Written by Carol Young
Author: Carol Young
Carol has worked in specialty, emergency, mixed animal and general veterinary practices, and enjoys all aspects of veterinary medicine. Her special areas of interest include anesthesia, critical care, emergency, dentistry, internal medicine and small animal nutrition.
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Updated on: 03/10/2023
One thing that dog owners can agree on is the fact that we love our dogs. Studies show that Americans spend a total of $124 billion  on pet products and services, and 69%  of households in the U.S. have at least one dog: That says something about how much we adore our canine companions.
So. there is no question that we adore our poochy pls, but the question is, do they love us back? Even though dogs can’t tell us they love us, there are many ways in which they express their feelings of love and devotion.
Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash
How do we know dogs love humans?
Dogs show their love for us in several ways, and it’s not just for a treat or a bag of kibble. However, before exploring that subject, we should first define ” love “. The definition of love  as a noun is a deep feeling of affection and/or devotion for another out of kinship or personal ties, or a great interest in someone/something.
Some behaviorists believe that a dog’s affection for a human is motivated by self-interest (such as getting a treat) rather than real love. However, studies  have shown that dogs and humans share the same hormonal and brain mechanisms which are linked to positive emotional states, including what we call “love.” That means the canine brain responses to affection are very similar to ours, which can only strengthen the human-animal bond.
The partnership we’ve enjoyed with dogs dates back some 40,000 years,  and as a result, dogs and humans have lived alongside one another ever since then, working as a team and offering one another companionship.
Like humans, dogs are social animals; any dog owner can tell you they respond to our voices and smells. They react with joy when we come home after work and shower us with kisses, they love to cuddle on the couch, jump in the car to run errands, and want to be included in all we do: These are definitely signs of devotion and love.
How do I know if my dog loves me?
There are several ways in which dogs show their love for us:
- Greeting you with kisses and excitement when you come home at the end of the day.
- Wagging his tail when you call his name
- Making eye contact
- Licking your face
- Leaning against you or sitting on you
- Following you around the house or apartment
- Bringing you toys or other items
- Wanting to be close to you
- Up for any adventure that may involve the two of you being together
RELATED: Why Does My Dog Lick My Hands?
Signs that your dog loves you
Several signs show just how much your pooch loves you:
- Your dog is excited to see you. After coming home from work, or running errands, your pup might jump, bark, and do some serious tail wagging when you walk through the door.
- Your dog likes sleeping next to you.When dogs live in packs they tend to cuddle up against one another while keeping their noses and ears open to threatening sounds or potential danger.When your dog wants to snuggle up with you in bed or on the couch, he’s showing you that he feels safe and considers you part of the pack.
- Your dog brings you a toy. If your canine pal brings his favorite toy or ball to you, wagging his tail and ready to play, he is showing you that he wants to share his special possession with you.
- Your dog looks at you with soft, relaxed eyes. Many dog behaviorists say that making direct eye contact with a dog can be interpreted as a challenge, an act of aggression, or an attempt to assert dominance. However, when your dog makes direct eye contact with you with relaxed eyes and pupils of normal size, it is a sign of affection and love.
- Your dog loves you no matter what. Your dog doesn’t care if you washed your hair that day, or if you’ve been wearing the same pair of jeans all week, he still loves you and wants to be with you. Dog love is really unconditional.
- Your dog is always with you. If your pooch follows you around the house or apartment, getting underfoot in the kitchen or keeping you company in the bathroom, it’s a sure sign he loves you and wants to be close to you. Dogs are social creatures and crave companionship.
The impact of breed on how dogs show affection
Though every pup is different, and loving dogs come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and breeds, here are some of the most popular loving dog breeds today.
- Bernese Mountain Dog: This big cuddly breed is smart, easy to train, and known for its patience with kids.
- Bulldog: This breed is known not only for its sturdy build but also for its sociability, affection, and loyalty. The bulldog is a friendly pooch who enjoys giving its humans sloppy kisses.
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel: This medium-sized size breed loves families and their humans, and has a sociable and loving personality.
- Golden Retriever: This popular breed is known for its affection, loving nature, sociability, and patience. No wonder Goldens make excellent guide, therapy, and family dogs.
- Maltese: For a small dog, the Maltese has lots of personality, is sociable, likes to make new friends, and loves to be with its family members.
- Bichon Frise: Like the Maltese, the Bichon Frise may be small, but has lots of character. These little white fluffy canines make great companion dogs and are always ready for new adventures.
- Newfoundland: This big furry, sweet-tempered canine pal is known as the “Nanny Dog” since it makes for a great, loving family dog who is also loyal, loving, watchful, and gets along with other dogs.
- Pembroke Welsh Corgi: This smaller member of the herding breeds packs lots of personality and energy, but its affectionate and loyal nature makes it a constant loving canine companion.
- Pug: This smaller, squishy-faced breed is full of love and affection. The Pug is a mellow dog that loves attention and hanging out with its humans no matter the situation and makes for a great family dog.
- Whippet: The whippet looks like a smaller version of a Greyhound, but don’t let its slim frame and long legs trick you. The Whippet is a mellow breed that loves to lounge around with its humans, and although they can be a bit independent, they are very loyal and loving.
RELATED: Friendliest Dog Breeds
Learn to speak your dog’s love language
Dog owners know the “language of dog love,” and although dogs can’t talk to us, they do communicate how they feel about us in several ways. Once we recognize what our dogs are saying through their body language and vocalizations, we can “talk” back to them as well.
Dogs “love to love,” and they love to be loved too: But how can we show our best friends love? Here are a few ways we can speak our dog’s love language:
- Physical Touch: One of the great things about owning a dog is that they love to cuddle, sit on our laps and get scratches and pats. Dogs love to be near us; we can show our love with a good scratch under the chin and behind the ears.
- Positive Words: Dogs can understand certain words and commands, and one way we can speak the language of love is through words such as “good girl,” or “good dog.” Dogs do respond to positive language and verbal rewards.
- Spending Time Together: Dogs show their love by wanting to be with us, and we can return the love by spending time with our furry friends. It doesn’t matter what the activity is, but dogs want to be with us, no matter what we’re doing.
- Play: Dogs naturally like to play; among wild dogs and wolves, playtime strengthens bonds within the pack. So if your pup wants to play, he’s showing you that you’re part of his pack and that he wants to interact with you. In this way, playing with your dog is another way to say “I love you.”
- Doing Things for your Dog: Another way to show your love is not only to spend time and cuddle with your pup but go for a hike or a walk, play fetch in the park, or walk together to the nearest coffee shop. Exposing your pooch to safe situations and environments can help strengthen the bonds of love and companionship.
- Gifts and Treats: Another way to show your dog you love him is to offer him a favorite treat or toy. This way you are telling your best friend that he’s special and loved.
RELATED: Best Interactive Dog Toys
People also ask
Do dogs pick a favorite person?
Although some dogs love everybody, it’s not uncommon for a dog to have a favorite person. Factors behind this might be the person’s personality, how that person interacts with the dog, and whether or not they get along well together.
Do dogs feel love when you hug them?
Every dog is different, and while some dogs may like hugs and cuddles, others may be more independent. Some dogs might try to wriggle out of your arms if you try to hug them, but don’t take it personally: Most dogs tend to be happy cuddling next to you on the couch or getting a nice neck scratch.
Can dogs feel love from their owners?
Scientific studies have shown that the part of the dog’s brain associated with positive emotions exists in dogs just as it does in humans. We also know that dogs are social and emotional animals that react to human scents, voices, companionship, and yes, love.
Do dogs understand when you kiss them?
Since most people are wired to kiss their loved ones, that includes our dogs as well. However, the question if dogs understand when you kiss them, the answer isn’t clear. Sure, dogs love it when we pet, scratch, and show our affection, and probably don’t mind a kiss on the top of the head, but canine brains might see a kiss as just another sign of love from their human.
- Ciochia, Ana-Ioana. “Pet Spending Statistics (2023): How Much Do Americans Spend On Pets?”FinMasters, 26 Jan. 2023, finmasters.com/pet-spending-statistics/#gref.
- “2021-2022 APPA National Pet Owners Survey.”American Pet Products Association, americanpetproducts.org/pubs_survey.asp.
- “Definition of LOVE.”Dictionary by Merriam-Webster, 27 Feb. 2023, merriam-webster.com/dictionary/love.
- “The Role of Oxytocin in the Dog–Owner Relationship.”National Center for Biotechnology Information, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6826447/.
- “Ancient Wolf Genome Reveals an Early Divergence of Domestic Dog Ancestors and Admixture into High-Latitude Breeds.”Current Biology, 1 June 2023, cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(15)00432-7.