10 Smartest Dog Breeds: These Dogs Are The Most Intelligent

While some members of the canine population are lovably clueless, there are still a select few breeds that are known to excel in working intelligence; this means obeying commands. The intelligence level of these breeds makes them stand out from the pack. There are some furry fellows that may only need a few repetitions to follow command while others have displayed signs of self-training, merely by observing the goings-on around them.  The smartest dog breeds tend to follow whatever they observe their trainer or owner do even when it is not targeted at them.

For this piece, we have assembled the top 10 smartest dog breeds in the world. In case you are searching for the most intelligent among the available dog breeds, you have plenty to pick from.

1. The Border Collie


Experts have severally ranked the canine population with respect to smartness and the Border Collie has always taken pride of place as the first. Bred in Scotland as a working dog, the breed is excellent for livestock herding. The pup exhibits a high level of smartness that can only be described as incredible; for one, it is adept at solving complex problems and has shown competence in obeying commands even when they come in multiple forms

In addition to being intelligent and hardworking ad making it to the top of smartest dog breeds, the Border Collie breed of canines has exceptional work ethics. According to reports, a Border Collie named Chaser emerged as the most intelligent pup worldwide because of its unique ability to understand over a thousand English words, including nouns, verbs, and a smattering of prepositional phrases.

When you decide to keep a Border Collie, be ready to provide the dog with a daily dose of mental stimulation at an exceptionally high level. Besides, the pup has a high energy drive that must be satisfied with daily vigorous exercise. Because of this, keeping the breed as an indoor-only dog is not a good idea as they easily get bored and may turn destructive in the absence of mental stimulation and exercise.

Thus, the best for your pet is to allow it to spend quality time in the great outdoors. Physical characteristics of the breed include white and black coats, medium body build, and high energy drive. The pup’s life expectancy is exceptionally long, we have seen some that lived up to 17 years.

2. Poodle

The Poodle takes second place among the smartest dog breeds as it displays an amazingly high level of intelligence in addition to obedience and a unique capacity to learn very fast. The breed’s origin is traceable to Germany but it was standardized in France. In its home country Germany, the dog is called Pudelhund, meaning “water dog” as they were originally bred for the purpose of retrieving things in the water.

Due to this special purpose of the Poodle, it comes equipped with a water-repellant coat that is thick and curly, keeping them warm while diving in German waters which are often cold. In recent times, the Poodles are kept for their exceptional ability to best other breeds in dog shows and sporting activities, besides, it has remarkable companionship qualities that are highly sought after.

There are three variants of the Poodle breed, toy, miniature, and standard. The dog is distinguished by its fluffy coat, dark eyes, and drooping ears. The calm nature of the dog and its warm disposition make it popular among families with children.

Meanwhile, the dog’s physical appearance makes many dismiss the Poodles as “sissy” dogs, however, the breed has won multiple awards and accolades in dog shows as it displays a high level of intellectual capacity. Remember, if you must keep an intelligent dog, both physical and mental stimulation must be provided daily in a bid to keep boredom and frustration at bay.

3. German Shepherd

Coming at the number three position on our list of the smartest dog breeds is the German shepherd. Thanks to its remarkable learning capacity and amazing intelligence, the pup has become one of the most sought-after dog breeds worldwide. The breed’s loyalty and courage have made it suitable for numerous roles which include herding, companionship, and protection/guarding.

Thus, the dog has become a popular choice among families and professional organizations such as the military and police because of its trainability. The pup was specifically bred for intelligence and has shown its ability to imbibe new tasks and commands after a few repetitions.

The German Shepherd dog breed originated from Karlsruhe, Germany, and possesses a comparatively large body build, weighing approximately ninety pounds, and can grow as high as 26 inches at the shoulder. Its massive size, notwithstanding, the German Shepherd is quite brawny and agile; this makes it one of the popular choices for both sports and dog shows. Another unique quality of the GSD is its keen sense of smell, from 15 feet away, the dog is cable of detecting leaks and underground mines.

4. Golden Retriever

The Golden Retriever earns a place among the 10 smartest dog breeds because of its remarkable intelligence, friendly disposition, and undaunting loyalty. The canine is very obedient and known to learn commands very fast. Experts consider the breed’s intelligence to be “adaptive,” in the sense that it possesses the natural ability to imbibe new knowledge on its own without external assistance (it perfects an action while learning from past mistakes).

There is a belief that the Golden Retriever has the capability to understand human emotions to a certain degree. This conclusion was drawn from the fact that the breed is always ready with the kisses and cuddles whenever its owner displays a sad disposition. Experts have estimated that the pup can learn more than 200 commands in its lifetime. It may only need five repetitions to learn a new command.

Originally bred in Scotland, the Golden Retriever was initially employed in hunting activities, especially birds. The reason is that the pup has a soft mouth that allows it to retrieve the game whole without causing damage to its outer components. Recently, the breed’s gentle disposition has made it gain popularity among families, especially those with children. The dog is quite large, weighing 75 pounds up. It is distinguished by its lengthy golden coat.

5. Doberman Pinscher

Doberman puppies, smartest dog breeds
Excercise for the Doberman breed source

Originating from Germany, the Doberman Pinscher takes the fifth position on our lineup of 10 smartest dog breeds. Though relatively stubborn, the breed is highly trainable if the training sessions are consistent (making them perfect for military and police guard dogs) and finds it easy to remember what it has been taught.

The dog’s endurance is nothing short of excellent and it is known to have supersonic speed, remarkable intelligence, alertness, loyalty, courage, fearlessness, as well as companionship. You can train your Doberman for either docility or dominance, depending on your choice. The breed may not be ideal for families as it has the tendency to bond with just one person.

The dog weighs approximately 100 pounds, growing up to 28 inches at shoulder level. Being an intelligent dog, the Doberman requires daily physical and mental stimulation that must involve owners. Boredom sets in in the absence of mental stimulation and may lead to destructive behaviors.

6. Shetland Sheepdog

Also known as “sheltie,” Shetland sheepdogs were originally herding dogs known for their high intelligence, obedience, loyalty, and hard work, despite their relatively small size which can only get to 24 pounds at the maximum. The dog’s trainability makes it popular for dog shows and sports. Besides, the sheltie’s small size and agility make it a graceful jumper, capable of performing various tricks with ease.

Recently, the breed is prized for its excellent companionship qualities and inherent ability to master a plethora of commands after a few repetitions. The dog is so devoted to its family that it rarely leaves its owner’s side which has earned it the name “shadows”. Sheltie’s gentle nature makes it suitable for families with kids.

As an intelligent dog breed, the Shetland will demand quality one-on-one time with its owner as it may develop behavioral issues like incessant chewing and excessive barking if not given the proper attention. With enough mental and physical stimulation, the sheltie would make a perfect dog for families with younger ones.

7. Labrador Retriever

The Labrador Retriever dog breed has been voted as America’s most popular dog many times. The breed also tops the popularity list in other countries like Canada, Australia, New Zealand, as well as the United Kingdom for several consecutive years. This intelligent pup was primarily bred as game retrievers on both land and water. The canine is known for its ability to retain information as it learns commands as speedily as they come.

Also referred to as Lab, the Labrador Retriever is very affectionate, exceptionally smart, gentle, easily trainable (this makes it great for disability services and police, rescue crews), and great for companionship. These are the reasons a Lab will always be a favorite among families with younger ones as the dog finds it easy to bond with children of all ages.

The breed is distinct from others as it is very attentive and capable of self-training by observation of actions displayed by the trainer or owner. Weighing up to 80-pounds, Labs are obtained in a plethora of colors like black, red, or yellow. Temperament-wise, the dog is said to be generally even-tempered, they are also athletic, quick, and full of energy. This is the reason Labs are often labeled as “hyperactive” as they require loads of physical and mental stimulation daily.

8. Papillon

We cannot conclude the list of the smartest dog breeds without mentioning the Papillon (meaning butterfly in French). The pup earned the name because of the fringe on its ears which are said to remind one of the wings of a butterfly. A very playful dog with a high energy level, the Papillon finds it easy to learn commands and tricks which they enjoy showing off. The dog is good with children, excelling in agility and obedience.

The Papillion is comparable to the Chihuahua, weighing an estimation of 10 pounds and growing up to 11 inches. Despite its diminutive size, the canine is quite brave, feisty, and self-assured, earning the title “big dogs in little bodies.” These qualities make the Papillion a great companion as it loves to forge close bonds with its human family. However, experts recommend that the dog be supervised in the company of children because of their delicate nature which predisposes them to injury.

In addition to its loyalty and companionship, the Papillion is arguably the most obedient and responsive of all toy breeds. The dog just needs a few repetitions to learn new commands, thus, mental stimulation must be provided on a daily basis; this, in turn, prevents frustration and boredom.

9. Rottweiler

The Rottweiler originated from Germany where it was used for pulling meat carts to the marketplace. The dog was a typical butcher’s dog, giving protection to the butchers, their meat carts, and money to and fro the market. In those days, when they finished making sales, butchers used to tie bags of money around the neck of their Rottweiler to protect it from thieves.

These pups also functioned as herders until they started moving cattle via the railways. The breed is credited with a higher-than-average intelligence, which makes them suitable for guide dogs, search and rescue dogs, and police dogs. Just like the other canines that made the list of the smartest dog breeds, the Rottweiler is highly intelligent due to its inherent capability to learn new commands given a few repetitions.

Its natural propensity to guard and protect its loved ones is another testament to the dog’s intelligence. Studies revealed that the breed is highly alert to its immediate surrounding and is capable of interpreting both potential and real threats before a dangerous situation could materialize.

The dog is quite on the large side, weighing up to 132-pounds at maturity with a double coat of black and tan fur. Though they are known to be generally mild-mannered, recommendations are that potential pet parents thoroughly explore a Rottweiler’s history as past experiences may lead to overly aggressive behaviors which may portend harm. This is particularly true for households where they have younger ones.

Also, Rottweilers require regular physical and mental stimulation, in the absence of which the pup is likely to become bored and may resort to chewing and destroying things around the house.

Read Also: Dog Paw Washer: 5 Best Paw Cleaners & Facts You Need Know

10. Australian Cattle Dog

As its name implies, the Australian Cattle Dog or “Cattle Dog” is a working dog, first bred in Australia for the purpose of herding cattle on rugged terrain. The pups herd by nipping at the cattle’ heels which earned them the nickname “heelers.” A highly energetic breed, the heeler is equally intelligent, responding exceptionally well to challenging training and excelling in obedience competitions; the dog just needs only a few repetitions to master new commands.

This breed is very agile and adept at obstacle courses. A Cattle Dog is comparable to Labrador Retrievers as it can self-train by merely observing actions. The Australian Cattle Dog is one organized pup, capable of putting its possession and toys away after a play session.

The pup’s physical attributes include a medium-sized body and a black or brown coat. Usually, the heeler is even-tempered, but because they were originally bred for the purpose of biting reluctant sheep or cattle while herding, heelers can sometimes nip at people, especially kids. However, early training can take care of this, but the dog is not the best choice for families with younger ones. Remember, the dog thrives on physical and mental stimulation, as well as companionship to prevent boredom which can lead to destructive behavior.

Notably, the smartest dog breeds in the world are not exhausted on this list. Feel free to add your favorite.

Recap Of Smartest Dog Breeds In The World

  • The Border Collie
  • Poodle
  • German Shepherd
  • Golden Retriever
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • Shetland Sheepdog
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Papillon
  • Rottweiler
  • Australian Cattle Dog
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