The question on everyone’s minds is which dog breed is the smartest? After all; every dog parents wants his/her breed to be the smartest. Dog obedience experts conducted tests on several different dog breeds to find the answer. The results indicate that top ranking breeds understood commands faster and also obeyed and remembered them quicker. Breeds at the top of the list understood the commands in fewer repetitions while the breeds at the bottom of the list had to be given repeat commands.
Accordingly, the Border Collie came in the top rank followed closely by the German Shepherd, Poodles, Doberman Pinscher and Golden Retriever. The ‘dumbest’ or least intelligent dog breeds were the Afghan Hound, The Chow Chow, the Borzoi and the Bulldog. Let us study the traits of the 20 smartest dog breeds:
1. Border Collie
A Border Collie named Rico made news for being able to understand more than 200 words. 10 week old Rico could bring back every object that her owner asked her to. She could even make connection between a photograph and its physical object it represented and could also recognize people by name. Widely considered as the most intelligent breed, the Border Collie has even been mentioned in psychologist Stanley Coren’s book The Intelligence of Dogs. On farms, Border collies actually think of ways to keep chicken safe and managing flocks of goats and sheep. At home, they will think of different ways to entertain themselves and that means rearranging your living room!
The Poodle’s unique coat may be its most distinguishing characteristics but according to Stanley Coren’s book The Intelligence of Dogs, the Standard poodle and mini poodle make the list of top 10 best watch dogs and barking guard dogs. They immediately alert their owner if anything untoward is happening in its environment. These spirited dogs are fun loving, eager and curious. They make great household pets as they gel with kids and adults. Poodles also make great dogs for senior or elderly pet parents.
3. German shepherd
There is a reason why German shepherds are trained as police dogs and rescue work dogs; their intelligence in the field is unparalleled. Year after year, this breed comes top in the list of most intelligent dog breeds and the same reasons that make it an excellent working dog also make them a great house pet. We can certainly imagine how smart a Shollie (mix of German shepherd and Border Collie) is!
Maltese are considered one of the smartest small dog breeds. This dog breed is ideal for people looking for a cute, adorable house pet that does not require too much exercise and is also easy to train. Since the Maltese is very intelligent, you can easily teach him tricks and expect him to retain them quickly. The breed is known to be so smart that if you have a fence, you’d better get its holes and gaps fixed else they would run through it within no time. Treat your Maltese as a smart and intelligent dog and he will reward you with the best manners and self confidence for life.
5. Golden Retriever
Golden retrievers are extremely intelligent dogs and that is what makes them one of the most popular breeds in not just the United States, but the entire world. They are easy to train and active and energetic. That is why they are used as therapy dogs and for rescue work as well. Golden retrievers have been named one of the best breeds for PTSD and service dog work or therapy dog work for autism, depression and anxiety disorders.
Related content – Should I Choose a Golden Retriever or a Labrador Retriever?
According to a study done by Stanley Coren (professor in dog psychology at University of British Columbia in Vancouver), Papillons are the eight most intelligent breeds. The study reflects their intellect as well as their ability to please their handlers. As per the study, Papillons could repeat behavior on demand in less than 5 repetitions. Many Papillon owners believe that these dogs can literally ‘read your mind’. This intelligence can be a boon as well as curse though. While it makes them easy to train and fun to be with, they also need mental and physical stimulus to keep them from getting bored.
7. Labrador Retriever
Labradors are so intelligent that they have a strong desire to please and also get self trained. They can quickly decide what pleases their masters and what doesn’t. Do not misunderstand: labs are intelligent but you still need to show them from an early age as to what is and isn’t acceptable behavior. They must receive ample training to make them capable of self control, obeying commands and minding their owner’s wishes.
8. Shetland Sheepdog/Sheltie
Shelties are outstanding dogs with amazing temperament, loyal nature, and lively intelligence. They are easy to train and willing to please and obey. This intelligent breed can be trained to be a watchdog and their herding skills are par excellence. They like to be kept busy and mentally stimulated to prevent bad behaviors. Shelties have even won dog agility championships.
Beagles can be described as curious little dogs with the keen sense to please their loved ones. They were once bred as scent hounds to assist hunting of small game animals. Today, beagles are one of the most popular house pets in the US. They are intelligent social and calm dogs but they need plenty of obedience training, daily exercise and early socialization to keep them mentally and physically stimulated.
Pugs are sociable dogs and popular house pets. They can be stubborn so they need training early on. According to Stanley Coren’s book Intelligence of Dogs, pugs have fair amount of intelligence to obey commands. Their amiable disposition makes them loyal house pets and great around kids. Pugs also get along well with other pets and kids. They enjoy being with humans.
Pomeranians are bold, intelligent dogs and they often forget their size. They even tend to take on large breeds at times! These are alert curious dogs with minds of their own. They are easy to train and smart but can be quite stubborn. Poms that lack enough mental and physical stimulation can bark to the point of annoying neighbors.
12. Doberman Pinscher
Louis Doberman was a tax collector in Germany in the 1800s. He carried a lot of money and hence needed a guard dog to protect him from thieves. Louis wanted a dog that was loyal, intelligent and intimidating. Louis also worked at a dog shelter and here he experimented with crossing different breeds like Rottweiler, German Pinscher and the Manchester terrier. The result was an elegant dog that was scary looking, intelligent and extremely agile and athletic. The breed was named Doberman after its creator. Dobermans are still used extensively for military and police work in the US.
Rottweiler breed has been developed from what were known as the butcher’s dogs. They were responsible for guarding a cart full of meat and other butcher products to sell. Rotts have outstanding qualities like loyalty, bravery and intelligence. They are extremely versatile dogs and are known for their strength and courage. It is no wonder that Rottweiler’s are found not just at home but also in police work.
14. Australian Cattle dog
According to Vince Stead, author of Australian Cattle Dog Behavior & Training Tips, this is one of the most intelligent of all dog breeds. They are also athletic dogs with tremendous amount of energy. Australian cattle dogs are known by various other names like Blue heeler, Queensland heeler, Australian heeler etc. These dogs are extremely protective and they get along well with kids making them excellent family dogs. They are protective dogs with fierce watchdog ad guard dog abilities. Do not be surprised if your dog nips at your feet; this is because of his inherent herding tendency. That is why they need training and socialization from an early age.
15. Belgian Tervuren
Belgian tervuren, like all Belgian shepherd breeds, was originally developed to guard and herd livestock and protect farm, family and flock. This is a dog with keen sense of observation. He is wary of strangers and always vigilant and protective about his humans. He does not show shyness or fear; nor will he carry out an unprovoked attack or show viciousness. Puppies are bright, curious bundles of energy. Male tervurens are more sensitive while females are confident. Both sexes are versatile and can make great family companions.
16. Bernese mountain dog
Bernese mountain dogs were developed as loyal companions that pulled milk carts and guarded farmyards. They make cheerful pets that love to learn new tricks and play. These faithful dogs get along with children and other household pets. Their favorite activity is spending time outdoors and learning new tricks. Tracking and drafting are favorite events for these smart dogs. Bernese mountain dogs love their human friends.
17. Pembroke Welsh Corgis
There is a reason why Queen Elizabeth II has owned more than 30 Pembroke Welsh Corgis during her reign. These dogs are highly intelligent, loyal and willing to please their owners. They are also excellent with kids and have a lot of confidence for a little dog. It is no surprise that the breed was originally developed to herd cattle. They love their family members and make great pets. Their natural watch dog instincts and tendency to bark make them valuable dogs in farms as well as in apartments. Corgis can be considered one of the smartest small dog breeds.
Bloodhounds can be affectionate dogs and they are rather sensitive. They can be reserved and shy around strangers but get along with kids. They have the strongest sense of smell among any breed and that is why this intelligent breed is used by police to track criminals. It is believed that they can even track a scent 300 years old. Evidence tracked by bloodhounds has even been accepted in court. Blood hounds can be a bit stubborn, so gentle, consistent and firm training is essential. Be patient and firm with your dog and he will thank you with obedience and love.
19. Alaskan Husky
The Alaskan husky was bred for sled pulling and sled racing. They are strong willful dogs that need plenty of disciplining from an early age. Due to their size and strength they may not be suitable around novice dog owners or people with very young kids. These intelligent dogs are very active, quite easy to train but can also be excitable. They need plenty of gentle training and early socialization.
20. Miniature Schnauzer
The Mini Schnauzer is one of the smartest small dog breeds that is very popular in United States as well as other parts of the world. They are considered to be the most popular among all terrier breeds. Mini Schnauzers are also known as “little old man wearing dog costume”. They are happy little loving dogs that want to connect with people as well as other dogs. Minis make great watchdogs and will instantly alert their owners if there is something amiss in their surroundings. They have plenty of spunk and want to be a part of all household action.