Are you convinced that your dog is a genius? Unless you have one of these 10 breeds, you might be wrong. Dogs can range quite a bit in intelligence, from whip-smart Border Collies to dim but adorable Bulldogs.
What exactly makes a smart dog? Scientists measure dog intelligence by looking at obedience, ability to learn new commands, and trainability. Hunters, herders, and retrievers make the smartest dogs because they’re bred to learn quickly and pay attention to their surroundings. Many of the smartest dogs are trained for service, working with police departments, search and rescue teams, or as guide dogs.
So what are the 10 smartest dog breeds in the world? Keep reading to learn all about these intelligent canines.
1. Border Collie
Energetic and athletic, Border Collies are also highly intelligent and focused. These medium-sized black and white dogs were bred as herders and are fast, agile, and very trainable.
Border Collies were first bred in the United Kingdom as a cross between large Roman herding dogs and small, fast Viking spitzes. They’re consistently rated as some of the most intelligent dogs in the world.
Poodles, which can be standard, miniature, or toy, are incredibly intelligent dogs that are also strong and energetic. They have low-allergen coats, often specially trimmed to show off elegant muscles.
Originally bred as hunting dogs, Poodles need regular exercise, including swimming, retrieving, and running. Because they’re smart and athletic, they do well in agility trials, as well as obedience and tracking canine sports.
3. German Shepherd
One of the most popular breeds in America, the German Shepherd is known for its ability to learn a wide range of commands. These dogs are loyal, protective, and muscular, as well as confident and intelligent.
To keep them from becoming bored or frustrated, German Shepherds need quite a bit of exercise, including agility, tracking, and dock diving. They were originally developed as German herding dogs but are also effective guard and police dogs.
4. Golden Retriever
Golden Retrievers are well-known for their beautiful golden coats and friendly, intelligent faces. First bred as hunters in 19th century Scotland, these dogs are hard-working with sweet, devoted temperaments.
Golden Retrievers are effective hunters and often do well in obedience and other canine sports. They may also work as guides for the blind or search and rescue dogs.
5. Doberman Pinscher
Doberman Pinschers are better known for their imposing size and guard dog skills, but they’re also fast-learning, responsive, and incredibly intelligent. They’re eager to please but need firm, consistent training and plenty of exercise to avoid boredom and frustration.
Dobermans were initially bred for protection in 19th century Germany. Because of their high intelligence, they can be trained as police and military dogs, as well as search and rescue and service dogs.
6. Shetland Sheepdog
The Shetland Sheepdog, commonly known as the Sheltie, is a smart, highly obedient herding dog from Scotland’s remote Shetland Islands. These beautiful dogs look like small Collies, with long, triangular heads and dense, straight coats.
Energetic, agile, and athletic, these intelligent dogs are easy to train and excel in obedience, herding, and agility competitions. They also make great therapy dogs and have affectionate, playful temperaments.
Compact, muscular Rottweilers are best known as protective guard dogs, though they were initially bred as livestock drovers. These massive dogs, which are descended from Roman mastiffs, have shiny black coats and muscular legs.
Though Rottweilers may be stubborn, they’re also highly intelligent, trainable, and eager to please. They were some of the first guide dogs for the blind and are often trained as search and rescue dogs and police dogs.
8. Labrador Retriever
Even-tempered and outgoing, the Labrador Retriever is America’s most popular dog breed. These easy-going dogs are eager to please, highly social, and very active, requiring plenty of exercise.
Labradors are born swimmers, with rudder-like tails, and thick, water-resistant coats. They are gentle, agreeable, and adaptable, making for great family dogs.
If you’re a fan of the Papillon, you’re in good company. Originally bred during the Renaissance as companions for noblewomen, this curious and attentive breed was beloved by Marie Antoinette and King Louis XIV.
Papillons are eager to please and outgoing but don’t do well if left alone. Perhaps because they’re related to spaniels, Papillons like to run and play fetch.
10. Australian Cattle Dog
These stocky, muscular dogs are related to Australia’s wild Dingos. They were originally bred as cattle herders and are naturally suited to hunting and chasing.
Australian Cattle Dogs are hard-working and alert and have been known to outsmart their owners. They’re curious, loyal, and need plenty of exercise to keep from becoming troublemakers. These dogs do particularly well in competitions like obedience, agility, and herding.
Does a smart dog make a good pet?
It depends what you’re looking for in a pet. If you’re willing to put quite a bit of time into your dog, you may prefer an intelligent breed, which will respond well to training and pick up on your cues. Smart dogs often become bored easily and may become destructive if left alone for long periods. Like cats and children, they may be troublemakers as well.
Many smart dogs are working dog breeds, meaning they’ve been bred for specific tasks like herding cattle or pulling carts. To keep these dogs entertained, you’ll need to give them jobs, like fetching or other athletic exercises. Smart dogs are also a good choice if you’re interested in entering canine competitions like agility, obedience, tracking, and herding. They also make excellent therapy and guide dogs, and some can be trained for work as police or search and rescue dogs.
If you’re not interested in extensively training your dog or if you’ll be leaving it alone while you work, you may prefer a less intelligent dog. Less intelligent dogs may be calmer and make better companions. Plus, they’re less likely to escape or destroy your belongings!
Humans have been breeding domestic dogs for thousands of years, so it’s no surprise that there’s such a wide variety. Some dogs are incredibly intelligent, while others have other skills. We hope this list of the 10 smartest dog breeds in the world helps you pick a brainy dog breed. If you choose an intelligent dog, watch out – it might outsmart you!
By Kate MacDonnell
Featured image credit: YamaBSM, Pixabay
Emily started this blog out of pure passion. She LOVES her 3 dogs; Chew Barka, Cooper & Nelson, and spends countless hours every day playing with them.
When she’s not nerding out on dogs, you’ll find her on a snowboard or in the kitchen baking chocolate brownies.
She’s been featured in PetAware, Dogtime, and ModernDog.