Life is so much easier when everyone in the family is a decent listener. No, we can’t count on our kids to heed our requests, pleas, or demands, but well-mannered and attentive dogs never make you repeat yourself. Many can even take their sensitivity to the next level by becoming hearing dogs and acting as their owner’s ears for meaningful sounds around them.
While all dogs can have impressive hearing, some breeds are more likely to carry the combined awareness and response to make them effective service and guard dogs. Find out which watchful dogs are the most alert in this breakdown of the breeds with the best hearing.
The 11 Dog Breeds with the Best Hearing
Whether standard or miniature, Schnauzers have, by consensus, some of the best hearing abilities of any dog breed. As flexible farm dogs, these pups needed highly developed senses for herding, guarding, and catching vermin. The specialized skill in identifying and pinpointing the pitter-patter of running rat feet sets the Schnauzer’s hearing apart. Today, their talent and temperament make them ideal watchdogs.
2. Labrador Retriever
The large and lovable Labrador Retriever is arguably one of the friendliest and most affectionate dogs, explaining why they’re such a hit with families. As eager to explore as they are to please, Labradors are ready to put their exceptional hearing to good use for their owners.
Labs traditionally used their keen hearing and fit physique to snag downed waterfowl. Away from the field, that acute alertness pairs with an outgoing, confident personality to make them one of the most popular service dog breeds.
3. Cocker Spaniels
The floppy-eared Cocker Spaniel looks like it could hear a pin drop from a mile away, but what separates this breed from others is its persistent attentiveness. During the hunt, their sensitive noses make the difference. But at home, this dog’s eagerness to please and hard-working attitude make them easy-to-train listeners.
Cocker Spaniels are one of the best hearing dogs because of their even temperament and natural ability. But between their oversized ear flaps and love of water, they also have more opportunity to develop ear infections than most dogs, requiring regular checking, cleaning, and grooming.
4. Golden Retriever
Golden Retrievers are another highly trainable breed that makes for excellent hearing dogs. But their unconditional affection and eagerness to please make them one of the most uplifting canine companions, whether as a service animal or a family pet. From working in the field to acting as an all-purpose service dog, these energetic, joyous, and capable dogs are preferred across multiple disciplines for one reason—they listen!
5. German Shepherd
As the quintessential guard, police, and military dogs, German Shepherds are prized for their superior intelligence, athleticism, alertness, and courageous character. Though their scenting ability is the primary appeal in working roles, their ears are always pricked up and tuned into the slightest of sounds. German Shepherds are vigilant and loving with all family members, making them desirable watchdogs.
6. Mini Pinschers
Though they look like undersized Doberman Pinschers, Miniature Pinschers are a separate breed with a few advantages in the hearing department. One distinct difference is relief from common hearing problems. They don’t have a particular susceptibility to congenital deafness that Dobermans suffer, and their ear structure helps them stay relatively safe from infections.
Miniature Pinschers are more likely to have naturally erect ears. As with Doberman Pinschers, people crop floppy-eared Min Pins to give them the trademark look. Thankfully, it’s no longer the standard, though the docked tail is still a requirement for the AKC.
A Mini Pinscher’s erect ears can take in all sounds near and far, allowing them to stay honed into the most minor of disturbances. Bold, spritely, and often overly protective, they have all the makings for a viable watchdog despite their diminutive stature.
Although their grooming needs can be substantial, a Poodle’s low-shed coat makes them an excellent fit for dog-loving allergy sufferers. But that’s only one reason this beloved breed is the face of the designer dog movement. They’re energetic, affable, bright, and eager pups that can win anyone’s affection.
Like Cocker Spaniels and Labs, the Poodle has incredible hearing despite their curly-hair-coated floppy ears. And thanks to their superior intelligence, you can train them to put that talent to good use. While they aren’t the most intimidating guard dogs, Poodles of any size can be quality watchdogs.
Doodles bring out the best qualities of their parents. In mixes like Cockapoos and Labradoodles, you get intelligence, low-shedding, and high-quality hearing in some of the best family dogs you could imagine. With the Cocker’s mellow manner tempering the Poodle’s playful energy, they make equally adaptable and effective hearing dogs.
9. Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Corgis may be one of the cutest dogs on the planet, but their roots are firm in a herding tradition. And while it may not be apparent in their stature, it shows in their temperament and enormous erect ears!
These short pups have sharp senses that allow them to respond on the job and stay watchful in the home. Given their trainable nature and ability to identify subtleties in sounds, Corgis can make outstanding service dogs.
The charming and cheeky Chihuahua may be a signature lapdog, but they’re equally known for their vocal, brassy personality. These loyal dogs aren’t afraid to make a fuss and even get aggressive when they sense danger. With their generous-sized upright ears, they can often pick up on a nearby threat long before anyone else.
11. French Bulldog
Unintimidating, endlessly affectionate, and easy to maintain, it’s no small wonder why the French Bulldog is America’s most popular breed. And with that pricked-up set of ears, you can bet they’re more in tune with their surroundings than many other dogs. French Bulldogs are prone to numerous health issues, including congenital deafness and ear infections. But when healthy, Frenchies can be perfectly apt watchdogs.
Any dog can notice frequencies well beyond a human’s range. But an alert personality and large sound-enhancing ears distinguish these dog breeds as having superior hearing capabilities. Whether as watchdogs or hearing dogs, these pups can reliably put their exceptional senses to work for you.