While the term “best dog breed” can mean different things to different people, there are certain trainable dog breeds that are a little more “beginner-friendly.” I’ve encountered quite a few dog breeds over the years, and it’s truly amazing how each has their own personality that makes them unique.
From German Shepherd to Australian Cattle dogs, I have a huge list of the most trainable dog breeds based on their intelligence, willingness to learn, and hard-working personalities.
Best Dogs to Train For All Experience Levels
The most trainable dog breeds will possess some of the following features:
- Willingness to learn
- A working mentality
- Desire to please you
All of the following dog breeds possess all of these characteristics.
German Shepherd Dog
The German Shepherd Dog possesses one of the most trainable personalities because of their intelligence and eagerness to make you happy. They have natural herding instincts, and as you’ll find out when you continue reading, working dogs are always the easiest dogs to train.
If you compare a German Shepherd to a Lab or Goldie, you might notice that they’re not quite as friendly and can have a bit of an intense personality, but that’s part of what makes them so smart and great in the role of a service animal.
They’re great for training, search, and rescue, and helping those with disabilities. There’s even great variety in their appearance, such as a white German Shepherd.
With consistent positive reinforcement and structured training, they thrive in various environments and excel as service dogs, police dogs, and beloved family pets alike.
Border Collies are some of the most trainable dogs because they are herding dogs. They possess a ton of energy and are typically considered one of the best herding breeds because of their discipline, good behavior, and obedience.
As with many of the Border Collies‘ relatives like the Sheepdog or Australian Cattle Dog, these breeds are problem solvers and are known for adapting to new situations rather quickly.
This makes them great training dogs for professional dog trainers. The Border Collie is also quite eager to please, and pairing that with their focus makes the Border Collie the most intelligent breed we’ve discussed so far.
The Poodle is celebrated as one of the most intelligent and easily trainable breeds out there. In fact, there’s even a history of Poodles herding sheep, and as I’ve said, one of the highest indicators of intelligence in dogs is their ability to work.
Growing up, my grandmother had a Poodle, and he almost walked around with arrogance because he thought he was too smart for everyone else. It’s quite comical, actually.
That said, intelligence isn’t everything when it comes to a dog being easy to train. Poodles are used to performing acts of service, so they thrive in this environment. They also have hypoallergenic coats, and their versatile sizes make them a great option for people of varying lifestyles.
The Golden Retriever is a beloved breed in the United States, being one of the best family dogs and the most popular one too, according to the American Kennel Club. Your Golden Retriever gets their willingness to train from their love for you. These are loving dogs that are eager to please and develop a strong bond with you, however possible.
This is an example of the difference between a versatile hunting breed or herding breed and a domesticated dog breed.
Golden Retrievers shine in obedience training, therapy work, and assistance roles due to their patience and gentle demeanor. Their enthusiasm for learning and their sociable nature make them excellent companions for families and individuals alike.
The Papillon is one of my favorite breeds because of the amount of personality they pack into their small size. These dogs are known for having witty personality and quick-alert mind that reacts to things fast.
They excel in obedience training and agility training because they’re dedicated to conquering every challenge that is thrown their way.
I love pointing out the differences from breed to breed because it helps you better understand why certain dog breeds are easier to train than others.
Small dogs can be very enthusiastic and eager to please because they are highly driven. They want to learn from you, and they know that you can provide them with the information they need to handle difficult situations, given their smaller size.
Their size also makes them an extremely popular dog breed for those in smaller living situations such as an apartment.
The Shetland Sheepdog
Shetland Sheepdog is one of the smartest dog breeds because of their herding dog heritage. It provides them with a strong work ethic and the ability to learn on the fly. Because of their upbringing, they’re also equipped with a highly obedient personality and intense focus.
Their natural instinct to round up and control livestock also shows why they are one of the more easily trained breeds.
One thing that makes the Shetie such a great family pet is their gentle nature and loyalty. I love this breed for their ability to be around children, strangers, and other pets. They are a cherished family member in many households and could definitely be in yours as well.
Deemed the most popular dog breed in the United States, the Labrador Retriever is well known for their calm demeanor and friendly temperament. Not only are they one of the smart dog breeds, but they are also great family pets as a result of their trainability.
Keep in mind that Labs thrive in an environment with strict rules because they are eager to please you, and providing obedience training helps them do just that. Have you ever seen a Labrador Retriever puppy? They’re nuts, and most of the time, it’s because they’re crazy about you and they love you.
Their eager-to-please personality will result in a strong bond, and their adaptability makes them a great choice for families with young children and other animals.
Australian Cattle Dog
The Australian Cattle Dog or Blue Heeler is a Border Collie equivalent known for a strong working heritage. This is an intelligent breed that is easy to train and designed to solve complex problems. They are one of the most trainable breeds because of their understanding of obedience training, herding, and agility.
This herding breed possesses a lot of energy, so they’ll need a lot of exercise to keep them engaged.
They’ll require quite a bit of space to run around and develop a bond with you by playing and simulating herding games. Either way, they are an extraordinary dog breed with a highly trainable personality.
If I had to pick one word to describe the Rottweiler, it would be loyal. These dogs will stand by your side even if it means their own demise. The Rottweiler is known for their protective personality, which makes them a great guard or drug dog. They are commonly used in police work and military installations.
The Rottweiler has an unswerving loyalty to you, and with the proper guidance and consistent training, you can teach this dog to accomplish incredible things.
The Doberman Pinscher is another breed recognized for being one of the smart dog breeds built for working. I’ve encountered a handful of Doberman Pinscher dogs in my life that are actually used for dog training.
Dobermans help their owners train other dogs by coercing and coaxing them to do the things that are being asked of them. They are a highly trainable breed and are incredibly intelligent. I believe a lot of this comes due to their disciplined nature and dedication to everything they do.
Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Another one of my favorite breeds is the Pembroke Welsh Corgi. I’ve always had a soft spot for small breeds because of their tenacity and fearless personality. They are one of the smallest herding dogs, so they are able to learn quickly and possess a strong work ethic.
Corgis are smart dogs and easy to train. Keep in mind that they do possess a playful nature, which can get in the way of training at times, but dog owners can develop a great relationship by taking training seriously and always using positive reinforcement.
English Springer Spaniel
While known as a dog with a tendency to bark a lot,theEnglish Springer Spaniel is one of the smart dog breeds because of their experience with hunting. These dogs are used in hunting events, real-world field trials, and even dog sports.
This active breed is highly obedient with high energy, so the key is to keep them mentally engaged and focused during your training.
English Springer Spaniels’ versatile nature makes them adept at various tasks, from working in the field to being cherished family companions.
The Miniature Schnauzer packs a lot of personality into their smaller size. They are an energetic breed with a fancy coat that makes the ideal dog for various living environments. This breed possesses an eagerness to learn and a desire to develop as strong of a bond with you as possible.
Our Schnauzers are known to pick up new habits quickly; as long as you apply consistent learning methods and train them properly, they enjoy learning and will likely adjust quickly to whatever you throw at them.
Characteristics of Highly Trainable Dogs
As you make your way through the breeds in this guide, you’ll notice a recurring theme. A lot of these dogs possess the same skills, and that is they tend to have a smart personality, desire to make you happy, and focus.
Most of these dogs possess excitable and active personalities that can accomplish great things when controlled. Every time I’ve encountered one of these breeds, they’re always affectionate, loving, and eager to learn. Do your best to harness that energy! Here are four main things to look for when searching for a highly trainable dog.
Smart and Intelligent
Surprise, surprise, a dog’s ability to train comes from their ability to grasp certain concepts. This is why a poodle’s intelligence shines so bright. While they may be a little more resistant to training than other breeds, with some pure obedience work, you can ensure a smooth training process.
Eager to Please
Dogs that are eager to please, like Labs, are always going to be easier to train. They’ll respond positively, but these breeds are usually high-energy as well. Do your best to pair their strong desire to make you happy with a patient attitude that doesn’t punish them if they get overly excited.
Focused and Motivated
Your dog’s ability to maintain focus during training classes will depend on their attention span and motivation to learn. Some dogs have it, while others don’t. I’ve encountered plenty of dogs that are fierce and focused but still can’t be trained because they’re overly aggressive. Finding the perfect marriage between these two will make a difference.
Working Dog Genes
Working dogs like the Border Collie are part of the reason why they are the most trainable dogs. The Border Collie and Australian Shepherd have a long history of herding and guarding, and this natural instinct is not always something you can create. The Border Collie’s abilities enable them to thrive in training scenarios, utilizing their genetic predisposition to excel in various roles.
Why It’s Important to Train Your Dog
Training your dog, whether it’s new tricks or obedience, is incredibly important. Believe it or not, they thrive in environments where obedience and discipline are expected. Your dog wants you to train them because you’re spending time with them and strengthening your bond.
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about intelligent dog breeds.
How To Train a Dog?
The best way to start training a dog is to start with simple commands like sit, down, and paw. Start young and gradually increase the difficulty. Use positive reinforcement and patience.
Which Dog Is the Easiest To Train?
The Border Collie is considered the easiest dog to train because of their willingness and desire to learn.
What Is the Most Obedient Dog Breed?
Labrador Retrievers are the most obedient dog breed, which makes them a great choice for service and family dogs.
Which Is the Most Difficult Dog Breed To Train?
Afghan Hounds and Bulldogs are known for being some of the most difficult dogs to train because of their stubbornness and lack of motivation to learn.
So, do you have a smart dog? Of course, the answer is subjective because every dog is different, so even if you have one of the breeds in this guide, don’t always expect to be a whip-smart workaholic with the desire to learn everything you throw at them in a matter of minutes.
Deploy patience and keep in mind that we all have a tendency to think our dog is greater than the next, so just work on strengthening your bond and don’t stress the little stuff. Good luck!