Having the smartest dog on the block is every proud dog parent’s dream. Well, the term on the block is instead an understatement. The real dream has the smartest dog in the world.
To be honest, when it comes to our dogs, we are all biased. We always think the best of our furry canine babies. Luckily there are objective methods of determining how smart our dogs are. However, these methods are not an exact science.
Bearing in mind that throughout history, dogs have been bred to fulfill many different purposes, setting a measuring standard for determining the level of intelligence is quite hard.
Simply put, intelligence comes in a variety of forms and whether a particular breed is categorized as smart or not depends on which type of knowledge is tested.
Nevertheless, it is determined that all smart dogs share two common traits:
- An ability to quickly learn new commands without many corrections (the average dog needs around six corrections before understanding)
- Consistent obedience in performing those commands in at least 95% of the time.
If you want to learn how to test your dog’s intelligence at home, by using common household items, click here.
The Dognition Test
Dr. Brian Hare, a famous canine behaviorist, developed the most objective and popular method of determining a dog’s intelligence.
The test is called Dognition, and it incorporates 20 different but easy to conduct tests. In this test, the dog’s intelligent is measured through evaluating several factors like:
According to Dr. Hare and his Dognition test, there are nine intelligence profiles for dogs. Each profile has its name and depending on how it scored; the tested dog can be categorized as:
- Renaissance dog
To learn more about the Dognition test, click here.
Top 25 Smartest Dog Breeds
After surveying almost 200 dog-obedience judges, psychologist Stanley Coren published a book , The intelligence of dogs”. In this book, he listed the top 25 masterminds of the canine world.
To meet these top-of-the-class canines, read the list below.
1 Border Collie
Border Collies are famous for their workaholic habits and tendencies. Constantly prized for their working abilities, immense intelligence, and extraordinary instincts, they are categorized as the best sheepherders in the world.
Originating from the highland border between Scotland and England, the Border Collie was explicitly bred to think independently and to have a problem-solving oriented mental capacity.
The Border Collie has a powerful working drive and thrives on having a job to do. This breed needs a sense of purpose and excels in maintaining control of the flock it is responsible for.
The perfect example of the Border Collie’s intelligence is the dog named Chaser. Chaser is so smart that he knows 1022 different toys by name.
Poodles are more than fancy haircuts, elegant appearance, and regal attitude. Originally bred to retrieve things from the water, Poodles go far beyond luxurious and pampering lifestyles. They are real dogs specially bred to do real and tough jobs.
Through their rich working history, Poodles completed many occupations, from bird hunting and truffle searching to performing arts and bringing supplies to wounded soldiers on battlefields.
Even today Poodles are cherished because of their loving and affectionate nature, efficiently trainable intelligence and a remarkable sense of humor. Extremely smart and active, Poodles are always present on every most intelligent dog breeds list.
3 German Shepherd
The world’s most recognized breed, the German Shepherd, was developed in 1889 in Germany, with the goal of intelligence and utility. Even today, German Shepherds are true to their working heritage.
German Shepherds are the world’s leading military, police and guard dogs. They also make excellent therapy and assistance dogs. Out of these official uniformed job positions, German Shepherds are great herders and even better family companions.
In fact, German Shepherds are amazingly versatile dogs capable of excelling in anything they are trained for. Courageous, devoted and intelligent, German Shepherds are one of the most capable working dogs.
4 Golden Retriever
Although it’s original purpose was being a hunting companion, today its favorite job is being a cuddly and affectionate family pet. The Golden Retriever is one of the top 10 most popular dogs in the world.
Golden Retrievers are highly intelligent and capable working dogs. Due to these qualities, members of this breed, excel in a variety of demanding and challenging tasks such as hunting, retrieving, tracking and sniffing out drugs.
They also make exceptional therapy and assistance dogs. Being natural athletes, Golden Retrievers are common winners in many dog sports such as agility and competitive obedience.
5 Doberman Pinscher
Doberman Pinschers are best known for their go-all-day stamina and unmatched speed. The breed was originally developed by a German tax collector named Louis Dobermann. His dangerous work evoked the need for a responsible and reliable guard dog.
Due to their high loyalty and intelligence and energy levels, Doberman Pinschers are best suited for military and police work. They are also excellent competitors in canine sports. Last but not least, Doberman Pinschers are affectionate companions and fierce guardians.
Contrary to popular beliefs, the Doberman Pinscher is not aggressive without reason. He does not tend to look for trouble, but if provoked, he will respond in a hostile manner without hesitation.
6 Shetland Sheepdog
Keenly intelligent and exceptionally good in herding, the Shetland Sheepdog is often described as a miniature working Collie. Developed in the Shetland Islands off the coast of Scotland, the Shetland Sheepdog’s initial purposes were herding and keeping hungry birds and sheep out of the farmer’s gardens. Shetland Sheepdogs were the farmers’ best friends.
Shetland Sheepdogs are extremely intelligent, easy to train and work driven dogs. They thrive on having a sense of purpose and a job to do. The more challenging the job is, the more satisfied they are.
Also, Shetland Sheepdogs excel in canine sports like agility, obedience, and fly-ball. In fact, they are the superstar of dog sports.
7 Labrador Retriever
One of the most popular dog breeds in the world, the Labrador Retriever, has earned its keep as a fisherman’s helper. Labrador Retrievers were immensely good at fetching ropes, hauling nets and retrieving fish from the chilly waters of the North Atlantic.
True to its original working heritage and good nature, the modern Labrador Retriever excels at many different areas and is capable of completing a vast variety of jobs. He is an excellent hunter, helpful assistant for handicapped dogs, comforting therapy dog and quick search and rescue dog.
Labrador Retrievers are easy to train and often excel in the canine sport of dock jumping. They are also cuddly, loving and affectionate furry companions.
Named for its graceful, butterfly-like, feathered ears, the Papillon is a remarkable dog. With a rich history, going back as far as the 16th century, this breed is considered the smartest of all toy dog breeds.
It is a common misconception that Papillons are spoiled lap dogs. They are bright, curious and always busy miniature dogs that thrive on exploring their environments and getting rid of small rodents that may be lurking in the shades.
Additionally, Papillons are highly active dogs and excellent competitors in canine sports like agility and obedience.
Being a small dog with a big personality in a sturdy package is not easy. However, the Papillon takes its duties seriously. He is a cherished family companion, hardworking and alert rodent hunter, and loyal and devoted guardian.
The Rottweiler is a strong, powerful, robust and brave dog originally bred to complete heavy-duty tasks like driving cattle to the market and pulling carts for butchers. Because of their intelligence, loyalty, and power, Rottweilers were among the first police and military dogs.
Rottweilers are exceptionally intelligent, and if correctly approached, they can be easily trained. Calm, confident and courageous, Rottweilers will not back down to any challenge. Their self-assured aloofness and natural suspicion of unknown people makes them extremely good watch and guard dogs.
All in all, Rottweilers are powerful and energetic working dogs, reliable and trustworthy companions and devoted and loyal guardians.
10 Australian Cattle Dog
Intelligent, energetic and sturdy, the Australian Cattle Dog loves having a job to do. This unique crossbreed of the native Australian Dingo and the blue merle shepherds imported from England is a real workaholic with a lively spirit and go-all-day stamina.
Originally bred to handle herds of cattle on vast ranches, the Australian Cattle Dog is naturally wary of outsiders and makes perfect guard dog. This dog has a very pronounced prey drive and can spend the entire day chasing smaller animals.
Hard-working and highly energetic, Australian Cattle Dogs thrive on doing intensive dog sports like agility, obedience, flyball, flying disc and herding trials.
11 Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Developed in Pembrokeshire, Wales, Corgis are brilliant and hardworking little dogs. Bred with the initial purpose to herd cattle, sheep, and horses, these dogs excel in being responsible and having tasks to complete.
Known for their quick intelligence, forceful will and eagerness to learn and please, Corgis are extremely easy to train and teach tricks. They are dogs of action and need to participate in every activity.
If left alone and without a job to do, the Corgi will find some jobs on its own. Unfortunately, more often than not, these jobs include destructive behaviors like excessive alarm barking, digging and chewing.
12 Miniature Schnauzer
Originally bred to be guard dogs on farms and efficient ratters, the Miniature Schnauzer is the perfect mastermind in disguise. Behind the long beard, walrus mustache and diminutive size, there is a super smart and intelligent dog.
The Miniature Schnauzer is assertive, but all bark and no bite type of dog. He is hardworking and capable watchdog and cuddly companion canine. The Miniature Schnauzer likes showing its brainy attributes by performing cool tricks.
Some experimental tests showed that Miniature Schnauzers are capable of understanding new commands after 5 to 15 repetitions. They also obeyed common and simple commands in 85% of the time.
13 English Springer Spaniel
Bred with the initial purpose of being close-working hunting partners, English Springer Spaniels have a tremendous working drive and thrive on being with people. They also enjoy participating in challenging activities.
English Springer Spaniels have the durable stamina and go-all-day attitude. Therefore, they make good hiking and camping partners for active dog parents. English Springer Spaniels are playful, energetic and affectionate little dogs.
Because of their high intelligence and competitive spirit, English Springer Spaniels are common participants in hunting, tracking, agility and obedience competitions. In fact, they are not only common participants but also common winners.
14 Belgian Shepherd Dog (Tervuren)
As the name suggests, the Belgian Shepherd Dog was developed in Belgium in the late 19th century. Extremely intelligent and immensely athletic, this dog is a versatile performer in many activities.
According to the official breed description, the Belgian Shepherd Dog, unless under command, should always be in motion.
Even though its original job is herding, the Belgian Shepherd Dog is an appreciated assistance dog and accomplished therapy dog. He is also capable of completing challenging police work.
Additionally, the Belgian Shepherd Dog participates and excels in a vast number of canine sports, including obedience, agility, tracking, and sledding.
Developed in the early 16th century in Belgium, the Schipperke is still quite a controversial breed. There are countless debates devoted to determining whether this dog is a spitz or miniature sheepdog.
Regardless of the exact categorization, the Schipperke is a smart and curious little dog. Often nicknamed as LBD (little black devil), the Schipperke is an intelligent, fearless and endlessly devoted companion.
Do not be fooled by the Schipperke’s size. This is a small dog with a big personality and feisty nature. In the past, Schipperkes were a powerful tool in the combat against rats and other rodents. Today they are terrific watchdogs.
Schipperkes have it all – brains, speed, and athletic built. Due to this attributes, members of this breed make great sports competitors and prize winners.
16 Belgian Sheepdog
Intelligent, alert, devoted and protective, the Belgian Sheepdog is quite a versatile dog. This elegant, graceful and athletic dog excels in many areas.
Although this dog’s initial purpose, as the name itself suggests, was herding sheep, later it was used as a capable and hard-working police dog.
The Belgian Sheepdog is an extremely energetic dog capable of competing in agility, herding and obedience contests.
Highly vigilant, this dog makes an excellent and trustworthy watchdog. If correctly approached, the Belgian Sheepdog can be trained to complete just about any task.
All in all, the Belgian Sheepdog is the perfect balance between versatile working dog and gentle family companion.
Developed in Scotland and Northern England, the Collie’s initial purpose was herding livestock. Due to their high intelligence levels, easy trainability and fast learning, today Collies are used as capable service dogs, trustworthy guard dogs and constant search and rescue dogs.
Collies are quite sensitive and capable of foreseeing their owners’ needs. They are not only mentally but also emotionally intelligent dogs. They are very loyal and can sense when something wrong is going on.
Collies often compete in many canine sports such as agility, obedience, herding trials and lure coursing.
The Keeshond is the most beloved dog in its native Holland. During the 17th and 18th century, the Keeshond was a faithful companion and fearless watchdog the boats and barges that floated in Holland’s canals and rivers.
Although today this dog is almost exclusively kept as a companion pet, it has a strong and hardworking heritage.
The Keeshond is highly intelligent and easily trainable. However, if not properly trained, due to its intelligence and lively spirit, the Keeshond can be mischievous.
With the right training, this dog can quickly learn proper dog manners and scores exceptionally well in the obedience ring.
The Keeshond is an extremely people-oriented dog that thrives on spending time with its family and participating in family activities.
19 German Shorthaired Pointer
Developed in the 19th century in Germany, solely for hunting, the German Shorthaired Pointer is an excellent hunter.
In fact, he is a versatile hunter and all-purpose gun breed suitable for hunting on both land and water. He is also equally useful in hunting both feathered and furry game.
This regal breed is considered to be one of the most versatile sporting breeds in the world. Extremely intelligent, energetic and enthusiastic, the German Shorthaired Pointer can quickly learn to do everything the owner starts teaching.
In addition to being a perfect hunter, this dog is an affectionate, loyal and trustworthy companion, both on the field and on the couch.
20 Flat-Coated Retriever
Cheerful, optimistic and with a great sense of humor, the Flat-Coated Retriever was developed with the purpose of retrieving game on land and from the water.
In spite of its hardworking heritage, this dog has an untamed spirit and childish personality that prevent him from maturing. According to owners, Flat-Coated Retrievers never really grow up.
However, the Flat-Coated Retriever is amusingly intelligent capable of competing in agility, obedience, and rally. Outside the competition ring, members of this breed are trained to do serious jobs such as being therapy and assistance dogs.
21 English Cocker Spaniel
As a gundog breed, the English Cocker Spaniel is an active, good-natured and sporting dog. This breed is remarkable both on the field and in the show ring.
Developed in England with the original purpose of hunting woodcock and other birds, the English Cocker Spaniel has a high energy level and go-all-day stamina.
He is also very curious and likes investigating his environment. This dog has a delicate mouth and is capable of retrieving birds even on rough terrains.
The English Cocker Spaniel is a brilliant dog and often competes in canine sports. He does best in tracking, agility, obedience trials and fly-ball.
22 Standard Schnauzer
Standard Schnauzers are fearless, smart and spirited. As the first type of Schnauzer, the Standard Schnauzer was developed in Germany with the aim of creating an all-purpose farm dog. As expected, the Standard Schnauzer was a fantastic ratter and guard dog.
Even today, the Standard Schnauzer remains true to its naturally protective heritage and makes an excellent watch and guard dog.
He is hard-working and quick to bark at any disturbance. When off-duty, the Standard Schnauzer is loveable, cuddly and affectionate with his family.
Due to its intelligence, the Standard Schnauzer often competes in canine sports like basic obedience, agility, and flying disc.
The Brittany is a pointing breed created in France in the early 1700s with the initial purpose of being a versatile gun dog. The result was amazing. Members of this breed are inexhaustible, extremely brave in the face of harsh conditions and very biddable.
Brittanies are intelligent, quick, courageous and curious dogs. They love being active and are always on the lookout for birds or fun.
Among Brittany’s favorite activities are running, scouting, hunting and playing. Although some Brittanies can be mellow and stubborn, most of the Brittany members are quite active and soft.
Even today the Brittany enjoys immense popularity among hunters. It has a superb nose and keen sense of smell, an ability to quickly point out prey during a hunt and an intense willingness to please.
24 Cocker Spaniel
As a Spaniel descendant, the Cocker Spaniel is one of the oldest dog breeds. It is believed that Cocker Spaniels originated in Spain, with hunting and retrieving as their original purpose.
Cocker Spaniels are active sports dogs. Their vibrating energy and enthusiasm are best seen when on the field.
At work, they are tough, endurable workers, capable of covering large areas and penetrating dense grounds. At home, they enjoy family activities and spending time with their people.
Today Cocker Spaniels are one of the most popular breeds in the world. The Cocker Spaniel is famous for featuring the leading role in the famous Disney’s animated classic, ‘Lady and the Tramp.’
25 Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers
The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever originated in Yarmouth in the southern tip of Nova Scotia, in the early 19th century.
Strictly bred for hunter function, the purpose of the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever was to lure or entice ducks. He serves his purpose, using unique techniques.
The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is an easy going, affectionate, happy and playful dog. All in all, he is a good-natured and highly spirited dog. He is very fond and protective of children. Most of all, this dog is a genius and bright.
Today’s Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers are playful and affectionate companions who still retain much of their strong retrieving instincts.
It is only natural to assume that the smartest dog would make the best pet. The truth cannot be any further. In fact, the brighter the dog, the more demanding it will be.
Also, many experts and canine behaviorists consider the frequency of getting into trouble as a good indicator of intelligence.
Keep in mind that smart and bright dogs require higher levels of mental stimulation, participation in more challenging activities and more profound forms of companionship and affection.