If you’re a dog owner, it’s only natural to think we have a smart dog. Unfortunately, that might be a case of putting our dogs’ love a little ahead of the actual situation. In reality, could you class your dog as one of the most intelligent dogs out there? Below is our list of top 10 smartest dogs.
There’s nothing wrong with owning a dog that’s way down on the smartest dogs list; we can forgive his lack of smarts in exchange for all that unconditional love.
But some dog owners want to know how intelligent their dog is, even though measuring intelligence in dogs is not straightforward.
In this article:
Dog intelligence – how to evaluate the smartest dogs
When we consider how intelligent any animal is, we always relate it to human intelligence and where on the scale of human development does this animal fit in? Smartest dogs are seen as having the intelligence of a two-year-old child, understanding speech, how they solve problems, how well they communicate, memory and training.
Dog intelligence rankings are predicated on the above factors, and the smartest dog breeds generally achieve high scores in those categories.
Because of how testers can substantiate intelligence in dogs, what are the ten smartest dog breeds in order?
Typically, smart dogs are nearly always energetic dogs and require a lot of effort in looking after both physically and mentally; if not, they get bored and restless and, if not dealt with, can lead to undesirable and even destructive behavior. On the plus side, these breeds are straightforward to train and pick up commands relatively quickly. Many of the dogs become service, therapy, working and guard dogs.
A well-renowned canine researcher Dr. Stanley Coren compiled a book titled ‘The Intelligence of Dogs’ and lists the smartest dogs in order of intelligence. Our list will talk about the top ten smartest dogs from the book.
1. Border Collie as one of the smartest dogs
Most people have seen pictures of a Border Collie where he’s crouching down, looking at a group of sheep and fixing them with his steely glare as he slowly gets closer to them.
Border Collies are one of, if not the most, intelligent dog breeds on the planet. The Border Collie is the quintessential working dog; add that to the desire and drive he puts into his work makes him a most impressive dog.
These innovative thinking, tireless dogs can run and chase for miles to gather their flock and herd them into the enclosure.
Unless you have a farm and intend to employ your Border Collie on there to work, you must prepare yourself for a life of continuous exercise, including several daily walks, time off-leash for play, games of catch ball or frisbee. You’ll also need to occupy his mind with obedience and agility classes.
This commitment is a massive undertaking of time and energy for any prospective Border Collie owner. But it has to be done; if not, the dog will quickly become bored and begin to exhibit hyperactivity and behavioral issues such as property destruction, digging, and generally playing up.
Having superior intelligence, these dogs quickly learn how to yank your chain, and such intelligence doesn’t necessarily relate to easy training. The Border Collie will attempt to take advantage of you, and trust me when I say they are very capable of doing so.
Owning a Border Collie requires someone whose dedication to the dog is second to none; along with fulfilling their exercise needs, owners must possess control, patience, firmness in a kindly manner and does not use harsh language.
Border Collie Characteristics
Male Border Collies grow to 19 to 22 inches at the shoulder and weigh 35 to 45 pounds. Females are slightly smaller at 18 to 21 inches and weigh 30 to 40 pounds; they have a lifespan between 12 and15 years.
Everyone has heard, and most have seen Poodles; they are easy to recognize; typically because of their namby-pamby haircuts. But don’t let any of that get in the way of just how super-intelligent Poodles genuinely are.
On our list of the smarter than average dogs, we are placing the Poodle at number two. Behind all the best-in-show winner’s ribbons, fancy hairdos, and a superior attitude is a multi-talented loving, affectionate family dog.
Ironically, the view most people have of the Poodle is a spoiled, pampered pet, yet the reality couldn’t be further away. Poodles were bred to work as water retrievers and had to jump into lakes, ponds, and rivers retrieving waterfowl for their owners.
Poodles are highly trainable dogs, and they are excellent students of obedience, agility, and hunting sports. They might give the impression that they are aloof and superior, but they love to be close to their family and suffer separation anxiety when left alone for too long.
Poodles can solve problems better than most other dogs, which is why they were such sought-after circus performers in their past life.
Standard Poodles must grow to a height over 15 inches (to be classified as a standard) and weigh between 45 and 70 pounds; they have a lifespan between 10 and 14 years.
3. German Shepherd
German Shepherds are renowned for their guarding and service work abilities; because of this, they are always wary of strangers, and some can have a nervous disposition and be a little edgy.
German Shepherds are exceptionally smart dogs, but if they are a pet and not a service dog, you’ll still need to find work for them. It can be obedience and agility training, but you have to give a German Shepherd a job that taxes his brain, whatever you choose.
German Shepherd Characteristics
German Shepherds grow to a height of 22 and 26 inches and weigh up to 95 pounds; they have a lifespan between 10 and 12 years.
4. Golden Retriever
Golden Retrievers are people-pleasers, highly intelligent, calm-tempered, and very loving towards their family. They are happy to play with children from any age; however, they are pretty large dogs and a little boisterous as puppies, so very young children can get knocked over.
Golden Retrievers don’t have retriever in their name without good reason; they love working and retrieving shot birds, but a Golden is just as happy retrieving your shoes when home.
You will need to exercise a Golden every day; throwing balls or frisbees so the dog can retrieve them is a great way to exercise. They love water and will jump in at every opportunity, so that’s something to bear in mind if you don’t want a soaking wet Golden all over your car seats or shaking off when he gets back in the home.
Because of their laid-back personality, they adapt to live practically anywhere, even in an apartment, as long as they get sufficient exercise.
Golden Retriever Characteristics
Golden Retriever males grow to a height of 23 and 24 inches and weigh up to 75 pounds (females are a little smaller); they have a lifespan between 10 and 13 years.
5. Doberman Pinscher
Contrary to popular belief, the Doberman Pinscher is a people-loving dog; with the correct socialization and training, they are sweet, loving family dogs. They would even be a good dog around children if the dog were brought into the home as a puppy.
Growing up, a Doberman puppy must have obedience and social training and needs firm, kind, but consistent training methods. They are intelligent dogs, and their natural tendency is to guard their owners and property; it’s not necessary to give extra training in policing.
Dobermans are high-energy dogs and need a massive amount of exercise every day; they must get this exercise so they don’t become hyperactive, leading to unwanted behavior.
Doberman Pinscher Characteristics
Doberman males grow to a height of 27 and 28 inches and weigh up to 70 pounds (females are a little smaller); they have a lifespan between 10 and 12 years.
6. Shetland Sheepdog
Shetland Sheepdogs are wonderfully sweet and gentle dogs; they love to play, are affectionate with family, and are hugely popular worldwide.
With high levels of intelligence and a natural desire to please their humans, they are one of the easiest dogs to train.
Their background as herding dogs makes them very wary of strangers, and they greet all strangers with plenty of barking; it’s also something they enjoy doing to pass the time.
While they love children, young children might be at risk of having their heels nipped at if a Sheltie feels they need rounding up.
Shelties thrive on lots of exercise and obedience, and agility exercises.
Shetland Sheepdog Characteristics
Shetland Sheepdogs grow to a height of 12 and 15 inches and weigh up to 20 pounds; they have a lifespan between 12 and 15 years.
7. Labrador Retriever
Labrador Retrievers are a hard-working breed and thrive on being given tasks to stretch their brains and strength, yet they still make fantastic family dogs. In fact, they have been the most popular dog in the United States for many years.
When young, Labradors can be pretty giddy and boisterous dogs; young children can very quickly get bowled over. Apart from this, they get on well with people and other animals in the family.
If you’re going to be a Lab parent, you need to get them to obedience training as early as possible to curb some of their naturally exuberant habits.
They need plenty of daily exercise, or they will become easily bored and will resort to destructive behavior; as they age, they tend to pile on weight because Labradors will eat anything and everything.
Labrador Retriever Characteristics
Labrador males grow to a height of 24 inches and weigh up to 85 pounds (females are a little smaller); they have a lifespan between 12 and 14 years.
Papillons are amazing agility dogs and consistently win many competitions for their incredible speed and skill; owners not wanting to take their dogs on the sports circuit will find the Papillon easy to train in performing many kinds of tricks.
What is less known about the Papillon is their tracking and therapy dog abilities.
For all their sporting prowess, the Pap is an easy dog to live with; they need exercise but letting them run around and play is usually more than sufficient.
Unlike many small or toy breeds, the Papillon is not an anxious or fearful dog, and they are not known as annoying yapping dogs.
Papillons enjoy being with their family, and they are happy to be around children, as long as children know how to treat the dog respectfully.
Papillons grow to a height of 8 and 12 inches and weigh up to 10 pounds; they have a lifespan between 12 and 15 years.
Rottweilers have a high degree of intelligence and are very active with bags of confidence; some say they possess too much enthusiasm for their own good.
The Rottweiler is a renowned guard and protection dog and not one to take liberties with, for all that they do make excellent family dogs, loyal and affectionate as long as they are well-trained and socialized from a very young age. Once they get to a full-sized dog, they are mighty and dominant dogs.
Rotties are working dogs and need to be active and their brains engaged; they can become a problem with aggressive behavior without them. First-time dog owners will have a big problem with owning a Rottweiler; Rottweilers need experienced and consistent trainers to bring out the best in the dog.
Rottweiler males grow to a height of 27 inches and weigh up to 120 pounds (females are a little smaller); they have a lifespan between 8 and 11 years.
10. Australian Cattle Dog
Australian Cattle Dogs are brave, super-intelligent dogs bred to have the most fantastic sense of commitment to their work. They were created solely for settlers’ benefit to take their cattle with them when moving across Australia.
Originally known as the Australian heeler, they changed to the Australian Cattle dog and became a standardized breed in Australia by the late 1800s
The dog is unsuitable for small living spaces such as apartments because of their high energy and exercise requirements; they must get jobs that stretch them physically and mentally, even if they are family pets.
Australian cattle dogs love a close family relationship, are highly protective, and make excellent watchdogs; they are typically not constant barkers. They get on well with children, but they tend to try and herd younger children, making them appear a little aggressive.
Australian Cattle Dog Characteristics
Australian Cattle Dog males grow to a height of 20 inches and weigh up to 45 pounds (females are a little smaller); they have a lifespan between 10 and 13 years.
If you are looking for the smartest dogs because you want to teach them tricks or ask them to do some work, any of the ten dog breeds above will be a good choice.
You should avoid plenty of dogs, though; it’s not about them being the dumbest dog breeds. Dogs can have many different personalities and are bred for various purposes. Some dogs are tough to train, yet are still the most fantastic pet you could ever wish for.