Trainability is one of the most important considerations when choosing a pet dog. It’s commonly forgotten due to the focus on cuteness when choosing a puppy or rehoming a dog; many of us are blinded by big eyes and adorable faces.
But finding easy to train dogs should be a priority. Not only will it save you time during the dog training process, but it will also give you peace of mind knowing your dog is obedient. Owning a well-trained dog can sometimes prevent behavioural issues, such as reactivity, recall failure, and resource guarding. These behaviour examples can be avoided with proper training.
Most dog breedss that are easy to train fall into the “working group” category; this includes Border Collies, Dobermanns, Golden Retrievers, and Poodles. These dogs were bred to assist people in many areas by being clever, strong, and alert. This article offers an insight into the dog breeds that are quick to learn.
Now, trainability can come down to individual dogs – not all dogs of a specific breed will be easy to train; some might be very strong-willed – but certain breeds are generally easier to train than others. These are the breeds included in this list.
So, without further ado, let’s look at what dogs are easy to train in the UK.
Table of Contents
At the top of this list is the Border Collie. Known for their incredible ability as herding dogs, Border Collies have proven to be one of the most intelligent dog breeds in the UK. This dog breed has succeeded in several dog sports, such as completing agility courses in record-breaking times. This is often the result of their agile and intelligent nature.
An active lifestyle to keep them busy is ideal, as this dog will never be one for lazy days on the couch. They also have a high drive, meaning they will chase things that move quickly. Recall and impulse control are two important aspects to train if you own a Border Collie. This is one reason why Border Collies are better suited to experienced dog owners. However, once their behaviour is understood and needs are met, Border Collies can be easy to train.
The Kennel Club states that this breed “needs to be engaged to lead a fulfilled life,” so regular mental stimulation and physical exercise are required. Taking Border Collies on long walks and enrolling them in obedience school training classes can help meet these needs.
The German Shepherd was primarily a herding dog but has since proven to be a great addition to the armed forces and police service. Their clever and determined nature means German Shepherds are often eager to please their owners. This makes them one of the easiest dog breeds to train.
German Shepherds can also work as guide dogs, although they only made up four percent of guide dog stock in 2016. Training to become a guide dog can be a difficult process, which highlights the trainability of these dogs. Many guide dogs are selected to partake in training from puppyhood, meaning most of their young lives are dedicated to socialising and preparing to go to a training school at around one-year-old.
As one of the more popular breeds in the UK, the Labrador Retriever has become well known for its intelligence due to the success of this breed as guide dogs. The Kennel Club website states that Labradors are versatile as family companions, service and guide dogs and working gundogs. It is definitely an affectionate breed.
Although many people will mention the Labrador’s love of food, this is a great motivator during dog training. Food-oriented dogs will do anything for a treat. However, you should be careful not to overfeed your dog during training, especially Labs, if you become a dog owner. A study in 2016 found that more than one-fifth of this breed carries a variation in their DNA that could predispose them to food-seeking and obesity; you can read more on this study here.
It might come as a surprise that the Dobermann is a great family dog; this stems from the loyalty and obedience this breed possesses. Dobermanns were originally bred for personal protection and guarding, so their natural watchfulness makes them excellent guard dogs. They will, however, need plenty of socialisation with different people and animals to prevent them from becoming too protective.
Dobermanns are an energetic breed that will require a lot of exercise, but their high intelligence means they can be easy to train. They are often used in law enforcement and the military due to their keen sense of smell and ability to follow commands.
Bernese Mountain Dog
Well known for size and strength, the Bernese Mountain Dog is a draught and working dog. They are incredibly versatile and have been successfully trained as assistance dogs, guard dogs, and even in search and rescue.
Despite their large size, Bernese Mountain Dogs are gentle and affectionate with their family. They are also great with children, making them ideal family pets. They are an easy-going breed that is not too high energy, although they will still need daily walks.
The Golden Retriever is one of the most popular dog breeds in the UK, and it’s not hard to see why. They are gentle, loyal, and great with children, which makes them great additions to family life. They are also one of the easiest dogs to train as they are intelligent dogs and want to please their owners.
This breed is often used as assistance and therapy dogs and has been known to excel as service dogs, like in search and rescue. Golden Retrievers have a high energy level and will need a lot of exercise, making them unsuitable for first-time dog owners.
Although best known for being successful show dogs, the Poodle breed was originally a water retriever, specifically in duck hunting. This is due to their coat, which is relatively waterproof.
Poodles come in three sizes (toy, miniature, and standard) and can be easily trained using positive reinforcement methods, such as treats. They are one of the most intelligent breeds of dogs, likely due to their working history. Poodles are known to excel in agility, obedience, and working trials.
Another benefit of owning a poodle is they are often hypoallergenic. For more on hypoallergenic dog breeds in the UK, click here.
The Kennel Club has said Shetland Sheepdogs have “been successful not only in the show ring but in obedience and agility” while becoming a firm favourite as a family companion. This breed is known to be very loyal and can form close bonds with its family.
While they might not be as popular as other breeds on this list, Shetland Sheepdogs are still relatively easy to train. They have a moderate energy level and are often willing to please their owners.
Havanese dogs are very alert and will follow their owner’s every movement, which means they are easy to train dogs and generally well-behaved. However, it is not uncommon for toy dog breeds to take longer toilet training than larger breeds.
As a small dog, the Havanese comes with the added benefit of not needing as much exercise as the dogs previously mentioned on this list. Although, like most breeds, they do need a moderate amount of exercise to stay healthy and content. This can come in the form of daily walks or play sessions in the garden, making them a perfect match for first-time owners or young families.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a small, gentle breed known to be great with children. They are one of the most affectionate breeds of dogs and will often want to be close to their owner; this breed forms close bonds with their owners.
This breed is relatively easy to train as they are intelligent and responsive to commands. However, they are not as energetic as some other breeds on this list, so they might not be suitable for owners looking for an active dog. If an active and energetic spaniel is what you’re looking for, then the English Cocker Spaniel or English Springer Spaniel might be other options to consider.
To Sum Up
What breeds are easy to train dogs in the UK varies greatly. The breeds that are easier to train aren’t always smarter than other dogs. However, some breeds, such as the Border Collie, German Shepherd, and Labrador Retriever, are widely known to be intelligent and responsive to commands. Other breeds, such as the Bernese Mountain Dog and Golden Retriever, are also easy to train.
When choosing a new dog, even though there are dog training books to help, it’s important to consider what level of trainability is right for you and your lifestyle. If you are looking for a low-maintenance dog that is easy to train, a breed like the Havanese might be a good option. However, if you are looking for an active dog that is still relatively easy to train but needs to be kept on the go, a breed like the Border Collie or German Shepherd might be a better choice.