Smartest Dog Breeds: Top 5 Easiest Dogs to Train

Home / Breeds / Smartest Dog Breeds: Top 5 Easiest Dogs to Train

smartest dog breeds

Top 5 Easiest Dogs to Train: Smartest Dog Breeds

I have owned smart dogs and not-so-smart dogs, and, while I love all my dogs equally, I can tell from personal experience, smart dogs are easier to train. I much prefer a dog who will try to catch the ball you throw to him, over the dog who stares at you with a blank look, gazes to the floor where the ball fell, and back up to you as if to say “What do you want me to do with that?”

Having a dog that is not only smart but easy to train sounds like the perfect combination. It is, but it isn’t without its own set of challenges. While a less-intelligent dog is more likely to face a problem head-on, a smarter breed may try to find a way around the problem. This can be a challenge, especially for new owners, when your dog climbs the kitchen drawers to get to its treats!

Most of the smartest dog breeds share the same trait, they don’t like being left alone. This is likely a side-effect of selective breeding, where only the smartest, most social dogs were chosen to give birth to the next generation of dog. Dogs are pack animals so it is natural for them to want to stay with their families, especially if you are a strong alpha.

Unsure what kind of dog is perfect for you? Check out my article, Dog Care 101: Choosing the Right Dog for You.

poodle, smartest dog breeds

#1 – Poodle

Topping the list of easiest dogs to train is the well known, yet often overlooked Poodle. Originating in Germany, this breed is known for its exceptional intelligence and playful personality. Poodles come in three varieties: Toy, Miniature, and Standard (there’s a size for everybody!). Be sure to research which size is right for you; Standard Poodles are massive compared to the toy variety.

The first image that comes to most peoples mind when thinking about Poodles is a well-groomed dog that looks like it has cotton balls glued all over its body. This is often not the case, as many owners choose to let the breeds natural, curly coat grow all over the body. (Not that there is anything wrong with dog-show style grooming, of course.)

Regardless of how you choose to style their hair, this breed makes a great, loyal, obedient companion, who, with the right training, and well-placed rewards, will work hard to learn any and every command you can think of.

lab, smartest dog breeds

#2 – Labrador Retriever

There is a reason Labrador Retrievers, here on referred to as Labradors or Labs, are the most popular breed in America. Their athletic build and downright adorable faces make them highly recognizable, even to non-dog lovers. Coming in a wide array of colors, (and flavors!) from black, yellow, and chocolate, to silver, and even fox red!
Prospective owners will find that, while Labs make great running partners, and are a popular contender at agility competitions, they also make great assistance and therapy dogs. You will often find this breed out in public wearing a vest to let people know they are on the job, assisting their human in any way possible.

Labs are a great breed that is easy to train, very energetic, and super friendly. Whatever you are looking for in a dog, you are likely to find it in the tried and tested Labrador Retriever.

It is important to note that, unlike the German Shepherd or Rottweiler, both of which you will see later in this list, Labradors do not make good guard dogs, due to their incredibly friendly and outgoing tendencies toward strangers.

australian shepherd, smartest dog breeds

#3 – Australian Shepherd

With its beautiful, mottled coat, and strikingly intelligent eyes, it is surprising that the Australian shepherd is not more popular than it already is. Not for the first-time owner, Australian Shepherds are a hyper-intelligent breed that, when under-stimulated mentally, can grow anxious-even destructive. It is important to give this breed plenty to do, as they are very active and naturally curious dogs.

As the name implies, Australian shepherds are sheep herding dogs, meaning they are used to taking control of things. This can be both a good and a bad thing, since training plays a very important role when it comes to caring for your dog. Do not fret, though, being the dominant leader of your pack is an important trait to have, both in and out of owning a dog.

Early socialization, while important for all dogs, is especially necessary for “Aussies”, who are likely to distrust strangers around his pack (your family) or herd (other pets). Aussies are one of the smartest dog breeds. Give this dog breed a chance and they will show you just how intelligent they are!

boxer, smartest dog breeds

#4 – Boxer

Though they may seem imposing at first, Boxers are actually one of the happiest, playful, gentle breeds on earth. I own a Boxer-Bull Terrier mix, and I can say from personal experience, these dogs are great with children. Incredibly patient, boxers, when full grown, are quick learners. Give them a command and a treat and watch them do everything in their power to duplicate the result.

Boxers are very playful dogs who love being around their family. It is important not to leave them alone for too long, as with most dogs, boredom and loneliness begets destruction. We once made the mistake of leaving our dog, Savanna alone for too long. The result? A torn up linoleum floor! She is only a mix, so thankfully she didn’t have as much sheer Boxer-strength to tear up the entire floor. Oh well, lesson learned. We ended up getting a tile floor, and she got a long time-out to think about what she’d done.

Warning: Boxer dogs tend to act like puppies well into adulthood. Plenty of exercise is necessary to keep this dog healthy and occupied.

german shepherd, smartest dog breeds

#5 – German Shepherd

One of the hardest-working dogs out there, German Shepherds are employed as rescue dogs, seeing-eye dogs, drug sniffers, and perhaps most importantly, in local law enforcement K-9 units, as police dogs. I was once walking through the parking lot of a restaurant when I noticed a number of K-9 police cars all parked close together. It wasn’t long before they all started barking, impatient to get back to their job of hunting down criminals.

A very loyal, extremely intelligent dog, German Shepherds love participating in activities with their families. Anything that keeps them busy is a great plus. This breed excels at learning new and complicated tricks, whether it be getting you the mail or grabbing you an ice cold beer, their only aim is to please.

Being one of the smartest dog breeds comes with a few drawbacks, however. Separation anxiety is a prevalent issue, making it important not to be away from home too long. While he is home alone, though, you won’t have to worry about anyone breaking in. German Shepherds are great watchdogs, who are ready to protect their home and family at any moment.


Like the list? Want to read more like it? Check out 11 Best Family dogs: Top Breeds for parents with kids.


Have a suggestion or breed you think should have been included on this list? Let me know by commenting under this post! Or join The Paws Hub Email list and tell me there. Id love to hear any feedback you have!