The Smartest Mid-Size Dog Breeds

Medium-sized dogs are a great option for those wanting a canine friend that maybe isn't as intimidating as some of the larger breeds out there.

The "smarter" the dog is, the easier it is to train. Here are some of the easiest to train dogs that stand between 15 and 25 inches tall.


Barbet dog
Barbet dogs are affectionate and extremely intelligent franticstudio/Getty Images

A Barbet is a medium-sized dog breed with a beautiful curly coat of hair. They can be black, fawn, grey, or brown, and they occasionally have white markings.

These lovely dogs are described as "sweet-natured" and "bright" by the AKC, which also says that they are "very intelligent" and "learn new things quickly."

Barbets have a life expectancy of between 12 and 14 years, so this clever pet could be a friend for a long time.

Australian Shepherd

Australian Shepherd
The Australian Shepherd is intelligent, with piercing eyes Ksuksa/Getty Images

The Australian Shepherd is a stunning breed, and was bred to be a tough ranch dog.

It's coat is a patchwork of rust, white, and black markings, and it's very hard-working.

The AKC says these dogs are "remarkably intelligent" and are "quite capable of hoodwinking an unsuspecting novice owner". You have been warned!

Appenzeller Sennenhund

Appenzeller Sennenhund
Appenzeller Sennenhund dogs are active, playful, and intelligent SergeyTikhomirov/Getty Images

Native to Switzerland, this breed is built to herd livestock and work on farms. They are agile and lively, according to the AKC, and have a tri-color coat.

The AKC says of the breed: "He is lively and high-spirited, self-assured, reliable and fearless."

"This breed's intelligence make them highly capable learners," the AKC continues.

However, according to the AKC, due to their energetic nature they are not suited to apartment living.

Barbado da Terceira

Barbado da Terceira
This breed is great with kids and has a wonderful, fluffy coat GlobalP/Getty Images

This dog breed is really great with young children, and often needs plenty of contact with humans to be happy and content.

They are fluffy, with a large unruly coat, and is often described as a great companion.

The AKC says: "The breed is intelligent, easy to train, docile, and willful, joyful, and sensitive."

"The Barbado da Terceira is an assertive breed that is often a bully to other dogs but sweet to its owner and family members."


Standard Poodle
Dog owners can have a lot of fun with a poodle's coat xyom/Getty Images

Poodles come in three varieties: Standard (15 inches at the shoulder); Miniature (under 15 inches at the shoulder) or Toy (no more than 10 inches). The Standard Poodle is medium-sized and extremely intelligent.

The AKC says: "Forget those old stereotypes of Poodles and sissy dogs. Poodles are eager, athletic, and wickedly smart 'real dogs' of remarkable versatility."

Labrador Retriever

Labradors can have three different colors of coat lizcen/Getty Images

A breed well-loved by American dog-owners, Labradors are an extremely intelligent and sweet breed of dog.

Described as "friendly" and "outgoing," Labradors are sociable companions and are great for any family.

The AKC says: "Labs are famously friendly. They are companionable housemates who bond with the whole family, and they socialize well with neighbor dogs and humans alike."

Border Collie

Border Collie
Border Collie's are active and intelligent dogs Bigandt_Photography/Getty Images

These dogs are smart, energetic and affectionate, and are a classic herding breed.

They stand 18 to 22 inches at the shoulder and are generally brilliant to train. The AKC says: "The intelligence, athleticism, and trainability of Borders have a perfect outlet in agility training."

Golden Retriever

Golden Retriever
Golden Retrievers are lovable, obedient, and intelligent PhanuwatNandee/Getty Images

A Scottish gundog, Golden Retrievers are an incredibly popular breed.

Their friendly demeanour and loyalty mean that they are a popular choice as a guide dog and are frequently used in search-and-rescue teams.

The AKC says of the breed: "Goldens are outgoing, trustworthy, and eager-to-please family dogs, and relatively easy to train. They take a joyous and playful approach to life and maintain this puppyish behavior into adulthood."

Belgian Tervuren

Belgian Shepherd Tervuren
Belgian Shepherd Tervuren are built for herding AvanHeertum/Getty Images

A medium-sized herding dog, the Belgian Tervuren is both possessive and affectionate.

This breed originates from Belgium, and was used by farmers before the industrial revolution to herd their stock and guard their lands.

They were bred to be highly intelligent. AKC says: "Tervs take real delight in their ability to master any task, and owners say a mischievous sense of humor is at work whenever Tervs outsmart their beloved human."

Brittany Spaniel

Brittany Spaniel
Brittany Spaniels are fun-loving and loyal Barbara Cerovsek/Getty Images

Brittany Spaniels are bright, fun-loving, and loyal, and were bred to be versatile gundogs.

Their coat is bold and comes in white and vivid orange patterns. The AKC says it's a great sporting companion: "The zeal and versatility that make Brittanys peerless hunters can be channeled into dog sports. Obedience, agility, flyball, dock diving, you name it, this trainable breed is up for it."

Flatcoat Retriever

Flatcoat retriever
Flatcoat retrievers are a sporty breed of dog Flatcoater/Getty Images

The Flatcoat Retriever is a relatively new breed, and has a silky, wavy coat. They are apparently among the happiest of all dog breeds, and mature slowly.

The AKC says it is "a distinctive breed hallmark is the long head, unique among retrievers, which projects a smart and kindly expression."

Cocker Spaniel

Cocker Spaniel
Cocker Spaniels are born hunting dogs andriano_cz/Getty Images

Cocker Spaniels are often described as "gentle, smart, and happy," and stand between 13.5 and 15.5 inches in height. They live for anywhere between 10 and 14 years, and are born hunting dogs.

They are immensely intelligent and are brilliant with young children.

The AKC says of the breed: "Cockers are eager playmates for kids and are easily trained as companions and athletes. They are big enough to be sporty, but compact enough to be portable."

Miniature American Shepherd

Standing only 14 to 18 inches in height at the shoulder, the Miniature American Shepherd is like a smaller version of the Australian Shepherd.

These dogs are affectionate with young children and have bags of intelligence.

The AKC says: "Minis are every inch a true herding dog: energetic, versatile, rugged, and extremely bright."

Belgian Sheepdog

Belgian Sheepdog
Belgian Sheepdogs need a lot of affection from their owners Kurt Pas/Getty Images

Another herder, the Belgian Sheepdog is described by the AKC as bright, watchful, and serious-minded.

These dogs stand about 20 to 26 inches in height and have a dark, thick coat. They are a sensitive breed, and love regular contact and affection from their humans.

The AKC states that their "dark eyes sparkle with a questioning intelligence" and that they are "in all ways, Belgian Sheepdogs are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed".


Briard dog
Briard's are great with children and are extremely loving LottaVess/Getty Images

Briards are good with children and are protective of their families.

Often described as confident and smart, this breed originates from France, where they would protect cattle farms and herd sheep.

The AKC says that this breed "possess traits common to many other herders: trainability, brains, a protective eye toward family (especially kids, whom they regard as their flock), and wariness with outsiders."

Standard Schnauzer

Schnauzers have very distinctive eyebrows Ekaterina Gorokhova/Getty Images

There are Giant Schnauzers, Miniature Schnauzers, and Standard Schnauzers. The Standard Schnauzers are medium-sized, smart, and fearless dogs.

They are both affectionate with their families and good with young children. They are very good to train, and the AKC says that they have a "keen intelligence".

The AKC goes on: "Standards are sociable companions, alert watchdogs, enthusiastic backyard squirrel chasers, and are good with kids and protective of loved ones."

American Leopard Hound

Described as intelligent, sociable, and energetic, American Leopard Hounds make for brilliant companions.

They are great with children as they love to play. According to the AKC, "American Leopards are one of the oldest tree dog breeds in the U.S. and have extremely strong tracking abilities, often able to track prey for miles."

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