Brightest dogs: the 10 Smartest Dog Breeds

Dog reading newspaper
Original image by user Gareth1953 All Right Now on Flickr. CC BY 2.0.

Based on the results of a survey of 199 dog obedience judges, dr. Stanley Coren drew up a list of 133 breeds, ranked according to working and obedience abilities. According to that list, the 10 most intelligent breeds are:

  • #1: Border Collie

    Border Collie
    Original image by user corinne_benavides on Flickr. CC BY-NC 2.0.

    No breed can beat the border collie in intelligence. They were bred to be independent problem solvers capable of solving complex tasks. He learns extremely fast. Border Collies need some job to do. If you don't provide it, he will find it himself

  • #2: Poodle

    Awesome Poodle
    Awesome Poodle Original image by user vladm2007 on Flickr. TODO.

    Whether it is the Toy, Miniature, or Standard variety, Poodles are impressive dogs who will win your heart with their friendliness, affection, intelligence, and cheerful energy. You may first be impressed by their beautiful, regal looks, but will be won over by their fantastic personality. Incredibly smart, these dogs are ranked #2 in intelligence, only below the Border Collie. They are also incredibly personable, highly trainable, and a joy to work with, even for first-time dog owners.

  • #3: German Shepherd

    German Shepherd
    Original image by user anafuentes on Flickr. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

    The German Shepherd is one of the world’s most popular dog breeds. They are strong, athletic and incredibly intelligent working dogs. This loyal and courageous breed not only makes a great family dog but also excels in a working environment. Over the years, German Shepherds have been trained as military and police dogs, guide and assistance dogs, search and rescue dogs, drug detection dogs, and competitive obedience. This elegant and proud looking dog comes in a variety of colours, most commonly black and tan.

  • #4: Golden Retriever

    Golden Retriever
    Golden Retriever Original image by user Sarah Rose on Flickr. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

    One of the most popular breeds among families in the United States, Golden Retrievers are known for their wonderful personalities and overall versatility. The excel as working dogs in many areas from retrieving for hunters to drug sniffing dogs, and as assistance dogs. However, they also make excellent pets and happy to be your family's constant companion. In fact, they do best in a situation where they can live inside, alongside their favorite humans. These intelligent dogs get along with children and other pets. Their intelligence makes them easy to train and they are happy living in a variety of situations, but as with most intelligent, active, working-type dogs, they benefit from a fair amount of exercise

  • #5: Doberman Pinscher

    Dobermann
    Dobermann Original image by user Luciano Signorelli on Flickr. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

    A Doberman Pinscher is extremely intelligent, which poses some training challenges. You will need to be on your toes and keep your training routine varied so your dog doesn't become bored. Mental and physical stimulation are important to keep your Dobie learning and having fun at the same time. Be ready for your Doberman to occasionally challenge your authority and to firmly let him know that you are the boss.

  • #6: Shetland Sheepdog

    Shetland Sheepdog Agility
    Original image by user SheltieBoy on Flickr. CC BY-NC 2.0.

    Shetland Sheepdogs are known for their gentle and sensitive nature as well as their intelligence. Their intelligence and energy also makes them a popular choice for sports like agility and flyball. With a history as a herding dog, they perform particularly well in various herding trials

  • #7: Labrador Retriever

    Brown Labrador Retriever
    Eager Brown Labrador Retriever Original image by user ArgosPaw on Flickr. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

    Labrador Retrievers are intelligent dogs and known for their kind and willing nature. Training them is quite easy, which makes them an ideal dog for novice owners.

  • #8: Papillon

    Papillon fetching ball
    Original image by user kamonegi_jp on Flickr. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

    Given its size a Papillon can easily be mistaken for a lap dog. Don't be mistaken - these small dogs are high energy and are always looking for some activity. They're easy to train and a great choice if you want to do agility or compete in the obedience ring.

  • #9: Rottweiler

    Rottweiler in the snow
    Original image by user This Pilgrim's Progress on Flickr. CC BY 2.0.

    A Rottweiler is a energetic dog with a rich history as a working and military/police dog. Though they are considered to be intelligent dogs, they can be a challenge to train. As with all intelligent breeds, Rottweilers require an outlet for their energy and intelligence. In short, they do best with a job, even if that job is simply chasing a ball or accompanying you on walks.

  • #10: Australian Cattle Dog

    Australian Cattledog
    Original image by user sally9258 on Flickr. CC BY 2.0.

    As with most working dog breeds the Australian Cattle Dog is energetic and intelligent with an independent streak. It responds very well to structured training, particularly if it is interesting and challenging.

Almost every dog owner is convinced that his/her dog is the smartest dog around. There is however no standard definition of canine intelligence. In his book, “The Intelligence of Dogs,” Dr. Stanley Coren divides dog intelligence into three distinct areas:

Instinctive intelligence


Instinctive intelligence refers to the tasks the dog was bred for. Guard dogs were bred to watch over things, herding dogs to keep the flock together, retrievers to fetch prey, hounds to track. It doesn't really make sense to compare different breeds according to instinctive intelligence as they are simply to different to compare.

Adaptive intelligence


The adaptive intelligence of a dog is a measure of his capacity of solving problems on his own. It is not breed specific. An example would be the capacity of your dog to figure out a way to open your fridge, in order to help himself to some tasty treats. It is tested not by training your dog to do something a certain way, but by the way he is using his skills to solve new problems.

Working and obedience intelligence


This is the intelligence most people think of to when referring to dog intelligence. It's the capacity of a dog to quickly learn what he is been told to do. Examples of this intelligence are guide dogs for the blind, who are perfectly able to guide their human companion through traffic, police dogs, search and rescue dogs, or dogs performing complex tricks in obedience.