By Kathy Blumenstock
Canine companions come in many varieties, including those breeds of dogs that share a touch of chill. If you like to come home and unwind with a little peace and quiet, then one of the calmer dog breeds might be a better fit for your introverted lifestyle.
Dr. Leslie Sinn, veterinary behaviorist and certified professional trainer of Behavior Solutions for Pets in Leesburg, Virginia, emphasizes that although “you can use a breed as a guideline, the variation is so huge, you need to interact with the dog. And you need to ask why the dog appeals to you.” You need to find out if a specific dog is right for you before beginning “a long-term commitment to a living thing that is going to be part of your life for 10 or 12 years.”
If you are more of an introvert, your dog can provide companionship while you are at home but can also offer a means for connecting with others while out and about. Vivian Leven, certified dog trainer/behavior consultant and owner of Positive Dog Solutions in Washington, DC, adds that “For an introvert, meeting people through their dog can provide a more comfortable way of engaging where there is an immediate common interest, so the interaction becomes natural.”
Here are some dog breeds that might do well living with an introvert:
The Newfoundland dog is a great choice for an introvert, but there is one caveat. “If, and only if, you have the space for a big dog, a Newfie can be a good choice,” says Dr. Sinn. She explains that the cuddly but giant Newfoundland dog has “a relaxed, mellow personality.”
Patient and protective, the heavy-boned Newfoundland is described by the American Kennel Club as a docile, massive breed (up to 150 pounds) that sheds liberally, needs regular exercise—and requires an ever-present ‘drool rag.’
Newfoundland fun facts:
Only one dog ever captured the heart of poet/introvert Emily Dickinson: her beloved Newfie called Carlo.
Author J.M. Barrie specified that Nana, the dog in “Peter Pan” was a Newfoundland, not the St. Bernard that often portrays this character.
The dog with the blue-black tongue “will bond closely with their special person,” says Leven. With a distinctive lion-like neck ruff, the Chow Chow is compact and muscular with a smooth or rough coat, in shades of red or black.
“They are fiercely loyal, quiet and make no fuss,” Leven says. Citing the breed’s suitability to an introvert’s quiet side, she explains that “They are neutral to strangers and can be protective.”
With round brown eyes set in a heart-melting face, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a silky toy dog breed who can thrive as a homebody. “Many spaniels are one-person dogs, totally devoted to their owners,” says Dr. Mary Burch, DVM, and director of the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen program. Cavaliers, she says, “are sweet, attentive, gentle, loving dogs who would do well with a quiet person.”
Favored by British aristocrats in the early 19th century, these toy Spaniels have a mellow charm and richly hued coats in four varieties. Graceful and active, the Cavalier enjoys play, but is also happy to simply stay close to home, as long as that’s where you are, shifting with ease to your preferred lifestyle.
Their affectionate temperament and bright-eyed loyalty make them hard to resist.
The gentle Greyhound dog, like other sighthound dog breeds, has “a reserved personality and tends to be able to chill when you are ready to chill, and move when you do,” Dr. Sinn says.
Graceful and lean, the Greyhound dog is “sensitive and affectionate, and good with other dogs,” says Leven. While Greyhounds “love the freedom to run outside, they are very calm and gentle when inside,” she adds. Dr. Burch stresses that the sweet-tempered Greyhound dog not only needs regular exercise but requires a fenced yard or regular trips to the dog park.
Small, alert and adaptable, the Shiba Inu dog breed is the most popular dog in its native Japan. This dog breed is finding increasing popularity in the US as dog parents discover their sweet and curious nature. “They are a bit cat-like, charming with funny quirks,” says Leven. “But they are not always fond of too much touch and affection.”
Despite their short coats, Shiba Inus are prolific shedders and were originally bred as hunting dogs. Their confident bearing and bright, intelligent eyes promise you will have a loyal companion who is ready to share your day, whether that’s a walk in the snow or a tranquil afternoon at home.
Surprisingly, the first Shiba Inu dogs did not arrive in the US until the 1950s and did not become a recognized dog breed by the American Kennel Club until 1993.
Like the Sherlock Holmes mystery “Hound of the Baskervilles,” the Basenji is the dog that doesn’t bark. “They are more catlike than doglike in their behavior,” Dr. Sinn says. “And they have the added value in our urban environment in that they do not bark.”(Instead, Basenjis offer a unique yodeling call.)
Medium-size with a short coat, alert ears and a wrinkly, expressive face, Basenjis are “not into pleasing people; they are a more primitive breed, and anyone who choses that breed needs to be very familiar with their characteristics,” Dr. Sinn adds. “They are relatively silent, very tidy and not an in-your-face type of animal, but their idea of fun is not sitting in your lap.”
Burch says the Basenji’s “energy level could actually be an attribute—this could be a dog that gets the introverted person out of the house and taking walks, etc.”
With short legs, extra-long ears, and a soulful gaze that hints at extraordinary sadness, the Basset Hound’s physique and personality spell “relaxed and laid back,” says Dr. Sinn. Leven agrees that they are “real couch potatoes, sweet and cuddly with a mind of their own.” This low-slung, low-key breed has huge paws and a powerful nose whose accuracy is topped only by the Bloodhound, according to the AKC.
Fun fact: A Basset Hound named Sherlock was serenaded on TV by Elvis Presley, who famously sang “[You Ain’t Nothing But A] Hound Dog” while the dog demonstrated the true demeanor of his breed by looking unimpressed.
The solid Pug dog breed with the mischief-making expression “is an ideal pet because they do well in the city or country,” says Dr. Burch. Originally from Asia, the Pug has long enjoyed worldwide popularity. “They are small dogs, but they are not as hyper as other breeds. Pugs are loveable and do well with all ages of people—adults, seniors and children,” Dr. Burch says.
Although the Pug’s coat—in fawn, silver or black—is short, these dogs do shed. With that wrinkly brow and adaptable, affectionate nature, the Pug can be a charming, devoted friend.