15 Smartest Dog Breeds
There are different types of intelligence that any dog can display at any given circumstance. There are dogs that are superb when it comes to their ability to figure things out on their own. There are also those that are exceptional at following commands or orders. And then there are dogs that are so talented that they do not need any formal training or teaching. There are other forms of canine intelligence that can help define how smart a dog is. The good news is that all dogs have the capacity to become smart. They only need your patience and perseverance in training them. Nevertheless, here are 15 of the world’s smartest canines.
The Einstein of the dog kingdom, the Border Collie has broken more Guinness World Records than any other breed. Chaser, for instance, can identify the names of more than 1,022 toys and other items. If you think this is dumb, how about Chaser’s ability to classify these items according to their function and shape? Chaser also understands the meaning of “hot” and “cold” and can remember the names of individuals or people this Border Collie has just met.
But before Chaser established this amazing linguistic excellence, there was another Border Collie before it that had more than 200 words in its vocabulary. Rico can also identify new objects in a simple process of elimination.
Then there is also the story of Sweet Pea. This Border Collie-Australian Shepherd Mix holds the record for balancing a tin can on its head and going for 100 meters in the shortest possible time. There’s also Neo, completing a 10-hoop slalom in only 8.58 seconds. And who can ever forget Striker? This Border Collie is the world record holder for opening a non-electronic car window, winding the lever in only 11.34 seconds.
These feats were never easy. It involved intense training. The good news is that Border Collies love to work. They thrive on the things that their owners teach them to do. They are happiest whenever they learn a new trick. That’s one very remarkable characteristic of Border Collies.
The Poodle may not have as many Guinness World Record titles as the Border Collie, but it sure remains one of the planet’s smartest dogs. Sailor is a Poodle who owns the record for balancing and rolling on a large exercise ball for a total distance of 100 meters in 33.22 seconds. He can also push a kiddie shopping cart, standing and walking on its hind legs while pushing the cart with its front limbs.
Poodles are natural hunters; although most people think of them as funny and entertaining circus performers. What many fail to realize is that this dog will not be able to accomplish these circus tricks if it weren’t smart. Couple this with the Poodle’s insatiable appetite to please its owners and their family and you have a dog that will do almost anything to learn a new trick or two.
There is one reason why Max von Stephanitz sought to perfect the German Shepherd. This is a dog with unquestionable work ethic. Because of this characteristic, intelligence is second nature. While German Shepherds do not have a large vocabulary like Chaser or the ability to open a car window in 11 seconds, they remain the world’s number 3 smartest dog breeds.
German Shepherds are so smart that they will learn to perform a trick after you show them how only once. More complicated tricks may require more extensive training sessions, however. This is what Zinzan had to go through to achieve a world record. Zinzan wove around 60 poles in a little over 12 seconds. That is about 5 poles per second. Of course, this has something to do with the German Shepherd’s agility. But you cannot deny the fact that its intelligence has to be a major factor, too.
We all know how much Golden Retrievers love to play with tennis balls. And if you think putting tennis balls into their mouths is not a sign of canine intelligence, how about 5 of regulation-sized tennis balls? If Augie is not smart, it will pick up the balls one by one. Instead, it followed the “commands” of its owners by picking up 5 regulation-sized tennis balls and stuffing all of them in its mouth.
Golden Retrievers are a versatile breed. They may have started as gun dogs. Today, they show their innate intelligence serving as therapy dogs, law enforcement dogs, search and rescue dogs, companion dogs, and other roles. If the breed is not smart, it will not be able to fulfill these multiple roles with relative ease.
There is a reason why the Doberman is one of the best trackers in the animal kingdom. Sauer is a Doberman Pinscher that’s known for tracking a 132-hour old trail in the 1920s. In 1925, Sauer and its handler tracked a cattle rustler for more than 100 miles on foot. You may not think that this is a sign of canine intelligence, but it is. If Sauer is not smart, it will not be able to process the very faint cues of the track. It will not find its target, in other words.
Like all working dogs, Doberman Pinschers have exceptional intelligence. They are easy to train and love nothing more than learning another trick to use in their line of work.
One look at the Shetland Sheepdog and you’d think it is a small type of Rough Collie. They do look alike, except that the Sheltie has smaller limbs. Moreover, the Sheltie is more intelligent than the Rough Collie. They have exceptional loyalty to their owners. Sometimes they are also referred to as the canine shadows of their human companions.
As a herding dog in the Scottish islands of Shetland, the Sheltie excels in herding trials. It is an intelligent breed that is also famous for its willingness to please. It loves to perform in shows while also competing in tracking, flyball, and agility events.
The Lab is not only the world’s most popular breed, it is also one of the planet’s most intelligent. It has a very amiable nature that makes it a great friend to anyone. The Labrador’s zest for life matches well with the breed’s willingness to please its owners. This is a pet dog that will stop at nothing to earn the approval of its owners.
As a smart breed of dog, the Labrador can learn various tricks and advanced obedience commands. It uses these skills to perform a variety of roles. It does well in rehabilitation clinics, hospitals, and therapy centers. The Lab also makes a good partner among crime fighters, search and rescue operators, and military personnel.
Who would have thought that the elegant-looking Papillon with its characteristic butterfly look is also a smart hound? It is one of the world’s oldest toy spaniels and famous for its happy disposition. But do not let their free-spirited nature fool you. Papillons are adventurous hounds. They expect their owners to provide them with stimulating activities.
They may not have world records to their name, but Papillons are some of the world’s smartest companion dogs. These are not like Chihuahuas and Yorkies that don’t mind staying on your lap all day. The Papillon expects you to teach it; lest it teaches you.
Often portrayed in the media as the canine equivalent of a “bad boy”, the Rottweiler is a dependable hound from the ancient times. Roman soldiers relied on the Rottweiler’s intelligence and courage to guard and protect the Army’s supplies. Through the centuries, Rottweilers continue to excel in their role as guard dogs.
One of the most important attributes of a guard dog is intelligence. It should have a working intelligence to follow commands. It may not have the innate intelligence of the other breeds in this list, but the Rottie does have adaptive and working intelligence.
Australian Cattle Dog
It is not as famous as the Poodle or the German Shepherd, but the Australian Cattle Dog is one of the world’s smartest breeds. It uses its innate intelligence to drive cattle. Whereas other herding dogs work with sheep, the ACD work with larger livestock like cattle and the like.
Keep in mind that the ACD has an independent streak. Hence, it responds only to someone who can respect the innate qualities of this breed. The Australian Cattle Dog requires a very structured training program; it can get bored in an instant if not. The training program should also be very challenging and interesting. If you teach it the basic “come” or “sit”, it will ignore you.
Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Everyone knows the Pembroke Welsh Corgi is a favorite among the British royalty. Queen Elizabeth is one of the breed’s most popular and staunchest supporters. But aside from the Corgi’s natural charm as a royal companion dog, it is also a smart hound. After all, this is a small dog that can go head to head with the best in herding, obedience, flyball, tracking, and agility trials.
The Pembroke Welsh Corgi has the hallmark of all smart dog: the willingness to learn. It is easy to train, made easy by their intense desire to please their owners. Pembrokes are also affectionate and can sometimes be the canine shadows of their human companions.
When breeders began producing smaller versions of the Standard Schnauzer, they also thought of adding other smaller breeds to produce the Miniature Schnauzer. One of these breeds happens to be dogdom’s number 2 most intelligent breed, the Poodle. Hence, it is not surprising if the Mini Schnauzer is also a smart dog.
The problem with this breed is that it can be very spunky. It needs a like-minded owner to help harness its true potential. Otherwise, this dog can be quite a handful to have in any home. It may be smarter than some pet parents; so, be forewarned.
English Springer Spaniel
It is easy to confuse the English Springer Spaniel with the English Cocker Spaniel. After all, both came from the same litter. The difference is that the Springer is larger, has a longer muzzle, and shorter ears. And oh, it is a bit more intelligent than its Cocker brethren.
Springer Spaniels are very eager to please, like any other smart dog in this list. They also have the uncanny ability to learn whatever their handler is teaching them in a short span of time. Their willingness to obey and follow commands is also commendable, a trait that has its origins in their primary task as a springer-type of hunting dogs.
This dog looks like a mean-looking German Shepherd with a denser coat around its neck. The coat gives the Belgian Tervuren the appearance of a lion because of its mane-like hair. More than this, however, is the fact that the Belgian Tervuren is an intelligent breed. They excel in protection work, agility, obedience, tracking, and flyball.
Their most important roles in contemporary times are assisting search and rescue units such as those in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing and the 9/11 terror attacks. Some of them have also graced the big screen such as The Company of Wolves and Agent Cody Banks 2.
The Belgian Shepherd shares many of its characteristics with the German Shepherd and other shepherd dogs in Europe. Hence, it is not surprising if these also deserve a spot in our list of the smartest dog breeds.
The Belgian Shepherd is alert and sensitive to everything that occurs around them. It is their heightened vigilance that makes them exceptional canine workers in anti-narcotics operations, the military, police, search and rescue, and assistance organizations. In the UK, these dogs get trained to headbutt criminals without biting them. It is a neat trick that only an intelligent and loyal dog can execute to perfection.
Rating the world’s smartest dog is never easy. Regardless, we are pretty sure you would agree with our list of 15 of the world’s smartest dog breeds.