The 25 Most Obedient Mid-Size Dog Breeds

Not too big or small, mid-size dog breeds can be compatible with different owners and household settings.

Medium-size dogs can roughly weigh from around 20 to 60 pounds and stand around 15 to 25 inches tall.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) notes: "Some are calmer by nature, like the bulldog or the whippet; others are more energetic like the Brittany or the Shetland sheepdog. No matter what, they're friendly and obedient, and love to please."

Here we look at 25 of the most obedient mid-size dog breeds.

Australian shepherd

Speaking to Newsweek, the executive secretary of the AKC, Gina DiNardo, noted: "Aussies are tough ranch dogs with an irresistible impulse to herd. Aussies are remarkably intelligent, quite capable of deceiving an unsuspecting owner.

"They are eager to please and love having a job to do, making them tireless, trainable partners for the right owner," she added.

Australian shepherd dog
An Australian shepherd puppy plays with a ball on December 30, 2014 in Strasbourg, France. Frederick Florin/AFP via Getty Images

Border collie

This athletic breed is "a remarkably bright workaholic" dog, DiNardo said.

"Border collies are extremely intelligent, eager to please and highly trainable, often becoming superstars at canine activities such as herding, obedience and agility, among others. Early socialization and ongoing mental stimulation are a must," she added.

Border collies Australia
Three border collie dogs at the 2018 Sydney Dog Lovers Show on August 4, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. James D. Morgan/Getty Images

Portuguese water dog

This dog of "exceptional intelligence" is a loyal companion. They obey their master "with facility and apparent pleasure. It is obedient with those who look after it or with those for whom it works," the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America describes.

Portuguese water dog Obama family 2012
Bo, the Portuguese water dog of the Obama family, see in the Rose Garden of the White House in June 2012. Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Boykin spaniel

The friendly, eager and lovable boykin spaniel is "a tenacious bird dog but also a highly trainable, mellow house pet," noted the AKC's DiNardo.

Brittany spaniel

Brittany spaniels are known to be lively and smart with "an upbeat, willing disposition," notes the AKC website. "Field trials , obedience, agility, flyball—you name it, this trainable breed is up for it."

A Brittany spaniel is "very willing to please his master. He may be expected to absorb training more easily than some of the other pointing breeds, needing only a sharp scolding or slight punishment," according to the American Brittany Club.

Cocker spaniel dog Australia
A cocker spaniel wearing a witch hat on October 31, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. James D. Morgan/Getty Images

Doberman pinscher

This "loyal, fearless and alert breed possesses keen intelligence" and are among "the world's finest protection dogs," DiNardo told Newsweek.

Learning easily and responding quickly, doberman pinschers are "eager to please, making them highly trainable and obedient," she added.

doberman pinscher dog Seattle Washington 2018
A doberman pinscher seen at the Safeco Field ballpark in Seattle, Washington on April 17, 2018. Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images

Flat-coated retriever

Known to be among "the happiest of all breeds," flat-coat retrievers are "self-assured, willing to please and highly trainable," according to the AKC's DiNardo.

flat-coated retriever Germany 2018
A flat-coated retriever plays in the water in Ludwigsburg, Germany on April 22, 2018. Thomas Kienzle/AFP via Getty Images

Cocker spaniel

Cocker spaniels are generally known as "a people-pleasing breed," the AKC website describes.

"They want to be 'good' in order to please their people, and they are generally sensitive and responsive to correction and a disapproving tone in their owner's voice. Harsh means of correction are not usually warranted, nor are they productive in the Cocker," the AKC adds.

Cocker spaniel dog U.K.
A cocker spaniel sits outside a polling station in Stalybridge, Greater Manchester in the U.K. on June 8, 2017. Anthony Devlin/Getty Images

Lagotto Romagnolo

The AKC's DiNardo said: "The intelligent and lively Lagotto Romagnolo excels at obedience and is easily trained."

Known to be "affectionate, keen and undemanding," these dogs also have "excellent noses and enjoy having a job to do," she added.

Lagotto Romagnolo  NYC dog show 2016
A Lagotto Romagnolo at the annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on January 21, 2016 in New York City. Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Miniature American shepherd

"Mini American shepherds are intelligent, self-motivated and willing to please. This highly trainable breed is a loyal companion as well," according to DiNardo.

The Miniature American Shepherd Club of the USA, Inc. adds they are "versatile and easily trained, performing assigned tasks with great style and enthusiasm."

NYC dog show miniature American shepherd
A miniature American shepherd at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on January 21, 2016 in New York City. Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

English springer spaniel

English springer spaniels are "extremely friendly, highly trainable, enjoy activities, and love spending time with their owners," Dr. Jamie Richardson, medical chief of staff at Small Door Veterinary, told Reader's Digest last November.

"They're people-pleasers, and crave company... they're well suited for families with children and thrive in a highly active household, with plenty of long walks and games of fetch," Richardson added.

 English springer spaniels
An English springer spaniel puppy playing at its home in Sydney, Australia on July 18, 2020. Getty Images

Pembroke Welsh corgi

The AKC website describes: "Pembrokes often have a mind of their own, but they are energetic, willing, and highly intelligent partners who respond well to training. Positive, reward-based training works best with this sensitive breed."

Corgis dogs California
Corgi dogs race during the "Corgi Nationals" championship at the Santa Anita Horse Racetrack in Arcadia, California on May 26 2019. Mark Ralston / AFP via Getty Images

Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever

Referred to as tollers, Nova Scotia duck tolling retrievers are "alert, outgoing and incredibly fast learners," notes the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Club (NSDTRC) of the U.S.

"Tollers require creative and mentally stimulating training. Due to their intelligence, some may be reserved in new situations. This should not be confused with shyness." They are also "bursting with boundless energy" and have "a strong retrieving desire," the NSDTRC notes.

Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever Germany
A Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever seen running after a dog toy in Munich, Germany in March 2012. Agency-Animal-Picture/Getty Images

Norwegian buhund

This confident and friendly Nordic breed makes a great family companion. They are "highly intelligent and have a desire to please, making them fairly easy to train," but can have an independent streak, so positive reinforcement is encouraged, according to the AKC's DiNardo.

NYC dog show norwegian buhund
A Norwegian buhund (dog pictured on the right) resting in the benching area at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York on February 12, 2018. Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images

Standard poodle

"The standard poodle is a great all-around athlete of the family, proving to be easily trained, fun and positive," DiNardo told Newsweek.

"Beneath their curly coat is an elegant athlete and companion. Poodles are eager, athletic, and extremely smart dogs of remarkable versatility. Agile and graceful, the Poodle excels in many canine sports, including agility, obedience, dock diving and tracking, among others," she added.

standard poodle NYC 2020
A standard poodle poses for a photo on May 15, 2020 in New York City. Cindy Ord/Getty Images


DiNardo said: "Vizslas are versatile gundogs, built for long days in the field. Vizslas need consistent, positive training, starting from early on because of their high intelligence and curiosity. The breed likes to have a job to do and is very eager to please."

vizsla dog New Mexico 2020
A young vizsla seen in Santa Fe, New Mexico in May 2020. Robert Alexander/Getty Images

Standard schnauzer

Standard schnauzers are described to be "extremely intelligent, wily and crafty. They 'get' an idea or an exercise with very few repetitions," the AKC website notes.

However, owners should be cautious of over-training them. "After a few repetitions, they get bored and look at the trainer as though the trainer is stupid. Because of their intelligence, they do require training—and if their person doesn't teach them, they learn on their own, but it may not be what the owner wants the dog to learn," the AKC warns.

standard schnauzer nyc dog show 2016
A standard schnauzer competing at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on February 16, 2016 in New York City. Getty Images

Bull terrier

The AKC website notes: "There is no limit to what Bull Terriers can do if trained in a positive manner with patience and humor.

"This is an independent free-thinker with a higher commitment to 'fun and games' than to a work ethic. Bull terriers operate on the principle that if it is fun, they will do it. If not, why bother? Make training fun, and they will excel. Positive reinforcement with food or toys is an excellent place to start," the club adds.

They are known to excel at several sports including agility, flyball, freestyle, weight pull, and carting, and other functions such as bomb detection and search-and-rescue and as service, assistance, health-alert and therapy dogs, according to the AKC.

bull terrier new york 2019
A bull terrier in a Halloween costume seen at the Barkfest event on October 26, 2019 in East Meadow, New York. Bruce Bennett/Getty Images


"Bulldogs are sweet, devoted, and easygoing, and they want to please their owner," the AKC website describes, so they can be more obedient than other breeds.

"Puppy training classes are highly recommended as well and allow the owner to learn how to curb any undesirable behaviors," it adds.

Bulldog New York 2017
A bulldog rests before competing at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on February 13, 2017 in New York City. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Shetland sheepdog

These docile, friendly dogs are great for families and "tend to be submissive and a little nervous, but not all of them," Dr. Sarah Wooten, the vet expert at Pumpkin Pet Insurance, told Reader's Digest.

"They need 30 minutes of daily exercise and are at home in single-family homes or apartments," she added.

Shetland sheepdog U.K. dog show 2015
A woman grooming her Shetland sheepdog at the Crufts dog show in Birmingham, England in the U.K. on March 6, 2015. Carl Court/Getty Images

Spanish water dog

Spanish water dogs are highly intelligent and active, both mentally and physically. They thrive on "the problem-solving nature of positive training using a clicker or similar training style," the AKC website notes.

They are "extremely biddable and willing to please and are showing themselves to be highly capable and very versatile." However, "harsh training methods may cause the SWD to lose his enthusiasm for the tasks asked of him, and he may 'shut down'," the AKC warns.

Dog show NYC 2016 spanish water dog
A Spanish water dog seen at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on January 21, 2016 in New York City. Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images


Keeshonds are "very smart and highly trainable," the AKC website notes. "They excel at obedience, where some of them are nationally ranked."

They learn things quickly and are motivated to please their trainers but they can get bored, so trainers will need to keep up with them.

"It is important to start with your Kees as a puppy between 10 and 14 weeks. They will learn fast and move to the next level. Early socialization and puppy training classes are recommended," the club adds.

Dog show NYC 2014 keeshond
A keeshond seen at the Westminster Dog Show at the Piers 92/94 on February 10, 2014 in New York City. Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Pharaoh hound

Pharaoh hounds are "quick to learn and eager to please," but caution must be taken when they are off the lead in an open area, according to the AKC website.

"It has been proven time and again that most Pharaohs, no matter how obedient or well trained, will not come when called when they find themselves suddenly in a 'free situation'," the AKC notes.

pharaoh hound NYC 2016
A pharaoh hound at the American Kennel Club Meet The Breeds event at Pier 92 in New York City on February 13, 2016. Gary Gershoff/WireImage

American Staffordshire terrier

American Staffordshire terriers are "highly trainable, as their many forays into showbiz suggest," and "the breed's intelligence and desire to please make training a fun, easy process," the AKC website explains.

"It must be noted that dog aggression can develop even in well-socialized AmStaffs; an AmStaff should never under any circumstances be left alone with other dogs," the club warns.

 American Staffordshire terrier NYC 2016
An American Staffordshire terrier competes at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on February 16, 2016 in New York City. Getty Images

Australian cattle dog

This "famously smart, ever alert" energetic breed is "only really happy when on the job," the AKC website notes.

"Therefore, continuing training and participation in activities such as obedience, herding, or agility is highly recommended," the club adds.

 Australian blue cattle dog 2011
An Australian blue cattle dog seen in Longreach, Australia on March 25, 2011. Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Editor's pick

Newsweek cover
  • Newsweek magazine delivered to your door
  • Unlimited access to
  • Ad free experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts
Newsweek cover
  • Unlimited access to
  • Ad free experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts