There are hundreds of quotes about the loyalty of dogs, as well as movies, legends, books, poems, and even statues depicting their notorious commitment.
But do you wonder why are dogs so loyal and whether your pup loves you only because you have given it shelter and you feed it or whether it is in the genes of canines to be faithful animals?
Read on to discover some theories explaining why dogs are so loyal.
Are Dogs Actually Loyal?
Were famous dogs like Hachiko, Bobbie the Wonder Dog, and others more of an exception to the rule rather than the rule that dogs are the most loyal animals and man’s best friends?
For centuries, humans have tried to find a scientific explanation that can confirm or deny whether dogs are really loyal.
But as dog parents, you probably already know the answer to this question. In fact, this is probably reaffirmed every day when you get home and your four-legged buddy excitedly greets you at the door.
At the same time, it may not be as enthusiastic about meeting strangers.
The Main Theories Explaining The Loyalty Of Dogs
But if you want to delve deeper into the question of whether dogs are really loyal and why this trait is one of the leading characteristics of the entire Canis Familiaris, better known as the domestic dog species, then read on for some of the leading theories.
You And Your Pup Are Part Of One Pack
One of the most common theories explaining the dog’s exceptional loyalty is in the history of the species. Tens of thousands of years ago, before they became domesticated, they were wolves. Wolves live in packs and, as such, are pack animals that are loyal and firmly bonded to all other members of the group. This is essential for their survival, so loyalty can be interpreted as an inborn instinct for survival also.
Thus today’s dogs may still carry that trait, but only this time, the pack members are you and your family or other close people.
You, as the dog owner, are (hopefully) the pack leader, so your pup will remain loyal and stay with you if you take the time and put in the effort to create a strong bond with it!
Your Dog Is Happier When It Is With You
You probably know this already, but both you and your dog are happier when you are together. There have been some actual scientific studies that prove this theory.
One of them, published in 2015, found that oxytocin levels in dogs increase right after they interact with their owners. Oxytocin is the hormone of happiness that dogs and human brains produce.
You Provide Everything The Dog Needs
You may not have thought of it this way, but if you have a dog, you are its sole provider for everything it needs to survive, live, and be happy and well.
You provide your furry friend with shelter, food, water, treats, play, love, and, when necessary veterinary care.
The theory is that your pup is eternally grateful for this and pays you back through its adoration and loyalty.
There Is A Deep Bond Between A Dog And Its Human
In most cases, a dog creates a profound bond with its owner or human family and becomes more than just a family member.
If you are lucky to have such a deep bond with your pup, then you can be pretty sure that it will remain loyal to you for as long as you live.
Dogs Show Empathy
Many dog parents agree that their furbaby understands them better than anyone else. Canines have the unique ability to sense when their humans are sick, upset, or otherwise down and will do their best to comfort them.
Dogs will sense your mood and will accommodate to it, including protecting you when you are scared and being with you when you are lonely or sad.
This display of true empathy can also be described as boundless loyalty.
Dogs Rely On Humans
Dogs were domesticated ages ago, and as domestic animals, they rely on humans in order to exist. Not only do they need you for shelter, food, and water, but they need you for any other need, pain, or emotion they have. Once again, they will keep repaying you all life long.
Genetics And Evolution
As with most other species, dogs have evolved over time since they were domesticated from wild wolves. Evolution occurs due to the species adapting to the changes over time.
Over the thousands of years of co-existing together, and with more dogs living with humans as part of their families, they have evolved to be better at interacting with us.
Since humans first domesticated them up to 40,000 years ago, dogs have been bred selectively to develop the most desired traits and lose undesired ones. Various traits, both physical and behavioral, can be altered via selective breeding in canines.
Some of them include size, coat color, type, temperament, aggression, and more. Loyalty is another essential trait that breeders have been working on developing. So, over time, it seems that loyalty comes naturally to dogs of most breeds.
Which Are The Most Loyal Of All Dog Breeds?
Like people, every dog is unique and individual, so it isn’t easy to define an entire dog breed as being the most loyal of all. There are some exceptions to the rules, such as unfriendly Labrador Retrievers, overactive bulldogs, or lazy border collies, for example. The same goes for the dog’s loyalty.
While it is widely accepted that some breeds, such as German shepherds and Labrador retrievers, are the most loyal of all, this is not always the case.
In general, Asian dog breeds are usually the ones that create stronger bonds with a single person, and herding dogs tend to respond better and understand the signals of their humans better than others and can be more suitable for whole families.
Whether you are an outdoors person and take your dog with you to experience the adventures with you, or you prefer spending more time alone but enjoy hanging around with your dog all the time, your dog will appreciate being with you and receiving your full attention.
If you spend a lot of time playing, interacting, and engaging with your dog and include it in most of your daily errands, routines, and activities, chances are that it will be much more attached and loyal to you.
In other words, in most cases, dog parents will need to put more effort into their daily interactions with their pets if they expect them to be more loyal.
Can I Improve The Loyalty Of My Dog?
While it is difficult to change the inborn traits of your pup, there are some ways to help create a stronger bond with it and thus improve its loyalty to you too.
Strengthening the bond with your furbaby should be done with love and respect.
Here are some tips for improving the loyalty of your dog by creating a stronger connection with it:
- Make sure to establish yourself as a pack leader from the beginning. Do this firmly but without bullying the pup, and it will learn to trust and follow you.
- Take the time to teach your dog tricks and train it using positive reinforcement. Never intimidate or threaten your pup. Do your best to remain consistent and firm and praise it and reward it with healthy treats instead of punishing it.
- Bring your dog with you when you travel or explore the world with you whenever it is possible, but always keep its safety in mind, especially if you are into riskier outdoor activities and adventures.
- Establish and perform your own personal rituals with your pup. This can be running some errands together at home, in the garden, or elsewhere, playing games, accompanying you while you enjoy your preferred sport or hobby, or more unusual activities such as singing or listening to music together.
- If you have adopted an older rescue or abused pup, make sure to be patient enough to establish its trust in you. Be kind to your pet, and never take out your bad mood on it.
- Make sure to respect your dog’s need for a safe and quiet space when needed. If your pup seems uncomfortable or doesn’t want to engage in an activity with you, give it space where it feels comfortable and safe.