Updated - May 18th, 2023
When posed with the question, “What are the easiest dogs to train?” We find ourselves in a bit of a tight spot. While there are certain breeds that are more eager to please than others, trainability ultimately hinges on the person holding the leash – you!
The truth is that with the right dog training, any breed can turn into a star student. It’s just that some personalities may require a little more patience and persistence to get there. It’s also important to note that these breeds aren’t immune to dog behavioral problems or unique personality quirks that can make training challenging.
With all of this in mind – let’s dive into what factors make a dog easy to train and the breeds that stand out from the rest of the pack.
What makes a breed “easy” to train?
With the caveat that every dog is unique, let’s explore some traits that can hint at a dog’s trainability:
History of the breed
Some dog breeds, like German Shepherds and Border Collies, for example, were originally bred as herding dogs, so taking cues from humans is basically a part of their DNA. Similarly, Golden Retrievers and Poodles were originally bred as hunting dogs, making them intelligent family pets with high motivational drive.
Many high-energy breeds can be easier to train due to the simple fact that they crave that extra mental stimulation – they are eager to learn! However, it’s this same energy that may make it difficult to keep them engaged if they aren’t getting enough physical exercise.
Certain breeds can be more easily distracted than others. Take hound dogs like Bloodhounds, for instance. Their super-sniffing powers can lead them on a spontaneous scent-driven adventure in the middle of a training session.
Even the easiest dogs to train have shorter attention spans when they’re puppies. This is why if you decide to bring home a younger dog, it’s essential to start training and socializing your puppy early on. Aim for fun, 5–10-minute sessions with basic dog tricks for your little learner. With consistent training, your puppy will grow into an obedient adult dog.
Physical and mental health
When it comes to dog training, healthy pups with sound minds make the best students. However, if your furry friend has endured trauma or abuse, they may need extra care in order to succeed. In such cases, seek help from an experienced animal behaviorist or a dog trainer. A little extra attention can work wonders for your pup’s training progress.
Don’t underestimate the training potential of rescue or shelter dogs! Many come with basic training and for those who don’t, many shelters and rescues offer great obedience training resources.
At the end of the day, your furry friend craves your attention and affection. So give them plenty of positive reinforcement with love, treats, and praise and you will be well on your way to having a well-behaved pooch.
The easiest dog breeds to train and why
Now without further ado, here’s our list of the most notoriously eager-to-train breeds and why! Keep in mind that some of these breeds have higher energy levels than others, so make sure your lifestyle can accommodate their needs.
The German Shepherd
The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognizes this breed as one of the most popular, and it’s no wonder why! These noble dogs are fiercely loyal and protective of their families. With high intelligence levels, the German Shepherd dog loves working in positive reinforcement training environments. Their impressive trainability has earned them roles as police, military, and service dogs. So, whether you’re looking for a hardworking pup or a loyal family pet, this breed is an excellent choice!
While often seen as a trendy designer dog with a fancy haircut, this breed is more than just a pretty face! In fact, the poodle is one of the easiest dogs to train and can adapt to any living situation. With three sizes (Standard, Miniature, and Toy), they’re versatile for any home.
Poodles are intelligent, calm, and eager to please their parents. Although originally bred as hunting dogs, these traits make them a breeze to train and excellent family dogs. So for pet lovers who want a cuddly lapdog or a skilled hunter, this breed will surely steal your heart!
The Golden Retriever
Golden Retrievers were initially bred to fetch waterfowl for their human hunting partners. And boy, do they love good praise and reward-based training! With their joyful and friendly personalities, it’s no wonder they’re among the most popular dog breeds.
However, don’t expect them to be top-notch guard dogs. They’re more interested in pleasing their humans than guarding them. Their desire to please makes them perfect candidates for family, therapy, and service dogs. So, if you want a loyal and loving furry companion, this breed will surely bring plenty of love to your life!
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The Border Collie
Border Collies, the ever-loyal and responsive canine companion, also make our easiest dogs to train list. Famous for their herding prowess, these dogs can herd sheep with a few whistles and hand signals. Always craving new challenges, Border Collies are eager to ace any task you throw their way.
But heads up! If you’re swamped with work or have a bustling social life, training a Border Collie might be a bit of a juggling act. So, choose wisely and make sure you’re prepared for an adventure with this herding dog!
The Miniature Schnauzer
Miniature Schnauzers are among the smartest and easiest dog breeds to train. These hardworking, intelligent pups are not only quick learners, but they’re also eager to please. With positive reinforcement and consistency, training sessions become effortless!
Their high energy levels make them perfect for dog sports and obedience training. To keep them engaged, provide consistent training and mental stimulation through toys or games. Take the opportunity to teach your Miniature Schnauzer new tricks and watch them thrive.
The Labrador Retriever
One of America’s most popular dog breeds, the lovable Labrador Retriever is also among one of the easiest dogs to train. This breed is known for its sharp mind and endless desire to please human friends – the same reason you shouldn’t count on them to guard your home! Most will tell you that training a Lab is a breeze once you’re past those treacherous puppy years.
Beware: these pooches are highly food-motivated and need plenty of stimulation to prevent sneaky, chewy behavior (goodbye, favorite pair of shoes!). Also, Labs are incredibly versatile pups with a long history of serving as service and therapy dogs. But they also excel as hunting dogs, thanks to their keen sense of smell and sharp instincts. Ultimately, these four-legged cuties are happiest when snuggled up on the couch with their beloved family members.
Papillon is French for Butterfly, making it the perfect name for this tiny breed’s butterfly-shaped ears and affectionate nature. But don’t let their toy size fool you – these dogs are intelligent and confident. The Papillon thrives on mental and physical activity.
These go-getters love learning new tricks, jumping hurdles, and weaving poles in agility. Plus, they are always ready to cuddle on the couch with you making them superb companion dogs, too.
The Doberman Pinscher
While the Doberman Pinscher gets an intimidating rep, don’t count them out! Especially if you want a dog that you can take for long walks, hikes, and other athletic feats. These dogs are highly intelligent and trainable. In fact, they almost always land a spot on “easiest dogs to train” lists.
Doberman Pinschers are very loyal. They can be excellent watchdogs, but also cuddly companion dogs contrary to popular belief. If you’re prepared to put in the work, the Doberman may be the breed for you.
The Pembroke Welsh Corgi
The Pembroke Welsh Corgi breed is obedient, intelligent, and affectionate. Their instinct is to herd, work, and be fearless. Although their strong will lands them on our list of easiest dogs to train, it’s also this same trait that can make them bore easily. They need lots of mental stimulation and positive reinforcement training to keep them interested. Their small size makes them ideal for apartment living!
The Australian Cattle Dog
Also called Blue Heelers, the Australian Cattle Dog is highly intelligent and energetic. They are more independent, but when paired with an owner that can match their energy, they thrive with training and socialization. These make great family dogs, however, make sure you have time to exercise and play with this pooch every day!
The Bernese Mountain Dog
These gentle giants were originally bred as farm dogs to herd sheep and pull carts, so hard work is no stranger to this breed. Bernese Mountain Dogs are friendly, mild-tempered, and intelligent dogs making them perfect for families.
They need lots of interaction with their humans and respond best to consistent, positive reinforcement training. Bernese Mountain dogs are certainly eager to please, but they need wide open spaces and lots of physical exercise to keep them engaged. Trainability aside, who wouldn’t want to cuddle with this giant teddy bear?
These little clowns of the dog world respond very well to training! On one hand, they’re lovable lap dogs, but on the other, they love to put on a show by learning new tricks and commands. Havanese are easily trainable dogs that make excellent companions for first-time dog parents. Their compact size makes them the best dogs for city dwellers or frequent travelers that need to take their pooch on-the-go.
Boxers are intelligent and pick up new commands very quickly with consistent training. However, like any dog that doesn’t get proper mental and physical stimulation, they can become strong-willed and develop destructive behaviors. Boxers in particular have a strong prey drive and excitability, so patience, consistency, and lots of tasty treats are important. Whether you need to accomplish basic obedience, potty training, leash training, or crate training, you will be successful with the Boxer!
What is the hardest dog to train?
Determining the hardest dog breed to train is difficult as each dog is unique and trainable with the right approach. However, certain breeds, such as Afghan Hounds and Basenjis, are known for being more independent and stubborn, making training a bit more challenging. Consistency, patience, and positive reinforcement can help overcome training difficulties with these breeds.
Which dog is best trained?
The best-trained dog is subjective and depends on individual preferences and needs. However, German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and Poodles are often used as service and therapy dogs due to their high trainability and ability to learn complex tasks. With consistent training, positive reinforcement, and patience, any breed of dog can be trained to be well-behaved and obedient.
What should I do as a first-time dog owner?
As a first-time dog owner, you should research different dog breeds to find one that fits your lifestyle and personality. Prepare your home with appropriate supplies, such as food and water bowls, a comfortable bed, and toys. Schedule regular visits with a veterinarian (especially in the beggining!), establish a consistent routine/puppy training schedule, and enroll in a dog training class if you’re looking for extra support. Lastly, give your dog plenty of love, attention, and exercise and you can’t go wrong.
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