Which Are The Best Dog Breeds Off Leash?

Which Are The Best Dog Breeds Off Leash?

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Sam Basso
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Which Are The Best Dog Breeds Off Leash? That’s an important consideration when getting a dog, especially if you plan on having a dog off leash in public places, such as on hikes, at the beach, at off leash parks, or anywhere else.

Top Dogs: As a general rule, the best dog breeds off leash are: Golden Retriever, Australian Shepherd, Border Collie, and the Shetland Sheepdog. These dogs have the highest potential to be obedient to your commands off leash. The outright top dog is the Golden Retriever. The dogs on this list are versatile workers, able to obey and do tasks, such as directed jumps, retrieving on command, and scent discrimination. The Golden Retriever, Australian Shepherd, and Shetland Sheepdog are generalists, being able to do a number of tasks well. A generalist dog isn’t the best at every task, but on average, does well at most tasks. The Golden Retriever will do best in most human environments. The Australian Shepherds are great, but they need a regular job to do, and the good ones are too smart for the average dog owner. The Shetland Sheepdogs tend towards shyness, so that can interfere with obedience, and you have to be very selective in choosing a breeder. The Shetland Sheepdogs can become a real nuisance if you just expect them to sit around and do nothing. The Border Collie is a specialist. Specialists excel typically at one task. Border Collies excel at herding sheep, and while they can do well off leash in a variety of environments, there are some situations where they won’t do so well, such as around lots of moving cars, masses of running loose dogs, bicycles, joggers, rollerbladers, and such. All that movement, without being able to herd, can frustrate them. I’ve seen a number of Border Collies start growling and lunging at cars, joggers, running dogs and such, and then that becomes a very annoying and embarrassing habit.

Almost Top Dogs: There are other breeds that might work for you, such as: Brittany Spaniel, Flat Coated Retriever, Labrador Retriever, Vizla, Harrier, Otterhound, Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen, Boxer, Doberman, Rottweiler, Irish Terrier, Papillon, Parson Russell Terrier, Dalmatian, Keeshond, Poodle, Belgian Tevuren, German Shepherd Dog, and the Puli. All these breeds have the potential to be very obedient off leash. Once again, some of these dogs are generalists and some specialists. It all depends upon the environment you want these dogs to obey. Some will do better in some situations than others.

Mixed Bred Top Dogs: It is also important to recognize that rescued mixed bred dogs that have the above breeds in them also should be given a serious look. It isn’t necessary to get a pure bred dog in order to have an obedient dog. But, it has to be admitted that genetics DO play a part. Otherwise, I couldn’t display a list of breeds that can be more obedient than others.

Rare Breeds: There are a number of rare breeds that could probably be in the Top Dog list… but there isn’t enough data to verify that. For example, it might be worth looking at an English Shepherd. You’d have to see some well trained dogs work, and then obey in the kinds of circumstances you’d live around, to make a good decision.

It is important to note that just because a dog will obey well off leash in public, doesn’t mean that dog will fit well into your home. It is always best to match what your lifestyle is like with what the dog is going to be like. You need to consider climate, activities, need for a watchdog, how active the dog has to be every day to be calm when not active, your personality vs the temperament of the dog, and so forth. A dog might be a complete champion in obedience, but would be miserable living with you. So, it is never good to base a decision solely on one criteria, such as ability to obey off leash.

It is also important to realize that a dog that wasn’t bred as an obedience dog won’t probably fit this list. A backyard bred Golden Retriever isn’t the same as a dog that comes from 5 generations of top obedience champions. They are almost like two different breeds. Thus, I wouldn’t put the typical pet store Boxer in this list. In addition, an obedient dog is also a happy, well cared for, fully trained, loved, exercised, healthy dog. Just getting a particular breed isn’t enough. If you get a very trainable dog and do a terrible job with the dog, it can turn out to be the most miserable dog you ever imagined. Dogs can be trained to do the right things or the wrong things. So, you can turn a good dog into a complete mess.

There are dog trainers that specifically get these best dog breeds off leash so as to look good to customers. I have met a number of arrogant dog trainers over the years, that promote the idea that they are one step away from being God when it comes to dogs. But, give them an alternate breed to work with, and they can’t get the job done, and they will then tell you what a terrible dog breed you have and what a mistake it was for you to get that dog. Please, don’t get your feelings hurt. Just find someone to work with that will love your dog, and work with your dog’s best traits. I don’t think you should ever get a dog to please someone else, get the right dog for you instead.

Just because your favorite breed doesn’t appear on this list, DOES NOT mean your dog isn’t highly trainable, or is the wrong dog to own. It just means that your dog isn’t going to be going to the doggie Olympics any time soon. I train lots of dogs, of all breeds, to be very obedient. But, this article isn’t about that. This article is about what genetic package has the greatest potential to create the most obedient dog off leash. These lists are those dog breeds which have the highest potential to go all the way in an obedience trial on a national level, or to do a functional obedience task for a professional, or for someone who MUST have a dog obey off leash in public. Not everyone needs or wants that. For example, I love a Basset Hound. They will never make a list like this. But, they weren’t created as an obedience dog. If I were to make a list of dogs that can track by scent, then they would be in the top 10 list, and a lot of the breeds listed above wouldn’t even be in the top 20 dogs. So, that’s why I’m saying that you don’t want to pick a dog solely on just one trait. That trait might not be the measure of what is the right dog for you.

Sam Basso is a professional dog trainer and behaviorist, in the Phoenix/ Scottsdale metropolitan area. He’s known for being fun, kind, intelligent, and humane. Sam Basso has a unique personal touch. He has appeared on his own TV show, been a guest radio expert, gives seminars, publishes a dog related blog, does rescue volunteering, and is active in promoting animal welfare and fair dog laws.

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