Updated date:

Top 5 Smart, Easy to Train Dogs

Former university professor of marketing and communications, Sallie is an independent publisher and marketing communications consultant.


#1. The Border Collie

The Border Collie is regarded by many as the most intelligent dog. It is always mentioned as one of the top, if not the top canine, when it comes to intelligence and train-ability. Very energetic, acrobatic, and athletic, you’ll see this breed often in competitions (especially sheepdog trials), and they win a lot because of their agility and ability to obey commands.

A very smart animal, this is a dog that has to have something to do—but it may not be the best house pet. If what you’re looking for is a smart, trainable house pet that can stay home alone and do nothing during long work days, this is not your dog. In fact, it would be cruel to expect this energetic animal to be good when left home alone for long stretches of time.


Made for working and working out, this dog can (and probably will) cause extensive damage to your home if left alone for a long time. Border Collies need to be busy, and they need challenging tasks that will allow them to get a good amount of exercise every day. This is an intense, focused animal that can learn and react to hundreds of words.

And, although you don't need to be a sheep herder to own one, you do need to be someone who loves dogs with energy, that need plenty of exercise. Not designed for couch potatoes, this is a breed that will bring tons of fun and frolicking to a family with children, or serve as an energetic companion for someone who likes taking long walks, runs, or hikes.


#2. The Poodle

Believe it or not, the Poodle holds the number-two spot among canines that are both smart and easy to train. In fact, it excels in obedience training. Highly intelligent, Poodles are often regarded as one of the easiest breeds to train. Perhaps it’s their love of the “human animal.” Poodles are known to adore people and to love being around them. The flip side of that, however, is that they hate to be left alone.

So, if you’re looking for a loving dog that will worship and adore you, the Poodle may be your dog. It learns easily and is obedient, and it can also track and herd. This is why, as a breed, it has often won top spots at dog shows and competitions. The breed comes, officially, in toy, miniature, and standard sizes, and a variety of coat colors.

In its miniature size, the Poodle is one of the most popular varieties of pets. It is energetic, good-natured, playful, and eager to please, and it responds well to instruction and commands. Sensitive, it can become devoted to one person, and is usually reserved with strangers until it gets to know them.

Playful and energetic, Poodles are known to be good with children, other pets and other dogs. Although most of the news about Poodles is good, be warned that some Poodles do tend to bark quite a bit.


#3. The German Shepherd

Third in line for the throne of smartest, most easy-to-train dogs is the German Shepherd. This breed is smart and it also excels in obedience training. In fact, in his book, The Intelligence of Dogs, author Stanley Coren ranked the German Shepherd third in canine intelligence, behind Border Collies and Poodles. Extremely intelligent and courageous, this dog has strong protective instincts making it one of the best guard dogs available.


Because of its intelligence, train-ability, size, courage, and protective instincts, the German Shepherd is often a “working dog,” and the breed is employed in police and military roles around the world. Loyal and protective by nature, German Shepherds are large-sized dogs, usually between 22 and 26 inches in height, and weighing in at between 49 and 88 pounds.

Although their size can be formidable, with proper training, these dogs can also be great family pets, and are known to be excellent with children. The ideal height for the breed is 25 inches, according to Kennel Club standards. They come in a variety of colors, with the most common being tan/black and red/black.


#4. The Golden Retriever

Holding down its place at Number 4 on my list of smart, easy-to-train dogs (while wagging its tail happily) is the Golden Retriever. A medium-sized breed of dog, the Golden Retriever is ranked, consistently, as the most popular and affectionate breed of dog. Why? Because it literally possesses every quality dog lovers love about dogs: It is loyal, obedient, loving, patient, friendly, great with children, and it aims to please its owner. It is a highly intelligent breed that excels in obedience competitions as well as at performing tricks.


It is their loyalty and gentle disposition that makes the Golden Retriever a perfect family pet. But their intelligence makes this breed versatile, so they are often trained to be guide dogs for the blind, hearing dogs for the deaf, and to be police dogs. Yes! They, along with the German Shepherd, are easily trained to become hunters of illegal drugs, and as search-and-rescue scouts working with police departments.

With a love of water and a water-repellent outer coat, these dogs were developed to serve as gundogs, to accompany hunters for the purpose of retrieving game/waterfowl such as birds and ducks. They earned their name based on their abilities in retrieving what was shot. Golden Retrievers thrive happily in suburban or country environments, where they have room to run and roam. A breed that needs substantial outdoor activity/exercise, because of their roaming, hunting dog instincts, they need to be kept in a fenced-in area.


#5. The Doberman Pinscher

Many may shiver at the thought of Number 5 on my list. In fact, even the name “Doberman” can incite fear in hearts, and many would-be owners don’t even consider this breed when looking for a smart dog that’s easy to train. But, the Doberman Pinscher is Number 5 on this list of intelligent, easily trainable canines for some good reasons. In fact, unbeknownst to most, they actually make good family pets. Smart and fearless, the breed is extremely loyal and alert. And it is alertness and intelligence, when combined, that makes a dog trainable for just about anything, from being a mild-mannered family pet to being an aggressive guard dog.

Although they were once commonly used as guide or police dogs, today that is no longer true. Today, this energetic, lively breed is more likely to be found being a loyal companion and friend, and living with a family.


Dobermans are people-oriented dogs that crave attention, positive reinforcement and the spending quality time with the family. Properly trained and socialized, they have an obedient temperament, are mild-mannered and easygoing, and are very good with children. A medium-sized dog, the Doberman Pinscher has a short, hard coat that can be black, red, blue or fawn. A breed possessing great speed and endurance, the Doberman is muscular and elegant, and has the intelligence and ability to learn and retain training.

And speaking of endurance, Dobermans, like German Shepherds, are among the most hard-working breeds of dogs. They’re among the top ten in breeds when it comes to being a good guard dog, and they’re not naturally mean and vicious as they’re often thought to be. They are a dominant breed, but they are also capable of being calm, meek, and obedient, when trained properly. And, it's also good to know that when trained to be a family dog from an early age, this loyal and loving breed will take pride in protecting its owner when and if it becomes necessary to do so.

Top 10 Funny and Cute Dog Videos!

© 2012 Sallie B Middlebrook PhD


Sami from Kansas on July 28, 2014:

No problem! Your hub is still amazing without the Lab mention. I'm just a biased Labrador owner!

Sallie B Middlebrook PhD (author) from Texas, USA on July 28, 2014:

You're so right! Thanks for that reminder, Sami Hanson.

Sami from Kansas on July 28, 2014:

Labradors are also very smart and easy to train. They're also wonderful with kids!

Sallie B Middlebrook PhD (author) from Texas, USA on October 12, 2013:

Thanks again, CyberShelley. I guess you can sort of tell that I have a fondness for doggies! Thanks for the votes, and it's always a pleasure to meet another doggie lover!

Shelley Watson on October 11, 2013:

Thank you, again another interesting and excellent article on our four footed friends. Up, interesting and useful.

Sallie B Middlebrook PhD (author) from Texas, USA on July 15, 2013:

Thank you, cherihut, for the visit and for sharing your story. I enjoyed learning about your doggie. I bet that was a good mix, Border Collie and German Shepherd. Your neighbor was very kind and understanding, indeed. Most probably wouldn't have been, so you're right, God was looking out for you and your doggie. He was only doing his job.

We've had a rash of dogs biting people in our area lately, don't really know why. One dog (I think it was a Rottweiler) even killed a woman who had rescued it just last week. The other dogs have mostly been Pit Bulls. I think a lot of owners don't take the time to get to know the personality and needs of the breed before they adopt them.

Thanks again for sharing. Loved your story.

Cheri Hutson from Eastern Ohio on July 14, 2013:

Interesting article. I was surprised to learn that Poodles were No.2 on the list. Not surprised by the Border Collie's rank as No. 1, but I would have thought the German Shepherd would have been a close second. I had a dog that was half Border Collie and half Shepherd, and he fit the descriptions of both breeds. Really smart dog, but very active. Always wanted to be working. He would help me dig paths in the snow and even pulled weeds in the summer! He liked catching frisbies, too. But the Shepherd side of him came out when anybody that he didn't know walked into the yard. He was very territorial and protective. Once I'd let him loose in the yard for a little bit and we had an unexpected visitor. He bit her in the leg. Fortunately, the woman was a very understanding farmer's wife, and even though she had to get stitches she kept saying he was just trying to protect his family. God blessed me that day for sure! I could have been sued big time. But overall, he was a really good and definitely smart dog.

Sallie B Middlebrook PhD (author) from Texas, USA on July 13, 2013:

You're right, jwren. In the "Related Search" list, "obedience" is indeed misspelled. Unfortunately, since I did not add the list, I am not able to fix the error. Hub Pages adds that. I tried to fix it, but so far have no clue how to get to it. The "Related Search" listing does not appear when I turn on the "Edit" function for this Hub. I'll search around to see if I can find a way to get it corrected. Thanks.

jwren on July 13, 2013:

dog obedience on the related search list is spelled wrong.

Sallie B Middlebrook PhD (author) from Texas, USA on June 12, 2013:

Thanks VVladimir. I agree, the Australian Cattle Dog is very intelligent, and easy to train. It's an alert, obedient breed, but needs lots of exercise or will exhibit behavior problems. A protective breed, the ACD (or Blue Heeler, as they are sometimes called) makes a great pet and/or guard dog. This dog likes exertion/activity. Overall, smart, easy to train dog, but not for the lazy!

VVladimir from Novi Sad, Serbia on June 12, 2013:

Nice list. In my opinion Australian Cattle Dog is in range with Border Collie.

Sallie B Middlebrook PhD (author) from Texas, USA on June 11, 2013:

Thanks Solaras, for the visit, the the "thumbs up and awesome" compliment, and the reminder! Just like with kids, we have to be careful about what we're allowing our canines to learn too. : )

Barbara Fitzgerald from Georgia on June 10, 2013:

Great list and I totally agree with you suggestions. Love to the the Border Collie at the top where he belongs lol! Of course they learn the wrong lessons as quickly as the ones you want them to learn.... Thumbs up and awesome!

Sallie B Middlebrook PhD (author) from Texas, USA on May 01, 2013:

He's one of the smartest, probably more common sense than some of us humans! Gotta love those smart doggies! Thanks for visiting. : )

Charlie Cheesman from England on May 01, 2013:

I have a border collie he always amazes me at the things he learns to do so quickly

Sallie B Middlebrook PhD (author) from Texas, USA on April 15, 2013:

Thank you so much, Que Scout. I will certainly take a look at the Blue Healer breed, and I appreciate your visit and your comments.

Steve from Fiji on April 15, 2013:

Please consider the Blue Healer breed. Many sites declare them smarter than the Collie.

Sallie B Middlebrook PhD (author) from Texas, USA on August 14, 2012:

I loved your story about your dog, TravelAbout! What a smart animal you have. I'm sure she understands you, because if she's part Border Collie, that alone gives her a great "intellect." She can learn and respond to a lot of words. Dogs also have great instinct. I think that helps them too in knowing what we're saying or trying to get them to do. Also, they so want to please us, they'll work hard to understand. Thanks so much for that great and interesting comment!

Katheryn from United States on August 14, 2012:

Great information. I have a black lab/border collie mix who we rescued when she was 4 months old. She looks and is the size of a lab with the exception of her ears are not quite as long as a labbies and her snoot and eyes are that of a border collie. She is the smartest dog I have ever been around. Brought her home showed her how to go out the back door and that was it; she was housebroken. My husband says I'm crazy because I say she can understand language even though she can't respond verbally. I can say to her, " hey Angie, are those kids across the street outside?" She will immediately run to the bedroom window where you would be able to see them if they were out, and look. She'll then turn to me like, "what are you talking about, they're not out there now! I could go on for a week but I swear she understands a good bit of conversation! Dogs are just the greatest. There is no one happier to see me even when I've been gone only a few minutes, then my dogs. That's true love as I have never encountered any human that happy when I walk in the door :) Voted up and awesome.

Sallie B Middlebrook PhD (author) from Texas, USA on August 14, 2012:

Thanks so much fpherj48. I'm a dog lover, and I love all things dog. I published an article last night about viral marketing campaigns, and I even managed to put a dog in that! (Boo, the "world's cutest dog," became famous using social networks!). Thanks for being a fellow dog lover, for reading my article, and for voting it up!

Suzie from Carson City on August 14, 2012:

drmiddlebrook....I love this hub! And to see my baby's breed as No 1 fills me with pride.........My Border Collie, "Taz" is 3 years old and my best buddy. All that you said about this breed is on target

I am going to link your hub here, to my hub, "Lions and Tigers and Border Collies, Oh My." !!

Great read....UP ++

Sallie B Middlebrook PhD (author) from Texas, USA on July 19, 2012:

Those sharp minds need to be engaged! They're certainly not for laid back types, but they're wonderful animals for the right owners.

Dawn Ross on July 19, 2012:

Great information! I love smart dogs, but they need a lot of exercise and mental stimulation in order to be good house pets. Otherwise they can get into mischief.

Nira Perkins on July 18, 2012:

This is great info and really detailed. They're all such beautiful dogs. Thank you for writing this :)

Related Articles