We humans tend to correlate trainability in dogs with intelligence. And while that is one factor, there are other things that affect whether your dog is going to listen to you or not, such as what the breed was developed for, the training methods you are using, and what you are asking your dog to (for example, does it go against your dog’s natural instincts?).
The following 10 breeds are generally thought of as being “highly trainable” when looking at all these factors. However, that does not mean they are easy to train. They still require work, patience, and intelligence on the human end of the leash.
#1 – Border Collie
Of course. Not much needs to be said – we all know he is intelligent. But he doesn’t just “like to work,” this high-energy breed must work, or he can become destructive.
#2 – Standard Poodle
The Poodle has been vying for the “most intelligent dog breed” spot with the Border Collie for decades. Studies have proven them to be almost as smart, if not smarter than the BC, depending on the tests given. They also like to work with their owner, making them easy to train.
#3 – German Shepherd Dog
It’s no surprise to see this breed here as well. Another one that is high on the intelligence scale, the GSD is known for his loyalty; he will do literally anything to serve his owner, including risking his own life on the battle field. It is his fierce loyalty that makes him so pleasant to work with and own.
#4 – Golden Retriever
Many think this breed is more beauty than brain, which is simply not true. While they may not be as intelligent as the Border Collie, their good-natured and “willing to please” attitude makes them a fun dog to train and a good first pet.
#5 – Doberman Pinscher
An intense breed, the Doberman is known for his “ability to absorb and retain training,” which is one of the reasons he is popular for war and police work (www.akc.org). But this also means he needs to be socialized and trained right from the beginning in order for him to be an appropriate citizen.
#6 – Shetland Sheepdog
Like most of the herding breeds on this list, the Sheltie is known for being smart, willing, and on the lookout for a job. They are easy to train, but if you don’t give them a job, they will find one on their own – like herding the kids or chasing the cat.
#7 – Labrador Retriever
While few hunting breeds make the list due to the fact most were bred to work independent of an owner with few cues needed, Labs (along with Poodles and Golden Retrievers) are not only intelligent, but willing to work with their humans in whatever task is at hand. It is for this reason that they make good service animals.
#8 – Australian Shepherd
Yet another herding dog, the Aussie is on here for the same reason all the others are – they are intelligent but also willing to work and eager to please. They too, are high-energy and need a job.
#9 – Border Terrier
While most terriers are known for being more difficult to train, the intelligent Border Terrier “learns quickly and responds well to obedience training” (www.akc.org). They are a high-energy breed that needs to be kept engaged, but as long as you can handle that, they can learn pretty much anything and will do it with that lovable, tenacious terrier attitude.
#10 – Novia Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
Intelligent and high energy, the Toller is the smallest of the retrievers. They are known for being affectionate, loving, patient, and willing to work (www.akc.org). All of these traits make for a nice family dog that is easy to train.
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