If you're looking for an easily trained, obedient dog, your best bet is a working breed. Dogs developed for specific jobs -- whether herding, retrieving or guarding -- were bred with intelligence and obedience in mind. Dogs bred specifically to hunt -- such as the beagle -- aren't stupid but are more independent thinkers, so obedience isn't their strong suit.
Whether toy, miniature or standard-sized, the poodle ranks among the most obedient and smartest breeds. The toy isn't quite as easily trained as the miniature or the standard, but he's close. Although the toy and miniature poodle serve primarily as companions today, their ancestors were originally retrievers.
Probably the smartest of all canines, the border collie may be the most obedient of dogs, but he's also extremely high energy and requires a job. Other herding breeds are intelligent and easily trained, including the collie -- of "Lassie" fame -- and the smaller Shetland sheepdog. While the collie and sheltie need plenty of exercise, their needs aren't in the same league as the average border collie. Other candidates include the Australian shepherd, which the American Kennel Club describes as "smart, work-oriented and exuberant."
The German Shepherd
While he's also a herding dog, the German shepherd is in a class of his own. There's a reason German shepherds are often found working with the military or police -- they're bright, easily trained, protective and obedient.
Another breed frequently found serving as a guard or war dog, the Doberman pinscher is "highly trainable," according to the AKC. Dobermans are absolutely loyal to their owners.
Labrador and golden retrievers are other breeds chosen for delicate work requiring absolute obedience. Such tasks include guide dogs for the blind or disabled, and search and rescue efforts. The Lab and golden retrievers are always high on the list of annual American Kennel Club registration numbers.
If you want a small, obedient breed other than the poodle, the papillon may fill the bill. This happy, alert little dog is an excellent choice for apartment or townhouse dwellers. He's also a great little watchdog.