The Smartest Dog Breeds: What Makes a Dog Smart?

You may be seeking a quick-witted, bright canine to teach them endless spectacular feats and train them to ultimate perfection.

All dog breeds have a long history of being bred to perform a specific function for humans, such as protection, hunting, herding, racing, or retrieval. You can tap into the innate talents of all dog breeds by carefully teaching them how to use those talents.

When you think of an intelligent dog, you usually envision a puppy who will do anything at its parent’s command. They obey all orders and never step out of line. Intelligence, on the other hand, can take numerous forms.

Even though all dogs have impressive and interesting characteristics, the ones deemed the smartest tend to be those who have an extensive repertoire of tricks down. We’re going to talk about what makes a dog clever, and then we’ll go over some of the most popular dog breeds that fall into that category.

Can You Teach a Dog to Think?

Dog intellect can be challenging to pin down; it resembles human intelligence in many ways. Students who consistently achieve perfect grades are often considered the sharpest among their peers.

Realistically, intelligence is subjective. Some people excel in academics, while others struggle. A person’s level of creativity and logical reasoning are not the same. We’ll use the same method to gauge our pup’s intelligence.

Dogs specifically developed to perform a specific task are often regarded as the most intelligent due to their propensity to pay attention to and obey various commands.

Typical Markers of Dog Intelligence:

  • Extremely trainable
  • The ability to focus for an extended period
  • Devoted to their families
  • Chatty (while barking is typically considered a bad attribute, a talkative dog usually denotes a clever one, as barking suggests they were formerly educated to be a guard or herding dog) (although barking is often seen as a bad quality, a talkative dog usually means a clever one, as barking indicates they were once taught to be a guard or herding dog)
  • Exuberant and motivated are often a telltale sign that they were once working dogs.

No dog is dumb just because they don’t know all of these things, and there is no such thing as a dumb dog.

Some dogs are dedicated to their paw-rents and will go to great lengths to please them. On the other hand, some dogs don’t seem to give a damn! Dogs who thrive in a social environment will be easier to train, making them appear more clever.

It doesn’t matter what kind of dog you have; each has its unique talents. Intelligence is genuinely a function of the quality and skill you use as a basis for your evaluation. It’s not clear if the Bulldog’s ability to sleep all day is a sign of intelligence, though.

Do Dogs Qualify as Humans?

The term “IQ” refers to a series of standardized tests used to determine a person’s degree of intellect.

What kind of trait are you trying to measure with an IQ test? It depends on what you’re looking for. Several ‘IQ tests’ for dogs have been conducted, but they all rely on their responsiveness and interest in toys, praise, and food.

As a result, the results may be biased depending on the dog’s level of food obsession. When it comes to food, some dogs will do everything it takes to get their hands on it, while others prefer to be left alone. Dog owners may be surprised to learn that not all canines are as eager to eat as their greedy counterparts.

Stanley Coren’s Assessment Indicators for the Intelligence Test

Based on Stanley Coren’s extensive investigation and research, the most intelligent dog breeds are rated universally. Professor of canine psychology Coren used two primary tests to measure the intellect of dogs in his book titled The Intelligence of Dogs.

Initially, he rated the dogs based on how long it took them to learn a new command and how well they understood it. The brighter the dog, the fewer times you must repeat the new order until it is fully understood.

According to Coren, pups were also graded on their ability to recognize and follow a command they previously learned for the first time. The better-performing breeds had a greater likelihood of intelligence success.

Of course, this isn’t the only way to tell if your dog is intelligent, but it’s one of the most straightforward.

Are Dog Breeds the Most Intelligent Ones?

Coren’s list of intelligent breeds served as the foundation for compiling this list.

1. Border Collie – the Teacher’s Pet

This breed has the overachiever, the know-it-all, and most im-paw-gently the show-off all in one super-smart dog.

Many people consider the Border Collie the most intelligent dog breed. Coren’s book The Intelligence of Dogs places the Border Collie at the top of the list. It should come as no surprise that this is the case.

Collie’s intelligence, athleticism, and capacity to be trained are all out of this world. In comparison to the average dog, Border Collies have the mental ability to memorize an already high number of 250 words up to a stunning 1000.

An animal named Chaser has the most significant tested memory of any animal, able to recall and retrieve 1,022 different toys by their names. Wow, that’s an outstanding achievement!

Due to their herding training, these dogs are intelligent and eager to please. Collies are willing to pick up new skills and are constantly on the go or training.

Boredom can lead to destructive behavior for this species because they don’t get enough physical and mental stimulation. This breed is infamous for eating holes in walls and furniture, so be prepared to teach your cunning Collie a few valuable skills.

Breed Profiles

  • In terms of size, it’s medium.
  • A lot of exercises is required.
  • High capacity for learning
  • Attitude: Enthusiastic, dedicated, and alert.

2. Poodle – the Stylish Smarty-pants

When you first meet the haughty, pretentious Poodle, you might wonder why it has reached the list. The Poodle is one of the most intelligent dog breeds, learning new tricks quickly and easily.

Poodles were initially developed to be water retrievers. They excel in that position thanks to their trainability and eagerness to learn. A person’s hairdo may appear to be an odd fashion choice. Yet, it is there to help them perform their primary function. Swimming is more leisurely for swimmers with less hair, but their bodies are more vulnerable to the cold water. Because of this, small fluffballs of hair were cut around the chest and joints to help keep the wearer’s body temperature stable.

The Poodle excels in all duties assigned to them because of their swimming and hunting history, eager to accomplish it to the best of their abilities. Poodles, one of the breeds with the best brains, have no trouble with agility, obedience, swimming, or hunting.

The Cockapoo, Labradoodle, and Golden Doodle, to name a few, are all descended from the Poodle, which is no surprise given the breed’s popularity as a parent dog for numerous hybrids.

To keep their brains engaged, bright dogs need a lot of mental stimulation and entertainment. It’s impossible to keep this intelligent dog from becoming bored if it doesn’t get enough exercise, mental stimulation, and attention.

Breed Profiles

  • Miniature, toy, or standard?
  • Exercising is a necessary part of life: The excellent capacity to learn.
  • Playful, alert, and loyal are just a few characteristics that describe this person’s personality.

3. German Shepherd – the Multitalented Mastermind

The German Shepherd is the best of the best in terms of versatility. It’s hard to think of anything the German Shepherd can’t do, from herding, search and rescue missions, narcotics detection, obedience, and medical help. That they’ve been a popular breed for so long comes as no surprise.

Their commitment to their loved ones is unparalleled, although they might be aloof when meeting new people. Training is a breeze due to the German Shepherd’s enthusiasm to please and loyalty.

As long as you give them something to do, you’ll be able to teach them anything. If only someone could run upstairs and bring my slippers down, or if only someone could grab the TV remote so I don’t have to get up, do you ever think about it??

Your German Shepherd will gladly perform these simple tricks if you train him. It’s a trick that’s sure to impress your guests as well!

Remember that German Shepherds are known for their tendency to bark, so you may want to consider teaching yours the “quiet” command.

Breed Profiles

  • It’s large.
  • Exercising is a necessary part of life: High.
  • High capacity for learning
  • Confident, loyal, and daring are just a few adjectives that describe this person’s personality.

4. Golden Retriever – the Goofy Genius

Even though the Golden Retriever is known for its funny personality, it is a highly clever breed. While initially trained to recover dead animals from waterways, Golden Retrievers have subsequently taken up service, guide, therapy, and even search-and-rescue roles. Pretty look, but what do you know about her?

Golden Retrievers are naturally talented swimmers, but they can also adapt to various situations. It’s little wonder why Golden Retrievers are so popular as family pets; they’re great with children, cats, humans, and other dogs.

Owners of Golden Retrievers may be surprised to learn that their pets can read their owners’ emotions and tell them precisely what they’re thinking. If you find yourself in a bad mood, you can always count on your huge buzzing golden ball of love to come to your rescue.

Goldens can be clever and naughty due to their high intelligence levels. Your Golden Retriever may decide to play a game of chase with your socks if you don’t keep them out of reach.

But don’t worry, they’re only laughing, and their adoring gaze and silly paw-sonality will quickly win you over.

Breed Profiles

  • It’s large.
  • Exercising is a necessary part of life: High \sTrainability: Family-oriented, upbeat, and self-assured describe someone with a high EQ.

5. Doberman Pinscher – the Wise Watchdog

Dobermans are slender, elegant, and incredibly intelligent, and their physical presence is no exception. Dobermans, which dated back to the early 1880s and were initially bred for guard and protection work, are a relatively new breed in dogs.

Louis Dobermann, a tax collector who had to lug about a lot of cash, developed the breed out of a necessity for a protection dog. They are outstanding police and military dogs, but they also make excellent pets for many people.

Dobermans were bred as the ultimate mongrel guard dog, so they naturally have a protective instinct. That means that they will be utterly committed to you and highly trainable. It would be best if you did not fear them because they have a natural capacity to distinguish between friends and foes due to their intellect.

Dobermans can be trained to the pinnacle of perfection, resulting in an obedient, loyal, fearless, and affectionate dog. Dobermans are exceptionally loving and intelligent despite their reputation as ferocious guard dogs.

Breed Profiles

  • It’s large.
  • Exercising is a necessary part of life: High \sTrainability: Positive Personality Traits: Courageous, Devoted, and Loving.

There are 130 dog breeds in all, with the Shetland Sheepdog, Labrador, Papillon, Rottweiler, and the Australian Cattle Dog rounding out Coren’s top 10.

Does This Mean That Bigger Dogs Are Smarter Than Smaller Dogs?

The five most intelligent dog breeds are all medium to large, supporting the theory that larger canines are more intelligent.

The University of Arizona conducted a study to see if a giant breed with a larger brain meant that the breed would be wiser overall because of their enhanced brain capacity. The study concluded that larger dog breeds had superior short-term memory and self-control skills than smaller ones.

It was easier for the larger dogs to recall where the treats were concealed and wait patiently for their owners to give them pleasure.

As Coren found, larger breeds performed better overall in his testing. Although there is a definite pattern here, these tests do not provide a comprehensive picture of an individual’s IQ.

Furthermore, it is illogical to assume that a larger dog with a larger brain will be more intelligent. Even though we humans have the largest brains, other creatures with larger brains don’t have our level of intelligence.

In any case, we can’t give all the credit to the larger breeds.

Papillon – the Pocket-sized Prodigy

Despite its small size, the Papillon is the only toy breed to enter Coren’s list of the top 10 most intelligent dog breeds (weighing only 3-4.5kg).

Because of their pointed ears, they’re known as “butterfly cats” in French.

Papillons aren’t just lapdogs; they’re quite intelligent. Toy dog obedience competitions frequently rank Papillons as the best globally. They’re flexible athletes who can be trained to perform a wide range of tasks.

Agility and outdoor activities are a Papillon’s strong suits; all you have to do is make sure everything is small!

Does It Matter If a Dog Was Selected at a Lower Position?

Dog breeds were rated by Stanley Coren using two tests that rank how intelligent dogs are based on how sensitive and eager they are. They are to learn and obey orders. Some dogs made the bottom of his list, but that doesn’t mean they’re stupid.

According to Coren’s test results, some hound breeds are among the “least intellectual” canines. Despite this, it does not imply that they lack intelligence but are challenging to train. Remember that Coren’s assessments are based on your ability to learn and execute new commands.

Hound breeds are often uninterested in listening to their owners because there are many more exciting things to sniff for on the ground! Since these dogs have such powerful noses, scent-tracking is a wonderful task. They are excellent at it and completely unstoppable. There is no way a Border Collie could compete with a Bloodhound.

The silky, royal, and elegant-looking Afghan Hound is ranked as the least intelligent dog breed at the bottom of the pack. People that are passionate about this breed strongly disagree with the rating.

Afghan Hounds can catch their prey thanks to their superior vision in the blink of an eye. Additionally, Afghan Hounds have a distinct paw-sonality that is fiercely independent, headstrong, and reserved. In the end, this means that they’re tough to train.

Afghans like to live on their terms, not yours. Training an Afghan requires patience, time, and resourcefulness.

Basenjis, Bloodhounds, Chow Chows, Bulldogs, Beagles, Basset Hounds, and Borzois are the least intelligent breeds.

Dogs that don’t obey their masters and don’t know how to lie down on command are easy targets for ridicule in the real world. However, each dog has unique skills and characteristics that make it brilliant.

Perhaps the Afghan Hound is more intelligent than the Border Collie. Unlike Border Collies, Afghan Hounds are free to do as they choose. In contrast, a Border Collie has to be directed by others to be happy.

Is a Smart Dog the Right Pet for Me?

All of us are impressed when a dog appears to have been taught to the teet of perfection. However, does this imply that a well-behaved dog will always be the perfect pet for everyone?

No, to put it simply. ‘Smart dogs don’t mean easy,’ says Coren. For example, we’ve discovered a correlation between high intelligence and a dog’s tendency to be unruly and energetic.

In general, calmer dogs tend to be more obedient and easier to live with than their more agitated counterparts. However, you should not expect them to perform spectacular flips or tricks.

Because intelligent dogs require continual mental stimulation, they can get into mischief if they aren’t given the exercise they need. Expect ripped-up cushions, chewed-up furniture, and everything else they can get their teeth on.

Read more: To Rate How Smart Dogs Are, Humans Learn New Tricks

Frequently Asked Questions About Smartest Dog Breeds

What Are the Five Top Smartest Dogs?

The top 5 most intelligent breeds are:

  • Border collie
  • Poodle
  • Golden retriever
  • German Shepherd
  • Labrador retriever

What Is the Least Intelligent Dog Breed?

Breeds of dogs with the lowest levels of intelligence: Basenji This unusual dog produces yodeling noises instead of barking, earning it the nickname “the barkless dog.” The Basenji doesn’t fare well on a typical dog attribute test because of this and their cat-like tendency to clean themselves.