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Which Dog Breeds Make Us Happiest?

G. John Cole
Written by
G. John Cole
Written by
G. John Cole
Senior Writer
Graeme is a senior writer at ProtectMyPaws, working with our in-house team of data analysts and researchers to produce original studies and reports you will find under the Pet Care section of the site. Even though he doesn't have any pets at home now, Graeme grew up with a yellow Lab called Jake and a goldfish called Rudolph.
James Booth
Edited by
James Booth
Edited by
James Booth
Senior Writer
James is the managing editor of ProtectMyPaws and his main focus is to ensure every article on our site is backed by trustworthy research and written in a clear way. He is a self-proclaimed cat person after growing up with grumpy Hemingway and later taking in feral Louie.
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Dogs have evolved to make us happy. In their 33,000 years by our side, dogs have developed a new eyebrow muscle to help them make those ‘love me’ eyes.

Of course, dogs don’t exist only to make us happy. Dogs exist to be happy, too. That ‘love me’ eye-contact kick-starts an oxytocin feedback loop. In other words, you and doggo toss the feels back and forth in a game of emotional fetch where the reward keeps getting bigger and bigger. That’s why the deal works out so well: your dog loves you 45.2% more than a cat would. Because happy breeds happy.

But dogs have changed in many other ways since they stopped being wolves. Breeds with wildly different characteristics have their own ways of cheering you up – from high-jinx to perpetual petting requests.

Protect My Paws wanted to know which dog’s methods are most effective. So, we analyzed nearly a quarter of a million dog-themed tweets using the NRC Lexicon, a way of scoring a sentence for its emotional content. We found the small, medium, and large dog breeds that give the most happiness – as well as the breeds that inspire the most sadness, fear, and trust.

The Affenpinscher is the Dog Breed That Makes Us Happiest

Nearly a quarter of the words we utter about the ‘black devil’ are joyous. The affenpinscher is also known as the monkey terrier for his apish features – and his mischievous behavior. “This isn’t a breed you train,” according to one professional dog handler. “He’s like a human. You befriend him.”

The affenpinscher is one of just two ‘small’ dogs in our top 10. The Bullmastiff and Chesapeake Bay Retriever are both large dogs. That means six out of 10 top joy-givers are medium-sized dogs. At the other end of the scale, the small poodle (72) and Shiba Inu (60) inspire the fewest joyful words per 1,000.

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is the Dog Breed That Makes Us Saddest

If you’ve ever known a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, you’ve known a complex dog. Their tiny bodies are packed with rock-hard muscle: “Staffies pour a gallon of dog into a quart-size container,” says the American Kennel Club. But her fierce looks and loyalty are matched by a need for human company that won’t let go. Whether she’s breaking your heart with her cries or breaking your ornaments with her ecstatic acrobatics, the Staffy is the one who will reduce you to tears.

Sometimes, the reason for the sad Staffie-themed tweet is a little less complex: “A few people commented I looked a bit sad yesterday,” tweets one actual staffie. “I’ve got a bit of tooth ache.  The lovely vet is going to X-Ray my teeth on Wednesday & if necessary remove my tooth.”

The Akita is the Dog Breed That Scares the Most

The Akita is a Japanese breed that inspires fear-themed tweets in all who behold him. Some of these are by tweeters who consider this powerful fluffball to be scary. Others are about this big softie himself having a fearful moment.

“I used to be scared to be home alone at my house and then my family adopted a pitbull and an Akita and I feel INVINCIBLE,” tweets Rylie Seidl.

“if anyone needs fluffy therapy here’s my 130 pound akita being a little weenie and hiding between the bunk bed cause he got scared listening to my mom arguing on the phone,” counters @jimnpak.

The Saint Bernard is the Dog Breed We Trust the Most

Of course he is. The Saint Bernard is the Ted Lasso of dogs. Strong and gentle, calm and reassuring, the Saint has got your back and will only use his superpowers in the name of good. The Bernard’s human-like wrinkled brow has been a welcome sight for stranded mountaineers in the past. Today he is a trusted ‘nanny’ – although you should never leave a child alone with a dog, particularly considering the Saint’s weight (around 140lbs).

There’s something about big dogs that inspires trust. Six of Twitter’s most trusted dogs are in the Large category. Number two is the Komondor, who’ll take care of your sheep but also looks like she could mop up your tears/spilled milk.

The Happiest Dog In Every Size

You’re looking for happiness. But joy comes in different sizes. The most important thing when looking for a dog is your mutual suitability. Part of that means finding a dog who fits in your home.

The affenpinscher is the dog that makes people the happiest, and he happens to be a small fellow. But a puppy of this model is hard to find. This size category’s number two is far more common. The West Highland White Terrier (or Westie) inspires 192 joyful words per 500 on Twitter. “Feisty, energetic, and determined,” the Westie is the bundle of smiles you can pick up and move around at your own behest (although she’ll then run back to where you picked her).

Higher up this article, the Staffie was named ‘the dog that makes you saddest.’ We also mentioned that the Staffie is a complex dog. Well, surprise! The Staffie is also the medium-sized dog that makes you happiest. Because as much as her crying breaks your heart when you leave, her cannonball runs of joy on your return will wipe memories of your miserable workday from your mind. She’s so complex!

Care to super-size your dog-based joy? The Chesapeake Bay Retriever weighs in at 80lbs of ‘just happy to be here.’ This Labrador-esque duck dog is the state pooch of Maryland and encapsulates the state motto: “strong deeds, gentle words.” A boisterous outdoorsy dog, the Chessie is a ‘happy barker’ and remains calm and friendly with non-threatening strangers.

Dog Love is a Two-Way Street

The human isn’t the only one in the relationship that needs to be happy.

To paraphrase JFK (a famous dog lover) – “ask not what your dog can do for you – ask what you can do for your dog.”

If the answer to this question makes you happy, you’re in a good place to be a selfless dog owner. And it’s a scientific fact that with dogs, the more love you put in, the more love you get back.

For a full rundown of which dogs share the most happiness (and other emotions), check out our full data below.


First compiled a list of dog breeds using Wikipedia and cross-referenced this with breeds listed on Pet Place. We only included breeds categorized by size – large, medium, or small. We used the Twitter API to extract tweets relating to each breed (239,367 tweets were collected in total), dropping any breed with less than 20 tweets.

Using the NRC Lexicon, we calculated the share of words related to one of ten given emotions for each breed, including happy, joyful, sad, scared, and trusted. With this we ignored the words that are not presented in NRC Lexicon and pre-excluded words that appear within the breed name, e.g., the word “saint” from “saint bernard.’

Finally, we ranked the breeds by the percentage of emotions and formed the tables of top 10 breeds by emotion.

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