20 Small Dog Breeds That Are Easy to Train
Not only does dog training result in a happy and obedient addition to the family, but practice is also the perfect way to bond with man’s best friend.
And while some breeds are easier to train than others, neither a dog’s size nor intelligence will determine how easy it is to train.
Rather, the most important factors seem to be how comfortable training sessions can be made and a dog’s eagerness to please its owner.
Here are the dog breeds on the smaller end of the spectrum that are considered the easiest to train, according to the American Kennel Club (AMC).
Developing a strong bond and trust with an Affenpinscher will help the owners be very successful in training
Evgeni Schemberger / Getty Images
As part of the toy group that weigh just 7-10 pounds, Affenpinschers are brave, bold, and lively.
Gina DiNardo, the executive secretary of AKC, suggests that they are very intelligent and generally eager to please their humans, despite the often independent and stubborn nature of this breed of dog.
She told Newsweek, “Building a strong bond and trust with an Affenpinscher will help owners be very successful at training.”
2. American Eskimo Dog
The American Eskimo Dog is among the most trainable breeds that are considered smart, kid-friendly, and eager to please their human counterparts
Ryan Jello / Getty Images
As a member of the non-athletic group, the American Eskimo Dogs come in toy (6 to 10 pounds), miniature (10 to 20 pounds), and standard (25 to 25 pounds) sizes.
DiNardo says Eskies are not known to be shy or aggressive and the dogs are “always attentive and friendly, although they are sometimes reserved with strangers”.
She added, “They are among the most trainable breeds, known to be smart, kid-friendly, and eager to please their human counterparts.
“American Eskimo dogs have been featured in numerous trick dog acts in traveling circuses across the country.”
3. American Hairless Terrier
American Hairless Terriers are very intelligent and love to please, so training is usually a simple and fun activity
lenanet / Getty Images
This breed generally weighs between 12 and 16 pounds and is a member of the Terrier group, and despite the name, this breed offers both hairless and coated types, the latter breed being considered a great option for those with allergies.
“The American Hairless Terrier describes the American Hairless Terrier as energetic, attentive and curious,” says the executive secretary of the AKC.
“AHTs are very intelligent and want to be satisfied, so training is usually a simple and fun activity.”
4. Australian Terrier
As with any dog, early socialization and induction classes in obedience can help shape a well-behaved Australian Terrier
Matthew Eisman / WireImage
The Australian Terrier weighs around 15 to 20 pounds and is described by DiNardo as “witty, brave, and loving”.
“This breed belongs to the Terrier group and can get bored easily with routine, so short workouts are best,” she says.
“As with any dog, early socialization and introductory courses in obedience can help shape a well-behaved dog.”
5. Biewer terriers
The small breed of dogs, Biewer Terriers are known to be amusing, devoted, intelligent, and easy to train
olchanskiy / Getty Images
A toy breed weighing just 4 to 8 pounds, the Biewer Terrier is affectionately known as “a great family pet”.
DiNardo says, “They are known to be amusing, devoted, and intelligent, and are easy to train.”
6. Border Terrier
Border Terriers are well-balanced, affectionate, and trainable at home, which makes them great pets for both town and country
JimHarrogate / Getty Images
Border terriers are members of the terrier group, weigh around 11.5 to 14 pounds, and are considered hardworking dogs.
DiNardo considers this little breed to be “even-tempered, loving, and trainable at home, which results in great pets in town and country.”
7. Boston Terrier
Eager to please, many Boston Terriers can be sensitive. In training, gentle corrections should be followed by warmth and praise
Laurence Griffiths / Getty
Friendly, bright, and amusing, the Boston Terrier weighs 12 to 25 pounds, and the breed’s impeccable manners have earned this little dog the nickname “The American Gentleman.”
The AKC’s Executive Secretary says, “Socialization helps this breed develop into a well-adjusted, well-behaved adult dog.
“Many Bostonians can be sensitive. In training, gentle corrections should be followed by warmth and praise.”
8. Brussels Griffon
The Brussels Griffon is usually quite sensitive and affectionate to its people, but the small breed of dog is also sociable and easy to train
Okssi68 / Getty Images
Weighing just 8 to 10 pounds, the Brussels Griffon is a member of the Toy group and the breed is considered to be vigilant, curious, and loyal.
DiNardo told Newsweek, “They’re usually very sensitive and devoted to their people, but they’re also sociable and easy to train.”
9. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
The small breed of dog Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is smart and easy to train
Nigel Wiggins / Getty Images
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels belong to the group of toy dogs and typically weigh between 13 and 18 pounds.
The American Kennel Club expert describes these small dogs as “loving, gentle and just as cute as the look in big round eyes”.
She added, “The breed is smart and trains easily, which helps them excel in a number of canine sports, including obedience, rallying, and agility. With their sweet natures, they are also fantastic therapy dogs.”
10. Tulear cotton
Coton de Tulears are territorial by nature and should be socialized and trained from an early age
Bigandt_Fotografie / iStock
As part of the non-sporting group, the Coton de Tulear is charming, bright and cheerful. They weigh between 8 and 15 pounds.
Cotons are inherently territorial and should be socialized from an early age, and DiNardo notes that these small dogs often make strides to “develop unbreakable bonds with their humans.”
She added, “They don’t like to be bored, so it is best to keep your workouts lively and fun for the best results.”
The small Havanese breed of dog is easy to train as long as owners use positive reinforcement methods
mheim3011 / Getty Images
The Havanese is a toy breed that weighs 7 to 13 pounds, and these small dogs are valued for their smart, outgoing personalities.
The AKC Executive Secretary said, “The breed is highly intelligent and eager to please its people.
“They are easy to train as long as you use positive reinforcement methods as they are a sensitive breed.
“Gentle, patient training will go a long way toward making an all-round wonderful companion dog.”
12. Miniature American Shepherd
Mini American Shepherds are ready to please and very adaptive
yhelfman / Getty Images
The Mini American Shepherd is a member of the Herding dog group and weighs approximately 20 to 40 pounds. This breed is described as “good-natured, devoted, and intelligent”.
DiNardo says: “Mini American Shepherds are ready to please and are very trainable and achieve their best potential with consistent obedience and training.”
13. Miniature Schnauzer
Miniature Schnauzer Stanley is an easy-going and adaptive companion
Weighing between 11 and 20 pounds, the Miniature Schnauzer is considered a friendly, intelligent, and obedient little dog.
DiNardo says about this smallest of the three Schnauzer breeds: “The Miniature Schnauzer belongs to the terrier group and is a bright, friendly and adaptive companion.”
The Papillon is a happy, friendly, and attentive member of the toy small dog group that strives to please the people they have developed a bond with
Christopher Furlong / Getty
A happy, friendly, and attentive member of the toy dog group, the Papillon weighs only 5 to 10 pounds.
DiNardo says of the breed with the distinctive butterfly-like ears, “They are intelligent dogs and eager to please the people they have bonded with.”
15. Poodle (miniature)
The miniature poodle dog breed is easy to train
Shirlane Forrest / Getty
The miniature poodle belongs to the group of non-athletic dogs and weighs between 10 and 15 pounds.
Poodles of all sizes are generally considered to be eager, athletic, and viciously intelligent dogs of incredible versatility.
The American Kennel Club expert says, “The miniature poodle is easy to train along with its other large counterparts, the miniature poodle and the standard poodle.”
16. Poodle (toy)
The Toy Poodle is a small breed of dog that is highly intelligent and easy to train
Eudyptula / Getty Images
The Toy Poodle is a member of the Toy Small Dog Group and weighs only 4 to 6 pounds.
DiNardo says, “With an abundance of steady character and intelligence, the Miniature Poodle is highly intelligent and easy to train.”
17. Rat terrier
Rat Terriers excel in various dog sports and are typically very sensitive and intuitive
LTuray / Getty Images
Friendly, affectionate, and curious, the Rat Terrier belongs to the terrier group and weighs between 10 and 25 pounds.
While the AKC expert admits that the breed can be stubborn like a real terrier at times, she describes these little dogs as “extremely intelligent and trainable”.
DiNardo says: “Ratterriers excel in various dog sports and are typically very sensitive and intuitive.
“They love to please their owner and live on praise and positive reinforcement.”
18. Toy Fox Terrier
Toy Fox Terriers are extremely adaptable, naturally extroverted, and highly intelligent, which makes training easy for owners
Farinosa / Getty Images
The Toy Fox Terrier belongs to the group of toys and is considered intelligent, attentive and friendly.
DiNardo says, “Toy Fox Terriers are extremely adaptable, naturally extroverted, and highly intelligent, which makes training easy for owners.”
19. Toy Manchester Terrier
The small breed of dog, the Toy Manchester Terrier, is known for being agile, spirited, and intelligent
DevidDO / Getty Images
The Toy Manchester Terrier weighs less than 12 pounds and is a member of the Toy Dog group.
DiNardo says this breed is “known to be agile, spirited, and intelligent”.
She added, “Manchester Terriers, standard and toy, enjoy pleasing their humans and are easily trained using positive, reward-based methods.”
20. Yorkshire Terrier
Yorkshire Terriers tend to do best with plenty of positive reinforcement and reward-based training
prohor08 / Getty Images
Weighing only about 7 pounds, DiNardo regards the Yorkshire Terrier as “a lot of dog in a small package”.
“The Yorkie, part of the Terrier group, is described as sprightly, boyish, and affectionate,” she told Newsweek.
“Yorkies love their owners and are very intelligent and eager to please them.
“They’re usually best with lots of positive reinforcement and reward-based training.”