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Usually, when we ask if a dog is smart, we really want to know how trainable they are. Although intelligence is a major component in a dog’s ability to learn, each breed has a distinct personality, instinctive drive, and genetic heritage, which will affect trainability. For example, some breeds were developed to work cooperatively with human partners, and others were developed to work independently.

Another factor is distractibility. Is the dog able to concentrate on what you are teaching or are other elements in the environment pulling their focus? Of course, training methods have an impact, too. If you engage and excite your dog, use rewards that your pet thinks are worth working for. If you make training a fun time for bonding, any breed can learn and enjoy doing it. According to Dr. Stanley Coren, a renowned dog researcher, here are some of the most trainable breeds.

Border Collie

The Border Collie is a whip-smart workaholic. They learn remarkably fast, and you might find them looking at you as if to say, “Is that all you wanted?” Sharpen your skills to keep up with this highly trainable breed.


Don’t let the fancy coat fool you. The Poodle is intelligent, keen to work, and eager to please. No matter the size, these dogs will happily learn whatever you choose to teach.

German Shepherd Dog

There is good reason this large and powerful breed is often used for police and military work. The German Shepherd Dog is a tireless worker and wants nothing more than to please their handlers.

Golden Retriever

Consistently near the top of the most popular breeds list, this beautiful and friendly dog is also very trainable and eager to please. Golden Retrievers can be silly and fun, but don’t underestimate their brainpower.

Happy Brazilian man training with his dog at the park asking him to give his paw.

Doberman Pinscher

Another common police and military breed, the commanding Doberman Pinscher is a fearless and loyal companion. They are enthusiastic workers and are renowned for their ability to learn and retain their training.

Shetland Sheepdog

This gorgeous herding breed is playful, affectionate with family, and loves to learn new behaviors. Shetland Sheepdogs make excellent competitors in dog sports such as agility or obedience.

Labrador Retriever

Another extremely popular dog, this gentle and versatile hunting breed is also a fast learner. Labrador Retrievers‘ outgoing nature and eager-to-please personality make them a preferred breed for service work.


Named for their butterfly-like ears, this alert toy breed is eager to please their owners. Papillons are curious, quick studies, and enjoy learning new things.

Papillon puppy gently taking a treat from a hand.
Sergey Lavrentev via Getty Images


An imposing breed, the large Rottweiler is a natural protector that thrives when they have a job to do. That means that not only is the Rottweiler extremely trainable, but training is essential to their happiness.

Australian Cattle Dog

This is a determined and highly active breed. Independent thinkers, Australian Cattle Dogs are tireless workers that need a job to do. Training can help give this intelligent breed a sense of purpose.

Pembroke Welsh Corgi

This low-set and active dog is surprisingly powerful for their small size. The Pembroke Welsh Corgi is a breed that responds wonderfully to training and is an enthusiastic dog sport competitor.

Miniature Schnauzer

These relatively small dogs are playful and keen to please their owners. Fearless and stocky, the Miniature Schnauzer has a different origin from many of the other members of the Terrier Group, giving them a higher trainability rating than some other breeds.

English Springer Spaniel

Built to hunt all day, this energetic breed works hard in the field but is playful at home. The English Springer Spaniel’s soulful expression hides a quick mind and a desire to please.

Sporting Group Third and Best of Breed: GCH CH Random Legacy Dylan Du Revention, Spaniel (English Springer); Sporting Group judging at the 2016 AKC National Championship presented by Royal Canin in Orlando, FL.
David Woo ©American Kennel Club

Remember, even if your dog is not on the above list, almost every dog can be trained. You just might need more patience with some dogs than others.

And sometimes, the “most trainable” dogs present their own challenges. For example, they can learn bad behaviors just as quickly as good ones. Celebrate whatever makes your breed special, and find the techniques that help your dog learn at their best.

 At AKC Marketplace, we can help you find your dream dog. You can find AKC-registerable puppies from responsible, passionate breeders, and we provide the tools you need for every step of the process. Visit to start connecting with dog breeders in your area!

Related article: What Dog Is Right For Me? How to Choose the Perfect Breed
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