Dog intelligence comes in many forms, but this list in particular celebrates dogs that are “book smart,” which means they’re able to learn the most number of words and recognize commands quickly & obey them consistently.
Wondering if your dog is on this list of smart dogs? Read on to find out!
What makes a dog smart?
Dogs that have been bred to be working dogs (hunting, herding or retrieving dogs) are generally smarter than other breeds. A combination of industriousness and eagerness to please their owners makes them learn faster and inherently more intelligent.
That being said, although some dog breeds have been blessed with the smart genes, they don’t necessarily get very far without an owner who spends time & effort to understand then and train them, helping them reach their smartest doggy potential. This is similar to a child who has a high IQ but still needs motivation to perform in school.
Top 10 smartest dog breeds
The following dog breeds are the smartest (by virtue of being easiest to train), reported in The Intelligence of Dogs to recognize commands in 5 repetitions or less and obey them 95% or more of the time.
1. Border Collie
The Border Collie is the smartest dog breed around. Having been bred as a herding dog, intelligence and high energy are two of its primary traits. This medium-sized breed also makes a good companion dog; however, as most dog breeds that are smart, they do need lots of physical and mental stimulation, or else they will get bored and may chew holes in the furniture.
The Poodle is the second most intelligent dog breed; there are three size variants (Standard, Miniature and Toy). Having been bred as a retriever dog, this breed is a frequent participant (and winner!) at dog shows and in dog sporting activities due to its inherent intelligence and obedience.
3. German Shepherd
The German Shepherd is a medium- to large-sized dog, originally bred in Germany for herding sheep. These days they are frequently put to work as police dogs, guide dogs or a host of other working roles, due to their ability to learn commands quickly and perform tasks to completion. The German Shepherd is the third most intelligent dog breed.
4. Golden Retriever
The Golden Retriever is a large-sized dog, as famous for its gentle temperament as it is for its intelligence and easy trainability. They are a popular choice for guide dogs for the disabled, but also make great family pets.
5. Doberman Pinscher
The Doberman Pinscher (or Dobermann) is a medium-sized dog bred in Germany to be a guard dog; as such they are intelligent, obedient and very loyal dogs. While stereotyped for its aggressiveness, the modern-day Doberman Pinscher has been bred to be more docile and makes for a good companion dog.
6. Shetland Sheepdog
The Shetland Sheepdog, or Sheltie, is a small-sized, Spitz-type, herding dog that is intelligent, energetic, eager to please and gets very attached to its owner-family.
7. Labrador Retriever
The Labrador Retriever is a large-sized Canadian working and sporting dog. An intelligent, hard-working and good-natured breed, they are frequently put to work as disability-assistance dogs or therapy dogs. This breed is also among the most popular dogs breeds in North America & The United Kingdom.
The Papillon is a small-sized, Spaniel-type French dog (Papillon is French for butterfly, so named for the shape of the hair around its ears). They are a friendly, energetic, playful and easy to train breed, having been bred to become watchdogs.
The Rottweiler is a large-sized dog German working dog; they were bred to herd livestock and pull carts to the market. Nowadays they’re put to work as guard dogs or police dogs. As with many large-sized dogs, the Rottweiler is good-natured and eager to please.
10. Australian Cattle Dog
The Australian Cattle Dog is a medium-sized working dog from Australia, bred to herd cattle. They are known to be intelligent, energetic & hard-working; they are territorial and get quite attached to their owners.
Next 10 smartest dog breeds
The following dog breeds recognize commands in 5 to 15 repetitions, and obey commands 85% or more of the time.
- Pembroke Welsh Corgi
- Miniature Schnauzer
- English Springer Spaniel
- Belgian Shepherd Dog (or Tervuren)
- Belgian Sheepdog
- German Shorthaired Pointer
- Flat-Coated Retriever
Is a smart dog breed right for you?
A smart dog breed may not be the right choice for everyone, considering they will need more time and attention that their less intelligent brethren. Smarter dogs need more exercise and more mental stimulation, as they tend to get bored more easily and may find themselves causing mischief to release their excess energy.
If you do have ample time and energy to keep a smart dog busy, he will likely become the light of your life and make a wonderful addition to your household.
Other reading material
- The intelligence of dogs – by Stanley Coren