Dogs are man’s best friends. Great, now that we have that nonsense cliche out of the way, let’s move on and have a great article about manly dog breeds. What do you say?
Most men love dogs. We appreciate them for their loyalty, desire to please, companionship, and versatility. And to be honest, every breed is great in its own way. But a man’s lifestyle — whether he’s single, married, active, a traveler, or what have you — requires some specific characteristics.
If you’re considering a new pup or just enjoy learning about the best types of dogs for men, you came to the right place. We’ll discuss the different requirements men have for dogs and which breeds really are the best for each type of man.
Why I’m an Expert on Manly Dog Breeds
I’m an expert on dogs. Not really, but I’ve given quite a few a scritch behind the ears. And I invariably prefer them to their owners. I’m also uncannily good at recognizing dog breeds. Many call me “The Breedsman,” and by many, I mean myself.
But I do love dogs, and I’ve always had one. From the time I was 6 months old until now, I’ve always had at least one canine companion (usually three at a time). So, no, I’m not an expert. But if you’ve read this far into the article already, you’re already invested.
Manly Dog Breeds: Our Requirements
Like I said, all dogs are great. But as men, we can’t just pick any old breed and call it good. We have to do our research, consider our needs, and compare what’s out there. Sure, a rottweiler or Doberman might be the manliest breed, but if you don’t live a rotty-compatible lifestyle, you and the dog will become frustrated. And that’s a terrible recipe.
If you want the most symbiotic relationship possible between you and your dog, you can’t choose a breed based on looks alone.
I want to start with the most critical point to keep in mind while considering a new dog, and that’s energy level. High energy dogs look majestic on the pages of Field and Stream, but they’re a handful if you can’t get them the type of exercise and stimulation they need.
And you might be an active guy who gets plenty of exercise, but if you’re spending all of your time in the gym or flipping tires, that’s not an environment for a dog. You need to match your energy level, free time, and preferred exercises with the right dog breed.
As men, we love maintenance. We maintain our cars and motorcycles, our houses, and… Well, I guess that’s about it. We don’t really love maintenance; we loathe it. Unlike women who schedule spa days and retreats, men are all about low maintenance. And we need our dogs to be, too.
There are a lot of great dogs out there with varying maintenance levels. Some might need monthly grooming, while others are happy with a garden hose bath a few times a year (don’t bullshit yourself and pretend like you’re going to bathe your dog once a month, every month). The closer you can come to the latter, the better off you’ll be.
There are a few things you won’t be able to avoid, like checkups and visits at the vet, and cutting their nails (though some dogs require it less often than others). But the key here is low maintenance.
Hell, you can’t even get your truck inspected on time; why stress yourself out with dog grooming?
Unfortunately, dogs don’t live forever. But having an idea of each breed’s longevity could have a significant impact on your decision-making. And it’s not that you shouldn’t choose a dog with a short lifespan of 8 or 9 years; it’s just that you should consider both your and the dog’s stages in life for compatibility.
If you’re okay with a breed with a short life expectancy, there are so many incredible breeds to consider. They might be great companions if you’re a young, single man with a 10-year plan for your future. But, if you’d prefer a dog that will grow up with your children, you’ll have fewer choices.
Also, dog breeds become “seniors” at different ages. For instance, a giant breed might become a senior at 5, while a smaller breed might not reach that honor until they’re 10. This is a significant consideration if you’re looking to rescue a senior dog, which could be one of the best ways to get into heaven — just saying.
Manly Dog Breeds: Sorted by Lifestyle
To help you choose the best dog, I put together this list of lifestyles and what I feel is the best dog for each. You’ll learn a little about each dog’s personality and the important factors when considering them.
For the record, I got most of the important data from the American Kennel Club. While it’s always a case-by-case basis with pups, it provided a helpful baseline.
Manly Dog Breeds for Outdoorsy Guys: The German Shorthaired Pointer
Energy Level: High
Life Expectancy: 10-12 years
As you might’ve guessed, the German Shorthaired Pointer originated in Germany, but it’s really the Swiss Army Knife of hunting dogs. It’s an intelligent, high-energy pointer that excels in an upland hunting environment, but it will learn to hunt squirrels and rabbits and to retrieve your prey just as easily. It’ll even handle waterfowl.
While the GSP does have a healthy prey drive, it can take just as easily to hiking, fishing, camping, and other outdoorsy pursuits. While it won’t do particularly well in an apartment, a GSP makes an excellent family dog. And, it’s the perfect breed for getting in touch with your inner Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Manly Dog Breeds for Classic Men: The English Pointer
Energy Level: High
Life Expectancy: 12-17 years
Land Rovers. Double barrel shotguns. Tobacco pipes. English Pointers.
If those sentence fragments speak to your soul, you should consider an English Pointer. As one of the oldest pointing breeds, it is unequivocally classic. It’s a long, lean hunting dog that excels at pointing at upland birds, rabbits, and other small prey.
English Pointers are known for being independent and strong-willed, just like the classic guys for whom we’re suggesting them. It does need a bit more exercise than most breeds, so don’t expect it to lay nicely by the fireplace at night if you haven’t let it a bit during the day.
Manly Dog Breeds for Sporty Guys: The Australian Cattle Dog
Energy Level: Very High
Life Expectancy: 12-16 years
For guys looking for a companion for running, hiking, bicycling, or literally any other activity, the Australian Cattle Dog might be the one. This pup combines high energy levels, extreme intelligence, and working breed blood, so it needs to say busy to stay healthy. That also makes it the perfect choice for those who prefer the trail to the couch.
Australian Cattle Dogs are loyal and protective of their families, but they can be destructive or quirky if they don’t get enough exercise. They’ve been known to herd children, other dogs, and cats within a home, just by instinct alone. It’s best if they have plenty of room to run or an on-the-go lifestyle.
Manly Dog Breeds for Apartment Guys: The Basenji
Energy Level: High
Life Expectancy: 13-14 years
Maintenance: Extremely low
If you don’t know what a Basenji is, it’s okay; they’re not that common. But, this small sighthound from Africa is an amazing little companion that can do extremely well for a guy living in an apartment. They’re super clean and will groom themselves all day like cats. And, because they don’t bark (yes, seriously, though they do “chortle”), they’re less likely to piss off the neighbors.
Basenjis are high-energy, fast little guys that love to run, but they can be a little independent. In fact, they can have cat-like, don’t-give-a-shit personalities. So guys that live in apartments will want to give them plenty of exercise, but do so on leash because it’s their world; you’re just living in it.
Manly Dog Breeds for Travellers: Australian Shepherd
Energy Level: Very High
Life Expectancy: 12-15 Years
Let’s get this out of the way: No man’s dog is exceptionally good at traveling. Toy dogs don’t work for the average guy; a pooch-purse ain’t gonna cut it. But, if you consider your needs while traveling, the Australian Shepherd is a great choice.
Traveling is full of uncertainty, so you need a smart dog that will listen to you at a moment’s notice. And, since Australian Shepherds (which aren’t Australian, coincidentally) are one of the smartest dogs, they make an excellent choice.
Now, will your Australian Shepherd travel from Chicago to Monaco particularly well? No, but as long as you give this high-energy breed some exercise each day, it will be an excellent road trip or overlanding companion.
Manly Dog Breeds Nerdy Guys: The English Bulldog
Life Expectancy: 8-10 years
Nerdy guys aren’t what they used to be. They’re as likely to spend time gaming as they are at the gym or reading, so they can be pretty complex. And, as an equally complex companion, enter the English Bulldog.
English Bulldogs seem like fat little rolly-pollies, but they need steady, low-impact exercise to stay healthy. They can also be incredibly sweet and affectionate, but also a bit stubborn and difficult. And even though they can be over 50 pounds, they think they’re tiny lapdogs. See the complicated nature and perfect fit for the nerdy crowd yet?
What makes them so great is that they won’t mind spending a few hours inside, curled up on the couch during a gaming marathon or binge-watching Game of Thrones with you — for the thousandth time.
Manly Dog Breeds for Thinking Men: The Greyhound
Energy Level: It depends on what they’re doing
Life Expectancy: 10-13 Years
If you’re a complicated guy who likes to spend as much time thinking, reading, learning, and cultivating yourself as much as possible, you need a dog that will allow it. And, while the first visions that might’ve popped into your head were high-speed dog races, the greyhound is more than that.
Greyhounds are just as likely to stand stiff as a statue or lounge around on a couch all day as they are to sprint around the house. While they do require regular exercise, they’re also at home curled up under your legs while you write a manuscript on the couch.
Manly Dog Breeds for Low-Key Guys: The Newfoundland
Energy Level: Medium
Life Expectancy: 9-10 Years
Guys that prefer a quiet night, a casual walk, or a laid-back weekend might consider the Newfoundland. These big, goofy pups have medium to high energy levels, but with about 30 minutes of exercise a day, they’re calm, loving giants.
The Newfoundland is a giant breed, almost always weighing more than 100 pounds. But their gentle nature and kind hearts make them an excellent choice for low-key guys and families with small children alike. They’re so calm and gentle that they’re often used in children’s hospitals for therapy dogs, which could be a really noble hobby to pursue.
Manly Dog Breeds for Single Guys: The Golden Doodle
Energy Level: High
Life Expectancy: 10-15 Years
As a single guy, you want a dog that can keep up with your lifestyle, be friendly and relaxed around your friends, and grab a certain amount of “attention,” if you catch my drift. And, with its durable nature, kind heart, and teddy bear-looking face, it’s kind of hard to beat the golden doodle’s impact. One might even help you improve your self-care regimen.
Now, before you swear off any dog with the sound “oodle” in its name, understand that this is a manly dog. It’s a mix of a golden retriever and a poodle, both of which are exceptional hunting breeds. They’re also incredibly smart and loyal, so don’t be so closed-minded.
Golden doodle’s don’t shed (usually), which is awesome, but they will need clipping every few months to keep their fur tight and manageable. You can save a lot of money by clipping it yourself, but trimming around the eyes can be a little sketchy.
Manly Dog Breeds for Family Men: The Labrador Retriever
Energy Level: Very High
Life Expectancy: 10-12 Years
Maintenance: Low, but they sure shed
There’s a reason why the labrador is one of the most popular dog breeds in the world, and it’s because it’s an incredible family dog. While they are super high energy, they’re also very loyal, caring, and friendly. And family guys who want to bring a canine into the fold will do well to find a lab.
These dogs can do it all. They can accompany the family on a picnic, a baseball game, take a boys’ fishing trip, retrieve game birds, hit the hiking trail, and so much more. They’re active, smart, and generally eager to please, making them relatively easy to train and obedient with enough exercise.
How much exercise is enough? It truly depends on the lab, but plan for two half-hour sessions a day. Luckily that time can be spent retrieving, training on an agility course, or many other activities.
The Best Dog for Manly Men: The German Shepherd\
Energy Level: Very High
Life Expectancy: 12-14 years
Maintenance: Low, but needs frequent brushing
Deciding on the manliest dog was difficult, as it was almost a toss-up between Rottweilers, Doberman pinschers, and German Shepherds, but ultimately, popularity won the day. GSDs are one of the most popular breeds in the world alongside labradors and English bulldogs, and it’s their intelligence and trainability that makes them so.
GSDs are intelligent and high energy, and they need a lot of training. But they’re an extremely loyal dog with an intimidating look, giving them some of the same characteristics of a man’s man. They also excel at security-based activities like bite work and Schutzhund — a really badass skill to teach your pup. They’re at home on the trail, in the car, on a run, or anywhere else you might want to take them: The possibilities are endless with a well-trained GSD.
The Best Dogs for Men: Mutts
Energy Level: Who knows
Life Expectancy: Who cares
Maintenance: Got me
With the exception of one designer dog, every breed listed above is pure. And while those are amazing breeds, the best dog for men doesn’t have to be an AKC-registered show dog. A good old-fashioned mutt is often the move to make.
It’s hard to put your finger on exactly how a mutt will look or act, and intelligence is nothing more than a guess. They come in a range of sizes and with unique personalities. But mutts often suffer fewer health issues than purebred dogs, allowing them to live longer, happier lives. They also tend to be loyal, happy pups — especially if rescued.
I know I said compatibility is everything, and that you can’t choose a breed based on looks alone. And to some degree, that’s true. But there are lots of breeds that work for plenty of guys. A nerdy guy might love GSD, while an outdoorsman might prefer a bulldog. As long as you’re able to adapt your lifestyle to the dog and ensure they get the care and attention they need, any dog can be at home in any setting.
What are your thoughts? Is there a breed or lifestyle that I left off the list? Agree or disagree strongly with any of these choices? Let me know in the comments below.
Manly Dog Breeds FAQs
If you still have some questions about choosing from all the best dogs for men, this section might help clear it up a bit.
Q: Can I have a dog as a single guy?
You definitely can, and it might be perfect for you. Just be sure to socialize your pup often so it’s comfortable around your friends.
Q: Can I get a dog if I work?
Plenty of dog owners have jobs, but leaving them alone in a crate all day isn’t ideal. You can consider a doggie daycare or hiring a dog walker (which is, coincidentally, a pretty lucrative side hustle).
Q. Which dog is best for beginners?
There are a lot of breeds that are excellent for beginners, but of those on our list, they are:
- Labrador Retriever
- Golden Doodle (and, by sheer math, the Golden Retriever and the Poodle)
- A loveable mutt