“What is the easiest dog to train?” is arguably one of the most common questions we dog trainers are asked.
Usually I’ll answer with “whatever kind of dog you have!” -then tell a joke about some of the different breed’s personality.
But truthfully there is no easiest dog to train. There are so many factors to consider including breeding, socialization, and the personality of the individual dog.
What is my purpose in life?
You can however, usually can get an idea of how biddable (or trainable) a dog is by looking at what a dog was bred to do.
Humans, through domestication and intentional breeding, developed dogs to serve us in certain ways. Some of our dogs were bred to work more closely with us while others…well, they were bred to be a bit more independent.
For example, let’s take a look at the Labrador Retriever. This is a dog that was bred to work very closely with man. When out hunting he waits and asks “OK. Which duck would you like me to go get for you first?” Labradors are typically very biddable dogs.
But please don’t think that just because a dog was originally bred for hunting means that they are the easiest dog to train. One just needs to see a Beagle on a scent to understand that they were born to hunt…but in a group with other dogs. The human is secondary in this equation. Beagles were bred to run ahead and chase rabbits and fox. Sure, they may chase them back towards their humans. But that’s mostly by accident.
Herding dogs such as the German Shepherd and the Border Collie were also bred to work very closely with man. Highly trainable, they take their jobs very seriously. However, because we bred such a high work ethic into these dogs they don’t take kindly to being unemployed. If there is no job for them to do they will create their own.
The Maltese, Bichon Frise, and teacup anything were bred as companion dogs only. Think spoiled. Many of these dogs prefer servants not masters.
Dogs bred to protect like the Rottweiler and Doberman can be very easy dogs to train. However, we bred them to have a strong personalities and a higher suspicion level. Most of the time they need a very confident and in-charge owner to be sure their suspicion is controlled.
Finally we come to the fearless terriers. The name terrier comes from the French word “terre” meaning earth. These confident dogs were bred to go into holes in the ground and into piles rocks to kill snakes and vermin. And they really don’t care what you have to say about it!
As we breed dogs more and more for pets and not for work, many of these breed traits are disappearing. I know plenty of Golden Retrievers that are just too lazy to retrieve anything!
Therefore looking first at what a dog was bred to do won’t promise an easy dog to train. But it’s a good place to start.
What’s your experience with dogs bred for different purposes? I’d love to hear. Please comment and share below.
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