By Ann Sullivan
When considering dog breeds, there are many factors that come into play. How smart is the breed? How easy are they to train and care for? Will it fit your lifestyle? It’s generally thought that the dog’s brightness can dictate how easy they will learn commands. Loyalty is another trait you’ll want in your canine companion. No matter which you choose, having a dog as part of your life is certainly a commitment and responsibility you should not take lightly. Dogs, like children, have their own personalities and needs. If you’re looking for a new member of your pack, consider one of these 11 breeds which are the easiest dogs to raise.
1) Border Collie
The Border Collie is thought to be among the brightest of the working dog breeds. Originating on the border of Scotland and England (hence its name), this energetic herding canine is very easy to train. Originally bred specifically for intelligence and herding livestock, they are great problem solvers with the ability to think independently. Border Collies, on average, can learn a new command after only 5 repetitions and will follow and obey with up to 95% accuracy. Being energetic and athletic, they excel at sports and can often be seen in canine competitions. Being so high-spirited, they do require consistent exercise to keep them engaged. Regular activities, such as Frisbee or catch, will keep these wondrous beauties very happy. They also make great watch dogs, but should be socialized with other humans, aside from family members, at a young age.
Another highly intelligent breed is the Poodle. Unlike their stereotypical portrayal, they are playful, amusing and very easy to train. Being quick learners, they excel at nearly any task or trick and are easy to housebreak simply by putting a leash on and showing them the door. Since they have small stomachs, its recommended to feed them three small meals per day. They enjoy many activities such as tracking, swimming and agility and obedience training. Poodles come in three sizes; toy, miniature and standard. If well cared for, most will live well into their teens. Brushing and grooming weekly is a requirement, but can also be a fun way to bond with your wonderful companion. They require regular exercise, but can adapt to virtually any living environment. They are very people-oriented, so being part of the family makes for a very happy pooch.
3) German Shepherd
Amazing strength, versatility and high intelligence is what you’ll get in this human-like canine. Long considered one of the most popular intelligent breeds, they’re ideal for anything from police-dog to family companion. Being a pack animal, they love to be part of a group, and will return affection infinitely. Having a smart dog like this, you’ll need to keep them engaged in activities, which they will happily participate in. Shepherds are easy to train and will catch on rather quickly when shown what’s expected of them. They are fun-loving, energetic, loyal family pets and good with children. They do need to be brushed regularly, especially during shedding season. Good nutrition is also vital to maintaining your faithful companion’s health. Clean fresh water should always be available, as Shepherd’s require constant hydration, especially in warmer weather.
4) Golden Retriever
Ranking fourth on the intelligence list, the Golden Retriever was the first breed to earn the AKC Champion title three times in obedience competitions. Goldens are considered one of the brightest for trainability. They are extremely eager to please and at their happiest when they have specific tasks to perform. These brilliant beauties are one of the most popular breeds in America. Having wonderful temperaments, they are gentle with children and therefore a favored family pet. They possess a very strong work ethic, which makes them high in demand as assistant dogs, including guide dogs for the blind. Overall, they’re friendly with everyone, so they’re not the best choice for protection. They do love to play and have fun, though. They enjoy running, swimming, brisk walks and playing catch. It’s said that once you go “Golden” you never go back!
Often misunderstood by those unfamiliar, Rottweiler’s are confident, affectionate and highly intelligent. Their level of loyalty makes them very devoted and therefore easy to train. “Rotties” are as sweet as pie when raised with discipline, daily exercise, love and affection. They make fierce watchdogs, but extremely lovable family companions at the same time. They may come across as aloof or intimidating to those outside their pack; but they are genuinely good-natured, calm and steady. This robust canine is at his happiest when given a job to do. They catch on rather quickly, so it’s easy enough to create fun games, such as carrying around a flashlight to patrol the yard, or anything he can do alongside his companion. Your Rottie will be happiest if you participate in his activities. They require little grooming and usually only bark for a legitimate reason.
6) Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Willingness to please combined with agility, adaptability and alertness, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi is intelligent and easy to train. They are neither shy, nor vicious, making them wonderful watch dogs and family companions. This petite, sturdy powerhouse was originally bred for herding livestock in Wales. As a matter of fact, they are the preferred breed of Queen Elizabeth II. They are bold, playful, outgoing, tenacious, protective and friendly. Having a short coat, they require little grooming and are generally healthy. Corgi’s are very active and love to play, with surprising speed for chasing a ball considering their short legs. Moderate exercise, along with loving companionship makes for a happy Corgi. They are very territorial and will chase any intruders from your yard, such as the neighbor’s cat! They will accept the company of another family pet, but prefer that of livestock and horses.
7) Miniature Schnauzer
Popular for its friendly disposition and high level of intelligence, the Miniature Schnauzer is obedient and easily trained. They can be the perfect family companion for children due to their size and willingness to play. Their keen alertness and high spirit makes them suitable and adaptable for a variety of lifestyles. They are the consummate family pet, and if you have kids, having a Miniature Schnauzer will be almost like adding another child to your family, and more! These fun-loving pooches pack a lot of punch in a small package. Not unlike some children, they are highly active, but love attention just as much. Swiftly alert, they will be ever at the ready to let you know someone unknown is approaching, but they will most likely greet your guests with enthusiasm and joy. Low maintenance and playful energy just about sums it up!
8) Belgian Malinois
There’s a good reason these clever beauties are the primary choice of the U.S. Secret Service. They are among the world’s top dogs – both in stature and intelligence. Known for their strong work ethic and high energy, they excel at learning commands quickly. This makes them perfect for sporting competitions, search and rescue operations, and, not unlike their German Shepherd cousins, very fit for police work as well. As a matter of fact, they are the top breed of choice to guard the U.S. White House. That says a lot! As a family pet, you will have your work cut out for you, though. This working dog does need a day job! They are, however, well-suited for the fitness enthusiast who has the time and energy to devote to their magnificence. So, if you like to jog or bike ride, take your Belgian Malinois with you!
If you’ve got kids, this may just be the perfect family dog. Smart, talented and vey playful describes this amazing breed. With a little training, they will be on guard and learn new entertaining tricks as well. They also make great babysitters, and your children will certainly enjoy that kind of attention! Once trained, they make excellent guard dogs also. Sweet in nature, but fierce in stature, this lovable dog will be the perfect buddy and companion for your kids. More than likely, he or she will win your heart as well. Once you’ve been charmed, there’s no going back. You will have a friend for life! Cheerful, brave, confident and smart, this friendly companion is faithful and full of love, while being steady and remaining calm at the same time. Those who know Boxer’s will swear you couldn’t have and better addition to your family!
A very famous, albeit nostalgic, perfect representation of this majestic beauty is most certainly the 1950’s television and movie star dog, Lassie. Although fictional, the traits do not stray far from the real characteristics of this amazing breed. Possessing a very high level of intelligence is no Hollywood trick. Independent thinking, combined with loyalty and sensitivity towards humans, rates this dog top notch as a faithful companion. Bonding with family is one of their strong suits. This gentle, loyal, active and obedient friend will certainly have your back no matter what! This active, sentient being will make you feel like you’ve got a very hairy human among your household. This is no timid creature. But his or her affection will melt your heart nevertheless. A luxurious coat that needs brushing once every week or two is a small price to pay for this giant heart!
11) Australian Shepherd
Holding their own in the herding group, the Australian Shepherd, affectionately known as the “Aussie,” is among the easiest breeds to train. They possess a very high level of intelligence, combined with an energetic, affectionate nature. They’re excellent with children and make for great family companions and protectors. When they bond with their humans, especially children, they will be certain not to let them step into harm’s way. Their herding instincts will certainly kick in if your child heads towards the curb where there’s oncoming traffic. Your Aussie will simply guide them away from that danger in his gentle and calm manner. After all, as a working dog, your Aussie will revel in this task. So, no need to worry. Your kids are quite safe with your Aussie on duty!