We have all seen the commercials and TV programs with the dog and owner at the beach with a Frisbee or in the park doing freestyle running. If that is your dream, or if you even dream of competition obstacle courses, you need a dog that can perform the tasks. Adopting one of the best agility dogs will give you a leg up with your goals.
You may be thinking that agility needs need to small and quick. Actually, there are many large breed dogs that excel in this sport too. No matter what size or type of dog you're looking for, you'll surely be able to find one on this list that will interest you.
You also need to remember that every dog is different, even dogs of the same breed or pups from the same littler can have very different personalities and skills. Just because a breed is said to be one of the best agility dogs doesn't mean that every dog of that breed will live up to that reputation.
If you want a dog that will excel in agility trials, be sure to spend some time with the dog before adopting him. This is particularly true of older dogs that you may be thinking of adopting. Training will play a large part in a dog's ability to perform agility tasks, but his personality will as well.
If you spend time with a dog and notice that he would rather lounge on the couch next to you than run in the yard and play, he's probably not going to be much of an agility master. Likewise, stubborn dogs will prove to be more difficult to train, so they may not make the best agility partners either.
30 Best Agility Dogs
small, medium and large breeds
Small Breed Agility Dogs
1. Jack Russel Terrier
With origins in fox hunting, this little dog has now become one of the best agility dogs on the obstacle course. Considered the dynamite of dogs, these little pups are intelligent, friendly, and outgoing. They are great for large, active families.
When I say these little pooches are energetic, I mean tireless. They love to bark, dig and just be a dog. Pictured above, the Jack Russel Terrier isn't a good choice for families that live in small apartments.
French for butterfly, maybe the large butterfly ears are what make the Papillon fly in competitions. Friendly with a sparkling personality, this fur-baby is an agreeable companion. Intelligent and easy to train, this is a great dog for tricks.
While these dogs are friendly, they do not do well with young children. They are also pretty needy and cannot tolerate alone time.
3. Rat Terrier
Confident and lively, the Rat Terrier is great for playing sports and going hiking or to the beach. These pups are affectionate and make great family pets. Their tiny size and short hair means that grooming is a cinch.
Territorial and possessive, dogs of this breed do best as the only pet in the house. Cold weather isn’t best for these small pets either.
4. Miniature Schnauzer
This muscular and rugged farm dog is one of the best agility dogs. It may not be flushing out rats, but it can still move like it. While it has enough energy to perform, it isn’t annoyingly hyper. Schnauzers are considered hypo-allergenic because they shed very little.
Like all hunting breeds that I know, this little pup loves to bark. They will need training to keep them from becoming a nuisance.
5. Chinese Crested
Whether you get the true “crested” version, or the “powderpuff” version, these adorable little pups can jump surprisingly high. Obedient and social, these dogs do great around crowds. They also have pretty low energy and need less exercise than some other athletic breeds.
Like many little dogs, this one does not do well on its own. It can become destructive when bored and alone.
6. Scottish Terrier
The instantly recognizable “Scottie” dog is a favorite among many. Dignified and independent, they make a welcome site to any event. Affectionate and outgoing, the Scottie does well with large families and crowds.
As long as they get enough exercise, they adapt well to apartment living. Although they are intelligent, these stubborn pooches are hard to train. They love to wander and play and need a sturdy fence.
Medium-Sized Agility Dogs
7. Shetland Sheepdog
Also known as a “Sheltie” or a “Collie”, these dogs are a lot like their television counterpart – Lassie. It seems like they can do anything. These dogs are some of the smartest out there, which is what makes them the best agility dogs. They do great for agility and obedience competitions.
Pictured above, these healthy pups love to be outside, but they also love to bark. Shetland Sheepdogs have a beautiful coat, but they shed quite a bit. Be prepared to brush and groom your pet frequently if you decided to adopt one of these best agility dogs.
8. Lagotto Romagnolo
The curly coat on this cute fur-baby is made for hunting waterfowl – a treacherous sport that requires agility. Now this breed mainly hunts truffles. Curious and easygoing, these pooches are a lot of fun to own. They are also independent and do well with daily time alone.
If you do not properly socialize your Lagotto Romagnolo, they may develop aggressive tendencies toward strangers or other animals. It's important to begin socialization training when they are young and continue it throughout the dog's life.
The “Dal” is always willing and able to go the extra mile. Along with agility, this canine has tons of endurance. Dogs in this breed are hardworking and easy to train. That combined with their ability means you often see them as service and competition dogs.
This is not the ideal bred to be around strangers and kids. If this is a requirement, they will need an experienced socialization and pack leader trainer.
10. Tibetan Terrier
Although this breed has always been a companion animal, it is still surprisingly agile. Sensitive and clever, the Tibetan Terrier loves to amuse and entertain. These traditional lapdogs do not stray far from their family.
The coat on this dog sheds quite a bit. It also needs regular brushing to keep from becoming matted. They are easily bored and can be destructive.
11. Labrador Retriever
Strong, agile, and easy to train, these popular hunting dogs make great competition dogs as well. Friendly and gregarious, “Labs” do well with everyone. Their attitude makes them great as family dogs.
These fur-babies have lots of energy and love to roam. They need space to run, play and get exercise. The Labrador Retriever also sheds a lot, so they will need regular brushing to maintain their coat.
12. Redbone Coonhound
Speed and agility are two of the most coveted traits of this red-haired hunting dog, but that isn’t its only good traits. These gentle pups are friendly and happy making a great companion for all sorts of people. They are intelligent and shed little.
Like many hounds, these canines love to bark, and their bark is a loud one. They are also sensitive and need gentle correction to avoid becoming timid and frightful.
Multi-talented, this dog puts its versatility into practice as both a pointer and a retriever. Imagine what it could do for you. Friendly and loving, the Vizsla does great as a family pet. They have short hair that sheds little making clean up a breeze.
Pictured above, these are true hound dogs. They like to chew, dig and bark. Unfortunately, these best agility dogs do not adapt well to apartment life.
14. Standard Poodle
Maybe the smartest, most intuitive breed there is, Poodles do great in obstacle course competition. The benefits are there for all sizes of this breed. These adaptive dogs can live in all sorts of situations and with all sorts of people. While energetic and sporty, they also know when to be calm and quiet.
Their long hair will need to be kept clipped short or regularly maintained. Prone to weight gain, you need to watch calories
15. Australian Shepherd
This is the perfect breed if you imagine yourself at the beach throwing the Frisbee for the dog that gets everyone’s attention. Agile and energetic, this dog doesn’t just make this list, but any list looking for dogs with sporty attributes. They also have a winning personality.
These double-coated dogs need to be brushed regularly to minimize shedding, and prevent matting. They also become destructive when bored.
The “Grey Ghost” is a rough and tumble dog with heart. When training, avoid being too harsh. They are very sensitive and need human companionship. These best agility dogs are intelligent and easy to train. They have plenty of energy for whatever you have in mind.
“Weims” love dog activities like drooling, digging, barking, and chewing. They also shed a lot.
17. German Shorthaired Pointer
A dog that thrives on exercise and running, this is the perfect companion for the outdoors person. With a short, low shed coat, this dog pooch is easy to maintain. Friendly and outgoing, be ready to get social when you have this pet as your buddy.
This canine was bred to assist human companions, and they need that strong human bond. Preferring an active life, they do not do well in apartments.
18. Siberian Husky
Independent and mischievous, this fur-baby has a lot more than athleticism going for it. A friendly, affectionate breed, the Husky does well with kids, pets, and strangers unless not socialized properly. This is a healthy breed.
Dogs in this breed are escape artists. They need a strong, secure enclosure. These canines are double coated and prefer a mild to cold climate.
Another herding dog (pictured above), this animal can turn on a dime. Tireless and hardworking, it is ready to get the win in competition. An easy to train pooch, these best agility dogs are dependable and intelligent.
They have natural oils to protect them in harsh climates – a true sturdy working dog. Australian Kelpies are loyal to a fault. They need socialization training or they could become overly territorial.
20. Cocker Spaniel
A popular breed, this fur-baby has fallen victim to un-safe breeding practices that have caused some lines to have nervous, fearful qualities. Loving and adaptable, the Cocker Spaniel is great for apartment living. They have plenty of energy, but are usually not a nuisance.
A bird dog at heart, they love to bark and chase. Make sure your pet is always secured. Their beautiful coat requires extensive grooming.
21. Portuguese Water Dog
Just like the Poodle, you usually see this dog with weird haircuts that were traditionally used to provide buoyancy in waters. This is a larger dog that does well in apartments as long as it gets plenty of exercise. Loving and affectionate, they make a great family dog.
These pups are shy and reserved. They will need socialization starting young if they will often meet new people.
22. Border Collie
With great agility, this breed is a favorite in dog shows. They are able to slay any obstacle course they are faced with. These dogs are the quarterbacks of the dog world. Friendly and easy to train, these pups are great for first time dog owners that are inexperienced trainers.
These fur-babies don’t do nuisance chewing or barking. However, the Border Collie loves people, and they get depressed if left alone. It is best to always have someone around these best agility dogs.
23. Doberman Pinscher
These dogs grow to a large size, but are still incredibly graceful. A highly energetic breed, Dobermans require high protein diets to retain their high muscle mass. These intelligent, sensitive canines are easy to train.
They will need socialization and “pack leader” training, but they will pick it up quickly. Energetic and playful, these dogs need to be exercised regularly to keep from being aggressive or destructive.
24. Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Bred for working, the short legs and stocky body may not look agile, but looks can be deceiving. With intelligence and friendliness, these dogs have what it takes to be succeed at whatever you need it to do.
The coat of the Corgi, while beautiful, requires a lot of grooming. They'll need regular brushing and bathing on top of their regular grooming schedule.
25. English Springer Spaniel
As you can see, almost any bird dog could make the list of best agility dogs. In fact, this one is another one. These pooches have energy, intelligence, stamina, and of course, the to-die-for hound dog look.
Like many independent minded working dogs, this breed needs socialization and obedience training starting at a young age. Because they were bred to hunt, these dogs will need a fenced in yard and plenty of room to run.
Large Agility Dogs
26. Belgian Malinois
With similar looks to a German Shepherd, these best agility dogs also have similar characteristics and are often used as a working dog for therapy and police forces. The fur on these canines is short, easy–to-care-for, and sheds very little. Playful, energetic, and rugged, they are great for outdoor families.
Pictured above, these dogs don’t get along with kids or other dogs very well. They need experienced pack leader training and socialization training.
A traditional racing breed, these pups use their strong muscles to provide the agility and speed needed to be a leader of the pack. With all the aggressiveness virtually bred out, these intelligent dogs are easy to train and great with other animals and children.
Make sure you have at least a six foot fence. These dogs can jump surprising heights, and love to show off.
With an almost funny looking trot, this dog can get the job done. It has energy and agility to do what needs to be done, but isn’t overly energetic and hyper. If you live in a hot climate, this is your dog. It can even do well with apartment life getting only average exercise amounts.
A stand-offish breed, they need pack leader and socialization training from a young age. They are not for the novice dog owner.
29. German Shepherd
This is a large breed that is surprisingly fast and agile. They are well suited for many jobs, and actually do perform a variety of them. These dogs are energetic and love play time, but they know when to be calm and restrained as well. The German Shepherd is intelligent and easy to train.
These pups shed a lot, it may be best if you don’t have carpet in your home. This is another breed that needs experienced pack leader training and socialization.
30. Black Russian Terrier
Known as “Black Pearls of Russia”, this breed is not a true “terrier”. Used as police dogs in Northern climates, they do better in cold weather. Intelligent and quick to learn, these fur-babies are easy to train. Barking and shedding is kept at a minimum.
Intelligent and quick to learn, these fur-babies are stubborn and like having the upper hand. They need a strong, experienced trainer and constant socialization.
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