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We’ve talked a few times on the blog about dogs that stick like Velcro. There are many reasons for a dog to be clingy, from age and new situations to their health and simple boredom. But did you know that certain dogs actually have a tendency to be more clingy than others?
Every time I take Janice and Leroy to the dog park, I’m always amazed at the range of dog personalities that I see. Some dogs are excited to be out and about, playing with their humans and meeting new friends. Others are on a mission, sniffing out the best places to make their presence known. Still others are content to just lay in the sun while younger puppies bounce around nearby. Dogs are just like people in that they all have unique personalities.
However, it’s also true that many dogs fall into “types” based on their breed. It’s rare to see a lazy Aussie, for example, because those dogs have been bred to maintain a high energy level. These traits have been selected by breeders for so many years that it would be hard for the dog to go against this natural characteristic. In the same way, some dogs are just more clingy than others. In many cases, these dogs were bred as companion animals for rich women in the Victorian era and after, so the dogs were genetically taught that to be clingy was their job.
Not everyone likes that. Some people prefer a dog that can be a little more independent. However, others want a dog that will hang out with them, go on adventures with them, and be the perfect furry companion. Whatever your preference, it’s good to know what breeds to look out for when considering how clingy your dog may be in the future. Here are seven dogs breeds that are nearly always extremely affectionate and attached.
1. Great Dane
The “Scooby” of dogs, Great Danes are known for being gentle giants that lope, lumber, and generally goof around. They are also known for being incredibly affectionate and a little bit needy. Just like how some small dogs think they are big, Great Danes often suffer from the misunderstanding that they are tiny lap dogs. Getting a Dane means signing up for years of clingy cuddles.
2. Labrador Retriever
The “All American” dog, Labrador Retrievers are hands-down the most popular family pet according to the AKC. There are many great reasons for that fact. These dogs are loyal, smart, fun, and great with kids and other pets. But if you’re looking for an independent dog, the Lab is not it. This dog craves being with his family as much as possible, and is prone to anxious behavior when left alone for long periods of time.
3. Italian Greyhounds
A great many toy breeds could be considered very clingy, but the spunky Italian Greyhound takes the cake when it comes to affection. These dogs are 100% lap dogs, and aren’t fond of being kicked out of what they’ve decided is their human bed. I’ve known two of these, and both were attached at the hip with their owners. This is a great dog if you want a constant companion to get wrapped up in.
The Affenpinscher was specifically bred as a designer companion dog for rich Victorian ladies, so it’s no surprise to see them on this list. This is a different type of clingy, however. Affenpinschers are good snuggle buddies, but more than that, they are just all-around busy bodies. They want to be in your business because they consider themselves the ruler of the roost and must know everything that is happening.
5. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Another designer breed intended as a companion, the King Charles Spaniel was a royal favorite for decades. These little dogs are absolutely adorable with their long curly ears and their pretty coloring – and that could be part of why it’s so easy for King Charles Spaniel owners to get just as clingy as the dogs themselves. If you want kisses and snuggles from a dog, this breed is a top contender.
6. American Pit Bull
While the Pit Bull has earned a bad reputation over the years due to bad people and improper training, these dogs actually used to be known as “nanny dogs” because of how attached they become to children. Pit Bulls are extremely clingy and affectionate with their families, only turning into protectors with strangers. If you want a clingy dog to grow up beside your child, and you’re willing to put in the work to train them, the Pit Bull is an excellent choice.
Chihuahuas are a strange breed, often walking the line between overly affectionate and a little bit mean. The truth is that Chihuahuas have a strong preference for their chosen human, and don’t much care for anyone else. These little dogs will be over-the-top affectionate and clingy with you – kisses are their strong suit! – but be careful around children and other people. These dogs prefer to cling to just one person.
8. Irish Wolfhound
Another gentle giant that thinks he’s a lapdog, the Irish Wolfhound is a big shaggy beast that will win you over with his soulful eyes. These dogs seem like they should be aloof and noble, but in truth they just want to snuggle up with a human for lots of hugs. I knew an Irish Wolfhound once who was basically a shadow for his person – the two were almost never apart, despite the owner attempting to train some independence into the dog. Some pups just want to be close!
9. English Bulldog or French Bulldog
The last one is a tie between two bulldogs. Whether you want the big snoring version that seems to be the unofficial mascot for college dudes, or the daintier toy version that is a popular choice for rich housewives, bulldogs all share an innate clinginess. These dogs love being with their people, and also seem to thrive on the attention they get from strangers as well. Clingy and good natured, these are good dogs for a person who wants a companion they can take on the go.
Dealing With Your Clingy Dog
So let’s say you’ve adopted one of these breeds, and now you aren’t sure what to do with your newly acquired shadow. If you weren’t expecting such a clingy dog, it can be an adjustment to get used to. Don’t worry – you don’t have to resign yourself to a life of never leaving the house again.
First, you can simply embrace the clinginess and celebrate the fact that your dog always wants to be with you. If you live in a dog-friendly area where your pet is welcome inside establishments, then why leave them at home if you don’t have to? Be sure your dog is very well trained to walk on a leash, and hit the streets together. Teach them to enjoy car rides as well. They’ll love being with you as often as they can, and you’ll earn yourself the most loyal friend for life.
But if you prefer a dog who can withstand your work hours without becoming anxious, there are some things you can do to help:
Try desensitization. The goal is to get your dog used to you leaving a room so that they don’t immediately hop up and follow you. With your dog lounging in the same room as you, repeatedly get up and leave, coming right back in. They’ll probably follow the first few times, but if you do it often enough, your dog will likely realize that it’s no big deal, and stay put.
Give your dog plenty of mental stimulation so they stay busy. A Kong filled with treats is a great idea, or you can try apuzzle board where the treats are hidden under flappable parts. And be sure you’re giving the dog lots of physical exercise when you are around, because it can help tire them out so they don’t have the energy to be too clingy.
Give your dog another job. Many of these breeds are clingy because they were taught that it is their job to be companions. Give your dog another job that will make them feel useful, such as herding the kids, dragging laundry baskets around while you clean, or alerting you to anyone entering your driveway.
When Does Clinginess Become Anxiety
For most of these dogs, clinginess is just a very affectionate method of showing how much they love you. But there is another level of clingy that becomes unhealthy for the dog. When a dog is showing signs of anxiety rather than just being super happy to see you, there could be a medical problem.
Clinginess in a dog looks like a desire to be around you, a playfulness that is manifesting as adorable affection. Your dog may be excited, but as soon as you start giving them the attention they want, they should settle down and just enjoy being with you.
An anxious dog, on the other hand, will not calm down because their clinginess is rooted in fear or pain. If your dog is barking or howling to an excessive degree, pacing, drooling, or panting, having accidents when they are fully house trained, or only getting very excited when you are preparing to leave the house, then they are likely experiencing anxiety.
While there was a study from 2001 that suggested that clingy breeds like these nine have a tendency to develop anxiety more than others, an exact relationship between those two things has never been proven. If your dog is clingy, don’t worry that he’ll automatically develop anxiety. But do keep an eye out for behavior that seems out of the ordinary. A trip to the vet may be in order.
For me personally, I love my clingy dogs. Janice and Leroy are a key part of my every day routine, and without them, I would feel lost. The fact that they are clingy works perfectly with the fact that I am a clingy owner! There’s nothing wrong with embracing your clingy dog and letting them be an essential part of your life.
However, if you adopt a dog that prefers to stay close, and you need to be able to leave them alone for work or other reasons, you can still have a happy life together. You’ll just need to do a little bit of work training them. They need to understand that you will offer them plenty of attention when you are around, so don’t shirk on the cuddles when you can! As long as your dog knows that they are doing a good job being your companion, they’ll learn to enjoy a life that is just a little less clingy than their instincts tell them to be.
If you’re starting the search for a new dog and don’t prefer a clingy pup, be sure to consider these breeds before you adopt! And don’t think that a mixed breed from a shelter will automatically save you from a clingy dog, either. In many cases, rescue dogs are insecure about their role in a family, so become more clingy than they might be otherwise.
At the end of the day, understanding your dog’s unique personality quirks will help you keep them healthy and happy for the rest of their life.