“Dogs aren’t just kind to people, they also show remarkable kindness towards other animals. In fact, some breeds exist today because of their relationship with other animals (exp. livestock guard dogs and sheepdogs). These 12 breeds, and their ability to get along with other animals, reminds us that some of the best relationships come from the least-likely places (*cough* like an elephant and a Labrador).
1. Labrador Retriever
Labradors are masters of making friends, with strange friendships running from Chickens to Cheetahs. Kago, a Labrador, and Kumbali, a Cheetah, were raised together at the Metro Richmond Zoo in Virginia, and have been best friends ever since. Dogs have been used as companions for captive cheetahs for over 30 years and a variety of zoos host dog/cheetah pairs with similar bonds.
2. Golden Retriever
These white Bengal Tiger cubs, born at a Kansas zoo, were adopted by Isabella, a zookeepers female Golden Retriever, and were nursed and raised alongside her own two pups. And yes, there is a video of Isabella with her pups.
3. German Shepherd
German Shepherds have played BFF to a variety of animals, like orphaned elephants, and even tigers. One of our favorite relationships is between Tinni the German Shepherd and Sniffer the red fox. Tinni and his Hooman were on a walk in the woods when they bumped into a fox. To his owners surprise, Tinni and the fox began to play, and they’ve been friends ever since!
4. Great Dane
After Pippin the fawn was abandoned by her mother, Kate the Great Dane stepped in and assumed the role of best friend. Kate and Pippin’s unique and loving relationship was even featured by PBS on a TV episode called Animal Odd Couples.
5. Bernese Mountain Dog
Bernese Mountain Dogs are often referred to as “Gentle Giants,” a nickname that makes sense when you see a squirrel trying to hide a nut in some Bernese fluff. And if you think this is a one time occurrence, it isn’t–Walleh the pet squirrel likes to hide all sorts of things in his pup-brother’s fur.
6. Great Pyrenees
Great Pyrenees are known for their calm and gentle demeanor, and their ability to get along with other animals. They are often used as guardians for sheep and other livestock.
7. American Staffordshire Terrier
The American Staffordshire Terrier (AKA a Pitbull) is good-natured and makes for an excellent guardian. Just take, for example, these two rescue Pitties and their adopted ducks.
Gemma, a 5 year old Akabash dog, has played mom to twelve tiger cubs at the Myrtle Beach Safari in South Carolina. The Akabash is one of the national dog breeds of Turkey, and is commonly used as a livestock guardian.
9. Australian Shepherd
Blakely, an Australian Shepherd, and resident “Nursery Dog” at the Cincinati Zoo has served as a manny (yes, Blakely is a super-star male nanny) for a variety of baby animals, like this baby Takin, and even a few orphaned cheetahs.
10. Maremma Sheepdog
Maremma Sheepdogs are a popular type of livestock guard dog in Italy, and are known for being alert, loyal, and friendly. One Maremma Sheepdog, Oddball, saved an entire colony of teeny penguins, and even had a movie made about her.
11. Belgian Malinois
The Belgian Malinois was originally bred as a herding dog and severed as a protector to the family and the farm. Ingo the Malinois (pictured below) stayed true to her roots by serving as a friend and protector to a little owl named Poldi. And guess what–Ingo and Poldi’s hooman is a professional photographer that documented their friendship in a series of stunning pictures.
12. Anatolian Shepherd
Some zoos, like the Houston Zoo, raise their Cheetahs with Anatolian Shepherds as a way to calm the cats and provide them with companionship. It’s unsurprising that Anatolian Shepherds are the breed of choice for work like this; the breed is used to guard livestock, and make for great natural guardians. Just take a look at Tommy T the Cheetah cub and Pow Wow the pup being introduced at the Cincinnati Zoo for the first time.