There’s no doubt about it – dogs are smart. But some breeds are (allegedly) smarter than others.
Whether you’re a dog lover or just an admirer of these furry creatures, you’re sure to be amazed by the intelligence of some of the smartest dog breeds around.
From border collies that can herd sheep to poodles that can perform circus tricks, these amazingly intelligent dogs will leave you scratching your head in disbelief. So if you’re looking for a new challenge in life, why not adopt one of these ridiculously smart dog breeds?
Who knows – you may even be able to teach them a few things!
31. Border Collie
The title of the most intelligent dog in the world goes to, drum rolls please, the Border Collie. The dog was initially developed for herding sheep. It is however an adorable pooch that combines its high level of intelligence with incredible athleticism and playfulness.
The dogs will almost instantly recognize and obey first-time commands from their owners. The Border collie has also in recent years grown to become a very popular companion animal around the world.
The poodle is a cute, versatile, and multi-talented breed. It is not only highly skilled in most dog sports but can also be used in so many other roles including herding, tracking, and others.
The pooch is even used in circuses to put on a show for the audience. This is a clear indication of its easy trainability and top-of-the-line intelligence.
29. Irish Water Spaniel
The Irish Water spaniel is perhaps one of the rarest dog breeds. It is also the oldest spaniel to date. As far as intelligence goes, it ranks relatively well. From centuries of breeding, these pooches have developed a unique desire to please.
This makes training relatively easier. Additionally, Irish water spaniels are very inquisitive. They tend to be aware of their surroundings and would normally explore with curiosity every inch of their space.
Pomeranians are small toy dogs that are simply the epitome of cuteness. But don’t let this fool you. There are a lot of brains in that beauty. For a small dog, Pomeranians are surprisingly social as well.
While they understand human commands easily, these pooches will also pick up additional human words as they interact with your family. The dogs also have high emotional intelligence. They can tell when you’re sad, happy, worried, or any other emotion faster than most breeds.
27. Bernese Mountain Dog
The Bernese mountain dog is originally from the Swiss Alps. Bred typically as a guard dog, this four-legged canine is super strong and quite large as well. But even with all that brute strength, the pooch has a very good brain.
The Bernese mountain dog in particular demonstrates incredible adaptive intelligence. This refers to the pooch’s ability to learn to thrive in its environment without too much help from owners.
26. Belgian Malinois
The Belgian Malinois is originally from the city of Mechelen and it is one incredibly smart dog. The pooch is used to detect explosives and narcotics by law enforcement because of its superb instinctive intelligence.
Although it’s no bloodhound, it can also track people thanks to its heightened sense of smell. The Milinois is receptive to new human commands as well but it’s instinctively territorial and protective of its space. As such, these pooches require consistency in training and can be a handful for new dog parents.
The Weimaraner is the ultimate all-purpose hunting dog. The pooch has remained very popular with royal families too over the centuries. It’s a large-bred canine with impeccable intelligence as well.
Typically, Weimaraners are very eager to learn and will take very little time to memorize commands. These dogs are also blessed with incredible instincts, making them easy to train and adapt to various situations.
24. Cocker Spaniel
There are two main types of Cocker Spaniels. The first one is the English Cocker Spaniel and the second is the American Spaniel. For this article, we will use the term Cocker Spaniel to describe breeds outside the UK.
And as you can probably guess, these are smart intelligent dogs. The dogs are also skillful and demonstrate easy trainability too. Cocker Spaniels are also some of the oldest breeds out there, dating as far back as the 14th Century.
Brittany is one of many hunting dogs that made it to our list. Traditionally, this breed is known for its sweet nature and ease of training. Much of this is down to its ability to hear and understand commands faster.
Its sweet-natured personality should make training more enjoyable for most dog parents. And just a note, while Brittany dogs can hunt anything, they tend to be more effective at hunting birds.
22. Standard Schnauzer
The Standard Schnauzer is popularly identified by its distinctive bearded look. It is one of the most versatile dog breeds you can get. The Standard Schnauzer has all the “ideal” attributes of a great dog, including incredible agility, strength, alertness, and of course, high intelligence. Training this instinctive pooch should also be easy simply because it is highly receptive and obedient.
21. English Cocker Spaniel
The English Cocker Spaniel is considered a very active, good-natured, and highly intelligent sporting dog. It is also used for hunting. The pooch is a compact mid-sized dog too with strong limbs and an amazing “can-do” attitude.
The dog takes between 5 and 15 repetitions to grasp human commands. But it will probably fall into the lower digits of that range. Additionally, this dog is very receptive to first-time commands and would normally obey 8 out of 10 times.
20. Flat-Coated Retriever
The Flat-coated Retriever is a multi-talented breed with a lot of exuberance and confidence. But it is the high intelligence that set this pooch apart from most breeds out there.
According to professional dog trainers, the Flat-coated Retriever will require fewer repetitions to grasp new commands compared to most above-average intelligence dogs. Additionally, these dogs are naturally independent. They like to take charge and sometimes this may lead to stubbornness. But ultimately, they possess excellent trainability.
19. German Shorthaired Pointer
The German shorthaired pointer was developed back in the 19th century for hunting. The dog is also viewed as one of the most versatile pooches out there with an incredible ability to operate on land and water.
The dog is an active hunter too and this means that it is highly instinctive. The Shorthaired pointer also has very high alertness levels.
The first time you see a Keeshond, one thing that would typically draw your attention is the thick double coat and its playful good-natured temperament. But there is more to this dog than meets the eye, including its high intelligence.
The Keeshond is one of the most trainable pooches in the world. This astonishing ability is largely attributed to the dog’s ability to learn and memorize commands faster than most breeds.
The Collie is a popular herding dog and as with most herding dogs, the level of intelligence in this breed is outstanding. Herding dogs were developed to keep cattle in line. Although they are feisty at times, they are constantly learning cattle movement and responding to such situations on a real-time basis.
This makes their intellectual ability way more developed than other dogs. The Collie in particular tends to be very “In tune” with people. The pooch is able to pick out certain human cues, including words and behavior without any training.
16. Belgian Sheepdog
The Belgian Sheepdog is also another herding dog and as we have explained above, due to the nature of their work, these pooches tend to have above-average intelligence. The dog is not just easy to train. It is also a very keen observer.
These dogs would typically learn more from their owners by just observing everything keenly than from normal commands. The Belgian Sheepdog is also a very hardworking pooch and you should be able to identify it thanks to its unique dark black coat.
The Schipperke is more like a mini Belgian Sheepdog. Both of these pooches have a distinctive dark black coat and can trace their origins in Belgium. However, the most important thing they have in common is their high intelligence.
The Schipperke is naturally curious and high energy. You will need to keep it engaged with exercise and playtime longer than most dogs. But the pooch always wants to please and should therefore be highly obedient.
14. Belgian Shepherd
Looks like Belgian dogs are on a roll here right? Well, coincidence or not, the Belgians know how to breed intelligent dogs and the Belgian Shepherd is not any different. It is another herding dog (notice a theme here).
The dog is characterized by hard work, double coat, and yes, a brain that makes the pooch so easy to train. These dogs are very receptive to orders but their protective instincts may make obedience a bit difficult at first.
13. English Springer Spaniel
The English springer spaniel is a bird hunting dog known for its affectionate demeanor and exciting personality. The breed is also used as a sniffer dog.
However, what makes the pooch so enjoyable to be with is the fact that it’s always willing to obey. The dog will require very little commands to get in line and is always eager to learn something new.
12. Miniature Schnauzer
The Miniature Schnauzer is just a smaller version of the larger Standard Schnauzer. These breeds tend to be cool and distant, especially towards strangers.
But unlike its stronger, more dominating brother, the miniature schnauzer is smarter and more popular globally. These pooches also do very well in obedience tests, something that makes training relatively easier.
11. Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Finally, we arrive at the Pembroke Welsh Corgi. It’s interesting to note that it is way higher in the list than its cousin the Cardigan Welsh Corgi. Nonetheless, dogs are not the same, even if they are related.
The Pembroke Welsh Corgi is a superb, high intelligence, and trainable dog with commendable obedience. These dogs will require as few as five repetitions to understand new commands. The dogs will obey your first command eight of ten times too.
10. Australian Cattle Dog
As the name suggests, the Australian Cattle Dog is bred down under and it’s often used to drive cattle over long distances. The pooch is traditionally used to working on very tough terrain.
In light of this, it has developed superb instinctive and adaptive intelligence attributes that help it to maneuver under such conditions. The dog is also very explorative, independent, and obedient too.
If you are looking for a dog that combines brute strength and incredible brains, then you won’t find a better choice than the Rottweiler. This German breed was traditionally developed for herding but because of its strength, it was also used to pull carts on farms.
While the pooch is very easy to train, it tends to learn more by intuitively observing its surroundings. These breeds are regularly used in search and rescue operations and as guard dogs too.
The Papillon is a small and cute dog but it is more intelligent, confident, and generally self-assured than most breeds. It requires very little time to learn tricks and routines.
A Papillon will obey a first command 9 out of 10 times. This just tells you how intellectually gifted the pooch is. The papillon is also rated one of the most responsive and obedient toy dogs in the world.
7. Labrador Retriever
The Labrador retriever is a popular dog breed and for several good reasons. However, its intellectual brilliance has to be top on the list of pros.
The dogs are so smart that they are normally trained to help people with disabilities, autism, and blindness move around with ease.
Labrador Retrievers are exceptionally obedient too and it shouldn’t take long before you mold these pooches to your liking.
6. Shetland Sheepdog
Originally from Scotland, the Shetland sheepdog is a low-profile herding dog often characterized by a feisty attitude. The dog is also a hard worker but underneath all that grit is a high level of intelligence.
However, these dogs thrive on physical exercise. As long as they are busy, they will continue to develop excellent mental capabilities and steer clear of any undesirable behavior in the long run.
The Dobermann is a large guard dog from Germany that has a reputation for outstanding tenacity, alertness, and high intelligence. These dogs are also stubborn at times but they can be very dedicated and loyal to their owners.
The Dobermann will obey a new command 90% of the time, making it one of the most trainable dogs in the world. As a matter of fact, with consistent training, you can train any behavior in this dog.
4. Golden Retriever
The Golden Retriever is a versatile hunting dog instinctively bred to operate on both land and water. The pooch has a very good brain too in fact, it is among the very few breeds in the world capable of advanced training routines and tricks.
More often than not, these dogs would learn a new command in very little time. They are also used as disability assistance dogs because of their high intelligence level.
3. German Shepherd
The German shepherd is a large wolf-like dog that was bred traditionally to herd sheep. However, the breed’s role has evolved over the years. Due to its intelligence, hard work, and trainability, the German shepherd is the most preferred breed in law enforcement and the military.
It has often been used in search and rescue operations, tracking, and narcotics detection. It is also the second most popular dog breed in the US.
The Vizsla is an affectionate mid-sized dog with a playful and energetic attitude. These Hungarian sporting dogs are known for their loyal companionship but they also have brains to match as well. Vizslas are always eager to learn but training sometimes can be a bit tricky.
The pooch’s high energy means that it requires robust exercise routines to keep them busy and away from destructive behavior. The dogs are also stubborn and require a firm-handed approach to training for the best results. But they are still some of the most obedient dog breeds in the world.
1. Cardigan Welsh Corgi
The Cardigan Welsh Corgi is one of two major dog breeds from Wales. Bred traditionally for herding cattle, cardigan corgis are relatively quick in learning new commands. Corgis tend to also pick up cues from their environment relatively faster, especially by observing their owners.
Cardigan corgis have impeccable mental acuity too. They will easily learn and stick to a routine faster than most dog breeds. The Cardigan Welsh Corgi however ranks almost 20 places below its cousin, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi.
Are Big Dogs Smarter Than Small Dogs?
No, the size of the dog has got nothing to do with its intelligence. As you can see from our list above, the top ten smartest dogs in the world include a mix of small, mid-sized, and large dogs.
What Is The Smartest Dog Ever?
The Border Collie is the smartest dog in the world, at least according to Stanley Coren’s research on canine intelligence. The dog is highly trainable and very skillful too. It needs less than five repetitions to learn a new command. The dog also obeys new commands at least 95% of the time.
What Are The 7 Basic Dog Commands?
The 7 basic dog commands include sit, down, stay, come, off, don’t touch, and heel. All these commands are designed to help control your pooch. They however require different levels of training. For example, it’s very easy for dogs to learn the sit command than heel. Either way, with time the pooch will learn all of them.