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The 11 Best Behaved Dog Breeds: Polite Puppers!

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Breeds By Kelsey Leicht 16 min read February 1, 2024

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Best Behaved Dog Breeds

Selecting the right Rover for your family starts with knowing the basic personality traits and obedience training needs of the breeds you’re considering. 

Every dog is unique, but some breeds are more inherently obedient than others, aiding significantly in molding a well-behaved canine. On the other hand, some breeds romp to the beat of their own drum and can be a real handful to reel in.

Obviously, dogs in the former category make better pets for first-time owners, while those in the latter group are best left to experienced pet parents. 

We’re going to focus primarily on the best-behaved barkers below. 

We’ve rounded up some of the best-behaved dog breeds, and we’ll explain why they’re so biddable. But we’ll also share a few of the pups at the other end of the spectrum, which first-time owners may want to avoid.  

What Makes a Dog Breed Well-Behaved?

Best Behaved Dog Breeds

Defining “well behaved” in the context of dogs is pretty tricky. But broadly speaking, well-behaved dog breeds tend to have a few things in common:

  • Well-behaved dogs are obedient. Most people view a well-behaved dog as an obedient dog –, meaning a mutt who promptly complies with commands. But it’s important to understand that dogs are sentient creatures entitled to agency, freedom, and downtime; they don’t only exist to obey commands and please their people.
  • Well-behaved dogs are usually people pleasers. Some breeds were developed to work closely with their people, while others were expected to work independently. And this often manifests in their motivation. Breeds tasked with working alone don’t have the same making-mom-happy-is-the-reason-for-living drive that breeds developed to work closely with people have. 
  • Well-behaved dogs are relatively calm (when appropriate). The vast majority of dogs love need to run, jump, and zoom at times. But the best-behaved dog breeds tend to find it easier to settle down when circumstances require more chill (such as when you’re visiting a dog-friendly restaurant). 
  • Well-behaved dogs don’t exhibit many problematic behaviors. Any dog breed can exhibit undesirable behaviors, and most doggos do a thing or two that’ll drive their pet parents crazy. But some breeds are more likely to exhibit things like destructive chewing (looking at you, bull terriers) or potty-training problems (cough dachshunds cough) than others. Owners play a huge role in many of these problems, but there are some breed-specific trends to understand. 

You may have noticed one thing we didn’t list above: intelligence

Intelligence is something that many people associate with well-behaved breeds, but that’s not always the case. Though intelligence is helpful for working dogs, smart dogs are more likely to become bored, which frequently leads to problematic (and often destructive) behaviors. And really smart dogs often present their own obedience training challenges, which are tough to stay in front of.   

And just to be crystal clear for the people in the back: Your dog’s behavior strongly depends on you doing the work as an owner and trainer.

In addition to earning your canine’s trust and building a strong bond, you must implement good daily patterns and put in the dog training-work necessary. Among other things, this means using positive reinforcement training methods that reward good behavior versus aversive methods and providing tons of exercise and canine enrichment to keep his mind and body healthy.

13 Best Behaved Dog Breeds

Well Behaved Dog Breeds

Now that we know what makes a well-mannered woofer, we can meet some of the best behaved dog breeds. From petite pups to giant gentlemen, these obedient, people-pleasing, placid, and more-or-less-problem-free pooches come in all shapes, sizes, and personalities, so there’s something for every family. 

See which well-behaved barker matches your lifestyle!

1. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are well-behaved

The Cavalier King Charles spaniel, or Cavy as breed lovers call him, has a charming, eager-to-please nature. This floof is a natural fit for obedience class and thrives in service dog roles. He’s also friendly with new faces – furry and human – which matches well with multi-pet families and households with young children. 

The Cavy is also a pretty people-oriented pooch who loves to make his people happy. Additionally, while he loves regular chances to zoom around the backyard, he has no trouble settling in and just watching sniffing the world go by.

However, the Cavy’s coat does take work, so expect to brush your canine companion a few times a week to prevent tangles. Another potential hiccup? Health issues. The Cavy is prone to a few problems, including mitral valve disease, luxating patella, and eye disorders.  

Loving this dapper doggo? Check out some Cavalier King Charles spaniel mixes.

2. Golden Retriever

Golden retrievers are well-behaved

Sporty and smart, the golden retriever excels in basic obedience, but he’s still one of the best hunting dogs ever. 

His friendly nature often makes him the social butterfly of the dog park, while his affectionate, people-pleasing ways shine brightly in family settings. Most golden owners agree that this pupper is a pleasure to raise and very responsive to commands. Just be sure you can devote adequate time to bonding with him, as this cutie requires lots of one-on-one time daily with his people.

He’s not perfect, though. The golden retriever can be a bundle of energy, and things like destructive chewing and counter surfing are a bit common in the breed. Fortunately, plenty of exercise and mental enrichment can help keep these issues in check.  

There’s also that glorious coat to deal with; it requires a brush out a few times weekly and even more frequently during heavier shedding periods. Regular vet care and a proper diet are also critical since the golden is susceptible to multiple health issues, like cancer, heart problems, and chronic ear infections. 

3. Poodle

Poodles are well-behaved

The poodle is one of the most intelligent, trainable dogs, whether you’re interested in the toy, miniature, or standard variety of this floof. 

Initially bred for duck hunting, this German gent (that’s right – he’s actually German, not French, as many believe) stars mainly as a companion today. And his people-pleasing personality and very manageable energy level help him excel in this role. 

But don’t forget about those working roots: This curly cutie needs daily enrichment activities to flex in mind and body and prevent undesirable behaviors. A good match for entertaining this brainy barker while you’re busy? Puzzle toys for dogs.

The hardest part of #poodleparenthood is grooming, though setting a schedule and sticking to it makes coat taming easier. Most pawrents opt for a short clip done by a professional, cutting down considerably on brushing time. Just be sure to budget for dog grooming costs or pick up clippers for DIY doggy ‘dos.

Crazy about this curly-haired critter? Explore the rainbow of poodle mixes!

4. Bernese Mountain Dog

The Bernese mountain dog is a working dog breed beloved for his heart of gold, but he’s also a surprise joy to train! Luckily, despite often tipping the scales at over 100 pounds, this jumbo-sized gem is eager to please and smart, which allows him to sail through obedience training sessions led with positivity and praise. 

Just understand that harsh methods are a no-go for him, as are long stints left alone since this sensitive soul shines brightest when he’s soaking up love with his favorite people – especially children.

While one of the calmest dog breeds and relatively low-key indoors, this gentle giant needs moderate daily exercise to maintain a healthy Fido figure. Backyard play and walks will do, though he’s a strong sniffer, capable of carting supplies around the farm or carrying packs on hikes. 

Another terrific option to exercise your Bernese buddy’s brain and body? Train him to be a service dog. He’s one of the best breeds for the job!

5. Labrador Retriever

Labs are well-behaved

This hunting honey is one of the most popular breeds in the United States, which is no surprise given his intelligent, fun-loving nature. 

He learns quickly and absolutely lives to please his people, making for one well-behaved best fur friend with proper training. The Labrador also has an infamous love of food, which you can use to your advantage in obedience training. Keep your treat pouch well-stocked with training treats, and you’ll be rewarded with one focused Fido during sessions.

But beware: This retriever is one needy pup, falling smackdab in Velcro dog breed territory. And his natural exuberance for life can make him bounce off the walls a bit. So, you’ll simply need to build plenty of daily pup-and-parent time into your daily routine, preferably involving some sort of physical activity to keep his energy level manageable when necessary. 

Not surprisingly, this affectionate four-footer is also an excellent match for families with young kids.

Can’t get enough Labrador lovins? Meet some of the best Labrador mixed breeds.

6. Papillon

Papillons are well-behaved

Named for his butterfly ears, the petite papillon easily ranks among the cutest dog breeds, and he’s also a surprisingly fierce competitor in the agility and obedience rings. Eager to please his pet parent and show off new tricks, this toy pooch is a treat to train. But don’t let his small size fool you: He’s loaded with pep and personality! But when he’s not showing off his skills, he’s a generally chill canine who’s often content to hang out in his favorite human’s lap.

The papillon is relatively healthy and one of the longest-living dog breeds with proper care. However, a significant drawback is his fragility, as he only tops out at a mere 10 pounds. Avoid rough-and-tumble play with larger dogs or kiddos. This rammy Rover may swear he’s ready to throw down, but he isn’t built to withstand it.

7. Havanese

Havanese are well-behaved

A legendary lap dog, the handsome Havanese is one of the smartest small dog breeds. He’s generally all too happy to respond to cues, especially if it comes with a belly rub or treat reward. That said, he is sensitive, so skip those aversive methods we discussed earlier. 

He’s also pretty calm and friendly, too. This makes him great for accompanying you on coffee house trips (where he’ll undoubtedly make new friends). Unfortunately, the Havanese can run into health hiccups, such as patellar luxation, eye disease, and chondrodysplasia. Regular vet care, daily exercise, and feeding the best dog food for Havanese promote proper pupper health, setting your sniffer up for success.

Have to know more about these cuties? Discover more mutt magic with Havanese mixes

8. German Shepherd

GSDs are well-behaved

Surprise, surprise! One of the most well-known k9 police dog breeds is a brainiac who loves pleasing his pawrents, helping him breeze through new commands and obey known ones promptly. 

Unfortunately, his intelligence is a double-edged sword, sometimes leading to boredom and all of the downstream problems that often accompany an idle (and intelligent) canine mind. Copious amounts of mental enrichment and physical exercise are needed with this doggo, but when properly stimulated and exercised, he’s one of the most obedient barkers around. 

It is worth mentioning that, while well-behaved when properly nurtured, the German shepherd can be a handful for inexperienced owners. He’s also a bit of an attention hog and prone to separation anxiety, demanding daily bonding sessions with his family. Long hours spent alone at home won’t mix well with this German guy.

9. Miniature Schnauzer

Miniature schnauzers are well-behaved

Sharp as a tack, this bearded fur baby can be one well-behaved woofer after mastering core commands. He thrives under positive training, loving nothing more than pleasing his handler with a job well done. Channeling this obedience into canine sports is a great way to burn off his abundance of energy and ensure that he can be a well-mannered gentleman when he needs to be a bit more stoic.

But when properly exercised, loved, and given plenty of brain-stimulating activities, this fancy fella is a very well-behaved barker. 

The miniature schnauzer does have a few health concerns to watch for, including pancreatitis, urinary stones, and cataracts. Regular veterinary checkups and exercise are vital in maintaining ideal woofer wellness, along with feeding the best dog food for miniature schnauzers.

Meet more mighty versions of this mutt with our list of mini schnauzer mixes!

10. Portuguese Water Dog

portuguese water dogs have curly hair

This working woof is prized for his biddable nature, a must-have feature in a breed designed to be a fisherman’s right-hand Rover. 

Also called the Portie, this fluffy-haired friend is intelligent and an ace at obedience. Just avoid repetition, as this fur kiddo bores easily. Best of all, he doesn’t usually present many behavioral problems (or allergy problems for his parents, thanks to his low-shedding, “hypoallergenic” coat).

This breed can be a bit energetic, so provide plenty of daily exercise to help him stay calm when need be. Dock diving is a natural fit for this floof, but so is agility or good old-fashioned swimming.

Grooming this fluffy Fido can be a real handful, with his long hair coming in wavy and curly coats prone to matting. Luckily, this cutie can be clipped short, reducing maintenance to weekly brush-throughs to remove tangles. 

11. Shetland Sheepdog

Shelties are well-behaved

Resembling a miniature collie, the Shetland sheepdog, or Sheltie as he’s often called, is beloved for his sweet side and playfulness. 

Like many herding breeds, he’s smart and highly adaptable, easily learning commands and adjusting to new surroundings, whether rounding up a fresh sheep pasture or conquering an agility course. But unlike some herding dogs who have an independent streak a mile long, the Sheltie likes pleasing his parents. 

The Sheltie’s long coat must be combed through a few times weekly, though this increases to daily brushings during shedding season. If you’re not a fan of shedding, he’s not the floof for you. 

Another potential drawback? Understimulated or underexercised Shelties may “herd” you, your kiddos, or other pets, so be sure that you can provide plenty of stimulation and exercise before picking up one of these pooches. 

6 of the Worst-Behaved Breeds: Dogs Most Likely to Earn a Spot on the Naughty List

Worst-Behaved Breeds

While the dog world is full of well-behaved canines of every type, some breeds tend to waltz on the wild side, making them a challenge for some pet parents. Let’s dig into these strong-willed, occasionally problematic woofs and see what they’re all about.

1. Basenji

Basenjis are not well-behaved

This little cutie can be a real handful at times. As one of the most ancient dog breeds, the basenji has spent many years as a hunting hound and companion, but he remains fiercely independent and downright hard-headed at times. 

High-value treats and plenty of patience can help with this curly-tailed cutie, but he’s unlikely to be a perfect coffee-house companion or star of his obedience class. Also, as a sighthound with a strong prey drive, he should never be trusted off-leash outside fenced areas. 

2. Shiba Inu

Shibas are not well-behaved

Despite his compact build, the Shiba can be a real handful. He’s kinda independent and cat-like, which means he isn’t the most biddable barker. He’ll often hijack training sessions with his clownish nature or merely disengage when he grows bored. 

On the plus side, he’s a beautiful dog and his energy level is pretty reasonable, but leashes are always necessary for this Rover, as he will run off and ignore commands. 

He’s also an escape artist, so don’t leave him unattended outdoors, even if an area is fenced. If there’s a way out, he’ll find it!

3. Afghan Hound

Afghans are not well-behaved

The Afghan hound consistently appears at the very bottom of canine intelligence lists, ruffling the feathers of many breed fanciers who know this handsome hound can be one obedient barker… with work. Lots and lots of work.

Training is far from this show-stopping sighthound breed’s favorite activity, but your Afghan can learn the basics with treats, patience, and a little humor. That said, never trust this cutie off-leash outside a securely fenced yard: His energy level and prey drive are nothing to sneeze at.

4. Pekingese

Pekingese are not well-behaved

The pampered Pekingese is loyal and affectionate, though he’s far from eager to obey orders, preferring to rule the roost from the throne of your lap. 

Don’t mistake this selective hearing for a lack of intelligence, as the Peke is smart and alert, but he is more independent than your average doggo. He’s also intolerant of roughhousing and shenanigans, making him a poor match for families with young kids. 

A bright spot? This breed has a pretty low energy level. This means that he may behave relatively well in (human) social situations and that he is one of the best dog breeds for apartment living.

5. Chow Chow

Chows are not well-behaved

Another cat-like canine, the chow chow tends to keep. himself clean. These floofs are also relatively calm, easy to housetrain, and just generally quiet dogs. 

But that’s where the “easy” ends with this large breed. 

The chow is a stubborn and infamously independent breed, often perceiving commands as mere suggestions (and bad ones, at that). While not recommended for beginners, this maned mutt can make a fantastic house hound for those who want the opposite of a needy, Velcro breed. 

6. Siberian Husky

Sorry, husky lovers – but you know this is true. Huskies may be uber-friendly and celebrated for their good looks, but they’ll also test the patience of most pet parents. 

Huskies are smart dogs, but they don’t have the drive to please their people that some others do – these doggos march to the beat of their own drum. They’re also one of the most vocal dogs in the world, who’ll loudly protest things they don’t like. 

But their biggest challenge likely relates to their supernatural energy levels. These dogs are all but impossible to tire, which means they often find ways to keep themselves occupied (i.e. get into mischief).  

Best Behaved Dog Breeds: FAQ

Questions about dogs with good behavior

Still have questions about the best behaved dog breeds in the canine kingdom? Check out the most frequently asked questions surrounding the topic and the answers with us.

What is the best behaved dog breed?

Every dog is unique, so there’s no singular best-behaved dog breed. But some barkers respond better to cues and cause fewer pupper problems than most. This list includes small breeds like the papillon, medium-sized cuties like the Shetland sheepdog, large buddies like the Labrador retriever, and giant-sized gems like the Bernese mountain dog. 

What is the most misbehaved dog?

One breed isn’t more misbehaved than others, as all breeds have star pupils and problem pupperinos among their ranks. That said, some dogs are more mischievous than others, especially when lacking daily physical or mental exercise. Huskies are infamous troublemakers, for example. 

What dog is easiest to maintain?

The easiest dog to maintain depends on your lifestyle, but low-maintenance dog breeds tend to be low-shedding, independent, and calm. This list of easy keepers includes beagles, Chihuahuas, and greyhounds. Research prospective pups and compare their daily exercise and grooming needs to your lifestyle to see if they’re a good match.

What is the most obedient dog breed?

There is no definitive most obedient dog breed, but according to a book by professor and canine psychology expert Stanley Coren, The Intelligence of Dogs, the border collie ranked best in a survey of dog intelligence. In the book’s findings, these sheep-chasing wonder dogs generally learned new commands with five repetitions or less and obeyed the first issue of a learned command 95% of the time or better. Now that’s impressive!

   

Do you share your house with any of our picks for the best behaved dog breeds? Did we miss any particularly well-behaved dog breeds? Do you have another breed we missed that listens like no other?

Tell us about your wonder dog in the comments. We’d love to get to know your pawesome pupper!

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Written by

Kelsey Leicht

Kelsey is a lover of words and woofs. She worked hands-on with dogs for several years at a boarding kennel as a shift runner and office manager before venturing into the world of writing. She lives in New Jersey with her crew of crazy canines.

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