Although there is no hard and fast rule about which breeds of dogs are easy to train, there are definitely a few that will make even the most disciplined, and talented, dog trainer want to pull their hair out in exasperation. However, there are many breeds out there, both large and small that, although not necessarily are easier to train than others, but seem to be more pliable, and accepting of direction.
Giant breeds are dogs that fall under the St Bernard, Newfoundland, Pyrenean Mountain Dog label and Bernese Mountain Dog. These are the giants of the dog world, and have been known to include breeds such as the Irish Wolfhound and Deerhound as well.
Out of the list of giant breeds, two stand out as being the most pliable, and accepting to a trainer. These are the:
St Bernard, and the Bernese Mountain Dog.
These dogs were bred for a specific purpose, as were most breeds of dogs, and although they can be quite stubborn at times, when they learn something, they rarely forget it. They are incredibly loyal to their owners, and will serve the purpose of pulling lightweight wagons, play gently with young children, but are imposing enough to be effective as a guard dog as well. Usually accepting of their owners wishes, these dogs will do their best to not only understand, but try to do what their owner/trainer is asking of them. One slight down side of some of these giant breeds is that nothing happens quickly, so if training is to happen, it is best to start young, keep it simple and be prepared for the dog to ‘get around’ to sitting, or dropping.
Large breeds encompase breeds such as the Boxer, German Shorthaired Pointer, Weimaraner and the like.
German Shorthaired Pointers, (as well as German Wirehaird Pointers) are incredibly pliable and make wonderful, energetic, family companions as well as fantastic gundogs.
Boxer dogs really are the clown of the dog world, however they are very easy to train. Unfortunately, in my dealings with around 60 Boxer dogs in the last 10 years, these dogs have a tendency to be very literal. To explain their literal nature, here is an example: During a romp in the paddock, our Boxer noticed the sheep. She had been watching my sheepdog for months and was dying to have a go. She ran out wide of the sheep, circled in behind them and pushed them up to me perfectly. However, they did not stop at me like my dog planned, but went straight past. When given the ‘off the cuff’ command to bring the sheep to me, she went up behind the closest ewe, grabbed a mouthful of wool and proceeded to drag the ewe to me. My ‘bring the sheep to me’ command was taken very literally.
Border Collies, Australian Kelpies, Australian Shepherds all fit into this category, and all are very easily trained. Working dogs by nature, they thrive in an environment where there is always something happening. Loyal and pliable, these dogs have been trained to do amazing things from rounding up livestock to being utilised by Search and Rescue organisations the world over.
Jack Russell Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Tibetan Spaniels
These breeds of dogs, although small in stature, have large personalities. Out of the list above, the only challenging dog to train out of the four is the Tibetan Spaniel. They are all fantastic breeds of dogs, and when given a purpose, will thrive during training.
From personal experience, it is possible to train almost any breed of dog so long as the trainer keeps a cool head, is consistent and reads the dog properly. However, there are two breeds of dog that can be difficult to train. These are: the Basenji and the Akita, sometimes known as the Akita Inu. Another difficult breed is the Shiba Inu. This does not mean that these breeds are untrainable, it just means that the trainer may need to put more time, effort and energy into training these dogs.
Training any dog, no matter the breed, comes down to consistency and time. Some learn faster than others, some are eager to please, which can at times make them difficult, and yet others still seem to take to training like a fish to water.