If like most people, your idea of the ideal dog is a well-behaved canine that knows the basics and beyond and listens with eager attention for the cues to perform tasks, you are probably interested in an easy to train breed of dog. The easiest dog breeds to train have in common a certain high level of intelligence in addition to moderate to high amounts of energy and a nature that is eager to please. The easiest dog breeds range from small to large, from the German Shepherd to the Shetland Sheepdog amongst herding groups and the Poodle to the Labrador Retriever among Sporting and Non-Sporting breeds, as ranked by the AKC.
Importance of Training
Dogs give people love, loyalty, and companionship. In return, to operate in human society, they deserve training so they know how to properly behave and understand what is expected of them. A well-trained dog is a safe dog. Neither a danger to people, other dogs, or animals, the dog that has received proper training will also not be a danger to itself, knowing not to run away and to return when called upon. Because trained dogs know their expectations and have a better understanding of the human world they must navigate, they are less fearful and less prone to reacting out of fear. Scared dogs can be dangerous dogs. Training also builds the bond between animal and human, exercises the dog’s mind and body, gratifies the dog by giving it rewarding work to do, and can end in cute or useful tricks that will delight you and your human companions.
What Makes a Dog Easy to Train?
Intelligence is key in trainability; so is being somewhat malleable in nature. Huskies, for example, are smart, but they are quite stubborn and independent. The easiest dog breeds to train are eager to please and happy to be heeding commands. It is best if you can start the training as soon as possible. Even puppies still with their mother can begin to learn their names and to sit at six weeks of age. Given that factor, it is still never too late to start training. A younger dog is simply a dog that is easy to train, comparatively speaking. The easiest dog breeds, when age is not a factor, are as follows.
German Shepherd Dog
Often known simply as German Shepherds, the German Shepherd Dog was bred to become an ultimate dog for herding. This clever canine is easy to train and has been bred for intelligence, independent thinking, obedience, endurance, and speed. While many still work as herders, and while the Kennel Club classifies them as part of the group Herding, the German Shepherd makes a great example of dog breeds to train for families willing and able to put the work in. They are courageous, strong, fierce, and gentle. A favorite for vision assistance, service dogs, military work, and police work, these powerful canines are versatile and love performing jobs. This breed is large with medium energy and keen intelligence. Consistently ranking in the top three on the charts of canine intelligence, they require plenty of mental and physical exercise as well as training with positive reinforcement.
Another top ranker when dog smarts come into question, Poodles are among America’s favorite dogs. Because their origins were as water retrievers, their name comes from the German word that means “puddle”. The fancy fur cuts were not to make Poodles look aristocratic or posh, but rather to warm their joints while keeping the fur length to a minimum so it would not snag on water weeds or underbrush. According to the AKC, Poodles are in the Non-Sporting group. Throughout their history, Poodles have been water retrievers and circus performers, but nowadays their intelligence and eagerness to please nature make them favorites as companions. Another plus of Poodles is that they produce minimal dander and shed only infrequently. To share these attributes, they have been crossbred with other breeds to produce canines friendly to those who suffer from allergies. These easiest dogs are a cinch to train, of medium size, and possessing medium levels of energy.
When it comes to ranking intelligence in dogs, the Border Collie generally lands in the top three spots, if not at the head of the class. These bright canines are in the Herding group but are by no means, ordinary herders. With a glare to pierce the soul of their charges, they establish just who is the boss. The Border Collie is fast and built for maneuverability near to the ground. These dogs can and will run all day, given the chance. This high-energy breed is of medium size and keen smarts. Taking its name from the border between England and Scotland, this dog with sheepherding in its blood excels when given tasks and tricks to perform. When considering dog breeds to train, the Border Collie is among the best.
The Kennel Club does not just classify the Labrador Retriever as a Sporting group member, but also as the most popular of dog breeds. These medium-sized dogs with high energy are happy, friendly, and easy-going. This breed is so outstandingly popular that it was the first dog breed to grace the cover of the magazine Life as well as being the first to be displayed on a United States postage stamp. Americans are not alone in their love of Labrador Retrievers. New Zealand, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia also name this breed as the top favorite. A breed of choice for guide dogs, dogs for assisted living, search and rescue dogs, and canines working in contraband detection, these easy-to-train Labrador Retrievers come from Newfoundland.
Another breed that is high ranking in the canine popularity contests of America, the Golden Retriever may well be the ideal pet for the family. Originally bird retrievers from Scotland, this large-sized breed is of medium energy and is classified by the Kennel Club as a Sporting group member. Gentle, intelligent, cheerful, versatile, and dutiful, these dogs have earned their high-ranking spot on the top lists of popular breeds. Goldens, as they are often called, make excellent service dogs, therapy dogs, and family pets. They are easy to train and eager to please.
Another dog whose extreme trainability, fierce loyalty, and depth of reliability make it ideal for military work and law enforcement service, the Doberman Pinscher was originally bred to be a guard dog. The American Kennel Club classifies this breed as part of the group Working. Dobermans have their origins in Germany. As their popularity has waxed and waned, careless breeding and poor training have given some of these dogs a reputation that is problematic. However, with reputable organizations, you should find a Doberman that is reliable, loving, and protective. Of medium size and high energy, Dobermans are among the smartest breeds.
While this breed might resemble a miniature Collie, Shelties, as the Shetland Sheepdogs are affectionately nicknamed, is a unique breed of their own. They are among the world’s smartest dogs. Extremely energetic and full of fun, this quite playful dog is seriously grateful when tasked with a job to perform. As happy to join you on a run as to herd sheep on a farm, a Shetland Sheepdog can thrive in all environments that give them sufficient exercise for mind and body. Shetland Sheepdogs get their name, and claim their origin, from islands off Scotland’s northern coast: the Shetland Islands. Shelties are a breed of medium size and medium energy. Classified by the Kennel Club as part of the group Herding, these clever dogs can perform many tricks and tasks and love to be part of the family.
Australian Cattle Dog
Another member of the Kennel Club Herding group, Australian Cattle Dogs hail from Australia where they were bred for the purpose of driving cattle across the wide-open spaces for long distances. While your particular Cattle Dog might not be steering cattle about, this dog is a busy one that is always on the go. Intelligent and eager to please, this breed is known for strength, bravery, and determination to see the job done, regardless of the nature of that job. Fearless and adventurous, these dogs make great companions and are well-known for their readiness to pick up tricks and skills.
English Springer Spaniel
This legendary breed has never forgotten its role at the side of the knight William Wallace of Scotland in battle. They are brave, driven workers, valued as both gun dogs and family companions. Generally bred for the purpose of flushing, retrieving, and pointing game, the English Springer Spaniel’s name is born of their ability to spring game from hiding spots. This dog can boast of being both the oldest and fastest breed of spaniel. A dog of medium size and energy, the English Springer Spaniel is part of the AKC Sporting group.
Many know this breed because of its signature mustache, but the fancy hair is not just for looks. The facial fur protects the Miniature Schnauzer from those small types of vermin the breed was bred for hunting. In their past, Miniature Schnauzers were farm dogs. Natural team players, this breed sometimes works alongside German Shepherd Dogs to guard sheep and property. Be aware that these dogs have sensitive hearing and are fond of howling with other dogs. A popular breed among celebrities, Miniature Schnauzers hail from Germany, making them the sole terrier to be developed away from the British Isles. Medium in energy in a small-sized package, this dog is of the AKC Terrier group.
One of the easiest dogs breeds to train, the Boxer was among the first of the breeds used for working with the police and the military. Other descriptors of the Boxer are photogenic and funny, which made them perfect for starring in some of the earliest motion pictures of Hollywood. The Boxer is true to its name, a handsy breed approaching every situation first with its front paws. You may want to protect your face with your hands when playing with one of these enthusiastic and joyful dogs, lest your nose is struck. Another contender for simple dog breeds to train, this medium-sized dog with bountiful high energy is classified by the AKC as a Working group dog.
Despite its name, the Australian Shepherd’s origins lie in the United States. They first gained renown amongst Americans by performing tricks in rodeos. Aussies, as they are known, are equally strong contenders when it comes to herding, agility events, and obedience. Their high intelligence, powerful drive, and enduring stamina make these dogs a favored breed for search and rescue, detection, and as hearing, assistance, or therapy dogs. They are smart, versatile, and enthusiastic. If you choose an Australian Shepherd to be part of your family, be sure to give your pooch plenty of consistent activity and a clear purpose that it can satisfy.
The Rottweiler breed, often affectionately shortened to “Rotties”, are imposing guard dogs and beloved companions in families. Both reputations are earned. Their chosen people receive their fierce devotion, while their inherent nature of protection makes them valuable to the police officers they often assist. Unfortunately, they have developed somewhat of a mean reputation due to poor ownership and training. They are targeted by some local legislation that specifies the breed and can be more expensive regarding insurance for homeowners. As with the German Shepherd Dog, a Rottweiler requires active and consistent training that starts at a young age. They need to learn which forms of protection are acceptable. Use up their energy with tasks that work them physically and mentally for a well-behaved medium-sized, medium-energy dog. Canines of this ancient breed are, according to the AKC, part of the Working group.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which is the easiest dog to train?
The easiest dogs to train are bright and willing, eager to please, and devoted. Any of the breeds listed could be considered the easiest dog to train.
What are the most low maintenance dogs?
Low maintenance dogs are easy to train, easy to maintain, and easygoing. Try a greyhound for minimal grooming, responsiveness, and good nature.
What is the hardest dog to train?
If you want an easy dog to train, do not choose a basset hound. While adorable, these hunters are notoriously stubborn and often ignore commands if no food is on offer.
Which dog is best for beginners?
Try a Golden Retriever if you are a beginner. This beloved breed is gentle, joyful, intelligent, and devoted.