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Easy and Hard to Train Dog BreedsDepending on the breed dog training can be easier or harder. That said, lists of breeds that are easy to train, and hard to train are just generalizations, although they can be a helpful guide.

Above all, dogs, like people, are individuals. You may find stubborn individual dogs in a breed that is supposedly includes easy to train dogs, and wonderful, easy to train dogs in a breed that is supposedly difficult to train. Training dog breeds is not an exact science, and easy to train dogs come from every breed.

For the most part, the list below describes a dog as easy to train based on the ability to learn basic obedience training with a minimum or stubbornness or aggressiveness. However, for all breeds, dog training can sometimes be a challenge – even breeds that are supposedly contain easy to train dogs. For every breed dog training can have challenges.



Easy to train breeds

  • Australian Cattle Dog
  • Australian Terrier
  • Border Collie (although the high intelligence of Border Collies sometimes requires a detailed, consistent approach)
  • Toy Poodle
  • Shetland Sheepdog
  • Field Spaniel
  • Australian Shepherd
  • Bearded Collie
  • Belgian Malinois
  • Belgian Sheepdog
  • Belgian Tervuren
  • Bernese Mountain Dog
  • Border Terrier
  • Boston Terrier
  • Briard
  • Canaan Dog
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  • Curly-coated Retriever
  • Dandie Dinmont Terrier
  • English Springer Spaniel
  • Smooth Fox Terrier
  • Wire Fox Terrier
  • French Bulldog
  • Giant Schnauzer
  • Golden Retriever
  • Great Pyrenees
  • Greater Swiss Mountain Dog
  • Greyhound
  • Harrier
  • Havanese
  • Ibizan Hound
  • Italian Greyhound
  • Keeshond
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Maltese
  • Pharaoh Hound
  • Portuguese Water Dog
  • Puli
  • Saint Bernard
  • Scottish Deerhound
  • Standard Schnauzer
  • Tibetan Spaniel
  • Welsh Corgi
  • Welsh Springer Spaniel
  • Welsh Terrier
  • West Highland White Terrier
  • Whippet

Difficult to train breeds
Dogs can be difficult to train for a variety of different reasons. Depending on the breed dog training can be hard because dogs are independent, or not as willing to please their trainer as other breeds.

Some difficult to train dogs are simply a bit slow, and have trouble understanding what they’re being asked to do. Training dog breeds that are highly intelligent can be hard for any trainer to keep up with.

The key to getting a dog that is easy to train for you is taking a good look at your personality, and learning about the breed that you want.

Depending on your personality and the breed dog training can be a piece of cake, or a ton of work. If you’re a strong, dominant person who thinks nothing of dealing with a stubborn, strong-willed dog, and know a fair bit about dog training (or are willing to learn and go to obedience classes), then some of the dogs on this list may work well for you.

On the other hand, if you’re a relaxed, passive, first-time dog owner, you may want to think twice before getting one of these harder to train dog breeds. Easy to train dogs may be more your style.

Difficult training dog breeds include:

  • Pitbulls — In recent years, Pitbulls have become notorious for their supposedly aggressive nature, and bans on the breed have been considered in many areas, including Toronto, Canada, Denver, Colorado, Toledo, Ohio, the United Kingdom (with the Dangerous Dogs Act of 1991), and Queensland, Australia. The American Pitbull Terrier cannot be imported into New Zealand. At the same time, many people report that Pitbulls make loving, caring family pets. The name Pitbull actually refers to several related breeds, including the American Pitbull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and the American Staffordshire Terrier.
  • Malamutes — Malamutes are notoriously independent dogs. They’re large, strong-willed, and don’t have the same desire to please their owners as many easy to train breeds. Malamutes are wonderful dogs for people with lots of space, time, and patience, but they may not be the best breed for someone who’s new to training dogs, or with little time. For this breed dog training can be a challenge.
  • Border Collies — These dogs are often seen as easy to train, and they are also incredibly intelligent — so intelligent that they can sometimes, paradoxically, be difficult to train. For the Border Collie breed dog training is a mixed bag. Border Collies can easily pick up on small nuances in voice and hand training that throw them off. For example, you may find that one day your perfectly trained Border Collie no longer responds to your hand command for sit. The Border Collie may have noticed that you have started holding your hand up at a strange angle when you give the command, and may be wondering what on earth you’re asking her to do. After all, she knows that the command for sit is something entirely different, even if you don’t see the difference. So even intelligent breed dog training can have some potential downsides when it comes to training.
  • Many rare breeds — For example, the Telomian (a Malaysian wild dog), the Canaan Dog (originally from Israel), and the Argentine Dogo (developed in Argentina from 10 different breeds, including Boxers, Irish Wolfhounds, and Great Danes) are all rare breeds that require obedience training. Rare breed dog training can be challenging.

Some breeds can become overly protective towards people or other dogs. Training dog breeds like these can be hard, as these dogs need to be properly trained to minimize these aggressive tendencies.

These include:

  • Akita
  • American Eskimo
  • Bulldog
  • Chihuahua
  • Chow Chow
  • Dachshund
  • Doberman Pincher
  • German Shepherd
  • Lhaso Apso
  • Miniature Pincher
  • Newfoundland
  • Rhodesian Ridgeback
  • Rottweiler
  • Shar Pei
  • Standard Poodle
  • Weirmaraner
  • Vizsla

Some small breeds really live up to the stereotype of little dogs that like to bark, and expect to be treated like royalty. If you’re training dog breeds like these, you may find that you end up your dog’s servant, rather than master:

  • Beagle
  • Shi Tzu
  • Pug
  • Pekingese
  • Bichon Frisee
  • Shiba Inu
  • Shnauzer
  • Pomeranian

Other hard to train dog breeds include:

  • Siberian Husky
  • Dalmatian
  • Boxer
  • Great Dane
  • Samoyeds

Terriers are generally stubborn, and can turn aggressive (with the exception of Boston Terriers) if not properly trained. They can be wonderful dogs, but training dog breeds like Terriers requires a good deal of tenacity and will. This applies to all Terriers, including Pitbull Terriers, Staffordshire Terriers, Jack Russell Terriers, Bull Terriers, Scottish, Carin, and Wheaten Terriers.

Hounds tend to be headstrong, and resist handing over the reins to their human masters. However, hounds are rarely aggressive. This applies to all hounds, including Bloodhounds, Bassett Hounds, Coonhounds, Greyhounds and Afghan Hounds. Training dog breeds like hounds can be difficult. If you’re looking for easy to train dogs, don’t think training dog breeds like hounds or Terriers will fit the bill.


Easy and Hard to Train Dog Breeds

7 thoughts on “Easy and Hard to Train Dog Breeds

  • January 24, 2016 at 5:53 pm

    You have Labrador Retriever on your easy to train list twice. And you’re missing Golden Retriever.

  • May 2, 2019 at 11:20 am

    Harriers are easy to train? OK.. lol! My personal experience with this highly intelligent and independent breed is that they’re too smart. I say that because they only do something if they WANT to do it. They’re exceptionally fast learners, yes, but they’re not stupid and will only “sit, stay, lay down” etc so many times without a reward before they look at you like you’ve forgotten to give them their paycheck…lol! It’s that “I don’t do this for free.” look. I actually have a Harrier right now, and he’s actually my first time having a Harrier that is a true beta so he’s a little more cooperative, but only a! Alpha Harriers are twice as stubborn.. lol! The best part is how they can open closed doors using the knob even though they lack opposable thumbs.

  • February 29, 2020 at 7:19 pm

    Are Ridgebacks, on average, as difficult to train as malamutes? I have had 3 malamutes, and all have been wonderful, but they all were a bit gender aggressive and had selective hearing, I grew ups with awesome GSDs and thought about going back to them, but would like a large dog without the shedding if possible the next time around. Ridgebacks seem to check all of the boxes with the one question mark being how trainable they are.

  • March 9, 2020 at 11:17 am

    Thank you for the list. This will make things a lot easy for me when I will have to buy a dog in the future. I will save your site.


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