Top 10 Most Trainable Small Dog Breeds


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Select a dog based on its size and how easy it is to train.


Small dogs are the preference for many people, whether you want to have a lap dog or you’re just looking for a dog that doesn’t need so much space.


You might be surprised to know that many small dogs are extremely trainable. A small dog doesn’t necessarily equal a small brain!


You can choose from a wonderful selection of small dogs that are cute, eager to please, and easy to train.


Let’s take a look at some of the top trainable small dog breeds for you to consider if you’re looking for the perfect dog!

#1 Miniature and Toy Poodle

Poodles come in a few different sizes – the miniature poodle is a little taller than the toy poodle. A miniature poodle measures about 15 inches tall, and a toy poodle is up to 10 inches tall.

They are also thought to be one of the most intelligent small dogs, and are often used as hearing dogs and other assistance dogs. Originally bred for hunting, they’re quick to pick up tricks and other training.

It doesn’t hurt that their also super cute, and their curly fur is hard to resist!

#2 Shetland Sheepdog (Sheltie)

As the name suggests, the Shetland Sheepdog was originally bred for herding livestock. Like other sheepdogs, they’re very clever and easy to train.

These playful and fun-loving dogs make fantastic family dogs. They are loyal and perform well in agility and obedience training – and have fun doing it.

Shelties do have one problem. They are known to love a good bark, and can be wary of people they don’t know.

Fortunately, their ability to learn quickly means that it’s possible to address these bad habits quickly.

#3 Papillon

Named after the Spanish word for “butterfly”, the Papillon is undeniably cute with its butterfly-shaped ears. But is it easily trained?

Unlike some other small dogs, the Papillon is largely intended to be a lap dog.

But just because the dog isn’t bred for working, it doesn’t mean it can’t be a brainy pooch. Papillons can learn quickly and love to do tricks.

Many people choose Papillons as show dogs or dogs for agility competing due to their intelligence. However, they could equally make a cute family pet that loves to perform.

#4 Pembroke Welsh Corgi

Corgis have been particularly popular over the last few years. People love their stumpy legs and bat-like ears. But there’s more to them than their cuteness.

Corgis are another herding dog. They might be small in stature but that doesn’t stop them from being persuasive. In fact, sometimes they can be a little too stubborn.

While they’re not used for herding much these days, they do make excellent pets. They’re quick to pick up what they’re taught and love to learn.

#5 Toy Fox Terrier

Like many small terriers, the toy fox terrier was bred to chase after pests such as foxes, rats, and mice.

Their intelligence also means that they have been circus performers, and they love to perform in agility and obedience training and competitions.

Toy Fox Terriers are smart dogs, and they’re also loyal and loving. They are as happy to sit in your lap as they are to run around.

They do, however, have a strong prey drive, as you would expect for this type of dog.

#6 Australian Terrier

This is another dog that was initially intended to hunt rats and other vermin – including snakes, as it was first bred in Australia.

Looking a little like a Yorkshire Terrier, these intelligent dogs are pretty easy to train. They pick up new skills quickly, and they love to compete in shows too.

Australian Terriers are also a very vocal breed, with a high prey drive. However, they can also be hardworking and eager to be rewarded for learning new things.

#7 Bichon Frise

If you’re looking for a happy little dog, the Bichon Frise could be the right breed for you.

This breed loves attention, and that includes some quality training time. They’re very easy to train, being very smart and with not too much of a tendency to make noise (unlike some other small dogs).

These dogs just love to be loved, and it helps that they look like they could be teddy bears. They’re generally not inclined to wander but they’re very playful and are high-energy dogs too.

#8 Boston Terrier

Although Boston terriers were first bred as fighting dogs, they are actually a loving and gentle breed.

These intelligent dogs are highly easy to train, and as a bonus they don’t make too much noise.

Boston terriers are super playful, with a lot of energy. Fortunately, they love to learn and will happily use their energy being trained.

If you’re thinking of getting a Boston terrier, it’s also important to note that they can be stubborn. Persistence is key when training them if you want results.

#9 Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

These dogs are the smaller cousin of the King Charles Spaniel, which were very popular with the British royal family for several centuries – although the smaller dog is less than a century old.

As well as being intelligent, these dogs are very athletic. This means that they love activities such as flyball, agility and other high-energy sports. They love to accompany their humans on adventures too, from hiking to running.

The Cavalier King Charles is a clever dog that’s easy to train. They don’t have a particularly high prey drive, and they tend to want to wander far, either.

#10 Cockapoo

One of the newer small dog breeds available, a cockapoo is a cross between a Cocker Spaniel and a Poodle.

There’s a lot to love about these dogs, including their high intelligence and their low levels of shedding.

Cockapoos love to take part in agility and learn tricks at home. They’re also fantastic therapy dogs.


Top 10 Most Trainable Small Dog Breeds - Bichon Frise
Photo by Gabriel Crismariu on Unsplash

So there you have the 10 most trainable small dog breeds.

Another way to discover the trainability of your dog is to take a DNA test. A dog DNA test can reveal a lot about your dog’s genetic makeup, including information that can help you with training.

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