Have you ever wondered what the cleverest dog breed is? You’ve probably thought about it in terms of what the easiest dog breed to train is, we bet. Well, the easiest breed to train often comes down to a few factors and opinions. What the breed was originally bred for is often a clue as to how smart and easy to train they are.

What you need to know for sure is that it’s important to train dogs no matter what their IQ is. In this article, we’ll list out what – in our opinion – are the easiest dog breeds to train and why. Don’t worry, we’ll also share what the best way to approach them is – we don’t keep our secrets to ourselves. Let us tell you this: some dogs pick up things quicker than others, but all dogs are clever. Lucky for you, this means they can all be trained with the Zigzag app! The Zigzag training app gives you a personalised programme based on your pup’s age and breed, so you can train them in the right way and at the right time.

All of our training is based on positive reinforcement and the latest research on bringing up a happy healthy puppy. There’s nothing to worry about – we’ll hold your hand every step of the way. In fact, our team of professional dog trainers are available 7 days a week to help you through any hiccups you run into.

collie pup with blue eye
Photo by Mathis Jrdl on Unsplash

Why is training my dog important?

Well-trained dogs have a better understanding of how the human world works and how to behave in it, which will help them feel more confident in it. Dogs thrive on knowing what’s expected of them, so training is a great way of providing them stability. Dogs are always learning, but training a new puppy as soon as you bring them home, whether they’re a rescue puppy or one from a breeder, gives them the best start in life. It will help turn them into well-rounded adult dogs, that are happy and comfortable living in a human world.

Top 8 Easiest dogs to train

The easiest dog breeds to train are “biddable breeds”. These tend to be those who were originally bred to work with humans in a particular role. Over centuries, these breeds have been taught how to look to us for instructions and directions. Today, this helps make them easier to train.

The Border Collie

It’s no surprise that the Border Collie comes high on the list of easiest dogs to train. They are one of the cleverest breeds as they learn so fast, just like they run. However, they are almost too clever for their own good and can be a challenge for some people due to their high intelligence levels (and blasting energy). Speaking of energy, you might want to turn to agility tricks and lessons to keep them busy and entertained.

The German Shepherd

German Shepherds are a working breed that is hugely loyal and responds well to positive training and routines. No wonder they’re well-loved by the police – they make the perfect partners. German Shepherds need to be given a job and stimulation, so they don’t go off on their own getting into trouble, but they’re an easy breed to train as they’re so keen to work with you. They have an incredible work ethic, so you’ll often see them working in dog sports like Obedience or Working Trials.

golden retriever puppy looking up
Photo by PartTime Portraits on Unsplash

The Labrador Retriever

Labradors are one of the easiest dog breeds to train, as they enjoy the learning process tremendously. Originally, they were bred to help with hunting and to simply be a friendly family dog. Training was and continues to be simple because they’re extremely food motivated; making treats your best tricks to pull out. Just make sure you don’t overfeed them! Labs look like they’re never full, but trust us on this – everyone has a limit to how much they should eat. Just ask my uncle Pat.

The Golden Retriever

Golden retrievers are lovely. Similar to Labradors, they’re extremely biddable and are an easy breed of dog to train. Gentle and loyal and bred originally to help hunters, they’re a great family dog and enjoy all kinds of training.

The Poodle

Get this – Poodles were the original circus dogs. Crazy to think there were such things back in the day, but it’s true. Before a life of sequins and sparkles, Standard Poodles’ high intelligence meant they originally worked as hunting dogs to retrieve games. Today, Poodles still love the challenge of complex tricks and enjoy clicker training, so you’ll have a great time training them.

The Shetland Sheepdog (Shelties)

They may look like small fluffballs, but Shelties are an intelligent breed you’ll find relatively simple to train. They were originally bred for herding sheep in the Shetland Isles (hence the name) and make brilliant dogs for agility. Maybe they can help herd your thoughts into one place, hey?

The Papillon

Papillons are an easy breed to train and will excel with trick training, agility, and basic obedience cues. They may look a lot like other toy breeds that seem like quite the challenge to train, but they are bright and clever little dogs that are quick to learn. Check out our article on clicker training and see what these pocket rockets can do – they might like them! Papillon means ‘butterfly’ in French by the way. Says nothing about their training skills – just funny to know.

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Staffies are enormously fond of two things: cuddles and training. They’ll do anything to make you happy and earn one of those lovely hugs of yours. Staffies are known as ‘the nanny dog’ because they’re so good with children, so you bet they make the best family dog.

Jack Russell puppy
Photo by David Clarke on Unsplash

Best way to approach training a new dog:

If you have a new dog, there’s no time to waste in training. You’ll want to get started from day one.

Here’s how we suggest you approach training:

  • Find out what rewards they love the most – In the first stages, some dogs will prefer high-value treats, while others may be more toy motivated. When you start training, discover what makes your dog tick to help the process go as smoothly as possible. 
  • Work out what it is you want to train them – Look in the Zigzag app on what lessons and tricks are best to teach your puppy at which time. We also have many articles and guides that offer good advice on basic training commands and the best dog training apps you might want to look at.  
  • Practise – Here’s something we’ll never get tired of saying: Dogs learn through repetition. This means that you’ll have to go through lessons over and over again and be just as patient each time. We’re sure you’ll manage. Even the smartest dog breeds, like Border Collies, must practise training extensively to ensure their skills are nice and polished. 
  • Generalise – You’ll want your puppy to sit, settle and stay everywhere you ask them to; not just in your living room. Help your dog achieve the ultimate skill of generalisation by practising training in different locations where possible, like the park, a busy street, an outdoor gym.

That’s a wrap! Our list of easiest dog breeds to train has a couple of names on there; we’re sorry if yours didn’t make the cut. Please know this doesn’t mean you’ll have any sort of disastrous training experience if you don’t opt for a Staffie or Golden Retriever! All dogs have their own special thing and are perfectly capable of learning their lessons in a good way. Especially with Zigzag by your side – that’s a no-brainer.

Enrichment games, and intelligence puzzles are great to help tire a smart dog out, but they’re no substitute for giving a dog time and a lot of training. This includes everything – from basic training skills to teaching them to relax and calm down! All dogs require training, and while some breeds may be more independent and less needy of us, finding out what motivates them will be key to helping them learn about living in our world and having a well-behaved dog. 

You’re done the right thing coming to Zigzag. Our week by week programme helps you to train your dog to the T, regardless of them being an easy breed to train, or perhaps not. Just download the Zigzag training app and you’ll see what we’re on about. Oh, and our expert team of puppy trainers will always be happy to lend a hand, no worries about that.