Top 11 Dog Breeds For Agility Training

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
Dog agility is a sport that supports competition between dogs of different skills. Check this article to learn if your dog is among the best agility dogs. Read on.

Did you know that dog agility was born in the UK?

This famous dog sport was created as a ‘half-time show’ at Crufts in 1978. As of 1980, dog agility was officially recognized as an official sport.

A dog sport is officially recognized when Kennel Club approves it.

Since 1980, dog agility and its popularity increased rapidly and spread across the world in no time.

Today, dog agility is one of the most popular dogs sports events.

Best Dogs For Agility

Dog agility is a sport in which a dog’s training is put to the test.

Dog agility is all about proper training, natural traits, and demonstrating the bond between a dog and its owner or a handler.

Agility is not only about running through obstacles but more about making the bond with your Fido stronger.

All dogs are welcome to participate in this sport, but only rare ones will excel at it.

It doesn’t matter if you Fido wins it or lose it, you will still be proud of your Fido.

Certain breeds are better at dog agility than others are and live for a good competition.

Below you will find the best breeds when it comes to agility training. However, to understand why some breeds are better at dog agility than others, let’s see what you should look for in an agility dog.

What Makes A Good Agility Dog?

Certain dog breeds, such as Border Collie are great when it comes to dog agility.

They are packed with high-energy levels, love being outdoors, and no sport is boring to them.

From running to swimming they can do anything. On the other hand, really heavy and more indoor dogs are never suitable for dog sports.

When it comes to dog agility, you need to look beyond speed.

Yes, fast dogs have a natural advantage when it comes to competition, but there are other factors that you should take into consideration.

In other words, when it comes to the best agility partner, the breed isn’t everything.

This means that if you get a Border Collie, it does mean that your fast dog will automatically become a champion.

Here are the traits that make a dog a great agility dog:

  • Intelligence. This is the first factor. A smart dog breed will make the training process easier and fun.
  • Trainability. How easily can you train a certain breed? For a dog to be great for training, he needs to be smart, focused, and driven.
  • Ability to focus. Your dog needs to be able to focus on you. No distraction should be possible when a dog is focused.
  • Emotional stability. Agility dogs are never shy and they don’t have any issues being around strangers. They may be reserved toward them, but they should demonstrate confidence.
  • Drive. Agility dogs really have to want what you have. This is why professional training results are made. A dog must want a toy or food from you, which makes them easier to train.
  • Body structure. Agility dogs are well-built, powerful, and muscular. They should have great hips, strong joints, and smooth movement.

Now, that we know what traits great agility dogs should possess, let’s see what are the best agility dog breeds.

The Best Dog Breeds For Agility

The traits that are listed above are what the best agility dogs are made out of.

These traits can be improved over time, but they cannot guarantee success. This is why experienced dog owners and dog trainers decide to get breeds that are naturally great at agility.

Here are the best dog breeds for agility. Are you an owner of a super-agile dog already? Check it.

Border Collie

When it comes to the best agility dogs, Border Collie is among the best of the best.

They are highly intelligent, active, and very driven. Dog owners should know that walking this breed off-leash shouldn’t be a thing, because you won’t be able to catch your Border Collie, no matter how well trained they might be.

Border Collie was bred to herd sheep, meaning they are go-to dogs.

Border Collie is a breed for experienced dog owners, who know their way around active dogs. When bored, this breed will become destructive.

Jack Russell Terrier

Jack Russell Terrier may be small in size, but this breed is all about being fast and active.

They tend to be a bit stubborn, they are terriers after all, which is why they need an experienced dog owner.

Jack Russell Terrier comes with great traits that make this breed a champion of a small-dog class of agility.

Jack Russells are adventurous dogs who are food-driven. They require a skilled owner, or they will try to destroy anything in their surrounding.

To keep this breed happy and healthy you will have to provide more than regular work.

Regular exercise is a must when it comes to keeping this breed fit.

Australian Shepherd

Australian Shepherd is an active breed often seen on the rodeo circuit.

These dogs are agile, work-oriented, and very smart. They love being challenged mentally and physically.

In other words, these dogs are hard workers and love when there is a job to be done. This is the main reason why they are great when it comes to dog sports.

If you are not an outdoor person this breed isn’t for you. If you are a first time dog owner, skip this breed.

Novice owners should focus on getting a dog of calmer energy levels and more of a companion side.


Papillon might be small in size, but this breed is so active that only really active people can keep up with them.

These small dogs are not only agile but also very smart and fast. Some would go so far to even compare them with Border Collie.

When it comes to training they will be the first ones to stand in the line and the last ones to enter the house.

Papillons are not only great agility dogs, but they are amazing companions and family dogs.

When getting this breed you need to think about grooming needs, because Papillon requires a certain level of commitment when it comes to a neat look.


Whippet is best to know for being fast.

These dogs are elegant and fit when it comes to body shape. Originally, this breed was bred for racing and lure coursing, but running is what they do the best. There are only a few breeds that can outrun this elegant and tall dog.

Whippets are easy-going dogs who like to chill at home when there isn’t a task to be done.

When at home, they will be true couch potatoes, while in the arena they will give the best of them.

Are you thinking about owning a Whippet? If so, you should be mindful of the dog’s weight.

Keeping this breed is crucial. They are prone to joint issues and their bones are more slender.

In other words, slender bones can break more easily than in stockier breeds.


Poodle is one of the smartest dog breeds alive.

They are so intelligent that training them is an easy process, even for novice owners.

Poodles are not only smart but also low-shedders which is why people choose them as indoor dogs.

Plus, since do not shed a lot, people with allergies often go for this breed. Poodles are great with people, but they are not fond of strangers.

They are also ready for every action anytime, like swimming and playing fetch. Keeping your Poodle busy isn’t an easy task, so make sure that you can deliver.

Australian Kelpie

Australian Kelpie is a natural talent when it comes to dog agility.

This Australian breed is naturally athletic, quick to master any command, and great when it comes to jumping, climbing, and making fast and curvy moves.

For this breed, obstacles are non-existing. Still, getting this breed if you are a novice owner is far from being a good idea.

This breed does the best with experienced dog owners, who know their way around herding breeds.

Being active is what makes this breed happy and healthy. Make sure that you provide the right training and early socialization.

Shetland Sheepdog

Shetland Sheepdog, or Sheltie, is known as smaller version of the popular Collie.

This breed comes with a high energy level, great loyalty, and a strong need to please.

They are fast learners which makes them one of the best agility dogs. These smaller but fast dogs are not only great agility dogs but obedience competitors as well.

Shetland Sheepdog will always enjoy a good run, or just have long walking sessions. They are known for being vocal, so make sure that you address barking during the training process.

Shetland Sheepdogs come with a beautiful coat, but keeping them neat requires regular grooming sessions, and usage of the right grooming tools.

If you decide to get Shetland Sheepdog, make sure that you are truly prepared to brush and groom your Shetland Sheepdog.

Pembroke Welsh Corgi

Pembroke Welsh Corgi is known for his short and low set body, but did you know that this breed is one of the toughest agility dos?

Short legs won’t stop this breed from making great jumps.

Pembroke Welsh Corgis are short in posture, but they are sturdy and athletic. Plus, their short legs are extremely powerful.

Did you know that these small dogs are also very fast? Or that they are among the most intelligent dog breeds alive?

All in all, Pembroke Welsh Corgi is an active athlete who isn’t afraid to take on every challenge.

Rat Terrier

Rat Terrier may be small, but they are giants when it comes to agility.

They are fast, smart, and easy to adapt to any change. These black and white dogs are also highly trainable, which makes training easy and fast.

Rat Terriers are energetic and they do the best with active owners, who are true outdoor people.

From day one Rat Terriers were bred to be great exterminators. As such, they have speed, and great reflexes to handle different twists and turns.

Rat Terriers are not only great competitors, but they are great companions as well.

German Shepherd

German Shepherd is a large size dog that can conquer any challenges.

This large size dog is among the most popular dog breeds alive that people just love. They may not be fast as other breeds on the list, but they could keep up.

German Shepherds are great jumpers and no breed can keep with them when it comes to focusing. They will master any job and they will enjoy a nice treat as a reward.

German Shepherds are smart, skilled, and easy to train.

As huge people-pleasers, they will do their best to perform every task in a short period. This breed isn’t suitable for first time dog owners, and they are notorious for their shedding.

These two factors are something that should be taken into consideration when thinking about getting a German Shepherd.

What Age Should You Start Agility Training?

Did you know that dogs are more than capable of mastering basic commands at eight weeks of age?

This means that you should start training your dog as soon as you bring him home. This should be the general rule regarding your plans on agility or not.

Mastering basic commands is a great way to start the right agility base.

Since agility is a high-impact sport your dog won’t be able to compete until at least 12 to 18 months of age, which means that training should last until your Fido is fully ready to compete.

Is Border Collie Agility Star?

When it comes to dog agility sport, no breed can beat fast Border Collie. Among the best dog agility breeds, Border Collie is an ultimate champ.

In fact, this breed is so popular that when it comes to dog agility, that breeders choose to work on developing specific “sport Border Collies”.

Agility Vs. Obedience

You have probably heard that people often mention dog obedience and dog agility in one sentence, but the main question is – are these two actually separate terms? Or this is a single sport? The best way to understand the difference is to know what they stand for.

Dog agility is an off-leash dog training sport. As such it takes an enormous amount of work and dedication.

Obedience is something that every dog needs to go through. In reality, this means that simple behaviors such as sit, down, stay, leave, and come are essential to having a great dog and a well-behaved canine citizen.

Dogs are great at mastering basic commands, so training them from an early age is a must. Add to well-structured training an early socialization and you will have a puppy that is ready to be the best inside the dog park.

Are Agility Dogs Great Companions

Agility dogs are superb when it comes to physical features.

They are fast, their health is impeccable, and their shape is amazing. On top of that, their minds are sharp and active, and they are calm no matter how hard the situation might be – plus when busiest they are always focused on their handles.

This is something that is developed through training and made stronger over time. But… Are these active dogs great companions? Can they be affectionate and gentle as lap dogs can? Of course, they can, they are dogs, after all.

Dogs enjoy nothing like being around people and doing stuff for them. They are great companions.

Make sure that after every training session, you reward these affectionate dogs with a nice treat and a genuine pat on the head. They will love it.

Are Herding Breeds Best Agility Dogs

Herding breeds love when there is a job to be done. Not only that they are ready for action no matter what the task might be, but they won’t stop until the job is done.

These dogs are always well-built, highly athletic, and packed with high intelligence and loyalty.

They are never recommended for first time dog owners, who are just learning what being a dog owner is.

Herding breeds such as the Australian Kelpie require serious daily exercise and an overall well-structured training regime. Otherwise, they will easily become bored and destructive.

Agility Competitions

Dog agility or agility competition is a sport where dogs are directed off-leash through various obstacles while their handles lead them on.

The idea is that dogs should perform various tasks within a certain time limit.

As a general rule, each dog must go through a minimum of 14 obstacles (it’s common for dogs to go through 14 to 20 obstacles) such as tunnels, tire jumps, and weave poles.

There are also pause tables, and all of that must be achieved for a certain period of time.

Agility Course – Should You Invest In It?

If you’re serious about agility competition you should think about extra support, such as an agility course can provide.

An agility course should help you speed up the training process and help your dog reach his maximum in minimal time.

Agility courses are specially designed to improve flexibility, balance, and control, no matter how small or big the dog might be.

Thanks to this course your dog will build his muscles, and learn how to maneuver through different obstacles.

Plus, dog agility trainers come with enormous experience so they can tell you honestly if your dog has the potential to be an agility champion or not.

Agility For Small Dogs

Don’t let small size dogs fool you, because they are usually packed with enormous energy levels.

They are fast set low to the ground which makes going through poles easy and fast. Plus, small size dogs are highly determined.

You don’t need to have Great Danes running through agility competitions if you have a dog with a low-slung body who loves to run.

Do you still find it hard to imagine a Toy Poodle competing?

Run to first dog agility in your area and be ready to be surprised big time, because these small dogs are true champs. They will need the proper agility training to help them reach that medal.

Is Your Dog the Next Agility Star?

Are you thinking about dog sports?

If so, you should know that dogs can get prepared for dog agility. Yes, it helps if you have a breed from this list, but even if your dog’s breed is on this list, you can still try to train your Fido for dog agility.

Before you plan the agility training, you should know what dogs need on average 6-9 months of daily training before they are ready for an official challenge.

Is your dog familiar with basic commands?

Before you start any agility training, make sure that your dog has truly mastered the basic commands.

If your Fido moves fast, loves to work, can focus, obeys commands, and is truly an outgoing breed, consider agility training.

If you feel like you need support during the agility training, think about hiring a professional dog trainer for a faster process and more experience in training inputs.

Who knows? Maybe your dog is the next start, the ultimate champion of dog agility.