Dog training isn't easy no matter what the training class advertises. What they don't tell you is that as soon as the course is over, there are more courses to take and more training to do. What else they don't often tell you is that training is a different experience for different dogs, even different breeds of dogs. We've all seen well-behaved dogs and thought, "Why can't that dog be mine?"
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It's possible, of course, with the right positive training techniques and a lot of effort. However, some dogs are easier to train than others. Some breeds are known for certain characteristics, such as being naturally social or calm, that fall into the category of desirable behavior. Overall, the best-behaved dog breeds include miniature poodles, King Charles cavalier spaniels, Boston terriers, Labrador retrievers, and Great Danes.
Of course, determining the best-behaved dog breeds is subjective. It depends on what you consider to be good behavior. Calm personality? Obedient? Good recall? Walks well on a leash? Different dog breeds demonstrate these characteristics more than others. Identifying well-behaved dogs can be a matter of personal choice.
For instance, the French bulldog, also called the Frenchie, is known for an outgoing personality and is usually good with both kids and adults. But if a "love me" kind of attention-seeking personality isn't your definition of good behavior, then a calm, slow-moving gentle giant like the Great Dane might be your selection. Clearly, size as well as behavior is going to impact that choice.
Best-behaved dog breeds
Large dog breeds generally tend to be less active than smaller or midsize dogs, so the perception is that they are better behaved. For instance, the Bergamasco sheepdog originates from the Italian Alps and is known as calm, unlike other sheepdogs. Like the Great Dane, the Irish wolfhound is considered a quick learner who is calm and sensitive — so much so that they are commonly used as therapy dogs.
Ultimately, the very popular Labrador retriever is one of the best-behaved dog breeds primarily because they are easy to train — eventually. Labs mature a little slower than other breeds, so they have "puppy brains" until easily 2 or 3 years old. However, they are intelligent, eager to please, and very food-motivated, making them easier to train than some dog breeds, and therefore they appear to be better behaved.
Best-behaved small dogs
Small dogs don't always have the best reputation for behavior, particularly when it comes to reaction to other dogs or barking. While those on a farm might appreciate the natural alarm system associated with an obedient and loyal beagle, that same behavior might be considered misbehaving in an apartment or suburban neighborhood. However, beagles are considered easy to train using the correct positive reinforcement and mental stimulation.
Otherwise, best-behaved small dogs include breeds such as the Boston terrier, nicknamed "the American Gentleman" because of a social nature. Miniature poodles are responsive to learning tricks and commands, including "leave it," sometimes a hallmark of good behavior. However, if cool and calm is your measurement, the King Charles cavalier spaniel is known to have a balanced temperament, and they're easy to lift and cradle if necessary.
The Tibetan spaniel might not look like a small dog who belongs on this list, but considering they were originally bred in Tibetan monasteries, it makes sense that these little guys would be Zen. Similarly, the Pekingese is not a high-energy breed. That's no surprise considering their job in ancient China was to be lap dogs to royalty. Legend says Buddha had a hand in creating the Pekingese, now considered a well-behaved breed.