The 10 easiest dogs to train

A few years ago, I went through a huge Dalmatian phase. Not the Cruella de Vil kind, but almost. I would ogle Instagram accounts dedicated to spotted puppies and imagine having a chill Dalmatian quietly cuddled next to me.

Back to reality: Dalmatians are notoriously stubborn and get bored easily, which can lead to destructive behavior. Training is possible but difficult. And that’s important, because if you’re looking to adopt a dog, breed matters a lot, especially if you have young children.

The breeds on this list are energetic (the more energetic dogs are easier to train), but these dogs are also intelligent and love to learn commands.

Here are the 10 easiest dogs to train.

1. Poodle

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There’s a reason why standard, miniature, and toy poodles excel at dog shows. A healthy mix of versatility, intelligence, and playfulness make them ideal competitors, capable of leading a pack and following orders.

At home, they are incredibly social, both with people and animals, and mix well with people of all ages and species. Poodles indeed have a reputation for being snobby show dogs, but simply trimming their hypoallergenic fur and using firm, consistent commands is all it takes to produce a well-trained family dog.

2. The German Shepherd

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At heart, the German Shepherd is a protector. They are intelligent, dedicated dogs that like to have a job to do. They’ve been working in a variety of industries for decades (think law enforcement, guide and assistance services, search and rescue) and they happily devote themselves to their tasks. German Shepherds need exercise, both mentally and physically, and training them in a park or large field is ideal.

3. Pumi

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Pumis are energetic Hungarian herding dogs that aren’t afraid to snuggle with their owners (and they’re known to have preferences). In addition, they are bright, sociable, and very easy to train. As curious and observant animals, these fluffy canines are quick to try new things, so don’t hesitate to add new commands once the Pumi has learned the basics – sit, roll over, and do the laundry! Pumis also prefer reward-based training, so don’t be afraid to offer them treats.

4. Papillon

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Most small breeds are not very training oriented. This is the case with the Papillon. Named for its luxuriously large, pointed ears (papillon means “butterfly” in French), this puppy considers itself a large dog with a small body. Quick to learn and even quicker to play, Papillons need lots of exercises and are willing to try anything. This breed responds best to regular training early in their lives, with tons of positive reinforcement. They are also very cute, aren’t they?

5. The Cardigan Welsh Corgi

Don’t confuse the Cardigan Welsh Corgi with its stubborn, smaller cousin, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi. Cardigans have longer tails and are generally larger. They have also retained their livestock guardian instincts over the centuries, making them intelligent and strong-tempered puppies.

For their shape, Cardigan Welsh Corgis are incredibly agile. They are also loyal and affectionate to their owners (of all ages) without being overly territorial. A plus for dog lovers who live in the city: These corgis don’t need large yards or a lot of time outdoors. As long as they get regular engagement and mental stimulation, all is well.

6. Golden Retriever

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This American family dog quickly picks up habits, even if he’s not the brightest. Golden retrievers are great dogs to train because they love you and just want to make you happy (marry me?). They are also patient and can go with the flow, which makes training and forming positive habits easier. The only downside is that if you want to train a guard dog, golden retrievers like to make new friends, even with strangers.

7. Collie

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Think of collies as yogis: They’re bursting with enthusiasm, yet zen on the inside. There’s a reason Lassie was a collie! These dogs are calm in a crisis, independent but loyal, and consider the whole family worthy of protection (yes, even Uncle Jack). Reward-based training works best, as does a little variety. Once you’ve established commands such as “sit” and “stay,” try new tricks to keep the collie’s brain alert and his energy in check. Since they tend to bark a lot, it can be interesting to start training there.

8. Labrador Retriever

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Like the German Shepherd, the Labrador Retriever has been used in many working environments. Like golden retrievers, they make terrible guard dogs because they are so friendly. But, like all the breeds on this list, they are very trainable and can learn an incredible range of skills and tricks. Their level-headed temperament and love of the outdoors make training them fun, if exhausting. Get ready to run, play and laugh with a Labrador. And psst: make sure the no chewing on shoes is addressed early on.

9. Shetland Sheepdog

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The Shetland Sheepdog could be called the comedian of the dog world. These puppies love to discover unfamiliar tricks, please people, and show off once they’ve learned something new. Originally bred to herd sheep (of course), Shelties are among the most intelligent dogs. This means they have excellent obedience and tracking skills, as well as a penchant for barking and territoriality, which can be a good thing for anyone looking for a dog security system.

10. The Doberman Pinscher

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OK, hear us out on this one. Yes, Doberman Pinschers are known to be aggressive guard dogs, but this is due to their unwavering loyalty to their owners. They are very trainable, truly bright, and almost intuitive. Aggression comes out when the Doberman feels his home or family is threatened; otherwise, he is surprisingly affectionate. Training should be consistent and start early for the best results (with firm commands and lots of love).

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