These dogs are the ones most people go for when they’re looking for a guard dog, particularly if the breed is also large.
Dog breeds that are good guardians include:
For guardian dogs, it’s always important for the owner to be just as confident as the dog themselves and clearly show the dog who the alpha is in the relationship, because otherwise they can start having dominance issues. Dogs with this personality typically have one main person to whom they defer and who they consider the Alpha in their pack.
While they may be very protective and act aggressively towards strangers or anyone they feel threatens their pack, they are usually not aggressive towards their own families, and are usually very loving towards them. It’s important to make sure you socialize these dogs the right way to prevent any issues.
Because they are very high energy, they can be exhausting and require a lot of attention.
They’re also somewhat stubborn and don’t focus on one thing for too long which can make it difficult to train them. Some of these dogs can be a bit clumsy, and if the breed of dog is large, this can easily mean disaster. You need to have a lot of patience and energy to care for a clown type dog.
You may think watchdog types and guardian types are the same, but watchdogs are not necessarily guardians.
These dogs are alert and vigilant, but may not have the same focus as a guard dog and the smallest noise can set them off. When they thing they sense something wrong or a stranger on their territory, they want to let everyone know that they’ve sensed something - even if it sometimes turns out to be nothing.
These types of dogs can have barking issues, and can be difficult to deal with if they are not properly socialized. Because they are wary of everything, they may have issues with aggression and anxiety, so they need to be properly trained. Watchdogs also tend to have a favorite person which can make them possessive and resultantly, more aggressive.
If you have little patience for noise, this type of dog personality may not be suited for you.
This personality type is not necessarily specific to any breed, since it could apply to many of them. But dogs who are family types typically need more attention than others, and could have a pretty fair overlap with guardian type personalities as well. Socialization is needed to make these types of dogs understand what is expected of them and who they should be most friendly with.
Dogs with an independent personality type are usually highly intelligent. These dogs have their own agenda that they want to follow, one that does not always coincide with what their owner wants. Unless they are well trained, this can create a conflict between the dog and the owner.
These dogs are also very curious and may run off to follow a scent, a squirrel or anything else they want to explore. At they same time, they can also get bored easily if there is nothing to stimulate them.
Independent types are usually also worker types and know how to do their job without needing to be told. These types think a lot, so they don’t like the limitations of traditional training. You’ll need to be creative to think of how to train this type of dog in a way that doesn’t bore them.
Dogs with independent personalities like to spend time with people but are a bit cautious around unfamiliar faces. Still, these dogs can be great pets if their attitude fits well with yours, because they are self-sufficient and not very high maintenance.
Athletic dogs are those that like being outside and enjoy a sporty, outdoorsy lifestyle. This could mean dogs that like running or hiking or trekking through the woods.
Athletic dogs are not just athletic in that they’re physically fit, but they also live for the exercise. They’re the dog equivalent of the guy who’s always at the gym.
This type of dog is always ready for physical entertainment, and are usually quite sociable. They have a lot of energy and like to have a job to do, similar to the working type. Athletic dogs need a significant amount of exercise, so you should consider whether you can provide this if you plan to get one.
Social dogs love being in the spotlight, whether they are at home or outside. These dogs love being the center of attention, and will do anything it takes to make sure they get that. Highly social dogs will greet everyone (in an attempt to get the attention they crave) regardless of how much energy they have.
Though they like attention, they’re not necessarily the type to get along with everyone and may not like too much interaction either. These dogs are usually very smart and can be trained to do a variety of tricks (especially if they get attention for it).
Most dogs are usually a combination of the different types of personalities, and don’t necessarily fit into one box. In fact, your dog may even have a completely different personality! These are just some of the more common types.
While breed usually does have an impact on personality due to natural instincts and energy levels, not all dogs of the same breed will share the same personality either. When I got my Border Collie mix, everyone warned me about how high energy he was going to be, but it turned out that he was a pretty laid back independent guardian dog. So you never know.
In any case, knowing your dog’s personality helps you to understand their needs and how you can train and work with them to both meet their needs and also create a safe and loving home so that both you and your dog can live together happily.