Dog Agility is a popular sport for many a dog and owner. With so many pure and mixed breeds and out there, it’s common for people to wonder what breed requirements there might be for Agility.
What dog breeds can do Agility and which ones are best suited for this sport? Surprisingly, and something that makes Agility so appealing is that any breed can participate and compete in Agility. While being open to all dogs regardless of breed or size, it’s not a sport that all breeds are well-suited for. Agility involves lots of running, jumping and going through various obstacles — things not all dogs are keen on.
What breeds are best suited for Agility? Dogs that get bored easily, get into mischief quickly and have excess energy generally make the best candidates for Agility. Agility has a way of working off that built-up mental and physical energy in ways other sports don’t.
These dogs usually do the best with Agility:
- Border Collie
- Jack Russell Terrier
- Australian Shepherd
While these three dogs appear to be the breeds that excel at Agility, they are definitely not the only dogs that participate and do well. More than a hundred different dog breeds compete in Agility and similar dog competitions and trials. We’ve compiled a list of some of the most popular and successful Agility dogs.
Top 15 Agility Dog Breeds
1. Border Collie
When people hear the word “Agility”, the Border Collie is usually the dog breed that comes to mind. This dog is energetic, easy to train and extremely intelligent. In fact, it’s so smart that owners often have trouble finding things challenging enough to keep their brains stimulated. They’re also such agile dogs that one might wonder if the sport of Agility was created solely for them. Border Collies almost always win the World or National level Agility trials and dominate in the 20” and 26” classes.
2. Jack Russell Terrier
The Jack Russel Terrier was originally developed to be fox hunters but have made their way into the show ring as excellent Agility dogs. Often considered the dynamite of dogs, the Jack Russell Terrier is one of the best Agility dogs to enter the obstacle course. Their athleticism, determination, intelligence and desire to please have made the Jack Russell Terrier a favorite among animal trainers, horse owners and dog sports enthusiasts. Additional characteristics that make them great Agility dogs are their portable size, boundless energy and friendly personality.
3. Australian Shepherd
Also known as Aussie, the Australian Shepherd is an energetic dog that has tons of energy to burn and needs as much exercise as possible, which is the perfect recipe for Agility. They tend to bore easily and become distracted when they don’t have something to keep them busy. They’re a medium-sized dog that’s agile enough to perform well in every trial they enter. Aussies are usually found competing in herding tests, flyball, Agility, and obedience. Their personality, Agility, intelligence, and energy also make them excellent service dogs.
4. Australian Kelpie
The Australian Kelpie is a hard-muscled dog known for its intensity, independence, desire to keep busy and extreme intelligence – all qualities that make it perfect for Agility. In terms of its intelligence, the Kelpie ranks among the most intelligent dogs around. Its high intelligence makes this dog catch on to things very quickly. They love going over and under fences, which is similar to many of the Agility events. The Australian Kelpie loves being active and having as much mental and physical stimulation as possible.
When we hear the word ‘Poodle’, we often think of cute little lapdogs sitting on someone’s lap or prancing around the show ring, but these little dogs can do a lot more than just look pretty. Whether it’s the Toy, Miniature or Standard Poodle, this breed can be found at almost every Agility trial, and they give some real competition. Poodles can usually be found participating in the 12” and 24” jumps. They’re fast, intelligent and pick up on things quickly.
Papillons, or Paps as they’re also known as, are intelligent, spunky and very active dogs that love to run and jump. Their small bodies often have people underestimating this dog’s power and strength. Paps are easy to train and make great trick dogs. Their ability and desire to work make them excellent Agility dogs. They can often be found competing in the miniature category at the World level.
7. Shetland Sheepdog
The Shetland Sheepdog, also known as a Collie or Sheltie, is a large dog that can do almost anything required of him. In many ways, the Shetland Sheepdog makes us think of “Lassie”. They excel at both obedience and Agility competitions. They shed a lot, bark a lot and have tons of energy. Their high-energy drive and athletic build make them great on the Agility courses.
8. Welsh Corgi
Originally, the Welsh Corgis were registered as one breed, but are now acknowledged as having two varieties: the Cardigan and the Pembroke. The Cardigan is a little smaller than the Pembroke. The Welsh Corgis are known for their good herding abilities as well as their intelligence. Their outgoing personality, enthusiasm and agile bodies make them ideal Agility dogs, but they must be trained obedience first.
9. Rat Terrier
Rat Terriers are small, short-haired dogs with an affectionate yet possessive personality. Their love for the outdoors and playing sports makes them good at Agility. Rat Terriers do make good family dogs but are very territorial. They love being stimulated both mentally and physically, which is why Agility is so good for these dogs.
10. Miniature Schnauzer
Originally used as a rugged farm dog, the Miniature Schnauzer is a muscular dog that can move very quickly. They have high energy without being hyper, and they shed very little, making them popular pets. Miniature Schnauzers generally compete in jumps, seesaws, A-frames, and tunnels and do well in every activity. The only negative about this dog is their desire to bark as much as possible.
11. Scottish Terrier
Also known as Scottie, the Scottish Terrier is an outgoing, affection and very lovable dog. They can live in almost any environment but do require lots of exercise. They love to run around and have a good play drive. Despite being very intelligent, the Scottish Terrier is also a very stubborn dog and often difficult to train. They do very well in jumping events and obstacles requiring weaving and speed.
12. German shepherd
The German Shepherd is consistently among the top 10 most popular breeds in the United States and also one of the world’s most famous breeds. Their popularity may have started from the television dog Rin Tin Tin, but their intelligence, loyalty and use as a police dog have kept them on top. German Shepherds love working and are very easy to train. Despite their large size, German Shepherds do well in almost all Agility events.
13. Golden Retriever
Golden retrievers are a friendly and beautiful sporting dog and probably one of the most popular dogs in the United States. They excel not just in hunting tests but also various Agility events. Their high-energy drive and excellent work drive make the Golden Retriever one of the world’s best Agility dog. They usually compete in the 20” and 24” division and can easily compete and keep up with the best Agility dogs.
14. Hungarian Vizsla
The Hungarian Vizsla is a multi-talented dog that many consider a hound dog. They make good family pets but do not adapt well in small quarters. The Vizsla is a loving and friendly dog that is easy to train and loaded with energy. Their ability to make very tight turns, run fast and jump high is exactly what makes them so good in Agility. The Vizsla also gets along very well with other dogs.
There are several characteristics of the Dalmatian that would suggest it would be good at Agility. It not only requires lots of exercise and stimulation but craves it as well. They’re easy to train, hardworking and have great endurance. Owners find that the more advanced Agility and obstacle courses the dog is challenged with the better. Dalmatians can become hyperactive and destructive without sufficient mental stimulation.
How old does a dog have to be to compete in Agility?
The age a dog must be to compete in Agility depends on the organization sanctioning the competition. Here are the most popular organizations and their age requirements:
- AKC – 15 months
- USDAA – 14 months
- UKC – 12 months
- NADAC – 18 months
- CPE – 15 months
Do dogs have to be purebred to participate in Agility?
No, they do not. Agility is open to both purebred and mixed breed dogs as long as they meet the organization’s other requirements.
That’s All The Facts!
If you’re interested in Agility and think your dog may do well or are considering getting a dog so the two of you can compete, hopefully, this guide has helped you a little. Agility practices and trials can take a lot of time, work and commitment, but the rewards you receive in terms of time shared with your dog make it all worthwhile.