Composing a list of the smartest dog breeds takes into account different characteristics, such as teachability, trainability and dog personality. Depending on what the dog’s trainer and owner wish to accomplish, different dog breeds are more suitable for performing certain tasks than others.
That doesn’t make them more or less intelligent, it makes them more or less appropriate for specific living conditions, family composition and task performance. On the other hand, comparing dog breeds based on their ‘intellectual’ abilities is an enjoyable assignment as dog lovers will agree no breed is stupid, some are just smarter than others.
The following list attempts to analyze and compare dog brainpower without hurting any pooch’s feelings or those of its owner.
15. Jack Russell Terrier
They are happy and loving dogs, but above all, Jack Russell Terriers are smart.
This breed can be quite stubborn, which can make training challenging, but once taught which type of behaviour is acceptable and which isn’t Jack Russell will enjoy structure, routine and order.
Early socialization is important for Jack Russell Terriers to make them well-rounded dogs as it is in their nature to hunt anything they perceive as prey as well as be aggressive and fearless when faced with a challenge or a threat.
Huskies are also kept as family pets but they are primarily working dogs with high levels of intelligence, energy and athleticism.
Huskies can be easily trained to participate in a range of different activities, including skijoring, dog hiking, carting, dog scootering, and so on.
Huskies like to make themselves useful and prefer to be in work mode rather than in idle mode all the time.
Completing assignments and pulling people, cargo and other animals for amusement of others, such as in dog sports, or for helping people living in the north is how Huskies prefer to put their intelligence to good use.
13. English Setter
Although gentle, English Setters can often misbehave if not given proper mental stimulation.
Like other highly intelligent dogs, this breed requires obedience training to make life easier for both the dog and its owner.
English Setters are strong-willed and require strict treatment from owners, are highly energetic and enjoy being in the company of people.
They are attention-seekers and are the happiest when given a task to complete or a job to do. As is the case with most hunting and working dogs, this breed needs plenty of daily exercise to keep it healthy and obedient.
12. St. Bernard
St. Bernards are quite famous for their Alpine rescues, which is the type of dog behaviour that cannot be taught through training.
It is more the type of behaviour that reflects the intelligence and physical abilities of St. Bernards.
This breed is no longer used for Alpine rescues and nowadays often participates in canine agility contests and strength demonstrations.
Despite their size and intellectual abilities, which when not properly channeled can lead to destructive behaviour, St. Bernards are sweet and gentle dogs, especially with children.
11. Great Dane
Despite their size, Great Danes are friendly and rarely aggressive.
They were bred as hunting dogs thanks to their high intellectual abilities and desirable response to training.
With proper training and early socialization, Great Danes can excel at any role, from being a friendly family pet to being an obedient working dog.
This type of dog breed requires daily exercise but when young should not be worked too hard as they grow pretty quickly and can suffer joint and bone problems, which can later negatively affect their ability to be put their smarts to good use.
10. Australian Cattle Dog
The Australian Cattle Dog is a working dog and requires strict and structured training, loves a challenge and is full of energy.
It is one of the most intelligent dog breeds and it earns this recognition by being highly obedient and trainable.
ACD requires plenty of exercise and space and unless it has a job do to, it needs to be entertained in other physically active ways to tame its high energy levels and active mind.
This dog breed requires very little maintenance but due to its mental capacity gets bored easily and it constantly needs to be kept busy.
As a working dog, it is rather smart and strong, highly dependable and the type of dog that responds well to training.
Rottweilers are also used as police dogs thanks to their obedience, devotion and good nature.
They are highly courageous and confident, enjoy being in control and in situations where they can intimidate their perceived opponent.
Rottweilers are excellent for guarding and moving stubborn stock that ignore Border Collies, for instance. They require serious and professional training to make good use of their smarts.
It can learn new tricks in no time and isn’t afraid to show its high level of self-esteem.
Papillon is good-natured and adapts well to its owner’s characteristics, but is particularly interesting to families with children as it is sociable and easily trainable, which makes it a great companion.
Despite its size, this dog breed needs plenty of exercise and mental stimulation. Like most intelligent dogs, Papillon turns destructive if bored and left with nothing to do, and it requires extensive obedience training so that it’s not left with the option to let its imagination run wild.
7. Labrador Retriever
Labs enjoy being assistance dogs, including leading the blind, helping individuals with autism, being therapy dogs and even do detection work for the police.
Labradors are kind and pleasant, the most popular family dogs and generally loved by both dog lovers and those who claim not to be as enamoured with these animals.
Labradors express their intelligence in different ways, even by carrying an egg in the mouth without breaking it.
Labrador Retrievers like to climb, jump, swim and amuse themselves in different ways but are the happiest when tasked with a meaningful job.
6. Shetland Sheepdog
Shetland Sheepdog is relatively reserved, doesn’t show off as a Papillon does, but it’s always alert and rather gentle with its owners.
Research has shown that Shetlies can understand a new command in less than 5 repetitions, which makes them one of the most intelligent dog breeds.
Teaching a dog to sit and roll over isn’t a great sign of the pooch’s intelligence. On the other hand, dogs that are natural herders, who take livestock from one place to another and defend it from predators are highly intelligent as no amount of training can ever produce this type of behaviour in non-herding dogs.
Dobermans sure do look intimidating, but with proper training and early socialization they can make great companions and family pets.
And they have their intelligence to thank for that. Dobermans are extremely loyal and excellent guard dogs, which are all traits that cannot be taught through dog training.
They understand their owner’s temperament well and will adjust to the given situation and do whatever it takes to keep their owner safe and happy. Dobermans are used as police dogs due to their high level of obedience, susceptibility to training and fearlessness.
4. Golden Retriever
Their brain capacity makes them suitable for different activities, including leading the blind or deaf, hunting, searching and rescuing.
Still, their most popular role is that of a beloved family pet, especially in suburban areas with plenty of space to roam around.
They are trusting, loving and eager-to-please dogs, which doesn’t help their ranking as guard dogs. On the other hand, they are highly trainable and obedient, which only works to increase their popularity among different types of dog owners.
Golden Retrievers enjoy working and making themselves useful, and focusing on a task at hand is quite effortless for this breed.
3. German Shepherd
German Shepherds were particularly bred for their intelligence. Research has shown that this breed can learn simple tasks after only 5 repetitions, which puts them at the No. 3 spot of most intelligent dog breeds.
They are very skillful at interpreting instructions and are highly obedient, which makes them desirable for policing and searching tasks. German Shepherds are reliable and loyal dogs and very popular as family pets.
Poodles are water dogs and particularly successful at dog sports thanks to their intelligence and physical stamina. Poodles are active and smart dogs, and their primary activity is hunting.
They are thus energetic, but also highly sociable, and usually perform quite well in obedience training. Poodles thrive in well-organized environments and like stability and relaxation.
They are confident dogs more than equipped to assess their own worth. Poodles can be trained to be excellent companions on swimming, hiking, camping and any other kind of trips that involve the outdoors where they can shine because they have it all – beauty and brains.
1. Border Collie
Border Collies need plenty of exercise but can easily be trained to perform dog sports and stay healthy, happy and as busy as possible.
They were bred to guard livestock, primarily sheep, and excel in obedience training and any activity that requires athleticism and brains.
Border Collies are demanding dogs and require a significant amount of mental stimulation, but aren’t picky when it comes to choosing companions.
They get along well with people and other dogs. Border Collies are working dogs that thrive in the country where there is plenty to be done in just one day.