10 of the Most Obedient Dog Breeds

Which breeds are known for being obedient and trainable?

obedient dog sitting

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When it comes to dog obedience, it's not just about how smart your dog is. Some breeds can be incredibly smart, but they may be independent, free-thinkers who are known for being stubborn.

The breeds below are known for having a good combination of intelligence, eagerness to please and enthusiasm for learning.

It's also important to recognize that every dog is different, and their natural levels of obedience can vary, regardless of the normal breed characteristics.

Tip

Whichever breed you get, make sure you keep training fun, frequent and motivating. You should set your dog up for success by taking things slowly, minimizing the distractions, keeping the sessions short, being armed with lots of rewards and ending on a positive note.

  • 01 of 10

    Border Collie

    Border Collie lying on the grass

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    Border Collies are often quoted as being the smartest of all dog breeds. Their intelligence, combined with the fact that they love to learn and are eager to please, means they can make extremely obedient dogs. They're often top-class dog sports competitors.

    These dogs love to learn and have an in-built working drive, and they thrive when they're given a job to do.

    While they can be easy to train, if a Collie isn't given enough company, mental enrichment, exercise and guidance, problem behaviors can easily surface.

    Their herding and chasing instincts are strong and, if these aren't properly harnessed, then a Collie may begin to chase cars, bikes or even small children.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 18 to 22 inches

    Weight: 28 to 48 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Medium-sized; rough or smooth medium-length double coat; body is slightly longer than it is tall; long head that comes to a point at the nose with ears standing erect and tips curling over

  • 02 of 10

    German Shepherd

    Young German Shepherd running in a field

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    The German Shepherd is another highly intelligent dog that was bred to be responsive and obedient. They also tend to be less intense than Border Collies.

    It's no surprise, then, that they're used by the police, military, search and rescue groups, and as service dogs.

    GSDs are very loyal and protective towards their family, but without the right guidance, these traits can become extreme. They could even develop guarding behavior or aggression towards strangers and other dogs.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 22 to 26 inches

    Weight: 60 to 100 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Large, athletic build with a double coat, comprised of a thick undercoat and a dense, slightly wavy or straight outer coat with tan and black or red and black coloring

  • 03 of 10

    Golden Retriever

    Golden Retriever giving unseen owner a paw in a field of long grass

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    Golden Retrievers are incredibly popular as family pets. They're usually very affectionate, patient and gentle with kids and other dogs, and they have an endearing enthusiasm for life.

    Goldens are known for being extremely eager to please, and this combined with their intelligence, means they're very receptive to training. They also tend to be serious foodies, and will do just about anything for a treat!

    Breed Overview

    Height: 23 to 24 inches (males); 21.5 to 22.5 inches (females)

    Weight: 65 to 75 pounds (males); 55 to 65 pounds (females)

    Physical Characteristics: Medium length double coat in light to dark gold, medium to large stature

  • 04 of 10

    Labrador Retriever

    Labrador puppy wearing green guide dg in training vest and sitting on a rock

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    Labs share a lot of similar characteristics to the Golden Retriever. They're another breed that is often trained as a service dog because of their smarts, enthusiasm, and calm and gentle nature.

    They're known for having outstanding retrieval skills, and this is an area of training that they particularly excel in.

    Food rewards work wonders with Labradors, who are known to be very greedy. Just make sure that you use small rewards and that these are balanced out with their daily food rations.

    Labs can be prone to obesity, and this can lead to a host of more serious health issues, including joint problems.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 21 to 24 inches

    Weight: 55 to 80 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Medium to large-sized sturdy, athletic build; smooth, water-resistant double coats; otter-like tail

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Vizsla

    Side view Vizsla standing near lake

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    The Vizsla was once a prized possession of the Maygar hunting tribes of Hungary. They were developed to have incredible stamina, enthusiasm, loyalty and intelligence.

    These attributes mean that today, with the right direction, you can have a very trainable dog in this breed.Vizslas really do need a lot of exercise, and training that can help them expend some of their energy would benefit them. They're another breed that has excellent retrieval skills, and they enjoy the sport of canicross, which is gaining in popularity.

    Vizslas are incredibly eager to please, and they form very strong attachments to their owners; often being referred to as 'velcro dogs'. This can help when it comes to training, but it also means they're more prone to developing separation anxiety too.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 22 to 23 inches

    Weight: 45 to 50 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Muscular and well proportioned with a russet-colored short, smooth, dense coat

  • 06 of 10

    English Springer Spaniel

    Smartest Dog Breeds — English Springer Spaniel

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    If you're looking for a dog that has boundless energy and enthusiasm and a real desire to please, the English Springer Spaniel may tick a lot of boxes.

    This busy and jovial breed has a constantly wagging tail and loves having a job to do. The ESS also has excellent retrieval skills and an incredibly sensitive nose. All these factors mean they're often trained for drug detection and scent work for the police and military.

    They're best suited to an active household where they'll get plenty of exercise. It's not uncommon for English Springers to be champions in the competitive flyball world and in nose work trials.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 19 to 20 inches

    Weight: 40 to 53 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Medium-size compact body protected by a dense, medium-length coat with feathering and long ears; coat comes in black or liver with white markings, or the opposite; blue or liver roan are also common; tricolor which includes black, white and liver or tan markings can sometimes occur

  • 07 of 10

    Poodle

    poodle sitting in grass

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    A lot of the poodles' popularity can be attributed to their elegant and refined look. Some people are surprised to learn, however, that this breed is actually incredibly smart, fun-loving and affectionate.

    They're typically devoted to their owners and very motivated to please. Poodles love to learn and, if you keep the training fun for them, they can be experts at learning how to perform tricks. Their natural athleticism also means they can excel at dog sports, like agility.

    Breed Overview

    Height: Standard: 15 inches; miniature: 10 to 15 inches; toy: 10 inches and under

    Weight: Standard: 45 to 70 pounds; miniature: 15 to 18 pounds; toy: 5 to 9 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Curly, dense single-layer coats that may be one of many solid colors, including white, black, grey, brown, and apricot

  • 08 of 10

    Keeshond

    Keshond standing in a garden

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    The beautiful Belgian Keeshond may not be as well known as some of the other breeds on this list, but these dogs are smart, loyal, gentle, friendly and easy to train. They're very alert and curious and, although they have a calm demeanor, they're constantly taking everything in.

    They have a lot of enthusiasm for trying new things too and, despite their rarity, there are champion Keeshonds in dock diving, rally and obedience.

    Keeshonds were developed as watchdogs, so you may have to put a little extra training in to prevent alert barking from getting out of control.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 17 to 18 inches

    Weight: 35 to 45 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Almost fox-like in appearance with a thick plumed tail and a mask around the eyes that gives the impression of wearing glasses; thick double-coat; usually a mixture of gray, black and cream and the shading can vary

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Havanese

    Havanese dog walking on a flowery lawn

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    The pretty little Havanese has grown majorly in popularity in North America in recent years. It's no surprise really, as these dogs are friendly, adaptable and smart. They're also known for being easier to train than your average breed.

    They have bags of enthusiasm and are very attentive and eager to please, and they are regular competitors in dog sports and obedience trials.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 8.5 to 11.5 inches

    Weight: 7 to 13 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: May have one or two colors including, but not limited to, black, silver, white, cream, tan, fawn, gold, sable, and red. Its coat can vary drastically from silky straight to very wavy with ringlets

  • 10 of 10

    Manchester Terrier

    manchester terrier

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    Terriers, while known for being smart, are also often associated with being strong-willed and feisty. Manchester Terriers are thought of as being more responsive and trainable than your average terrier, while not being any less intelligent.

    They're a breed that is often seen doing well in competitive dog sports, and they love to be kept busy and be given a job to do.

    Of course, they can still have some of that trademark terrier stubbornness in there. So you might need a little more patience and be creative in terms of keeping any training sessions fun and different to keep your MT's attention.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 10-12 inches (Toy); 15-16 inches (Standard)

    Weight: Under 12 pounds (Toy); 12-22 pounds (Standard)

    Physical Characteristics: Smooth, glossy, short and dense coat which comes in black and tan or black coat with mahogany markings; powerful, compact and muscular body and naturally erect ears

When it comes to dog obedience, there are several factors that will contribute to success, not just the breed type.

Using force-free, positive reinforcement training techniques is recommended, and this will ensure you maintain a strong bond with your dog. You need to keep training sessions motivating, fun and frequent.

You should also consider your dog's background too. If they have had a difficult start in life, they may need more patience when it comes to training to help them overcome fears and anxieties.

By adopting this approach rather than trying to force your dog or punish them when they get it wrong, you'll build a strong bond, and your dog will come into a training session ready to work with enthusiasm.