It’s been said that dogs are some of the most loyal, lovable, and smartest creatures in the animal kingdom. They are analytical, emotional, and complex beings capable of doing many things that can amaze, entertain, and inspire us. But how smart is your dog compared to other dogs?
Neurologists and professional dog obedience judges studied hundreds of dog breeds’ trainability. They found out that the brightest of the breeds can follow new commands in just a short time. These super-intelligent dogs also displayed a willingness to work, good judgment, and specific skill sets that set them up for specific jobs.
So without further adieu, here are the top 13 smartest dog breeds, according to experts.
1. Border Collie
The American Kennel Club says Border Collies have a ‘herding eye’ or an intense gaze that speaks to their sharp level of focus, which is perhaps why this breed was originally used to herd sheep in the UK hundreds of years ago. Border Collies are hardworking and active dogs that can be trained to do a specific job or enter tracking, agility, and flying disk competitions. Due to their intelligence and work ethic, Border Collies need a job and a purpose to feel fulfilled.
Poodles are not only cute and cuddly, they are also hyper-intelligent dogs that dominate dog shows. Poodles look like classy animals and are associated with luxury, but did you know that they were originally bred to retrieve ducks and geese in the lake for their hunter masters? Their lineage is super smart, obedient, and trainable. Poodles get depressed when they are alone or lack constant stimulation.
3. German Shepherd
There’s a reason why German Shepherds are the breed of choice for police officers. They are courageous, devoted, and highly trainable dogs that can execute crucial tasks like sniffing out bombs and illegal drugs to find missing persons. German Shepherds were also instrumental during the search and rescue missions after the World Trade Center attacks in 2001. One notable pup named Trakr is said to have climbed through smokey and narrow tunnels and crawled across hot beams over fire raging hundreds of feet below to find survivors. Reports also say Trakr was later cloned because of his remarkable abilities.
4. Golden Retriever
Do not be misled by their cute, goofy, and excitable demeanor, Golden Retrievers are incredibly intelligent and devoted canines. Their looks and charm endeared them to become one of the United State’s most beloved family pets, but they were originally bred to become expert hunters. Nowadays, they are regularly used as emotional support dogs as well as guide dogs for search and rescue purposes. In addition to their physical gifts, they are also emphatic and gentle creatures.
5. Doberman Pinscher
Dobermans have had a bad rap for being war dogs or ‘devil dogs’. They were adopted by the US military and police because of their ability to detect the presence of enemies hundreds of miles away. Dobermans were trained as scout dogs who can alert troops of threats without making a noise. Doberman puppies were trained as privates and were later on promoted to master gunnery sergeants due to years of hard work. Dobermans are fast, athletic, alert, fearless, loyal, and highly trainable specimens.
6. Shetland Sheepdog
Like Border Collies, Shetland Sheepdogs are fluffy, agile, and obedient dogs. Their origin story started in the Shetland Islands off the coast of Scotland, keeping birds and sheep away from the crops. Selective breeding only bolstered their intelligence and abilities. They are affectionate and loyal pets that can be reserved around strangers—making them excellent watchdogs.
7. Labrador Retriever
Labradors are another one of those super-intelligent dogs that were bred to be fishermen’s assistants. They retrieved fish and hauled heavy nets and ropes. Nowadays, they are primarily used for hunting, search and rescue, narcotics detection, and as service dogs. Labrador Retrievers make for the ideal pets because of their friendly and outgoing demeanor.
Some breeds like the Papillion were not really bred for a specific kind of work, but they remain highly intelligent. During the 16th century, they were known as dwarf spaniels and were often showcased in paintings from that era.
Papillons are tiny, energetic, and highly trainable dogs with ears that resemble a butterfly. These qualities make them a favorite for house pets and competitions.
Similar to German Shepherds and Dobermans, Rottweilers are powerful dogs who are happiest when they are put to work. Their breed was first bred to help drive cattle and pull carts for butchers. Nowadays, modern Rotts belong to military and police K-9 units. Despite their strength and strong features, Rottweilers are ideal guard dogs. Proper training can make them social animals, but they can quickly become overprotective.
Bloodhounds are known for their adorable appearance and easy-going personality. But did you know that they originally were bred to hunt deer and boar in medieval France due to their impeccable sense of smell? Their super noses also led them to become key players in law enforcement and search and rescue efforts in modern times. The Bloodhound’s nose was so revered and respected back then, their ‘testimony’ used to be admissible evidence in court.
11. Australian Cattle Dog
This smart dog breed was originally bred by Australian settlers to herd cattle on their ranches, hence the name.
Australian cattle dogs are highly intelligent dogs who thrive when put to a task. They also tend to misbehave when they are bored or when they lack attention and stimulation.
12. Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Despite the diminutive stature, Pembroke Welsh Corgis are super smart and are considered to be top-tier cattle herders. They are smart creatures who thrive on having a routine and can be left alone to their own devices for extended periods. Good farm dogs must have improvisation and critical thinking—qualities that were purpose-bred in the Corgi’s DNA. Their smarts and agility also make Pembroke Welsh Corgi great pets for little children.
13. Miniature Schnauzer
Last on the list of super-intelligent dogs is another small doggo called the Miniature Schnauzer. They were also first bred to hunt, but have been promoted to home pets due to their adaptability, friendliness, and quick wit. Their agility, keen observation, and pattern recognition skills also made them favorites for canine competitions.
We know that dogs can be smart, but how smart are they? Did your pet make our list of Top 13 Smartest Dog Breeds?