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What Are The Smartest Dog Breeds?

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Dog next to computer: What Are The Smartest Dog Breeds?When it comes to picking the right dog for you and your family there are many traits that you might consider. While loyalty, potential for shedding and the amount of exercise the dog will need are all considerations, some people are more concerned with the capacity of the dog to learn. In this article we will cover the top 10 smartest dogs – at least the general consensus as to the top ten breeds when it comes to intelligence testing in a canine forum. Please note that smart does not always mean the easiest to train as sometimes the smartest dogs can also find ways around the rules or get bored during training.

Which Dog Breed Is The Smartest?

According to many reviews the border collie is recognized as the smartest dog breed; however, as with humans the intelligence levels of dogs vary. An individual dog of any breed may prove itself to be much more intelligent than a purebred border collie. The fact is that many more factors should be taken into account when choosing the right dog breed for you and your family aside from just the stated level of intelligence of that breed.

Top 10 Smartest Dog Breeds

  1. Border Collie
  2. Poodle
  3. German Shepherd
  4. Golden Retriever
  5. Doberman Pinscher
  6. Shetland Sheepdog
  7. Labrador Retriever
  8. Papillon
  9. Rottweiler
  10. Australian Cattle Dog

We also have a listing of runner-ups that didn’t quite make the top 10 list of smartest dog breeds.

Runner-Ups

And, for those that are wondering who the less intelligent (i.e. dumbest; but still very lovable) dogs are, checkout our list of the dumbest dog breeds.

Now, without further ado, our smartest dog breeds:

The Border Collie

A Brief Note About the Border Collie

Border Collie going through slalomsThe border collie is a popular breed known for being the most intelligent dog breed worldwide. This dog was initially developed as a herding dog in England and Scotland where it herded a number of livestock but particularly sheep. The border collie is still widely used as a herding dog in England and Scotland both and are often found on farming properties.

The Appearance of the Border Collie

The border collie is a medium sized dog that has a moderate coat that is much like the German Shepherds in the presence of a double coat. Unlike the German shepherd the border collie is not known to shed too much. The border collie coat comes in a variety of colors including red, black and white, red merle, blue merle, brindle and Australian red. The most commonly seen coloring of the border collie is a combination of black and white with a long silky coat. The eyes of the border collie can vary in color and a dog may even have heterochromia or two different colored eyes. Heterochromia is particularly common in border collies, Australian shepherds and husky dogs.

Keeping a Border Collie as a Pet

Keeping a border collie as a pet can be challenging for a household that is not prepared for a highly energetic and demanding dog. Border collies require a lot of exercise both physically and mentally and when they are not provided with these things they can quickly become neurotic. A bored border collie is a dog that no one wants to contend with because this boredom is frequently channeled in to extremely destructive behaviors such as digging and chewing. Most commonly the border collie excels in a household that provides extracurricular activity such as agility work, herding work, extensive obedience work or fly ball competition. Even with adequate outlets for their energy, border collies are herding dogs by nature and this often breeds into them an instinctive herding instinct which they will perform on anything and everything including young children.

See our in depth Border Collie Profile

The Poodle

A Brief Note About the Poodle

Poodle standing on the base of a treeThe poodle is recognized as being among the smartest dog breeds in the world. There are three sizes of poodles, the miniature, the toy and the standard poodle. This breed of dog was originally bred to be a water dog; however, over the years this breed has adapted to a number of different sports and jobs. Today the poodle is often used in agility, tracking, obedience and herding.

The Appearance of the Poodle

As mentioned above there are three sizes of poodles but all have a curly coat that does not shed which makes this breed appeal to many families with allergies. Poodles do not have a double coat like Labradors and German shepherds; they come in a variety of colors including: grey, white, black, red, cream, brown, apricot, blue and silver. Poodles have a long and straight muzzle with long and flat ears.

Keeping a Poodle as a Pet

Poodles are extremely intelligent dogs and are fast learners which make them great pets for those who are willing to work with them. Due to the fact that these dogs are such fast learners many people believe that they make the perfect pet however, without direction and teaching poodles can be difficult to handle and hard headed. Of all varieties of poodle the standard sized poodle is the version of this breed with the lowest level of energy but all versions of poodles can become highly strung and resistant when not handled with proper care. Poodles are needy dogs and as a breed they require an attentive family not only to keep them stimulated psychologically and physically but also a family that makes them feel like part of the pack.

The German Shepherd

A Brief Note about the German Shepherd

German Shepherd police dogThe German shepherd dog is a breed that dates back only as far as 1899 where it was developed as a working dog in Germany. The original purpose of the German shepherd dog was for herding sheep and guarding them to ensure that flocks were not decimated by predators. The strength of these dogs alone makes them ideal for guardians of sheep flocks but so too does the dogs ability to be easily trained. The extreme intelligence of this dog breed however soon resulted in German shepherds being used for various other working jobs as well.

The Appearance of the German Shepherd

The German Shepherd is a relatively large dog that has a long and square muzzle with a scissor bite. The ears of this dog stand tall and pull backwards when the dog moves. Most commonly the German shepherd is black and tan in color and can have a variety of markings; however, other base colors of German shepherds are noted including: all black, all white, sable and blue. The German shepherd has a double coat with the undercoat being particularly thick and protective of the skin.

Keeping a German Shepherd as a Pet

German shepherds are much like Labrador retrievers in that they require constant stimulation in order to thrive. A German shepherd that is not provided with adequate intellectual or physical activity will take that energy and turn it elsewhere. German shepherds almost always thrive in taking part in rewarding jobs such as working as police dogs, drug dogs, therapy dogs or in physically rewarding jobs such as agility work.

See our in depth German Shepherd Profile

The Golden Retriever

A Brief Note About the Golden Retriever

Golden Retriever Laying In GrassThe golden retriever was initially bred as a gun dog used to retrieve game; this use meant that these dogs were bred to have a soft mouth to prevent damage to birds that were retrieved during the hunt. These dogs are particularly easy to please which makes them ideal as candidates for many different jobs aside from being retrieval dogs during the hunt. In the United States, the golden retriever is the fifth most popular dog breed when it comes to dog ownership.

The Appearance of the Golden Retriever

There are two recognized variations of the golden retriever, the British type and the American dog lines. This difference is similar to that found in Labrador retrievers as mentioned above. The muzzle of the British golden retriever is shorter and wider and the head is blockier than that of the American bred golden retriever. The coat of the golden retriever comes in a variety of colors all of which fall along the golden color scale. The base of the double layer coat is composed of soft hairs that lie flat against the dog’s skin and sheds in the spring and fall. The top coat of the golden retriever is longer and wavy and it sheds year round. The length of the golden retrievers coat is considered to be “long” however, it is not so long that it proves to be problematic in the field for retrieval dogs used in the hunt.

Keeping a Golden Retriever as a Pet

Golden retrievers are one of the most popular breeds of dog kept as pets worldwide. The golden retriever is a quick learner that is well mannered and easy to please. These intelligent dogs are gentle with their human families but require exercise daily in order to remain a good family dog. Without adequate exercise the golden retriever will become overly energetic and may easily harm young children or become a nuisance in their behavior. This breed of dog generally prefers to have a job or a challenge such as constant obedience training or a sport to keep them busy as well as mentally stimulated. The golden retriever like many of the dog breeds already mentioned are great for a number of popular dog jobs including: drug detection, seeing eye dogs and therapy dogs.

The Doberman Pinscher

A Brief Note About the Doberman Pinscher

Doberman PinscherThe Doberman pinscher was originally bred as a protector dog to stand by the side of the local tax collector back in 1890. The original intent in creating the Doberman breed was to combine intelligence, loyalty, speed, ferocity, strength and endurance to result in a dog that would quickly and easily protect its master. Over time the breed has progressed and become what it is today; however, the tendency of this dog breed to the traits for which it was originally bred make it the prime target for those looking to selectively breed aggressive dogs. When bred appropriately and carefully however the Doberman is a well rounded and devoted dog.

The Appearance of the Doberman Pinscher

Doberman pinschers are medium sized dogs with extremely compact bodies that are muscular in appearance. The head of the Doberman is described as being wedge shaped and is long in appearance with a long muzzle and a scissor bite. Most commonly these dogs are found with black on black, dark brown on red, dark gray on blue, dark tan on fawn or pink on white coloring.

Keeping a Doberman Pinscher as a Pet

The Doberman pinscher is another dog breed that is often chosen as a popular pet breed because of the balance of characteristics common to the breed. When choosing a Doberman pinscher it is important to research the genetic line of the dog you pick due to the number of temperament and health conditions that can occur through poor breeding. A well bred Doberman is a dog that is extremely intelligent and requires regular exercise in order to be well rounded and obedient. A bored Doberman is a dog that has far too much energy to function as a family pet as like many other intelligent breeds since it will become destructive.

The Shetland Sheepdog

A Brief Note About the Shetland Sheepdog

The Shetland sheepdog is commonly referred to as the Sheltie and was originally bred from dogs native to the Shetland Isles. These original dogs of the Shetland Isles were bred to be herding dogs that protected sheep. Over the years it is said that the Sheltie was developed through the cross breeding of various other dogs with the Shetland herder. The Sheltie rounds out our top ten list of the world’s smartest dog breeds.

The Appearance of the Shetland Sheepdog

The Shetland sheepdog is a medium sized dog that is sturdy in appearance and features a double coat. These dogs should always appear to be alert and the tail is held low and lifted when the dog is standing to attention. The under coat of the Sheltie is soft and thick and the top coat is long and water repellent. The coat of the Sheltie can be three recognized colors: blue merle, sable and black.

Keeping a Shetland Sheepdog as a Pet

Keeping a Shetland Sheepdog as a pet works well for many people, this breed is loyal and eager to please its master. The Sheltie is not a yard dog and requires pack life to be a healthy and happy dog. The Sheltie is an intelligent dog and often uses that against its owner if the owner is not firm and consistent by refusing to obey. A Sheltie that is well exercised and given psychological stimulation is a happy dog but even then it may be seen to herd family members or even strangers.

The Labrador Retriever

A Brief Note about the Labrador Retriever

Labrador RetrieverThe Labrador retriever is the most popular dog in the U.S. and it also happens to be one of the smartest dog breeds out there. Labradors are athletic dogs that were originally bred for retrieving fishing nets and as such they have webbed feet and extremely strong necks. Labrador retrievers are excellent swimmers and have a dual layer coat that is designed to maintain the dog’s body temperature even when the dog is submerged in freezing waters as they frequently were when used to retrieve fishing nets.

There are Two Varieties of Labrador Retriever

There are two recognized types of Labrador retriever: the English and the American Labrador. The English Labrador is a Labrador retriever that has been bred from English parentage; they differ in appearance from American Labradors. English Labradors are stockier, thicker and have “blockier” heads with shorter snouts. American Labradors tend to much more lanky in appearance and generally has longer legs, a taller average height and longer snouts. Both of these types of Labrador come in three color varieties: yellow, black and chocolate. There are some who are of the opinion that Labradors car be silver in color but this simply is not true.

Keeping a Labrador as a Pet

The intelligence level of the Labrador retriever is particularly high which makes these dogs particularly good for working dogs. Working dogs can work in a variety of fields but all dogs that were bred to have a “job” are generally miserable without adequate mental and physical stimulation and the Labrador is no exception. A bored Labrador will destroy a home, misbehave, dig under a fence or otherwise act out. If you plan to keep a Labrador as a pet it is important that you always offer your dog adequate exercise in addition to stimulation to prevent boredom. Some ways that you can prevent your Labrador from getting bored include: playing games such as hide and seek, teaching new commands, taking part in activities such as agility, working as a therapy dog handler and providing new stimulation on a regular basis.

See our in depth Labrador Retriever Profile

The Papillon

A Brief Note About the Papillon

The Papillon is so named for the shape of the fringe on the dogs’ ears that resemble a butterfly in appearance. This dog breed is traditionally associated with royalty since many famous royals made a habit of carrying the small dogs under their arms but don’t let their small size fool you. The Papillon is just one of two small breeds of dog (counting the toy poodle) that fall in to the category of the top ten smartest dogs in the world.

The Appearance of the Papillon

The Papillon is a small toy breed that presents with either dropped ears or perky ears that stand tall. The muzzle of the dog is short and the teeth meet in a scissor bite. The Papillon has a single layer coat unlike many of the dogs mentioned above; this coat is long and fine and appears somewhat flowing and wispy. The coat of the Papillon is white but appears with patches that can be any color. This dog carries its long tail over its body.

Keeping a Papillon as a Pet

This dog is a particularly fast learner and is easy to integrate in to any family that understands how to handle a small dog. The Papillon make a great companion dog however it is important not to manhandle this small dog too frequently or you risk giving the dog a nervous disposition or separation anxiety. This toy breed has a particularly high energy level and as such they require higher levels of exercise than many other toy breeds.

The Rottweiler

A Brief Note About the Rottweiler

Rottweiler on agility courseThe Rottweiler was originally bred in Rottweil, Germany where the dog was intended to herd livestock and pull carts that carried butchered meat to the market. In the mid 19th century the Rottweiler began to lose its position as a working dog when trains were utilized for moving cattle to the market. The Rottweiler today is still considered among the world’s smartest dogs.

The Appearance of the Rottweiler

The Rottweiler is a solid muscular dog that is generally regarded as being a large breed. This dog breed is a wide dog with a thick broad skull and a short muzzle with teeth that meet in a scissor bite. The ears of the Rottweiler lay flat against the head and the eyes of this dog are almond shaped. The Rottweiler is mostly all black with rich tan markings that comprise the double layered coat. The undercoat of this dog is found on the neck and the thighs of the dog and does not show through the top coat. The top coat is medium in length but is dense and coarse but not wavy.

Keeping a Rottweiler as a Pet

Rottweilers do not have the high energy levels of the border collie and Australian cattle dog however, they require frequent exercise to maintain a healthy weight. It is also important to ensure that the Rottweiler receives adequate levels of mental stimulation in order to prevent them from becoming bored and acting out. When bored a Rottweiler will entertain itself most commonly by creating havoc within the home and destroying items that do not belong to it, they may also dig under or jump fences. When provided adequate exercise and stimulation Rottweiler’s are loyal and strong dogs who are quick to learn and fast to obey. As with Dobermans however, it is important to thoroughly research the genetic line of a Rottweiler in order to avoid any temperament or serious health conditions.

The Australian Cattle Dog

A Brief Note About the Australian Cattle Dog

The Australian cattle dog was originally bred in Australia in order to drive cattle over long distances. Unlike other breeds of herding dogs the Australian cattle dog was specifically designed to work in rough Australian terrain with larger herding animals. Today, it is known to be the seventh smartest dog breed.

The Appearance of the Australian Cattle Dog

The Australian cattle dog is a compact dog that has a body that is longer than it is tall and it is recognized for being particularly agile and hardy. The skull of the Australian cattle dog is broad and the ears are wide and stand tall when the dog is on alert. The Australian cattle dog has a scissor bite. This dog is another breed that has a double coat with a short but dense undercoat and a smooth top coat. The color of the Australian cattle dog coat can be blue, blue mottled, blue speckled or red speckled.

Keeping An Australian Cattle Dog as a Pet

Australian cattle dogs are much like border collies when it comes to being kept as pets. These dogs require extreme amounts of exercise and as such without a job to do, vast levels of exercise and stimulation or a career as a farm dog, these dogs are prone to high levels of energy and mischief. The Australian Cattle Dog is a loyal and brave dog known for being a hard worker and will exhibit serious behavior problems when not provided with enough exercise and stimulation.

Runners Up to the Top 10 Smartest Dog Breeds

There are a number of dog breeds that did not quite make the list of top ten smartest dog breeds. These runners up are listed below.

Brittany Spaniel

A Brief Note about the Brittany Spaniel

Brittany spaniels are intelligent dogs that are always eager to please and are most often used as hunting dogs. Brittany’s are independent dogs yet they still make great companions. These dogs are not recommended for apartment life due to their incredible energy level; as such they demand active owners.

The Appearance of the Brittany Spaniel

The Brittany spaniel is a medium sized breed and has particularly long legs. The teeth of this breed meet in a scissors bite. The Brittany stands on average between 17 to 20 inches tall and weigh in between 30 to 40 lbs. This dog has a single coat that is thick and feathered and can be either waved or flat in appearance. This breed comes in a variety of colors including: orange and white, black and white, liver and white, black tri-color and liver tri-color.

Keeping a Brittany Spaniel as a Pet

Brittany spaniels are easily handled so long as they receive adequate exercise and stimulation. These dogs should quickly be taught their place in the family pack as they can become insecure or dominant over their family. These dogs do well with family life so long as they are adequately socialized during puppyhood.

Cardigan Welsh Corgi

A Brief Note about the Cardigan Welsh Corgi

The cardigan Welsh corgi is a smaller dog that was once used as a cattle driver, farm guard and vermin hunter. Due to their driving instinct corgi’s can nip at the heels of family members. These dogs are exceptionally intelligent and require a human leader to keep them in their place. Due to their small stature it is important to keep this breed at a healthy weight which means adequate exercise should be part of a daily schedule.

The Appearance of the Cardigan Welsh Corgi

The cardigan Welsh corgi stands between 10 and 13 inches tall and weighs in between 25 to 30 lbs. This is a deep chested dog breed with large paws. The cardigan Welsh corgi has a short double coat with the undercoat being thick and weather resistant and the outer coat being rougher to the touch and longer. The most common colors for cardigan Welsh corgis are: blue merle, sable, red, fawn, black and brindle and black and tan. This corgi variety has a long tail distinguishing it from the Pembroke Welsh corgi.

Keeping a Cardigan Welsh Corgi as a Pet

Cardigan Welsh corgi’s are protective, intelligent and obedient dogs but care must be taken to socialize them well with people and other dogs. Corgis may often try to herd people and exhibit aggressive behavior with other dogs so a firm owner must establish that this is unwanted behavior. This breed can bark more than many others so they generally don’t make for good apartment living. This breed can thrive in an apartment however, if they are given plenty of exercise and stimulation but owners should focus on deterring barking.

German Shorthaired Pointer

A Brief Note about the German Shorthaired Pointer

The German shorthaired pointer is recognized as a gundog and is an exceptionally active breed. These dogs are frequently featured in obedience, gun dog training, retrieving, field trials, tracking trials and hunting tests. This breed can be very strong willed and required a firm but calm owner who takes the lead.

The Appearance of the German Shorthaired Pointer

The German shorthaired pointer stands between 21 to 25 inches tall and weighs between 45 to 70 lbs. The skin is tight to the body and this breed has an athletic build. The coat of this pointer is short and rough and can be liver and white, solid liver and liver ticked / patched in color. The teeth of this breed meet in a scissor bite and the chest is deep. German shorthaired pointers often have docked tails and high set closely hanging ears.

Keeping a German Shorthaired Pointer as a Pet

Households looking to add a German shorthaired pointer should be very active households since these are exceptionally active dogs. If not provided with enough exercise this breed can often turn in to an escape artist, able to jump a back yard fence that stands at less than six feet tall. These are tireless dogs and do best as running companions or bicycling companions.

Vizsla

A Brief Note about the Vizsla

The vizsla is a Hungarian pointer that is incredibly intelligent, energetic and eager to learn. With extremely high levels of energy these dogs require extensive exercise routines in order to prevent destructive behavior. This breed demands a firm handed owner who can prevent the dog from becoming stubborn. As a hunting dog by nature this dog should not be trusted with small animals.

The Appearance of the Vizsla

The Vizsla stands between 20 to 26 inches tall and weighs between 45 to 60 lbs. Commonly these muscularly built dogs have a docked tail and long slender legs. The teeth of the vizsla meet in a scissor bite and the ears are thin and hang down to the dogs cheeks. This breed is always a gold color although shades of gold can vary from dog to dog.

Keeping a Vizsla as a Pet

Although a gentle and loving dog with its family, the vizsla requires incredible amounts of exercise in order to prevent destructive or disobedient behavior. Eager to please, this dog can easily be trained but must be taught its place in the family hierarchy in order to prevent problem behaviors. Common problem behaviors for this breed include chewing, dominant behavior and guarding food, toys and furniture. Ideally this breed requires a home with a yard as well as the ability to walk a couple of miles daily or at least jog for at least a mile on a daily basis.

Beauceron

BeauceronA Brief Note about the Beauceron

The Beauceron is a French herding dog but has also been known to excel in other areas including: flock guardianship, mine detection, trailing, finding the wounded, running messages during wartime, carrying ammunition, schutzhund and guarding. This is another rare shepherd in the United States.

The Appearance of the Beauceron

To most people, the Beauceron looks like a cross between a shepherd and a Doberman. The Beauceron has a long body and a long skull with a broad muzzle. This shepherd breed has a short and smooth coat that has a soft under coat and a harsh outer coat. This dog is most often black and tan in color but may also be harlequin. The Beauceron stands at around 24 to 27 ½ inches tall and weighs as much as 110 lbs.

Keeping a Beauceron as a Pet

The Beauceron is a slow to mature dog which means that they can be a little more trying in households with young children. As a naturally fearless dog, the Beauceron is brave as well as intelligent and obedient and thrives on any job that incorporates plenty of exercise. While calm when receiving plenty of exercise, the Beauceron can be nearly impossible to handle as a pet if they do not receive multiple long daily walks and off leash play. The Beauceron needs one clearly defined leader in its pack and without that they can become confused and act out, not understanding their place in the pack hierarchy. Beaucerons should be well socialized from puppyhood.

Belgian Malinois

A Brief Note about the Belgian Malinois

The Belgian Malinois was bred as a shepherd but it’s athleticism and drive make it a good candidate for other work including schutzhund, search and rescue, bomb detection, protection and narcotics detection. This dog is rarer in the U.S.A than other shepherd like dog breeds.

The Appearance of the Belgian Malinois

The Belgian Malinois has a square like appearance with a flat skull and a pointed muzzle. This shepherd has erect ears and a double coat. The coat of the Malinois is short and straight and does not tend to have the “furry” appearance that accompanies the German shepherd. The Belgian Malinois has a fawn, red or mahogany colored coat but it may also be black at times. The tips of the hairs in this dogs coat are black as are the facial mask and the ears. The average height of this dog is between 22 to 26 inches tall and they weigh between 55 to 65 lbs.

Keeping a Belgian Malinois as a Pet

The Malinois is an exceptionally intelligent breed and requires constant stimulation as well as a good degree of exercise in order to be a well rounded dog. Without a dominant but not heavy handed owner this dog can easily become too much to handle and can be aggressive. When raised by an experienced handler, the Belgian Malinois is alert and loyal and is devoted to its pack unit. If you intend to keep this dog in a household with other dogs it is important to socialize from a young age since the Malinois can be very dominant towards other animals.

Australian Kelpie

A Brief Note about the Australian Kelpie

The Australian Kelpie was bred as a sheepdog and is believed to have derived from the collies of the English North Country. Despite being smaller, these dogs are hardy and well known throughout Australia.

The Appearance of the Australian Kelpie

The Australian Kelpie is a shorter more compact dog breed with a deep chest and long and narrow head. The Kelpie has a double coat with a short, thick undercoat and a straight, harsh weather repellant outer coat. This dog comes in a number of color combinations including black, black and tan, red, red and tan, fawn, chocolate and blue. This dog stands between 17 to 20 inches tall and weighs in between 25 and 45 lbs. As an average shedder the Kelpie requires minimal coat brushing and should also be bathed seldom.

Keeping an Australian Kelpie as a Pet

The Australian Kelpie does not thrive as a pet without a significant outlet for it’s energy. As a working breed this dog has incredible levels of energy and without a job or a running partner this breed will quickly become destructive and bored. The Kelpie must understand its place in the pack hierarchy and have a firm owner who understands this dog’s drive for independence. The work ethic of the Kelpie is such that it will work until it drops and it is want to herd anything and everything so care should be taken to discourage this behavior with family members.

Great Dane

A Brief Note about the Great Dane

The Great Dane is a very old dog breed and has been known throughout history for its hunting capability. Additionally this dog has been used to guard estates, work in tracking, work in carting and serve as a general watch dog.

The Appearance of the Great Dane

The most noticeable physical characteristic of the Great Dane is of course its size. Standing at between 28 and 34 inches this tall dog can weigh anywhere from 100 to 200 lbs. The Dane is a long bodied breed with a long square head and folded ears if they are not cropped. The neck of the Great Dane is well curved and the tail is set high on the body. The short and thick coat of the Great Dane can be blue, mantle harlequin, merle, black, brindle or fawn in color.

Keeping a Great Dane as a Pet

Great Danes are great family dogs and thrive with young children and other pets alike. Although affectionate, the Dane should be taught from an early age that jumping and leaning is unacceptable due to its incredible size. This large dog must be raised by a dominant owner who is confident in order to avoid a dog that can be difficult to control when fully grown. As a large breed, the Dane requires plenty of exercise including at least a single long daily walk. Danes are easy to groom and are average shedders.

Australian Shepherd

A Brief Note about the Australian Shepherd

The Australian Shepherd hails from the Pyrenees Mountains and was originally bred as a herding dog. This is a very intelligent and energetic breed that thrives on exercise and mental stimulation. The Australian shepherd is a hard and tough worker but is loyal and gentle with human companions.

The Appearance of the Australian Shepherd

The Australian shepherd stands between 18 and 23 inches tall and weighs between 40 and 65 pounds. The coat of this breed is medium in length and can be straight or wavy in appearance. This breed also features feathering on the legs as well as a “mane” like appearance around the neck. Due to the breeding behind this dog the coat is weather resistant. The coat of the Australian shepherd can be black, red merle, solid red, blue merle and red with white or copper markings and points. It is important to note that in this breed as well as others in which the merle gene is present, that deafness and blindness can be a serious cause for concern.

Keeping an Australian Shepherd as a Pet

This is a breed that is known to shed and requires grooming to avoid matting and tangling of the coat. The Australian shepherd is a gentle dog that is quick to catch on and good with children and adults. It is important to train this breed how to act with children and other pets early on however to avoid unwanted herding behavior. This is an agile dog and can clear a backyard fence is left unattended. Fly ball, agility and other energetic activities are best to keep this breed happy and healthy.

Belgian Sheepdog

A Brief Note about the Belgian Sheepdog

The Belgian sheepdog is more commonly known as the Belgium shepherd and the Belgian Groenendael. This is one of four Belgian sheepdog breeds. A popular sheepdog, this breed excels in work that challenges and provides plenty of exercise.

The Appearance of the Belgian Sheepdog

The Belgian sheepdog stands between 22 and 26 inches tall and weighs between 60 and 75 pounds. This breed has quite a long coat that is solid black; this coat may or may not have small patches of white on the chin, chest and toes. As with many other shepherd breeds, this dog has a thick ruff of fur around its collar and a feathered tail.

Keeping a Belgian Sheepdog as a Pet

Of the four different types of Belgian sheepdog breeds, this is the most popular. When socialized and trained from an early age, this breed can excel in just about any activity including police dog work, guard dog work, fly ball and agility. This is a social breed however and requires interaction with its “pack” in order to be happy. An untrained Belgian sheepdog can exhibit problem behavior such as human herding. It is best to bring this breed home only if you are committed to working your dog whether in fun activities or a genuine job such as herding on farmland.

Belgian Tervuren

A Brief Note about the Belgian Tervuren

The Belgian tervuren is another of the four Belgian sheepdog breeds that shares a common foundation as well as a common set of characteristics. Owners of this breed must be dedicated to providing a very active lifestyle for their dog as it does not do well simply acting as a family companion.

The Appearance of the Belgian Tervuren

The Belgian tervuren stands between 22 and 26 inches tall and weighs between 60 to 75 pounds. The long coat of the Belgian tervuren is long and weather resistant. The undercoat is thick and the guard hairs are close to the skin. The outer coat has black tips and the overall coat color is between fawn and mahogany in color. As this breed ages the overall coat color has been known to darken in color.

Keeping a Belgian Tervuren as a Pet

The Belgian tervuren requires an owner that has a natural authority and experience with working dogs. These are watchful dogs that excel in obedience, guard dog work and police dog work. Additionally this breed is known for excelling in fly ball, agility and farm work. This is not a dog suited to apartment living and certainly not a couch potato breed. Without adequate exercise this breed can become neurotic and destructive.

Cocker Spaniel

A Brief Note about the Cocker Spaniel

The cocker spaniel is one of the few smaller dogs that gets recognition for being one of the smartest dog breeds. The cocker spaniel was originally bred as a hunting and gun dog capable of flushing out game as well as retrieving it. While the cocker does not require as much exercise as the larger active breeds, they still require plenty of stimulation to prevent boredom.

The Appearance of the Cocker Spaniel

The cocker spaniel stands between 14 ½ and 15 ½ inches tall and weighs between 15 and 30 pounds. The coat of the cocker is medium in length with the exception of the hair on the head which is fine and short. The coat of the cocker is feathered and comes in a variety of colors including multiple solid coat colors, merle, parti-color and solid colors with tan points. It is important to clean the cocker’s eyes frequently to keep them clean as they tear frequently. Some owners also prefer to clip their cocker’s coat

Keeping a Cocker Spaniel as a Pet

Unlike many other intelligent dog breeds that require open running space and do not thrive in apartment life, the cocker spaniel can do well with apartment life. This does not mean that the cocker spaniel does not require plenty of exercise. Frequent long walks are one way to keep the cocker spaniel at a healthy weight as well as sufficiently stimulated; however, this breed also appreciates participation in more stimulating activities. Some activities that the cocker enjoys and excels in include: tracking, hunting, watchdog work, competitive obedience, retrieving and agility.

What About The Dumbest Dog Breeds?

Looking for the less intelligent counterparts to these smart dog breeds? Look no further than our list of these lovable, yet not quite as smart dogs in our dumbest dog breeds list.


About Jeff Butler
Jeff has a long history with dogs. Having lived with Boxers, Labs, Golden Retrievers and even a couple of Samoyeds, Jeff has experience raising many different types of dogs.
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15 Comments on "What Are The Smartest Dog Breeds?"

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Jim R
Jim R

This is laughable. Siberian Huskies are much smarter than 95% of the dogs on this list and they’re not even on it!

Hannahoneybee
Hannahoneybee

My favorite is the smartest.

Cecelia McHugh
Cecelia McHugh

They’re judging intelligence based on trainability. The Siberian Husky is the dog most likely to outsmart you every time. Not as train-able and eager to please as the lab, but just as smart if not smarter.

Miss Cellany
Miss Cellany

Trainability often comes with very high intelligence, the two are not mutually exclusive. Sibes are very smart but not very trainable. Labs are very smart and trainable. Border Collies are insanely smart and extremely trainable.

I love the look of Sibes but I’d never own one because 1) can’t let them off leash in unfenced areas which means I’d never be able to let mine offleash which is cruel, 2) they don’t obey most of the time so they’d be a PITA to manage and train.

Anne
Anne

I think the Australian Kelpie should be up the top. I’ve seen Kelpies easily outsmart Border Collies. Poodles are supposed to be one of the smartest dogs & apparently Doberman Pincers are pretty highly ranked too. These lists are stupid.

Leslie Landberg
Leslie Landberg
I think the people who are weighing in on their dogs’ intelligence may themselves not be the sharpest tools in the shed! Who on earth would rank notoriously dim labs second in intelligence? Well, methinks, not-so-bright lab owners! The smartest breeds are Staffordshire terriers and standard poodles. These two breeds come closest to the intelligence of felines, which is substantially higher in most cases to the average intelligence of most dog breeds. Servility, a prominent tendency of the canine, is not a marker of high intelligence, in general. Terriers and poodles are obedient, but rarely servile. When you are training… Read more »
kyle
kyle

Cats are not more intelligent than dogs. But I agree, servility is not a sign of intelligence. Labs are extremely eager to serve, but most labs I know are not very sharp. I think huskies are the most intelligent, or any dog with a lot of wolf in it. They are the least likely to follow directions, and it’s almost creepy how emotionally intelligent they are.

a clever canine
a clever canine
I am researching getting a dog for my wife for Christmas and this article is very useful in helping us make a decision. She has been wanting a dog for years now and since we are newlyweds I thought that it would finally be time to bite the bullet and surprise her for Christmas. We have been looking at dogs at the local animal shelter but we are kind of particular about breeds. When making a decision about what type of dog to get people often think of the artificial factors such as color, size and cuteness but they should… Read more »
Hannahoneybee
Hannahoneybee

Get a collie, this article is right on. My family had one and it was the best dog ever.

We had an Afghan, too, and it really was dumb.

kyle
kyle

The more intelligent a dog is, the less trainable it is.

Miss Cellany
Miss Cellany
Lol bull**** – trainability is a product of intelligence and desire to please. You must have both for the dog to be trainable. Just having desire to please without intelligence will give you a dog that WANTS to learn, but will take a long time to learn anything – meaning you must put more time into training and you may have to come up with some inventive strategy to teach it since it will find it hard to understand what you’re asking of it. I consider this to be a moderately hard-to-train dog. Just having intelligence without any desire to… Read more »
PopeDarren
PopeDarren
I mean no offense, because I certainly love my little guy, but all Corgis I have ever met are dumber than a box of rocks. They are lovable as the day is long, family oriented, super patient and protective as well, but they either don’t want to learn or have no idea what you’re trying to communicate. Yes, I understand that there are the special few who are super-intelligent, but that’s true of every breed. As an example: I was told to not even bother with Presa Canarios. They were supposed to be nothing more than big, dumb, angry animals… Read more »
a clever canine
a clever canine
The author does a great job of covering some of the smartest dog breeds. If you are new to owning a dog and came to this page thinking that getting one of these breeds will be 'easier' than other breeds that might not be as intelligent, please proceed with caution. These breeds are extremely intelligent and need a firm 'pack-leader' of an owner that will be able to exercise the dogs not only physically, but also be able to keep their minds stimulated. Otherwise the breeds will resort to destructive behavior.  I'll never forget a high school friend of mine… Read more »
Miss Cellany
Miss Cellany
I had a border collie as a first dog. Border Collies don’t require a “firm pack leader” if by that you mean a domineering personality using corrective training that imposes his / her will on the dog. Harsh treatment will make a border collie shut down, and corrective “training” techniques won’t work. I woudn’t lump together all the dogs on this list in the same category as rotties. Rotts were used (amongst other things) to guard farms including against humans and so have a much harder personality than the softies on this list (like Border Collies, corgis, cockers, golden retrievers,… Read more »
10awesome
10awesome

Raising a dog is a matter where the entire family should have a part and actively participate. I know people that have raised or are still raising the same breed of intelligent dogs. For example the German Shepherd, but in my opinion they are just repeating some of the same mistakes. For example, they have the dog trained by a professional but once the dog is back home, they ignore the pet, just priding with what was done at the training school.

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