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Generally, when we think of the most obedient dogs, we think of those that have succeeded at dog obedience training and respond readily to various commands we might give them, such as “sit,” “stay,” or “shake.”
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It’s common to see lists of the most obedient dog breeds. And, when we read those lists, several familiar breeds do come up. But don’t you wonder which came first, canine popularity or canine intelligence?
Another question is, when it comes to dogs, are obedience and intelligence the same thing? Let’s find out by looking at ten dog breeds often cited as the most obedient (or trainable).
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Dog Breeds That Will Ace Their Dog Obedience Classes
The list of obedient dog breeds that follows merges various species-ranking lists, including lists of the most obedient, the most popular, and the smartest dog breeds. The list we came up with seems remarkably consistent among the three categories.
1. Border Collie
There is no doubt that border collies are a universal favorite. They come in at or near the top of most lists of dogs with desirable attributes. Border collies are active and love to learn new things.
These medium-sized dogs train readily and easily and seem to possess boundless energy. Their only problems? They get bored quickly and sometimes behave roughly toward children and other household pets because of it.
2. German Shepherd
German shepherds are large herding dogs, weighing up to 95 pounds. They learn quickly, remember and obey commands well, and crave exercise—which is why they’re such capable police dogs.
German shepherds adore and are very protective of their owners and families. Although they can be socialized to interact with non-family members and other pets, their aggressive tendencies need to be kept in check.
3. Golden Retriever
Who doesn’t love golden retrievers? These large, long-haired dogs score high marks in just about every behavior category there is. Adult “goldens” have a moderate energy level and seem to like everyone, whether humans or other pets.
The other area where these dogs excel is the ease of training them. Still, golden retrievers have trouble spending time without companionship, and, when they’re bored, this trait can lead to mischief.
4. Labrador Retriever
The Labrador retriever is an energetic and extremely good-natured dog. Its body features, including a water-resistant coat, make it a competent and enthusiastic swimmer. Labs are rescue dogs as well as therapy dogs and often guide dogs.
The Labrador retriever is a hearty dog, too—one whose heritage is to retrieve game for its owner. A lab appreciates a good swim or run, but is content lying around enjoying its family.
Don’t be fooled by the poodle’s elaborate and often over-the-top hairstyles. This dog is a serious (yet playful) intellectual, who learns quickly and is easy to train. There is also a certain refinement and air of confidence about the poodle’s demeanor.
Standard poodles are larger dogs with long legs. Their curly, dense coat requires regular brushing and styling—whether a simple short trim or fancier grooming.
Because the super-intelligent standard poodle is a notorious escape artist, owners might want to consider dog fences for this breed.
6. Miniature Schnauzer
The miniature schnauzer begins the second half of our list and is the first smaller breed we’re looking at. This terrier weighs 13-15 pounds and has a strong, taut body. The breed is high in energy and will run and run if not leashed or contained.
Miniature schnauzers are relatively easy to train and respond well to commands. It can be hard to keep them from barking, though—and they bark at just about anything that catches their attention.
7. Doberman Pinscher
The Doberman pinscher is a fiercely loyal and protective breed that is easy to train because of its devotion to its family. A highly intelligent dog, the Doberman needs frequent stimulation. Without it, the dog becomes frustrated and even aggressive.
Grooming-wise, the Doberman is low-maintenance, with a coat that is short, smooth, and stiff. Its lean, muscular body makes it a robust and fast runner and one that enjoys a chase.
You don’t want to get in this dog’s way when its protective instincts kick in!
8. English Springer Spaniel
The English springer spaniel is a trusting and congenial dog breed that is obedient and easy to train. At 40-50 pounds, this is a medium-sized dog.
Like other spaniels, the English springer spaniel’s long, floppy ears give it a unique and inviting look—though they need regular cleaning to prevent infection.
The English springer spaniel’s medium-length coat (with a dense undercoat) needs moderate care regularly, and the dog should be trimmed every two to three months.
9. Shetland Sheepdog
The Shetland sheepdog, or “sheltie” as it’s popularly known, is a highly trainable and moderately active breed. They typically weigh about 20 pounds and has a long, thick outer coat and a dense undercoat.
There is no question that shelties are barking dogs, and since it can take time for them to get to know new people, this only heightens their urge to “speak.” But shelties are gentle and playful around their families and others they know.
Like Dobermans, Rottweilers are incredibly loyal and protective dogs and are guarded, even defensive around strangers. Their medium-sized bodies are dense and can weigh up to 135 pounds.
The rottweiler needs regular physical and mental activity to prevent boredom. However, these qualities also make this breed intelligent and easy to train. They do require proper socialization to support the training, though.
For Your Consideration
Those of us who have dog breeds, including mixed breeds, not discussed here might take pause at the remarkable overlap between popularity, intelligence, and obedience reflected in our aggregated list of dog breeds.
What if our kind, gentle, and playful dogs lack the qualities that would allow them to pass obedience school like more standard or popular breeds?
Although the dog breeds we listed live up to and deserve their accolades, shouldn’t we be concerned that only those deemed most popular or obedient based on predefined and limited criteria are the ones people want as pets?
Try to cast a wide net when seeking a new canine companion. You might be pleasantly surprised!
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