Medium sized dog breeds include a wide variety of types. They are usually grouped together by their weight range, and for most canine authorities, this is about 25 to 50 pounds. Though their weights may fall within this range, give or take a few pounds depending on breed, their appearances and personalities are decidedly different. Here’s a guide to the top 20, and what makes each breed one of the best.
The American Kennel Club lists the Shetland Sheepdog as one its popular medium-sized dog breeds. Shelties, as they are often called, are part of the Herding Group. They’re known for their extreme intelligence, their easiness to train, and their excellent ability to learn tricks. These playful dogs have won many international competitions in agility herding and obedience trials. They are top rated competitors in the show dog world, but they are very good playing with children and affectionate with their families. They look very much like working Collies, only much smaller in size. They can try to herd people, and they do like to chase things that are moving. They need plenty of exercise but must live in a well-fenced area if they become city dogs. They do like to bark, but tend to do so when strangers threaten their territory, so they are good for sounding an alert to danger.
Portuguese Water Dog
The Porties are robust, strong and spirited. Their coat is waterproof, and they can easily swim an entire day. Their coats come in black, brown, white or combinations of these colors, and are often curly. They are very active dogs and very good with children. They shed with the seasons, but are considered hypoallergenic. They need grooming weekly due to their thick coat. They originally lived along the coast of Portugal, and worked as fishing dogs. Their duties included herding fish into the fishermen’s nets, retrieving broken nets and lost tackle. They also ran courier duties from one ship to another, and to shore. Their vessels were trawlers from Portugal which fished for saltwater codfish along the coast of Iceland. The Portie is happy doing all kinds of activities, but happiest when he’s in the water with his owner and human family.
The Keeshond originated in Germany. Kees have a wonderful ruff like that of a lion. Kees’ fur is plush, with two layers. Their fur is silver and black. They are a type of Spitz, and have pointed ears and a tightly curled tail. They can be quite playful and are strong jumpers. Because they are very intelligent they have been trained to be guide dogs for blind individuals. They also are empathetic and intuitive, and have become very good comfort dogs. One famous Keeshond, named Tikva, helped to comfort rescue workers on 9/11 at Ground Zero. They have a loud bark, and for hundreds of years worked as barge watch dogs on canals in middle Europe and the Netherlands. They prefer to be with their favorite humans, and can become nuisance barkers when kept from them. They do best when they have daily activities and adore affection given by their owners.
This medium-sized dog is the national dog of Israel. At one time they were wild, and it was thought that they were the descendants of dogs belonging to the ancient Israelites. The dogs were believed to have been left behind after the Diaspora. They were captured in recent generations and scientists gradually trained them for work with people. They have a history of working as service dogs, guard dogs for homes, and pets. Though they can be very wary of strangers, they are excellent watchdogs because they bark promptly to alert their families when disturbed. They are will defend children in their own human family, though they typically lack aggressive behaviors. They are highly intelligent and do well with dog sports of all kinds. They have exceptionally strong herding and survival instincts. They need plenty of exercise, but enjoy curling up when their human family is resting too. They are bred in the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Finland, the United Kingdom and Israel.
Nova Scotia Duck-Tolling Retriever
This North American breed is a powerful hunter. The Toller is named for “toll” which is an old way of saying “entice”. These dogs are expert at hunting birds, are loyal watchdogs, and expert show dogs. They love to compete, and they adore their owners. They are known for doing everything 100%. Once committed to an activity they follow through. They like to chase balls, curl up next to their owners, and are perfectly capable of breaking through ice to catch a bird. Tollers do best when they are working at various jobs. They have water-repellant double coats which need daily brushing for tangles and to relieve shedding from their undercoats. Known as intelligent, Tollers will be wary with strangers, but become closely bonded to their families and children.
There are two breeds of Cocker Spaniel. They are American and English, and dogs born in each are referred to as Cocker Spaniel, regardless of their birth country. Cocker Spaniels in both countries were originally bred to hunt woodcocks, and that led to their distinctive name. Cockers had two jobs while hunting. They sniffed out birds in low areas to help flush out the birds. After the birds flew into the air and were shot, the Cockers were responsible to retrieve the downed birds and carry them back to their handler using the softest mouth possible so as not to harm the bird. Cockers have the reputation of being smart and happy. Their energy level is very high, and they need to take fast walks and have lots of playtime. Cockers can run at high speeds and they have considerable endurance for the long term. They are gentle with children, enjoying long exercise times. Eager to please their owners, they are very trainable. Their intelligence helps them to thrive when they become part of a family, and they do well with other pets. They also can handle a reasonable amount of time alone, so working owners won’t find them overly dependent on constant attention.
German Pinschers are the originating breed for The Affenpinscher, the Dobermann, the Giant, Standard and Miniature Schnauzers, the Miniature Pinschers and the Rottweiler. They are lean dogs born with naturally droopy ears, which are often cropped. These muscular dogs are most often accepted for show purposes in black and rust, though red, tan, blue, and fawn colored coats are also common. Originally, German Pinschers were bred as working dogs. Their jobs included guarding coaches and killing rats. They are energetic and must have several hours of exercise daily. Owners should have plenty of securely fenced yard area for a German Pinscher. They are friendly, good with children and other pets, and highly intelligent. While training, they dislike repeating tasks. They dislike water. Their temperament is even, which makes them loving companions, and a plus is that they do not tend to bark unless it’s truly necessary.
English Springer Spaniel
English Springer Spaniel males can top out just over the range for medium sized dogs, but females generally do not. Still considered medium-sized, these dogs are compact with a moderately long coat of black or liver and white marked fur. Their coats may also be the reverse, with mainly white fur marked with black or liver. Some are tri-color with black, white, liver and tan fur. They are willing to obey and quick to learn. They are friendly dogs, and their tendency to be attentive and alert make them excellent companions while hunting. They have longer legs than other spaniels and this contributes to their fast running speeds. Once they decide which human they will bond with, they tend to be exceedingly loyal to that one, and prefer to be with that person often. They are sociable, enjoying the company of children and other pets, but they do not do well with cats. They are very fond of being in the water. They should not be left alone for long periods, as they can get bored quite easily, and become destructive.
Welsh Springer Spaniel
The Welsh Springer Spaniel is not a variation of the same breed as the English Springer Spaniel. It is distinct, with unusual webbed feet and a stunning red and white coat of fur. Welshies are famous for their ability to find birds while hunting. Their original work was to flush game, working alongside hunters who hunted using trained falcons. They are very loyal to their masters, famous for their stamina and persistence, and inclined to need plenty of human contact to do their very best while working. Welshies are wonderful with children and other pets. They don’t do as well with time alone, preferring to be with humans. They are curious dogs who enjoy affection and caring for their family members and territory.
Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier
These terriers have soft and silky coats the color of wheat which is ripening. They are sturdy and strong, and enjoy working with their families. Their tendency to be very devoted to their humans is well known. Their happy and fun-loving nature is exhibited when they jump to greet their loved ones. The jump has a name: “the Wheaten Greeting”. They do best with older children, but can manage younger children when supervised. They need brushing or combing at least twice a week, but they don’t shed. This breed originally came from Ireland, where they were bred to be farm dogs. Their work included killing rats and other vermin, and watching, guarding, and herding livestock. Wheatens are very smart, not aggressive, and love people.
Bearded Collies, or “Beardies” are one of the medium sized dog breeds which can weigh slightly more than the average weight range. These highly popular family companions can weigh close to 60 pounds for both male and female, so they may be a bit bigger than some owners would consider manageable. Smaller beardies weigh in starting about 39 pounds, so a smaller one would be perfect for those who are set on having one. Beardies are intelligent, self-confident, friendly and lively. They can also be independent and stubborn. They come from a long line of Scottish herding dogs who worked in the Scottish Highlands herding cattle and sheep. Beardies are known for their high energy and enthusiastic temperament. Their long hair requires weekly brushing, or it tends to mat. Some owners opt to keep their Beardies with haircuts, and this reduces matting but doesn’t eliminate brushing. Many owners decided to have a Bearded Collie as a family member after seeing Nana in Peter Pan, or Coal in The Shaggy Dog. Both roles were performed by Bearded Collies. Their reputation as good-natured family companions is well earned.
Pembroke Welsh Corgi
In the Welsh language, “corgi” means “dwarf dog”. These hardy cattle herding dogs are on the smaller end of the weight scale, with females and males generally weighing between 24 and 31 pounds. They are distinguished by being one of the favorites among British royalty; most notably Queen Elizabeth II. Pembroke Welsh Corgis have short legs and long bodies which makes them ideal herders. Their short stature allows them to easily access the legs of their herds and exert better control up close. They are intelligent and highly affectionate. They are known for their desire to please and their eagerness to train. They prefer to go where their owners go, and they enjoy being part of family activities. They do well with children and other household pets, and they make excellent watchdogs because they only bark when it’s truly necessary.
The Brittany was originally bred to hunt birds. It is a working breed developed in France beginning in the 17th century, and takes its name from Brittany province. The Brittany is an athletic dog with a compact, muscular body, short tail, and floppy ears. The breed has varied coat colors, but the most common are orange and white followed by liver and white. Brittanys are essentially hunting dogs, though sweet-tempered and easy to train. Their eagerness to please their owners makes them ideal companions and family pets. They remain loyal to their owners. They need several hours of exercise each day, so owners must provide plenty of running and play opportunities. They are hardy dogs with strong instincts for hunting, but they also love to play with their favorite humans. They do better with children and other dogs while supervised. Most owners adore the soft faces characteristic of the Brittany
The Vizsla is an athletic hunting dog with a beautiful, golden rust colored coat. Vizslas are gentle dogs, but very energetic. They were bred to handle long days hunting, so they need plenty of regular exercise. They were the companions of Hungarian nomadic tribes for centuries, and served as excellent fowl and upland game hunters. They are fearless, protective, affectionate and sensitive. Because Vizslas tend to bond closely with their owners and children, some call them “Velcro” Vizslas. They can cry when they feel unhappy and whine when neglected. But with gentle training, they can become excellent guard dogs. They also are superior swimmers, and can enjoy regular swimming with their families. Their gentleness makes them ideal for being with children.
Bulldogs are listed by the American Kennel Club as one of the most popular breeds. They are friendly and calm, courageous and dignified, but gentle and amusing. Many owners adore them for their wrinkled faces and pushed-in noses. Their wide chests create an even-wider stance, creating a certain proud determination about their shoulders and quite wide heads. Much of their appeal has to do with their stubbornness and for their ability to bond well with children. Bulldogs can get along with other family dogs and pets, too. They’re not considered one of the most intelligent breeds, but they make up for it by being wonderful companions to their families. They are extremely heat sensitive and must be kept cool. Some tend to breath loudly and some snore loudly, too. They must be groomed regularly to keep their many skin folds and curling tails clean. They need their faces washed every day, or they may develop infections. But, these hefty dogs are one of the kindest breeds and easily welcomed to the family.
Standard Schnauzers are loved for their ability to become part of the family. They are affectionate dogs, and known to adore children. There are only two coat colors of Standard Schnauzers: “pepper and salt” or black. But, they are instantly recognized by their bushy eyebrows and beards. These two very human characteristics gave them their name. Schnauzer is German for the word “snout” and when German use it, they mean “moustache”. They’ve been popular for hundreds of years because they have many of the traits considered the best in any breed. They are very intelligent, alert, agile, strong, and dependable. They are working dogs, and very good when doing therapy work, herding and tracking. They often serve as part of search and rescue teams, lung and skin cancer detection programs, and work with police detecting drugs and bombs. They’re well worth considering as part of a family because they will protect their homes and children with watchfulness and an alert bark if they suspect visitors are uninvited. They are loyal to their families and can adapt to any kind of weather. They are patient, tolerant, love dog sports, and always enjoy being with their owners.
Finkies have wonderful golden-red coats and friendly faces. They adore being active and will spend time exploring and running whenever possible. They are faithful, courageous and eager. Their double coats require extra brushing and bathing twice a year. They are vocal dogs, as they were originally bred to bark when pointing out the location of game for hunters. Their barking abilities are so prized in Scandinavia that competitions are held to select barking champions. They are intelligent, independent and strong-willed, but can be trained with patience. Well-trained Finkies become excellent companions, ready to play with children and very attached to their families. Though these hunting dogs shouldn’t be paired in homes with pet birds and small animals, but when raised with other dogs and cats, they do well.
Among the most athletic and intelligent of working dogs, these eager to please dogs are famous for their “herding eye”. Their eyes can focus intensely on the action, and this makes them excellent as livestock wranglers. They are easily trained and do well with older children. Their double coats need grooming weekly, but come in many different colors and patterns. They enjoy affection and do best living in homes where they can have plenty of time for exercise and play with other dogs or humans. Their intelligence requires lots of mental stimulation and they need activities which interest them. Running for miles each day is common for them, so they must be properly trained and given stimulating, athletic jobs and games. If left ignored, they can chew household items and dig holes, so providing alternatives is a must. They enjoy herding small children, dogs and cats. They also enjoy dog sports competitions, which makes them perfect for active families.
The Puli is an intelligent, agile and active dog originally bred to herd and guard livestock in Hungary. It has a distinctive coat of tight curls which look very much like human dreadlocks. Though it takes quite a lot of grooming to keep the curly cords neat and clean, the Puli doesn’t shed much. Pulis are wonderful for companions who enjoy grooming and forming the coat into the curled cords. It’s also possible to trim the coat short and avoid the extra work, but most owners find the corded coat attractive. Pulis are very devoted to their owners. They are easily trained for both guarding property and competing in dog sports. Though they are very active and should not be kept for long times in small spaces, they tend to remain as playful as puppies for their entire lives. They are stubborn and must have obedience training from strong masters, but in exchange, they will guard their families faithfully. Care must be taken to ensure they do not attack strangers, but they tend to try to scare strangers away rather than inflict injuries. They are not large, but they are focused and determined when given a task.
The Whippet can run at speeds up to 35 miles per hour. Compared with other breeds of the same weight, the Whippet is fastest. Whippets need to live where they can run and play every day. They are slender, with sleek coats of fur that come in a wide array of colors. They are friendly and calm, but have a streak of mischief. When playing sports, they are incredibly intense. But when finished, they can eagerly curl up and sleep for hours on a favorite couch or blanket. They are sighthounds, and sensitive to touch, so they do best with calm training, plenty of praise and food rewards. They do well with other dogs, but their high drive to seek prey is not to be trusted around smaller running pets, which they can quickly injure or even kill. They are also sensitive to loud or angry sounds, so they do best in peaceful homes where they can be their peaceful indoor selves. Confident, consistent and encouraging owners do well with lightning-fast and extremely intelligent Whippets.