The Best Dogs For Obedience Training

No dog is going to be good at obedience unless you, the owner, actually take the time to work with him and teach him what you want him to learn. You could have the smartest, easiest to train dog in the world and it wouldn’t make any difference if you don’t pick up a leash and work with your dog. He’ll never learn anything without a commitment from you.

However, if you are willing to work with your dog and train him, there are some breeds that are believed to be easier to train than others. In a book called The Intelligence of Dogs, author Dr. Stanley Coren asked over 200 professional dog obedience judges to rank 110 breeds based on their “intelligence.” The top 12 breeds ranked as follows:

1. Border Collies

2. Poodle

3. German Shepherd

4. Golden Retriever

5. Doberman Pincher

6. Shetland Sheepdog

7. Labrador Retriever

8. Papillon

9. Rottweiler

10. Australian Cattle Dog

11. Pembroke Welsh Corgi

12. Miniature Schnauzer

Dr. Coren measured intelligence to mean learning with fewer repetitions, ease of training and willingness to please, so these would be good criteria to use in choosing a dog for obedience training. Can you train dogs of other breeds? Certainly. There are over 170 breeds and varieties recognized by the American Kennel Club and more than 400 breeds of dogs in the world. Many of them are quite intelligent and they may be excellent at obedience training.

The dogs that made this top 12 list are generally breeds that have a history of working closely with humans – herding dogs, sporting dogs, working dogs. It’s in their nature to watch closely for commands and to seek to please their owner, though that doesn’t account for all of their intelligence.

Dogs that are more independent or which were bred to operate alone, such as the sighthounds and terriers, had a harder time doing well in these intelligence ratings. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t intelligent. It simply means that, according to the dog obedience judges who rated the breeds, these breeds are harder to train. Sighthounds and terriers may not be as motivated to please their owners and they were not bred to look to an owner for frequent commands.

Any of the breeds in the top 12 are capable of doing very well at obedience work but you should keep in mind that, in general, dogs of these breeds are very smart. That means that you do need to provide things for them to do, especially in the case of the Border Collie. These dogs need training to be happy. They need things to occupy their minds, especially when they are left alone. And, with many of these breeds, they need plenty of exercise to keep them calm and happy.

In addition, all of the dogs on this list tend to be in the medium size range – from small to medium-large. That makes most obedience work easier for them to do. They don’t have the physical problems that some giant breeds or very small breeds have in trying to do obedience. None of these breeds are brachycephalic so you don’t have to worry about breathing problems or special problems with heat.

Many people like the idea of getting a very intelligent dog but if you do you should make sure that you provide the dog with the kind of training he needs in order to develop mentally. Not only are these dogs good at obedience training but it is recommended for them.