BREEDS: A     B    C    D    E    F    G     H   I     J    K    L     M     NO    P    QR     S    TU     VW    XYZ

Smartest Dog Breeds

Everyone wants one of the smartest dog breeds, right?  Well, not so fast. Let's look at this just a little closer.

Everyone thinks their dog is the smartest (myself included) and why not?  Your dog loves you, is devoted to you, maybe follows you everywhere?  How can he not be smart. And, while were on the subject of smart, just exactly what does smart mean when it refers to a dog?

Everyone thinks their dog is the smartest dog breed in the whole world. But someone had to make it official! Stanley Coren PhD, a psychology professor at the University of British Columbia devised a way to evaluate a variety of dog breeds and published his findings in the book, The Intelligence of Dogs.

In his experiments, dogs were taught a new command and the results were evaluated based on how quickly the dog was able to learn the command and with how much accuracy.

Coren defines three aspects of dog intelligence in the book:

1. Instinctive intelligence:  ability to perform the task it was developed to do such as herding, or guarding, or hunting.

2. Adaptive intelligence:  Ability to solve problems on their own without the help of aperson

3. Working and obedience intelligence:  Ability to learn from people such as in training and obedience.
The top 10 smartest dog breeds listed below were given a new command less than 5 times and achieved accuracy of at least 95% of the time.

The least intelligent dogs needed to hear the same command 80-100 times to achieve accuracy of under 25%.

The research was limited to breeds that were accepted into the AKC (American Kennel Club) and/or the CKC (Canadian Kennel Club).  

This eliminates many very smart breeds that were not included in these kennel clubs during that period of time.  A total of 131 breeds were evaluated. The newer version of Coren's book now includes 140 breeds.  

As of the end of 2015, the American Kennel Club recognizes a total of 184 dog breeds and the list tends to grow each year.

The Fédération Cynologique Internationale  (FCI) recognizes over 400 dog breeds.

That was 1994.  Most dog people today agree that intelligence can no be so easily defined. Dogs can be smart in different ways just like people: 

Many breeds were developed over centuries to do a specific job and those dogs are naturally going to learn that job faster and easier than a breed that was developed to do something different. 

Some dogs are somewhat stubborn and have a "what's in it for me?" attitude. They may appear to be less trainable that others, but that does not make them less intelligent.

Smartest Dog Breeds

Some dogs are just plain distracted, the equivalent of canine ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). They may be highly intelligent, but training may be more challenging because it takes longer to get their attention.

The key to intelligence is knowing what type of dog is right for you and honing in on their natural instincts and traits to devise a training program that is perfect for you and your dog. 

Do not confuse intelligence with ease of training! All dogs can be taught basic commands like sit or stay

The most intelligent dogs don't necessarily become the best pets as they often need a job or something similar to keep them busy. When they become bored then that's when they become destructive and take out their frustration on your home and furniture.

On the other hand, less intelligent dogs can often be quite happily left to their own devices, keeping themselves amused when you're not there!

Unless you are up for the challenge of keeping your smart dog engaged and busy, you might consider a different dog breed. Even though many people have issues with this research, most experts still maintain that the top dogs in the study are very intelligent.

Lucky for all of us, the Smartest Dog Breeds come in all sizes:  Small, Medium and Large!

#1 Border Collie

One of America’s favorite breeds of dog, ranking 39th on the American Kennel Club’s list of most popular dog breeds. Some people might say that this breed is “pretty smart”, and they wouldn’t be wrong, but in fact, this smart dog is considered to be the most intelligent breed on the planet.

Usually, the list’s top three most intelligent breeds will round out with the Poodle and the German Shepard, but the Border Collie takes the cake with their big brains.

CLICK HERE to see a great video of a border collie home exercising with his owner!  It's amazing!!!

Smartest dog breeds

#2 Poodle

One of the more prominent characteristics that separates this breed from the rest of the bunch is that they are said to be the only breed that comes in three different sizes!

The beautiful thing about this breed is that they are very smart, and training can fun and easy for even novice owners. Puppies learn quickly and are eager to please. They are also great dogs if you enjoy teaching tricks. 

Smartest dog breeds

#3 German Shepherd

It's no wonder that German Shepherds are consistently one of the most popular dogs. With their even-temperament, unwavering loyalty and extreme intelligence, they do make fantastic dogs to own.

Scoring third in the "Intelligence Of Dogs" Test (behind Border Collies and Poodles), German Shepherds are highly intelligent and pick up new commends quickly. They excel in competitive obedience trails and in agility. They are very responsive.

Smartest dog breeds

#4 Golden Retriever

The Golden Retriever is a popular, friendly, family dog. Their owners love their calm, social tendencies and for good reason – they might just be the quintessential  pet every child should have growing up.

Their intelligence makes them easy to train and their loyalty just comes naturally. They are often crossed with Labrador retrievers for Guide Dogs for the blind, especially in the U.K.

Smartest dog breeds

#5 Doberman Pinscher

The Doberman Pinscher is an athletic breed of large, graceful dogs, known for their confidence and highly trainable natures.

These dogs are well known for their intelligence, as well as their physical power. Despite having the old stereotype of being a curt and even aggressive breed, these dogs are quite capable of being affectionate especially among family.

Smartest dog breeds

#6 Shetland Sheepdog

Origins: Scotland
Size: Small
Grooming: Time Consuming
Training: Easy
Recognition:  FCI: Group 1,  AKC: Herding,  ANKC: Working,  CKC: Herding,  KC: Pastoral,  NZKC: Working,  UKC:  Herding

Top Smartest Dog Breeds

#7 Labrador Retriever

The Labrador is definitely a family dog, and is great with people of all ages. Their natural retriever instincts make them want to be part of the family. Labs will often follow their owners around, bent on human company.

The Labrador Retriever is one of the smartest dog breeds there is. Their intelligence has not gone unnoticed, as they have grown in popularity as an excellent show dog.

Smartest dog breeds

#8 Papillon

The Papillon is a small breed that is well known for its known for its affectionate and energetic personality. These dogs are always looking for something to do, so they make for playful company. They are very social and are excited when they get to meet new faces.

This is a famously intelligent breed. They are smart enough to be able to abuse a weakness in their owner if they see one. These dogs can become stubborn if their bad habits are not ironed out when they are young.

Smartest dog breeds

#9 Rottweiler

The Rottweiler, (or Rotties, as they are often called), are intelligent, compassionate animals, despite their generalization in pop culture suggesting that they are mean attack dogs.

Rotties, if not raised properly, will often fall into the “does not play well with others” category of dog breeds. Their defensive instinct makes them protective of their owners against any new animal or canine alike.

Smartest dog breeds

#10 Australian Cattle Dog
(aka. Blue Heeler)

Origins:  Australia
Size: Medium
Grooming: Minimal
Training:  Average
Recognition: FCI:  Group 1, AKC:  Herding, ANKC:  Working, CKC:  Herding, KC:  Pastoral, NZKC:  Working, UKC:  Herding


More of the Smartest Dog Breeds

Back to Top

Return from Smartest Dog Breeds to Dog Breeds Expert