Man’s best friend earned their nickname, and they constantly wow owners by living up to it. Owners are far from perfect, but dogs are resilient, loyal, and eager to please. Still, why are dogs faithful?
Domestication Of Dogs
Canines and humans have developed a special relationship since the late Stone Age, according to a 2015 study on the genetic make-up of a wolf’s bone. These domesticated wolves and wolf-dog hybrids hunted alongside of humans, but we can only guess at the day-to-day relationship between them.
Science does show us the evolution from the wild wolf-like hybrid to the domesticated canine, and researchers believe that humans selectively bred wild wolves with their domesticated dogs. This is based on DNA results linking the ancient Taimyr wolf to the Siberian husky and Greenland sled dogs.
We also know that some breeds might have lived with and interbred with wolves, but researchers aren’t convinced that all breeds descended from wolves. Only 14 breeds share a strong genetic link to wolves.
Pack mentality is an unspoken bond your companion makes based on instinct and their view of you. To be in your dog’s pack is a high honor that you’ll have to earn. Loving and caring for your best friend is usually all it takes. Some dogs take more patience, especially strays and rescues.
Once you are part of your dog’s pack, in most cases, your companion sees you as an equal and not their leader. However, the pack mentality allows for flexibility in your role in their life and their view of you.
Humans and dogs have lived, worked, and played side by side for centuries, so what if their faithfulness is now part of their natural instinct? It’s one of many possibilities and might be the immeasurable missing link.
Personality and Temperament
Most dogs are naturally kind, loving, and loyal to who they deem their owner. This includes so called bully breeds. Can their loyalty stem from their personalities and their breed’s temperament? It’s possible. Researchers believe owners bred wild dogs and wolves mostly based on their individual temperament traits.
Individual personalities vary among dogs much like their human companions. How much human interaction dictates this is unknown. You can view this in stories of abused dogs that are still loyal despite their owner’s actions toward them. This can lead researchers to believe loyalty isn’t learned behavior, but a personality or breed born trait. You can also see it as an extension of the pack mentality.
Dog Loyalty is Not a Breed Trait
Some breeds are naturally more accepting and loving of people they meet, regardless of owner. You shouldn’t confuse these traits with loyalty because you must earn that respect from your companion. However, you can see it’s easier to earn with some breeds and other breeds have their own definition of loyalty.
Alaskan malamutes are notoriously loving breeds that will do anything for affection; this includes letting burglars in as long as they get a pat or a scratch behind the ears. A malamute is certainly no less loyal to you or your family, but they don’t view your property or belongings as an extension of you or their pack.
Replace that malamute with a Doberman, German shepherd, American Staffordshire terrier, or any protective breed, and you will have a far different ending to the same scenario.
Fiercely Loyal Breeds
• German Shepherd
• Yorkshire Terrier
• Golden Retriever
• Labrador Retriever
• Doberman Pinscher
• Brittany Spaniel
An Overview of Why Dogs Are Faithful
Dog loyalty is a fascinating topic that scientists and pet owners are still figuring out. Some evidence does support that individual breeds can most certainly take loyalty to a different level. However, you shouldn’t base your dog’s ability to be a faithful companion on their heritage alone. Many mixed breeds are just as loyal for example, which lends more credibility to domestication, pack mentality, and individual temperament and personalities as being key factors.