23 Friendliest Animals on the Planet

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You want to hug them, cuddle them, throw them a ball, and watch them playfully chase after it. What are they? They’re the world’s friendliest animals, of course! From dogs to dolphins to horses, there are more than a few creatures out there that seem like they’re just begging to be your BFF.

Get ready for some serious awe moments and adorable photos of animals that can’t wait to shower you with wet kisses and warm nuzzles. Whether on land, in water, or the air, these animals will make fast friends with any human lucky enough to gain their trust and affection. Keep reading to meet the snuggliest, sweetest, most downright lovable animals that roam the earth!

1. Dogs

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Your faithful furry friend—the dog is a man’s best friend for a reason. Dogs are extremely friendly, loyal, and affectionate. They bond closely with their owners and shower them with unconditional love and tail wags. Some of the friendliest breeds are Labradors, Beagles, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Golden Retrievers, and Pugs. These breeds are playful, patient, and gentle. They are excellent for families with children or other pets.

2. Dolphins

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Dolphins are incredibly friendly and social creatures. They travel in tight-knit family groups and are very playful with each other. These acrobatic animals always seem to be smiling and chattering. Their high-pitched squeaks and clicks are used to communicate with fellow dolphins. They’re very tactile and often rub against each other.

3. Cats

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Cats are independent yet affectionate pets. Their playful and cuddly nature makes them a perfect companion. Once they bond with their owners, cats show them unconditional love and loyalty. However, their independent spirit means they like to do their own thing and explore the outdoors. Cats are ideal for those looking for a pet to snuggle with but who can also care for themselves when their owners are away.

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4. Horses

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Horses are naturally social and friendly animals. They are very attuned to human emotions and bond closely with their owners and handlers. If you show a horse patience, kindness, and affection, it will become your loyal friend. Spending quality time with a horse, grooming it, and exercising it strengthens your bond and helps build trust. Their friendly nature, intelligence, and capacity for emotional connections are reasons horses remain popular companions and partners for humans.

5. Sheep

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Their gentle and docile nature makes sheep pleasant companions for humans. Sheep are quite intelligent and can recognize individual faces. They are very social and bond closely with each other. A sheep flock exhibits a strong social hierarchy. Female sheep, called ewes, live together in small family groups consisting of an ewe, her lambs, and her daughters. Male sheep, called rams, leave these family groups when they reach sexual maturity. Flocks of sheep tend to stay together and follow their leaders when moving or drifting to new grazing areas.

6. Guinea Pigs

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Guinea pigs, or “cavies,” are friendly, social animals that make great pets for children and adults. Despite their name, guinea pigs are not pigs but rodents originating in South America. These furry creatures are very social and bond closely with their owners and each other. They love being held and petted and often purr happily when receiving affection from their humans.

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7. Rabbits

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Rabbits are incredibly social and friendly animals. Their cute appearance and energetic personalities make them a joy to be around. They love being groomed, cuddled and played with. However, as prey animals, rabbits can be skittish sometimes and may bite or scratch if they feel frightened or threatened. Bab rabbits can become relatively tame and socialized with gentle, regular interaction and handling from an early age. Some rabbits even enjoy walking outside with their owners on a leash.

8. Capybaras

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Friendly, social capybaras are the largest rodents in the world. Native to South America, these semi-aquatic mammals spend much of their time in and around bodies of water, lounging in the sun or munching on plants. Capybaras are very social and live in large groups. They are playful, gentle, and non-aggressive creatures that get along well with other animals. You may spot capybaras relaxing or playing together with birds, reptiles, and other wildlife. Their chill demeanor and friendly nature have earned them the nickname ‘nature’s couch potatoes.’

9. Sea Lions

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Friendly sea lions are playful and social creatures that love interacting with people. Found along coastlines and islands of the Pacific, these whiskered pinnipeds are known for being incredibly social and vocal. Sea lions are naturally curious and seem to enjoy putting on a show for visitors, balancing beach balls, splashing in the surf, and barking at anyone who will listen. If you visit a sea lion colony, there’s a good chance you’ll spot pups playfully pestering their parents or slipping and sliding over rocky shores. 

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10. Giraffes

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Friendly and gentle, giraffes are very social and peaceful creatures. Their long necks allow them to tower over the African savanna, gracefully moving from tree to tree. Giraffes are herbivores, using their 18-inch tongues to strip leaves from branches. At up to 19 feet tall, giraffes are the tallest mammals on Earth. Despite their height, they are quite nimble and can run as fast as 35 miles per hour over short distances.

11. Hummingbirds

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These tiny birds are naturally curious and friendly towards humans. Hummingbirds seem to love interacting with and getting close to people. Their wings flutter so fast that they make an endearing humming sound, hence the name “hummingbird.”

12. Parrots

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Parrots are highly social and intelligent birds that make wonderful pets. Their vibrant colors and ability to talk endear them to many owners. However, their long lifespans mean parrots are a long-term commitment. Some can live 60-80 years. Before getting a parrot, make sure you understand its complex needs and are ready to care for it properly for potentially decades.

13. Sea Otters

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Sea otters are one of the friendliest marine mammals. These playful creatures are very social and form close-knit groups called rafts. Female sea otters give birth to one pup at a time and spend up to a year caring for their young. Sea otter pups stay with their mothers for up to two years before leaving alone.

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14. Bearded Dragons

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Bearded dragons, native to Australia, make surprisingly social and friendly pets. These lizards seem curious and enjoy human interaction. They are often described as puppy-like in their behavior, and with regular gentle handling and interaction, they can become relatively tame and socialized with their owners. While bearded dragons require a serious long-term commitment to proper care, their charming and social natures make them very rewarding pet reptiles for owners willing to put in the necessary time and effort.

15. Llamas

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These docile creatures are always up for some interaction and bonding with humans. Llamas are intelligent and observant and can bond closely with their owners and caretakers. They are very social within their herds and enjoy each other’s company, but they also crave human interaction and socialization. Llamas are playful and gentle and can be quite affectionate and entertaining. If you show a llama love, respect, and kindness, you will have a loyal and devoted friend for life.

16. Swans

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With their graceful appearance and loyal nature, swans make for friendly animals. These large waterbirds mate for life and share a close bond with their partners. While swans can be territorial during breeding season, they are otherwise quite pleasant and peaceful towards humans and other animals.

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17. Pandas

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Pandas are adorable and friendly bears found in central China. With their black-and-white coloring and cuddly look, pandas seem like the perfect animal companion. Though pandas are solitary in the wild, they thrive on human interaction in captivity. Pandas are playful and seem to enjoy interacting with and entertaining their caretakers. Pandas may even try to engage you in play by dropping a stick or ball at your feet, waiting to see if you’ll roll or toss it back to them. Their charming and lighthearted behavior shows that pandas can form close bonds with the humans who care for them.

18. Goldfish

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Goldfish are one of the friendliest aquarium pets you can own. Their bright orange coloring and playful personalities make them a joy to watch. Goldfish recognize their owners and often come up to the tank’s glass when you approach them. They can even be trained to do tricks and jump out of the water to grab food from your hand.

19. Beluga Whale

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These smiley white whales are some of the most friendliest animals you’ll ever meet! Belugas enjoy interacting with people. At aquariums and marine parks, they’ll swim up and mimic sounds and movements from their trainers like it’s a fun game. The baby belugas are exceptionally playful little buddies. They love splashing around and nudging objects to get attention. With their charming antics and smiling faces, it’s easy to see why belugas have earned the nickname sea canaries.

20. Chinchillas

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Don’t let their small size fool you, as chinchillas make some seriously sweet-natured pals. These adorable fluffballs are as friendly as they are cute. Chinchillas get along great with their owners once they’re used to being handled gently. They love cuddling up and playing and quickly form a tight bond with you. You can’t go wrong with a chinchilla if you’re looking for an affectionate, low-maintenance pet.

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21. Pigs

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Smarter than your average animal, pigs are surprisingly loyal, loving companions when raised properly. Contrary to their rude reputation, pigs are well-mannered, socially intelligent animals that thrive on positive relationships, including with their human friends. Pigs love playtime, belly rubs, and quality time with their owners.

22. Elephants

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There’s a reason elephants are symbols of wisdom. They’re incredibly emotionally intelligent and seem to understand kindness. Despite their massive size, elephants are gentle giants forming close family bonds. They get excited to greet their human caretakers and seem to recognize and appreciate good treatment.

23. Manta Rays

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You might not expect it, but these underwater giants have a remarkably gentle, welcoming nature. Manta Rays rightfully earn their “gentle giants” nickname because of how calmly and curiously they interact with human divers. Without any stingers or barbs, mantas pose no threat, and they’re just laid-back fish friends! Their willingness to interact closely highlights how unusually friendly these giant rays truly are.

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