I am not a buddhist but I have a friend who is. He dislikes dogs and I have questioned him as to whether he is a true Buddhist. I believe that the Buddha is peaceful and nature loving, and so would love dogs.
The Buddha taught 'birth' with an 'animal' state of mind is a state of woe (beset by chronic suffering) or lower state of 'existence' (being).
The Lokapala Sutta states that people who do not have moral shame (human conscience) and fear of wrongdoing (compassion for self & others) will behave like dogs & thus not have the bright principles that protect, respect & honor the world.
The Kukkuravatika Sutta explains people behaving like dogs will lead those people to the company of dogs; but if it does not, it will lead to hell. This is why we can observe in society like-minded immoral people who create cliques where they keep eachother's company but, eventually, they turn on each other.
For example, recently my neighbour's dog killed their pet cat. While pet dogs & cats can live harmoniously & friendly with each other, if the dog or cat is emotional, it will act without conscience & concern for the other pet. This is similar to people who are killed by their pet lion, snake or crocodile who they mistakenly thought was loyal & tame.
Dogs can be very loyal to their human masters that feed them but they also bark at strangers & fight a lot, particularly about sex & territory.
In Western countries, dogs are generally desexed thus do not have normal sex lives. However, in non-Western countries, this does not generally occur and one can witness male dogs literally bite each other to shreds over sex during the mating season.
Many people also behave like this, such as politicians & those in government, who tear each other to shreds, stab each other in the back & start horrible wars merely for the purpose of (imperialistic) territory, power & empire building.
Thus, the Buddha may have shown unconditional love to all living creatures but this does not mean he encouraged all of their behaviours.
Mata yatha niyam puttam
Ayusa eka-putta-manu rakkhe
Quoted from Karaniya Metta Sutta Here it's meaning.
Even as a mother protects with her life Her child, her only child,
So with a boundless heart Should one cherish all living beings;
Radiating kindness over the entire world: Spreading upwards to the skies,
And downwards to the depths; Outwards and unbounded,
Freed from hatred and ill-will.
So definitely Buddha shows unconditional kindness and love to every living things including trees. but Buddha never force any one to do as he said , it is his/her choice, So if some one want to dislike dogs or like dogs that is personal, So if Buddha liked dogs that is not a reason for a follower to love dogs. Buddha only showing a way, we are the ones who deciding how much faster we are going that way and how much percent we acquire. That is the Freedom of Buddhism. It's well explained in Kalama Sutta
You tagged this question buddha-nature -- I'm not sure if that tag is relevant. There's a famous koan about a dog and "Buddha-nature" -- see Joshu's Dog -- which this question reminds me of. Maybe we're not supposed to discuss koans on this site, but I think the phrase "Buddha-nature" means "has potential to become Buddha" ... so this question combined with this tag, together, confuse me a bit.
Ignoring the tag and taking the question at face-value: if you were asking about the historical Buddha ... I get an impression of the Buddha's character, from reading suttas in the Pali canon, e.g. as follows.
You wrote, "I believe that the Buddha is peaceful and nature loving, and so would love dogs" and I think that's more or less true.
A bit more precisely, one of the aspects of being "peaceful" is being "non-violent" or "harmless". I find it incongruous to imagine the Buddha wanting to kick a dog, for example. Living in the forest, monks were meant to coexist harmlessly with animals -- see for example Ahi Sutta: A Snake.
When you mention "love", some more precise definitions of the orthodox-Buddhist kinds of love are found in descriptions of the four Brahma-viharas, which are often translated as "compassion", "goodwill", "empathetic kindness", and "equanimity" (described on Wikipedia, on "Access to Insight", and in many topics on this site like maybe this one for example). I suppose the Buddha would be compassionate to all beings (including dogs) -- see for example this verse from the Dhammapada:
He who seeks his own happiness by oppressing others, who also desire to have happiness, will not find happiness in his next existence
Note that this is "not oppressing" others, that's not exactly the same as "being attached" to others ... and the word "love" often conventionally implies a form of attachment (e.g. if "I love my dog" then perhaps I am sentimentally attached to it). But the Buddha maybe wasn't sentimental about love -- this answer about choosing a marriage partner, for example, suggests a fairly clear-eyed assessment of their abilities and nature -- and the suttas are full of warning about attachment leading to suffering.
So though it may be true to say that the Buddha would "love dogs", I think that shouldn't be understood as saying that he was "a stereotypical dog person", who might seek to follow dogs or etc.
Buddha loved all the animal (can see to eye & cannot see to eye) in the world not only dogs. for examples like "Alcoholic Elephant Nalagiri". before become Buddha prince siddartha save's a swan life hunted by Devadaththa.. these are few examples..you can see so many examples in the net about this. any way lord Buddha loves Humans & Animals in equal & same way..
It is not only the Buddha but even his disciples liked dogs and all other animals. Here is a story about how a bhikku practiced giving when he didn’t have anything. It is about a Bhikkhu who once happened to eat his meal under a tree. By the time he finished eating his meal, a hungry dog who didn’t have anything to eat in few days after giving birth to its puppies came to him. Thero then put his finger in his throat and made him vomit. That dog then ate that vomit/food and quenched its hunger.
Many are the instances where the Buddha took examples of animals to drive a point across. The following is one such interesting parable from Samyutta Nikaya to bring to light the teaching of attachment, revulsion and detachment. The parable states :
"Suppose, brethren, a man catches six animals of diverse range and diverse pasturage, and tethers them with a stout rope. He catches a snake and tethers it with a stout rope; also a crocodile, a bird, a dog, a jackal, and a monkey; he tethers them with a stout rope. Having done so, brethren, he ties them together with a knot in the middle and sets them going. Now brethren, these six animals of diverse range and diverse pasturage would struggle to be off each one to his own range and pasture. The Snake would struggle, thinking I will enter the anthill. The crocodile I ‘ll enter the water, the bird I will mount into the air, the dog I ‘ll enter the village, the jackal would think I ‘ll go to charnel-field and the monkey would think I'll be off to the forest."1 (Six animals are six sense bases).
”… The same parable is continued to bring out the roles of the six senses with reference to the six animals. It says when those six hungry animals grew weary while they are tethered they would follow after the one of them that was stronger and they would conform to that one; thus they would become subject to him even so of the six senses.”
With reference to a Dog, the following is a story that Thanissaro Bhikku once shared in one of his Dhamma discussions:
”There’s a story they tell in Thailand of a dog who was changed into a prince. A princess met him, fell in love with him, and prevailed on her parents to let her marry him even though they didn’t know him. He looked like a prince, acted like a prince, but they didn’t know what kingdom he came from. But she was really in love with him, so she convinced her parents that he was a good prince worthy of being her husband. Yet this prince, even though he looked like a prince on the outside, still had the passions of a dog. One day the princess found him in the bathroom eating shit out of the toilet, as dogs do in Thailand. So of course he was thrown out of the palace. Went back to his life as a dog.”