Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as they say. It’s a subjective judgment, especially when it comes to things we love, like our children and pets. While no list claiming to be the definitive guide to the most beautiful dogs could ever be taken at face value, it’s good to talk about them from time to time.
It helps us in part to touch base on what many consider to be true examples of canine beauty, of which there are indeed many aspects. A dog’s build, cuteness, color, face, pedigree and various combinations of all of the above can contribute to our views on the beauty of these animals.
Some prefer big dogs, some like fluffy dogs. So at the risk of omitting any of your favorites, and apologies in advance for that, here are 27 dog breeds that are just gorgeous. Of course, you can let me know if there are any you feel should be added to this list.
- 1 27 Most Beautiful Dog Breeds
- 1.1 1. Akita Inu
- 1.2 Have You Heard the Story of Hachiko?
- 1.3 2. Alaskan Malamute
- 1.4 3. Australian Shepherd
- 1.5 4. Beagle
- 1.6 5. Bernese Mountain Dog
- 1.7 6. Bichon Frise
- 1.8 7. Border Collie
- 1.9 8. Labrador Retriever
- 1.10 9. Dachshund
- 1.11 10. Dalmatian
- 1.12 11. Doberman
- 1.13 12. German Shepherd
- 1.14 13. Golden Retriever
- 1.15 14. Icelandic Sheepdog
- 1.16 15. Irish Setter
- 1.17 16. Lhasa Apso
- 1.18 17. Papillon
- 1.19 18. Pembroke Welsh Corgi
- 1.20 19. Pharaoh Hound
- 1.21 20. Rottweiler
- 1.22 21. Saluki
- 1.23 22. Samoyed
- 1.24 23. Sheltie
- 1.25 24. Shiba Inu
- 1.26 25. Siberian Husky
- 1.27 The Story of Balto
- 1.28 26. Weimaraner
- 1.29 27. Yorkshire Terrier
- 2 Final Thoughts on the 27 Most Beautiful Dog Breeds
27 Most Beautiful Dog Breeds
1. Akita Inu
Akitas are deceptively heavy-set and revered in their native Japan as protectors. They have large heads and come in several colors. They typically sport a curled, bushy tail, and seem to have a constantly smiling face.
They love standing to attention, reaching their full height of around 2 feet. They tip the scale at 80 lbs plus and are powerful – useful for their original purpose, which was hunting wild boar. They are considered somewhat of a national icon in Japan.
Have You Heard the Story of Hachiko?
Japan’s most famous dog was Hachiko – an Akita Inu. Hachiko waited at a train station every day for nine years for its owner Hidesaburo Ueno to return. Sadly, Ueno had unexpectedly died at work and never returned. Hachiko died in 1935, and several statues have since been made in his honor.
2. Alaskan Malamute
Often mistaken for the better-known husky, the Alaskan Malamute sports a similar coat and general appearance. They are often noted for their casually independent expressions, blue eyes and fiercely independent nature. They also shed a lot, although you can use this vacuum cleaner to combat that.
Principal colors range between black and tan, but most malamutes have a white chest and facial markings. They are fantastic working dogs but have not totally adapted to urban and domestic life. They have a reputation for needing constant social companionship but don’t always get along with other animals.
3. Australian Shepherd
The name is misleading because the Australian Shepherd is actually from the United States or Spain, depending on who you ask. Appearance-wise, it shows its broader heritage with shades of sheepdog, collie, and other such working and herding dogs.
What makes Australians particularly striking, however, are their amazing colors. They can show several colors in one coat and even show blue eyes. Legend has it that the native American people liked the dog, calling them “ghost eyes”.
When you have white, tan, black, gray and blue all in one dog, you can’t help but look twice.
Charlie Brown’s Snoopy is arguably the world’s most famous beagle, and it’s fair to say that his lovable character has informed the general perception of beagles – at least in pop culture. Another renowned cartoon beagle is Odie – Garfield’s doggo friend.
It’s quite amusing that beagles are portrayed in cartoons as either whip-smart or mindlessly goofy. Members of the breed are absolutely beautiful dogs, given their relatively small stature. They are highly attentive social animals, and they’re attractive to the eye.
Combine those big ears and deep dark eyes with the tri-color black, white, and tan, and you have an irresistible pup that just invites long walks and lots of playtimes. There’s also an often forgotten fact about their tails: They were bred with white tail tips so they could be seen when out hunting.
The first beagles were a lot smaller than their modern-day iterations. They were popular in 16th Century England, and it is believed that Queen Elizabeth I was a fan.
5. Bernese Mountain Dog
Not all dogs can be described as cute and cuddly, but this big lug is the ultimate teddy bear, so to speak. Hailing from the Swiss Alps, the Bernese needed to be robust in order to function in those winters. Not surprisingly, they can weigh as much as 110 pounds.
They are strong, too – they used to pull carts for a living back in their farming days. Thick legs and large paws support a shaggy black and white trunk, and a head and face that could be described as a pretty St Bernard.
Here’s a shocking fact: A Bernese Mountain Dog is powerful; it can pull a cart weighing up to 1000 pounds! That’s an incredible feat, given that it’s ten times the weight of the adorable doggo.
They certainly make up in brawn what they may lack in brain-power. Ok, that may be a little unfair, but they aren’t considered as smart as labradors, sheepdogs, or German shepherds.
6. Bichon Frise
In the category of toy dogs, Bichon Frise ranks among the cutest and resembles actual stuffed toys. Their button noses and eyes sit like black decorations in the fluffy white cloud that is their face. At most, they will weigh up to 11 pounds, but their cute factor packs a massive punch.
Aside from their white hair, which owners love to cut into various styles, Bichons are known for feisty personalities and playfulness. They learn tricks easily and love to be around people – even kids.
The American Kennel Club’s best guess is that the breed originates from Tenerife in the Canarias. What we do know is that they were popular with sailors and would often travel on boats. This is why there are several subtypes of Bichons, of which the Frise is considered the original.
The Spanish artist Francisco de Goya was a fan of bichon frise dogs and included them in several of his paintings including Las Jovenes o la carta which hangs in the Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille in Paris.
7. Border Collie
Border Collies are among the first breeds most people think of when the term “working dog” pops up in conversation. How do you know you’re looking at a border collie? Their distinctive black and white coloring is a dead giveaway, along with pointy ears and eyes that always seem to be asking you what needs to be done.
These dogs are extremely intelligent, and in their long history as herders, have been known to understand human instructions by whistle alone. They can even perform a series of consequential tasks by rote. Add to that an insane capacity for energy and stamina, and you’ve got one of the most beautiful dogs to behold.
A border collie named Chaser was recognized as a truly intelligent dog, breaking all previous perceptions of a canine’s capacity for comprehension. It was able to identify 1000 different objects by name. There are some humans that may not be able to do that.
8. Labrador Retriever
Labs are among the most popular family dogs around, in part because of their mild temperament, patience, and tolerance for kids. They are also reasonably smart, and sizable enough to be mistaken for potentially sticky guard dogs.
It actually has its origins as a hunting dog and was established as a breed in Newfoundland (not Labrador). They were bred to not be skittish around gunfire and retrieve items from marshy swamps. This accounts for their love of water. They are very popular as guide dogs or seeing-eye dogs.
Typically, a lab is tan with medium to medium-short hair, all coming with a handsome face. There are some color variations, though most times labs are a single color.
Unfairly called the wiener dog because of its oddly elongated shape, dachshunds are nonetheless cute and striking. They are essentially people dogs, never straying far from the human owner. But their small stature belies a hyper-alert personality.
They were bred as badger-hunting dogs – in fact, the translation of their name reads ”badger-dog”. They will run as hard and fast as their little legs will allow.
They are also ferocious diggers, so be ready to see dirt flying in your backyard courtesy of your own excavator
Dachshunds come in a number of different looks, from short- long- and wire hair, and many different colors. But the typical, classic look is black with little lashings of tan along the chest, cheeks, and legs.
Interestingly, two dachshunds are listed as having at one time been the world’s oldest living dog. They lived to 21 and 20 respectively, a respectable age, given the dachshund’s typical lifespan of 12-15 years.
We’re not sure whether this played a part in determining that they would be the first breed of dog to be cloned in England.
Everyone’s favorite firefighting dog is the Dalmatian. It certainly has a unique look, unmistakably white with black spots. It also holds the distinction of being one of the most famous breeds ever featured in a Disney film.
A Dalmatian’s lines are sleek, and their randomly dotted bodies and faces give the impression that they are playful and funny. They were bred as carriage dogs, and would actually clear paths ahead of carriages back in medieval days.
Unfortunately, Dalmations have a reputation for being complicated dogs to foster. They need constant stimulation, which is why a multi-person environment like a firehouse is ideal. When left alone, Dalmations develop hyperactivity and destructive behavioral habits.
If you’re set on getting one, getting them a plush dog toy is great in helping to curb their destructive ways. Still, it’s no substitute for an actual person’s warm company.
If there is an athletic model of the canine world, it has to be the Doberman Pinscher. It actually stands on its toes or pads and is not flat-footed like most dogs. It has long, muscular lines, and is typically thin around its stomach area.
It has a thin, long muzzle, and its typically black coloring gives it the look of a security officer. They are highly intelligent and easy to train, often as guard dogs.
Interesting trivia: They are adored by fashion photographers, and are among the most often used dogs in high-concept fashion photoshoots. And who can ever forget 80s TV detective Thomas Magnum’s epic run-ins with the estate guard dogs Zeus and Apollo?
12. German Shepherd
One of the world’s favorite dogs, the Schäferhund (a nickname literally meaning shepherd dog) originated from Germany (surprise!). It is a medium-large breed, thought of as one of the most trustworthy canine companions for humans.
Standard shepherd coloring involves a black back and muzzle, with tan or rust chest, undersides and legs. They are popular as police dogs and are regularly ranked in the top five most intelligent dog breeds around.
German Shepherds have a proud legacy in being celebrity canines. Rin Tin Tin was originally a rescue animal during World War I, who was trained to act and became a major Hollywood star, acting in 27 films.
A German Shepherd, Morris, was also the world’s first seeing eye dog. And Apollo, a K9 unit, was the first dog on the scene at the 9/11 disaster. The brave doggo worked 18 hours straight, looking for survivors.
13. Golden Retriever
Golden retrievers are very similar to Labrador retrievers. There are only slight differences, like muzzle shape fluffy tails (Golden) vs pointy tails (labrador), and shedding capacity (Goldens are the shedding kings).
It stands to reason, though, that if one is nominated as a beautiful dog, the other will not be far behind. Goldens also tend to be slightly fluffier – that is, have slightly longer hair. They are less likely to be brown or black like some of their Labrador cousins. Other than that, they are just as beautiful, bright, and loving.
It may surprise some to know that golden retrievers weren’t always very well-liked. Hunting dogs were originally preferred in black, with other-colored dogs routinely euthanized at birth. It was only after a wealthy entrepreneur, Dudley Coutts Marjoribanks, took an interest in breeding them that the golden retriever became somewhat respected.
14. Icelandic Sheepdog
Icelandics are an offshoot of the spitz. If you’re looking for a friendly, playful, and all-around happy pup, look no further. As puppies, they are adorable balls of fluff and can be mistaken at a squint for corgi puppies.
As they grow, they come to resemble chubby foxes somewhat, with touches of black hair around the muzzle and chest. The pointy ears and bushy tails are also distinctive. They were in demand in England in the 17th century, as British farmers had heard about this dog’s extraordinary herding skills.
They are only small to medium-sized, though, and the white lower legs and paws add an element of mischief to their look. It’s not misplaced. As mentioned, they have a strong herding instinct and will attempt to coral anything. – sheep, children, even vehicles. They especially hate birds – it’s a past life thing.
15. Irish Setter
This red gun dog – the Irish Setter – has long-ish hair that flows across its body smoothly. It also has furry ears, which may look slightly odd next to its relatively sleek head and face. They are highly active for their size and may cause more than their fair share of chaos in a small home.
Irish Setters are retriever dogs and used to work. They have an amusing reputation for being big eaters, so adjust your dog food budget accordingly, if you decide to acquire one. They are nonetheless beautiful dogs for their color and shape.
Interesting fact: The Irish setter wasn’t initially preferred all red. Hunters preferred the dog to be two-toned (white and red) so they could be easier to spot in the woods. Modern show setters are also typically larger than their working counterparts. Even though they are the same breed, active hunting dogs are smaller and more agile.
16. Lhasa Apso
Lhasa Apso hails from Tibet, where they have been treated as special pets for almost 1300 years. As a result, they have a reputation for being lap dogs. Many owners take this to the next level, beautifying their long hair with elaborate styles.
In most cases, they are white, but variations of brown, gray, and black are common. Their hair can grow to an impressive length, sweeping the floor like a living mop. When shorn away from the face, Lhasa resembles a Yorkshire terrier, with a cute face, button eyes and nose, and rebellious expression.
Papillon means butterfly in French. It seems like this dog was so named for its ears, which stand out in the shape of butterfly wings. It’s actually a type of spaniel, though it’s fine and dainty. They are toy dogs, so they love sitting on laps and hanging around their humans.
Papillons have a predominantly white body, but their faces and ears often carry a darker or tan color. They have a long, flowing coat, and seem to enjoy showing off. Perhaps, for this reason, they were reportedly favored by King Louis XIV of France.
There is a sinister edge to Papillon’s history as a rat-hunting dog. The dog would be useful for keeping homes free of vermin but was too small to kill a rat in a straight fight. The Papillon’s strategy would therefore be to harass the rat until it became too exhausted to fight back, then finish off the hapless rodent.
18. Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Queen Elizabeth II’s favorite dog (she is said to have owned more than 30 in her lifetime) is incredibly handsome. It has large ears, a squat body, and short legs, but it seems eternally groomed and effortlessly kempt.
They are intelligent and rambunctious. Meaning, they tend to do what they like, and will only really “obey” instructions grudgingly. Coming in red, fawn, black, tan, and a few other minor colors, this double-coated shorthair canine packs a punch when it comes to pedigree and beauty.
In myth and legend, the corgi is said by the Welsh to have been used by fairies and elves as working dogs. They would pull sleighs, herd cattle, and more. Who’s to say whether or not this is true?
19. Pharaoh Hound
One of the less common but strikingly unusual breeds on this list, the Pharaoh Hound lives up to its name. It actually resembles a depiction of a dog in an Egyptian Hieroglyph from a certain angle. Extremely short-haired, red and fawn with pointy large ears and an athletic, lean body, it is actually from Malta, bred for hunting rabbits.
If you’ve never seen a Pharaoh hound, look at any depiction of the Egyptian god Anubis, and imagine it as a two-foot-tall light brown dog. Pharaohs are said to be excellent with children, but not with other smaller animals. They have a strong prey instinct, and will likely harass other small pets.
It is said that Pharaoh hounds blush. At least, their soft noses seem to turn slightly pink when they are excited.
Rotties are perceived as the muscle hounds of the German breeds. They are thick, strong, and have been used in many security and police forces. But contrary to their image, Rottweilers are teddy bears. They are fiercely loyal to their humans and love to play and act silly.
But they are also really strong, and can easily be damaging to those on the wrong side of a bite. But when at play, it’s hard to resist the searching eyes set in that big old head. The black and tan markings, much like a Dobermann, entrench a typical look resembling a formally dressed guard.
The Saluki is an old breed – so old that its origins are a little vague. Its Arabic nickname translates to “The noble’, which may go some way to describing the breed. Salukis are fast and can chase down many animals that humans cannot. They have silky, soft coats, large ears, and long legs.
In modern times, Saluki has come to describe a standard breed of sight dogs. They typically don’t associate with people outside their own families, which is a shame. Their attractiveness and unusual looks invite lots of curiosity. Be prepared to fork out for a Saluki puppy, though. The breed is one of the most expensive in the world to acquire.
If you were to look for a Samoyed in a snow-covered plain, it would be hard to spot. It’s a pure white breed and blends effortlessly into the snowy wilds of the northern terrain, which is where it was originally found.
The beautiful, fluffy white face of a Samoyed, is truly hard to resist. Its thick layered coat was designed to insulate it from the harsh Siberian winters.
It’s not exaggerating to say that a happy Samoyed brings a relaxed and joyful atmosphere to any setting. The shape of its mouth seems to give it a perpetual smile. They are indeed cheerful dogs, with bushy tails that curl upward – another sign of a breed that seemed born to have high spirits.
The Shetland Sheepdog – cousin to its other famous work peer the border collie – hails from Scotland. It has a glorious chest-borne mane, along with a long-haired body and fine, pointed muzzle.
The colors of the sheltie make it distinctive, too. Shades of sable, red, black, and blue combine to wonderful effect. This is a breed that will also herd everything – your children and other pets included.
They are seldom aggressive and make for wonderful family dogs. Keep in mind, though, that they do require lots of stimulation and activity.
24. Shiba Inu
Related to the Akita Inu, Shiba is another Asian dog breed derived from the spitz. Shibas convey a strong personality with their posture. Their short but pointy ears, bushy tail, and strong build made it suitable for tough terrain hunting.
They are not too large, either, making them agile and quick. Colors aren’t too diverse, with tan, red, and black markings most common. Shiba Inu may not be the best dog if you’re keen on an obedient and subservient pet. They are – shall we say – strong-willed and aren’t very interested in following orders.
25. Siberian Husky
Few dogs are spoken of with more admiration than the majestic Siberian Husky. Their thick fur, beautiful eyes, and strong build have given the husky an air of superiority over the years. It’s well earned.
Bred as working dogs from the northernmost regions, they probably needed to develop a hardy and rugged physicality.
It’s one of the few breeds that have fur inside the ears. Regardless of the color of its fur, it is a striking animal, and the capacity for differently colored eyes has added to the mystique. In a typical husky, one distinctive marking is a band of color above or around the eyes, while the muzzle remains white.
The Story of Balto
There are many incredibly famous huskies from history books. One was Balto, who was the lead dog on an emergency expedition in 1925. Diphtheria had broken out in Nome, a small town in Alaska. A delivery of life-saving medicine was urgently required.
The only way to get there was by a husky-pulled sled. Balto led the pack, crossing the 700 miles of harsh, blizzard-lashed Alaskan terrain and delivering the medicine.
A statue of Balto stands in Central Park today. The animated film about Balto – titled Balto – was released in 1995.
This stately breed stands tall and strong, and its short-haired body is smooth and gray. The Weimaraner was bred as a gundog to assist with game hunting. It stands around 2.5 – 3 feet, tipping scales at an impressive 90 pounds. It positions itself in a semi-pointing posture (hunting history here) and has floppy ears to lend it an approachable look.
The distinctive feature of a Weimaraner is its color – a solid gray or silver coat. The short hair brings out its lean musculature. Some call the breed the “Gray Ghost”.
27. Yorkshire Terrier
The terrier is decidedly bossy. The Yorkshire terrier is one of the smallest breeds of terrier dogs and seems to make up for it in aggro. But it is infinitely cute and adorable for its 5 pounds of courage.
Yorkie hair is quite similar to human hair – soft, silky and stylish. They can hypnotize you with their eyes – staring straight into your soul. They are popular lap dogs, and bag dogs – yes, lots of people like Paris Hilton popularized the dog in a tote bag, and Yorkies are the best option for shoulder-holstered companions.
Final Thoughts on the 27 Most Beautiful Dog Breeds
This list is far from extensive when it comes to beautiful dogs. It’s just a small selection of breeds from many thousands. As mentioned, every dog is special, and every breed is beautiful in its own way.
As dog lovers, we know that whichever breed you choose as your friend, it will be loved and cared for. A lot of it also comes down to the individual dog, who may display characteristics that just invite endearment.
Nonetheless, our dogs are beautiful in our eyes. If you have any breeds you feel can be added to this list, drop me a message. In the meantime, all to love every dog, the way dogs like Hachiko love us.
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Wednesday 11th of August 2021
Wire Hair Fox Terrier—“The most beautiful of all the dog breeds.” 15 Best in Show wins at Westminster, almost twice as many as the second most breed, the Scottish Terrier, which has 8.
I was surprised and disappointed to see that the Wire Fox Terrier was overlooked on your lists. They are beautiful, loving, intelligent, comical, loyal, athletic, highly spirited, great company, and just plain fun. They are great! Love them.
Wednesday 11th of August 2021
thanks Phyllis - there are so many beautiful dog breeds - we will definitely look at the Scottish Terrier next time we review this article