Easy to Train Dog Breeds

As a general rule, an intelligent dog is an easy to train dog. There are a number of factors that contribute to the outcome of training, like a dog’s individual temperament and background, and the abilities of the human trainer.

Stanley Coren, a psychologist, compiled information from many dog trainers and offered the following standards for canine intelligence. A smart, easy to train dog is defined by being able to learn a new command within 5 repetitions and obey first commands at least 95% of the time.

The following nine breeds all demonstrate this ability. However, trainability and level of care needed go hand-in-hand; a highly intelligent dog will also require more consistent attention and exercise to retain any training you achieve together.

1. Labrador Retriever

Labs are one of the most popular dog breeds, especially for families. They are easily taught and have calm temperaments. Golden retrievers are also favored family dogs, friendly and easy to teach. Both breeds were historically used in hunting parties.

2. German Shepherd Dog

Shepherds, another working dog, are also in the top five favorite dogs in the United States. Schutzhund, a dog sport developed in Germany, was designed specifically to test the usefulness of German Shepherds in police work. Although trainers sometimes train other breeds for Schutzhund, it remains a predominantly German Shepherd competition.

3. Poodle

All sizes of Poodles—standard, miniature and toy—are included in this category. Poodles originated as retrievers particularly suited (and therefore bred for) working in water.

4. Rottweiler

Rottweilers were bred for working and herding. They remain a working breed—they’re often trained for search and rescue and guide dog work.

5. Doberman Pinscher

Bred as defense dogs (whether for personal protection or police work), Dobermans, like Rottweilers, often receive undue criticism of their behavior. Breeding and training trends have impacted the overall temperaments of both these breeds, and they are each excellent companion dogs when treated well and trained appropriately.

6. Shetland Sheepdog

Commonly called Shelties, these dogs have herding temperaments, high energy levels and vocal tendencies. Shelties tend to be hyperactive. Without enough attention and activity, these dogs easily become nervous and frustrating, but they are intelligent and respond well to training. Belgian Sheepdogs are also known for their trainability (also known as Belgian Shepherds, this breed is similar to the German Shepherd in many ways).

7. Papillon

Papillons are the only dogs on this list bred for companionship rather than work. They are also the only toy breed commonly recognized among the most intelligent, trainable dog breeds. They are athletic and high energy, and do well in service work and in agility sports.

8. Australian Cattle Dog

Also called Blue Heelers or Red Heelers (depending on coloring), cattle dogs are natural herding dogs. Cattle dogs are reserved with strangers, but quite social with family.

9. Border Collie

Border Collies are herding dogs and considered the most intelligent dog breed. As the other dogs on this list, Border Collies are active and happiest when they have mentally engaging work or play to do.