11 Friendliest Animals in The World | Wild and Pets

There are around 8.7 million different species of animals on Earth. They range from wild to domesticated, big to small, and ferocious to friendly. 

Most domesticated animals, such as dogs, cats, and guinea pigs are known for their calm temperament and friendly nature. However, many wild species are also very affectionate. 

Some species are innately more docile than others and are capable of forming strong bonds. Friendly behaviour may be a result of genetic predisposition, training, or through previous experiences.  

This article highlights the top 11 friendliest species in the world. Their sociable behaviour may be demonstrated to both related and unrelated individuals of the same or different species. 

What Determines If an Animal Is Friendly or Not?

The friendliness of an animal is mainly determined by its nature. Some species, such as apex predators, are innately solitary. Dogs are the most common pet in the world and are known for their companionship. Studies have shown that their friendly nature is partly down to sections of their DNA, which are linked to personality. 

To an extent, behavioural traits are genetically controlled meaning they can evolve over time. The environment can affect both physiological and morphological development. Hence, both the environmental conditions and the DNA are responsible for determining the friendliness of an animal. 

This article highlights the friendliest animals in the world. Their affection may be shown to humans or other animals to form interspecific or intraspecific friendships. 

Most Friendly Animals on The Planet

The list of the friendliest animals on the planet has been divided into two sections: the most affectionate pets and the friendliest wild animals. The former highlights domestic animals that demonstrate a strong bond with humans, whilst the latter are wild animals that demonstrate a bond with either humans or other animals. 

The Most Affectionate Pets

Have you ever wondered what animals make for the best pets in terms of affection? Read on to find out what animals make the list.

1. Dog

Scientific Name: Canis lupus familiaris

It is no surprise that dogs make the top of the list of the most affectionate pets in the world. The dog is the most common household pet due to its companionship and friendly and playful nature. 

There are around 350 breeds of dogs, all of which are unique in terms of morphology. They vary in size, colour, fur, tail, leg length, and muzzle and ear shape. Dogs are omnivores and are fed a variety of food by their owners. 

Wolves were the first animal to be domesticated by humans and are the ancestors of dogs. The variety of breeds we have today is the result of breeding. Such canines possess certain genes which are largely responsible for their friendly and social behaviour. 

Over the thousands of years of dogs being kept as human companions, they have evolved to become incredibly affectionate. Domestic dogs often view their authoritative owner as the alpha of the pack, hence their loyalty toward their owner.

A Dog sitting on the floor
Credit: Caitlin Watson

2. Cat

Scientific Name: Felis catus

Cats are the world’s second most popular household pet, after dogs. Likewise, they vary greatly in terms of colour, size and fur, and tail length. They are defined by their pointed ears, vertical pupils, and retractable claws. 

Generally, cats are more self-sufficient than dogs are they do not require walking and will happily wander far from their home and explore their environment, before returning. They are cunning, intelligent, and elegant animals.

Certain cat species are particularly affectionate and adore being cuddled, brushed, and entertained by their owners. Others are slightly more independent and will show affection in return for food, warmth, or when it suits them. 

Cats still have a lot in common with their wild ancestors and could easily survive in the wild. These carnivores are capable hunters, often bringing their owner a gift of a dead bird or rodent they caught.

A Cat perched on the ground
Credit: Andre Karwath by CC: 2.5

3. Guinea Pig

Scientific Name: Cavia porcellus

The guinea pig is another popular household pet for both children and adults alike. These rodents have a robust and rotund bodies with large heads. They have small, hairless feet with sharp claws and beady eyes. Guinea pigs vary in coat texture, length, and colour. 

Guinea pigs are highly social, docile, and friendly creatures and were domesticated in Peru over 3,000 years ago. They enjoy being cuddled and fed by their owners, although need to be frequently handled from a young age, otherwise, they may form a shy personality. 

You should always keep guinea pigs in your company otherwise they may become lonely and isolated. Toys provide them with important enrichment and they produce a range of vocals that let you know how they are feeling. 

Guinea pigs lack the enzyme that makes vitamin C, meaning feeding them fruit and vegetables is very important to keep them healthy. Feeding these small herbivores is a good way to bond with them.

Guinea Pig
A Guinea Pig sat among the grass
Credit: Daniel Hall by CC: 2.0

4. Horse

Scientific Name: Equus caballus

The horse is identified by its elongated face, hoofed feet, long main and tail, and sleek coat. Their coat comes in a variety of colours including black, white, brown, grey, and beige, and can be either plain or patterned. 

Horses are one of the largest domesticated animals and can be found across farms and homes. There are over 300 breeds of horses across the world and they vary greatly in size. Horses are kept for a variety of reasons including leisure, work, farming, and entertainment. 

After being domesticated around 6000 years ago, tame horses have developed friendly bonds with humans. They allow people to groom, ride, and feed them. 

Horses are capable of forming both interspecific and intraspecific relationships. Among a group of horses, one individual will stay awake to protect the rest of the herd. Horses are also capable of recognizing human facial expressions and interpreting body language. 

In the wild, horses form a strong bond with herd members, and their domestic social behaviour is likely an extension of this. Through selective breeding, some species have become incredibly docile. 

A Horse grazing in a field
Credit: Paula Jantunen by CC: 2.0

5. Sheep

Scientific Name: Ovis aries

Sheep are very friendly and gentle animals. They boast a characteristic fluffy coat of wool that can be white, grey, brown, black, and either plain or patterned. Domesticated sheep are raised for meat, milk, wool, or simply kept for companionship. 

Sheep became domesticated around 10,500 years ago and have been selectively bred, meaning they have lost their ability to naturally shed their wool, so they have to be sheered by humans. This frequent handling means humans have gained the trust of sheep. 

Sheep are intelligent mammals and can recognize and remember human faces. They are social, gregarious animals that form bonds with one another. If isolated, they will get lonely. If raised and bottle-fed as a lamb, that individual will develop a strong bond with the human. 

Sheep make excellent pets because they enjoy human contact including cuddling, stroking, and being fed. 

Sheep looking at the camera
Credit: Rudy and Peter Skitterians by CC: 1.0

6. Cockatoo

Scientific Name: Cacatua goffiniana

There are 21 species of cockatoo. These crested parrots are identified by their thick, downward-curved bills and showy crests, that can be lowered or raised at will. Most species are predominantly white, but they can also be black or grey. They also have colourful red, yellow, or orange patches, usually on their crest. 

Birds are not the first animal that comes to mind when considering affectionate pets, but cockatoos are incredibly friendly and love attention. Cockatoos make playful and cuddly pets that are capable of forming a strong bond with their owner. 

Cockatoos have been kept as pets since the 1900s and crave attention. It’s a good idea to keep more than one cockatoo to avoid them getting lonely. Without constant affection, cockatoos are known to develop behavioural problems. 

Cockatoos are omnivores though consume mainly plant matter. Feeding, alongside toys, is an excellent form of enrichment and bonding. 

Cockatoo on a perch
Credit: Molly by CC: 2.0

The Friendliest Wild Animals

There are many wild animals that are incredibly friendly, despite not having been domesticated. They show affection towards other animals as well as humans. Below is a description of the friendliest wild animals, highlighting their behaviour, morphology, and distribution. 

7. Capybara

Scientific Name: Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris

Surprisingly, the capybara has earned the title of the friendliest animal in the world, even above the “man’s best friend”. The capybara is the largest rodent in the world. They can reach up to 4.3 feet in length and weigh up to 174 pounds. 

The capybara has a rotund body covered in short, brownish fur. They have a stumpy tail, small ears, beady eyes, and a blunt nozzle. These mammals are known for their easy-going nature and are friendly and social with a number of other species including birds, cats, turtles, chickens, humans, and everything in between. These docile animals allow birds to eat insects from their fur and often allow humans to pet and feed them. 

Despite being wild animals, they are naturally very friendly. They live in big groups as large as 100 individuals. They are excellent swimmers and live in semi-aquatic habitats across South America. Capybaras are herbivores and consume an abundance of aquatic vegetation.  

Capybara sitting on the ground with a bird perched on its back
Credit: Charles J. Sharp by CC: 4.0

8. Dolphin

Scientific Name: Tursiops truncates

The dolphin is an aquatic mammal that is famous for its intelligence, social, and friendly behaviour. Dolphins are any of the 40 species of toothed whales. They have smooth, silver-grey bodies, beaklike snouts, horizontal tail flukes, and elegant, elongated bodies. 

Dolphins are incredibly social and live in pods, which ensures vital companionship. Pod members look after one another and communicate to catch food, raise their young, play together, and defend themselves against predators. 

Wild dolphins are known to swim with and play with humans. They often seek out people and are capable of recognizing individual faces. Amazingly, dolphins have been known to save people’s lives when they are stranded in the ocean.   

Dolphins are carnivores and consume a variety of fish species, shrimps, squid, and octopuses. They can be found in the seas and oceans across most of the world. 

Dolphin jumping through a wave
Credit: NASA by CC: 2.0

9. Giant Panda

Scientific Name: Ailuropoda melanoleuca

The giant panda boasts its iconic black and white coat. They are around 6 feet in length and weigh around 220 pounds. They have a large, rotund body, a round head with small ears, and thick limbs. 

Pandas certainly live up to their cuddly appearance. Generally, they have a calm docile temperament. Their diet is almost exclusively bamboo, although this has little nutritional value and they must consume between 26 and 84 pounds every day. 

Largely due to their diet, pandas move very slowly and spend up to 12 hours a day sleeping. Although pandas are generally solitary animals, they do enjoy the occasional socialization and are very friendly when they do engage. 

Giant pandas are an endangered species and most of them are in zoos or sanctuaries. Baby pandas are known to imprint on human carers, and can often be seen tumbling around, playing with one another, or being cuddled. 

Wild pandas live in temperate forests that sit in the high mountain of Southwest China.

Giant Panda
Giant Panda sitting on a rock
Credit: Jeff Kubina by CC: 0

10. Elephant

Scientific Name: Loxodonta africana

The elephant is the largest, extant land animal. They are defined by their long trunk, big ears, and tusks. They have thick, grey skin, bulky bodies, and flat, wide feet. Despite their large size, elephants are gentle giants who show great affection to both elephants and other animals. 

Elephants live in herds in which all individuals share very close bonds. They are capable of forming deep friendships and relationships and always look after one another. They engage in a variety of cognitive behaviours such as learning, compassion, grief, play, altruism, cooperation, and mimicry. 

Elephants have the largest brain of any land animal and are highly sensitive and intelligent creatures. They can remember faces and recognize individuals, hence the saying “an elephant never forgets”. They mourn those in their herd who have died and will revisit their “grave”. 

Captive elephants have been trained to be very social and friendly toward humans. Wild elephants still have a very gentle nature and show affection to other animals, including humans, so long as they show respect and are not threatening.

Mother Elephant and her calf 
Credit: Caitlin Watson

11. Chimpanzee

Scientific Name: Pan troglodytes

Chimpanzees are a species of ape that are closely related to humans. They have black fur and a hairless face, hands, and feet. They have opposable digits that allow them to grasp and hold things. 

Chimpanzees are known for their inquisitiveness and intelligence. They live in groups with individuals having close bonds. They are capable of forming friendships and engaging in social behaviour with chimps and other animals, including humans. 

Due to their deep-learning ability, chimps can recognize and remember individuals and can express a wide range of emotions. However, they can be dangerous and aggressive if threatened. 

Chimpanzees are arboreal animals that live in forests across Central Africa.

A Chimpanzee knuckle-walking along the ground
Credit: Hans Hillewaert by CC: 3.0

Verdict: The Friendliest Animal in The World

This article only covers a few of the friendliest species in the world in detail, but there are many other animals that have an affectionate nature. However, the species that has earned the title of the friendliest animal in the world is the capybara. 

The capybara is the most relaxed and genial animal for a number of reasons.  They form close bonds with other capybaras and friendships with a variety of other animals, including humans. They are so affectionate; they can be kept as pets.

List of The Friendly Animals

Below is a list of *** of the friendliest animal species, displaying both their common and Latin names. 

  1. Ant – (Formicidae spp.)
  2. Bearded Dragon – (Pogona spp.)
  3. Bee – (Apis)
  4. Beluga Whale – (Delphinapterus)
  5. Capybara – (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris)
  6. Chimpanzee – (Pan troglodytes)
  7. Cow – (Bos taurus)
  8. Cockatoo – (Cacatuidae spp.)
  9. Dog – (Canis lupus familiaris)
  10. Dolphin – (Delphinus spp.)
  11. Elephant – (Loxodonta spp.)
  12. Ferret – (Mustela putorius furo)
  13. Giant Panda – (Ailuropoda melanoleuca)
  14. Guinea Pig – (Cavia porcellus)
  15. Horse – (Equus caballus)
  16. House Cat – (Felis catus)
  17. Lion – (Panthera leo)
  18. Llama – (Lama glama)
  19. Manatee – (Trichechus inuunguis)
  20. Meerkat – (Suricata suricatta)
  21. Naked-Mole Rat – (Heterocephalus glaber)
  22. Orca – (Orcinus orca)
  23. Penguin – (Spheniscidae)
  24. Pig – (Sus scrofa domesticus)
  25. Quokka – (Setonix brachyurus)
  26. Rabbit – (Oryctolagus cuniculus)
  27. Sheep – (Ovis aries)
  28. Sloth – (Folivora spp.)
  29. Swan – (Cygnus spp.)
  30. Wolf – (Canis lupus)