The 10 easiest dog breeds to train

A few years ago, I went through a huge dalmatian phase. Not Cruella de Vil level, but close. I ogled Instagram accounts devoted to speckled pups and imagined having a chill dalmatian, quietly cuddled up next to me. Reality check: Dalmatians are notoriously stubborn and get bored easily, which can lead to destructive behavior.

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Easiest breeds to train
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Easiest breeds to train

POODLE

There’s a reason standard, miniature and toy Poodles excel at dog shows. A healthy mix of versatility, intelligence and playfulness makes them ideal competitors who can lead a pack andfollow orders. At home they’re incredibly social with both people and animals, mingling well with all ages and species. Yes, poodles have a reputation as snooty show dogs, but trim their hypoallergenic fur and utilize firm commands on the reg and you’ve got a well-trained goofball of a family dog.

GERMAN SHEPHERD

At its core, the German shepherd is a protector. These are smart, devoted dogs who love having a job to do. In fact, they’ve been working in various industries for decades (think: law enforcement; guide and assistance; search and rescue), and they willingly dedicate themselves to tasks. German shepherds definitely need exercise, both mentally and physically, so training in a park or big yard is ideal.

PUMI

Pumis are energetic Hungarian herding dogs that aren’t afraid to cuddle up with their owners (and they’re known to pick favorites). On top of that, they are bright, social and very easy to train. As curious and observant animals, these fluffy canines are quick to try new things, so don’t be afraid to add on fresh commands once a Pumi has gotten the hang of the basics—sit, roll over, do the laundry! Pumis also prefer reward-based training, so stock up on some goodies.

PAPILLON

Most small breeds aren’t super into the whole “training” thing. Enter the Papillon. Named for its luxuriously large and pointy ears (papillon means “butterfly” in French), these pups see themselves as big dogs in tiny bodies. Quick to learn and even quicker to play, Papillons need lots of exercise and are willing to try anything. This breed responds best to consistent training early in its life, with tons of positive reinforcement. They’re also just cute as hell, right?

CARDIGAN WELSH CORGI

Do not confuse the Cardigan Welsh corgi with its more stubborn, petite cousin, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi. Cardigans have longer tails and are generally taller. They’ve also retained their cattle-herding instincts over centuries, making them strong-willed, intelligent pups. For their shape, Cardigan Welsh corgis are incredibly agile. They’re also loyal and affectionate to their owners (of all ages) without getting too territorial. A bonus for city-dwelling dog lovers: These corgis don’t need big yards or tons of outdoors time. As long as they’ve got regular engagement and mental stimulation, they’re good.

GOLDEN RETRIEVER

This all-American, family-friendly dog picks up habits quickly, even though it’s not the brightest bulb in the box. Basically, golden retrievers are excellent dogs to train because they love you and just want to make you happy (marry me?). They’re also patient and can go with the flow, which makes training and forming positive habits a breeze. The only drawback is if you’re interested in training a guard dog because goldens enjoy making new friends, even with strangers.  

COLLIE

Think of collies as yogis: They practically ooze enthusiasm, while maintaining a calm Zen on the inside. There’s a reason Lassie was a collie! These dogs are calm in a crisis, independent yet loyal and consider the entire family worthy of protection (yep, even Uncle Jack). Reward-based training works best, as does mixing it up a bit. Once you’ve established commands like “sit” and “stay,” try new tricks to keep the collie brain sharp and energy in control. Since they tend to bark a lot, it might be worth it to start training there first.

LABRADOR RETRIEVER

Like the German shepherd, Labrador retrievers have dabbled in tons of work environments. Like golden retrievers, they make terrible watch dogs because they are so friendly. But, like all the breeds on this list, they are super easy to train and can learn an incredible range of skills and tricks. Their even-keeled temperament and love of the outdoors makes training fun, albeit exhausting. Get ready to run, play and laugh with a Lab. And psst: make sure “no chewing shoes” gets covered early.

SHETLAND SHEEPDOG

The Shetland sheepdog could be called the comedian of the dog world. These pups love discovering unfamiliar tricks, pleasing people and showing off once they’ve learned something new. Originally bred for herding sheep (duh), Shelties are some of the smartest dogs out there. This means excellent obedience and tracking skills, combined with a penchant for barking and territoriality, which could be a good thing for anyone looking for a canine security system.

DOBERMAN PINSCHER

OK, hear us out on this one. Yes, Doberman pinschers are known as aggressive guard dogs, but this is due to an undying loyalty to their owners. They are highly trainable, genuinely brilliant and almost intuitive in nature. Aggression comes out when Dobermans feel their home or family are threatened; otherwise, they are surprisingly affectionate. Training should be consistent and start early for best results (with firm commands and lots of love). 

RELATED: THE BEST DOG BREEDS FOR STRESSED-OUT PEOPLE

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Training is possible but tough. And this is important because if you’re looking to adopt a dog, breed matters big-time, especially if you have small kids around. The breeds on this list are definitely energetic (dogs with more get-up-and-go are more easily trained), but they’re also smart and enjoy learning commands. So much for my 101 dalmatians…

RELATED: THE BEST DOG BREEDS FOR RUNNERS

RELATED: Best dogs for families

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Best dog breeds for kids
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Best dog breeds for kids

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

"The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a wonderful family pet; a gentle, calm dog, who is happy to be combed and brushed," says Dr. Emmett. "This breed is, however, less enthusiastic about games, such as tug of war, and rough-and-tumble play. King Charles Spaniels are a good match for a more urban lifestyle and a sensitive child." What does that wagging tail mean?

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Golden Retriever

"The Golden Retriever is one of the most well-known dogs because of their gentle, caring temperaments. They are able to lounge around the house for an afternoon or take a hike through the woods," says Pete Lands, DVM, Director of Emergency and Critical Care at Saint Francis Veterinary Center. Goldens are very bright and easy to train. They're also stoic when it comes to kids. "While they may not like it, Golden Retrievers tend to be apathetic to young kids pulling on their ears or tugging at their tails. This makes them one of the best family dogs you can find," he adds.

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Labrador Retriever 

They look large-and-in-charge, but Labs are famously child-friendly. "The Labrador Retriever is a reliable family pet," says Dr. Emmett. "This breed has an insatiable appetite for games and play and is well suited for an active outdoor lifestyle and a child who likes to run, throw balls, and play Frisbee." These are the most popular breed dogs in every state.

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Beagle

Cute as a button, sweet, and gentle, these pack animals thrive on companionship. According to the American Kennel Club, these charmers make excellent family dogs because they are loving by nature, love to play, and have goofy personalities. If you want a dog who wants to be with people, this is a great breed for your family. Pass Beagles up, however, if your house is always empty during the day.

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Irish Setter

Does your family love a good group jog or a game of beach Frisbee? If so, an Irish Setter will be the perfect fit for you. Regal to look at and energetic beyond words, this breed grows to be large, around 50 to 70 pounds and has a long lifespan, so they can grow up with your kids. Irish Setters make great companions, are wonderful with children, and have lively dispositions. They also love to play with toys and balls. Don't miss these secrets dog trainers won't tell you.

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French Bulldog

Frenchies, as they are affectionately known, are diminutive in size, but big in personality. Known for their affectionate natures and silly "bat" ears, French Bulldogs were bred to be companion dogs. The perfect family dog for apartment dwellers, Frenchies do well in small spaces, and love being around kids. French bulldogs also love getting dressed up for Halloween.

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Boxer

Make a Boxer part of your family, and you will never feel unprotected again. Fiercely loyal and protective of those who love them, these energetic, medium-sized dogs have calm dispositions, but love to play. They need lots of exercise, but beware of driving them too hard in hot weather. Like all squish-faced (Brachycephalic) dogs, they tend to overheat. Keep your pooch safe all summer long with these 28 warm-weather health tips for dogs.

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Cocker Spaniel

There's a definite possibility that Cocker Spaniels think they are people. They're gentle, loving, very smart, love being around children, and tend to always put themselves in the middle of the action. They also make great therapy dogs and may be a good fit for an anxious or special needs child. Their beautiful, floppy ears make them prone to ear infections, so keeping them clean and groomed is essential.

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Bichon Frise

These little bundles of low-shedding fur are some of the friendliest dogs on the planet. Sweet, affectionate, and playful, the Bichon Frise is a fantastic playmate for energetic children. Their small size makes them a great city dog, provided you give them lots of walks. According to Animal Planet, they're loyal to a fault and do best with consistent training and moderate amounts of activity. These are the dog breeds most compatible with your (or your child's) Zodiac sign.

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Collie

Rough Collies are known for their majestic, flowing coats, while smooth Collies have shorter coats. Rough or smooth, Collies make great family pets. (However, rough collies require more grooming.) This breed is incredibly intelligent and likes nothing better than to engage in activity with the children who love them. They're fast learners, loyal to their families, and protective. Just ask Lassie.

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Poodle

Have an allergic child? According to Health, Poodles might just be the ticket for you. While no dog is completely hypoallergenic, Poodles seem to come close, because they appear to produce fewer allergens. They also come in three sizes—standard, miniature, and toy—and an abundance of colors. These adorable goofballs are super-smart, easy to train, adapt well to new situations, and love kids. Here's your official guide to picking the best dog breed for you.

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Labradoodle

An intentional mix of Poodles and Labrador Retrievers, Labradoodles are as adorable as their name. A medium-shedder, Labradoodles were originally bred to be even-keeled and empathetic, so they could be trained as guide dogs for visually-impaired people. This breed couldn't be more affectionate, or more adorable. Note that they need lots of exercise and tend to get along great with other dogs.

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Pug

This Instagram-darling brings with it major cuddle-factor. Their cutie-patooty smiling faces and cozying-up tendencies make Pugs a popular favorite for children who prefer gentle play to roughhousing. These playful pups were bred to be lap dogsand adore being around people. They're clever, quiet, and make great family pets.

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Chihuahua

Long-haired or short, Chihuahuas are the tiniest of all dog breeds. They tend to adore children and are very loyal to their families. Chihuahuas love the indoors and are not fond of very cold weather, perhaps because they're thought to have originated in Mexico. They're easy to train and love the lap of the person who loves them best. Watch out for these secret signs that your dog is mad at you.

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Chug

Chugs are a specific breed comprised of Pug and Chihuahua ancestry. Many have the best characteristics of both popular breeds, making them great pets for children. According to Pet Guide, Chugs are a designer dog with characteristics that vary from liter to liter. Like their forebears, most will make good family dogs. They're loyal, affectionate, intelligent, and love to play.

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Havanese

This tiny charmer is the national dog of Cuba. They have exuberant personalities and adore people of all ages. Havanese dogs are very social and outgoing. A loving breed, they also enjoy playing games. They're a toy breed, so not a great fit for rough-and-tumble play, but they're perfect for families who are looking for a silly, outgoing friend for their child. Read on for the 50 secrets your pup won't tell you.

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Bull Terrier

Bull Terriers and Miniature Bull Terriers make fantastic pets for older kids. They are sweet beyond belief, very protective, and very trainable. The American Kennel Club calls them mischievous, playful, and charming. Known for their silly, comical antics, and crowd-pleasing behavior, Bull Terriers need lots of exercise and lots of love.

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