A Complete List of 15 Most Intelligent Dogs

Most intelligent dogs have a unique ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills. If a dog is capable of gathering right kind of information and use it at the right time in a correct way, we can place him in the exclusive club of the most intelligent dogs.

Experts indicate that an adult dog illustrates a similar intelligence to that of a two year old human baby. So, a smart dog has its limits as well.

15 Smartest Dog Breeds List in 2020

Does dog intelligence mean popularity?

In fact, dog intelligence does not necessarily indicate the popularity of a breed. The Border Collie captures the top spot in terms of dog intelligence score.
 
But the AKC breed popularity list places this breed at the 35th position.  On the other hand, the most popular breed in the USA is the Labrador Retriever which is positioned at the 7th spot in the dog intelligence list. Intelligent dogs may be difficult to handle and that can be too much for a potential owner unwilling to spend much effort behind the puppy.

What is the IQ of a dog?

Animal science suggests that an adult dog IQ stands equal to a two year old child. But the top smartest dogs such as the Border Collie, Poodle and several other breeds can compete with a child aged 2.5 years in terms of mental skills.

What are the factors of dog intelligence?

Professor Stanley Coren at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver puts forward three distinct features of the most intelligent dogs. These are instinctive intelligence, adaptive intelligence and working as well as obedience intelligence. 

1. Breed defines instinctive intelligence in the form of herding, pointing, protecting, companionship and so on.
2. Adaptive intelligence points to his capacity of resolving issues on his own.
3. Working and obedience intelligence denotes his aptitude at learning new things from humans.

So, we have brought you 15 of the most intelligent dogs who perform the best in these classifications.

Which dog breed is the smartest?

Dog people have reached a general agreement that the Border Collie captures this honored spot. Working breeds are most of the time good at receiving new ideas and implementing those in practice. The Border Collie specializes on this front. Five seconds is all it takes for him to learn a new command and apply it. 

But such a feat must precede with an excellent basic training implementation. Ninety five percent of the instances they will not disappoint you in this context. Now, take a look on the list of top intelligent dogs.

Is dog intelligence subject to training?

Dog intelligence is not simply conditioned to intense training output. Though most of the dogs learn sit, stay and other commands quite easily, it is not the prime factor for intelligence.

Rather, it is often a grace from their breed line. Usually, we see that a herding or working dog has better capacity at understanding and acting on your orders. Ancestral records come to their assistance in this regard.

There is another issue of breed job. Every dog has a basic function. If we try to frame a companion dog with guarding capability, it will yield no fruitful result. Certainly, you can upgrade his intelligence in the doggie scale to some extent. But at the upper echelon of dogdom, it is often a directly inherited quality.

Moreover, there are breeds who can master a command with as few as 5 trials and some will need 100 trials. They are fundamentally different.

1. Border Collie:

Border Collie

Lifespan:

Height : 18’’-22’’
Weight : 30-45 Pounds
Lifespan : 12-15 Years
Group : Herding

This herding British dog has a reputation for being affectionate, smart and energetic. They are famous for their ‘herding eye’. This is a penetrating gaze that startles and gathers the herd together.  He is highly perceptive of his trainer’s smallest signals. Interestingly, intelligent Border Collie outshines the other competitors in both athleticism and agility.

Does this laborious dog suit you? Certainly, a workaholic Border Collie will never take rest before finishing his daily tasks. His characteristic dynamic build up discards a potentially idle owner from having him.

2. Poodle:

Poodle

Lifespan:

Height : 10’’-15’’
Weight : 40-70 Pounds
Lifespan : 12-15 Years
Group : Non-Sporting

Active and smart Poodles are the top training performers. They are fantastic for agility, obedience and amazing at hunting grounds. This aristocratic and intelligent German dog breed dislikes solitude. He is easy to train for hunting, tracking as well as retrieving.

What is the national dog of France? You bet, it is Poodle who is the national dog of France. He loves to be with his family and possesses a good sense of humor

3. German Shepherd Dog:

German shepherd

Lifespan:

Height : 22’’-26’’
Weight : 50-90 Pounds
Lifespan : 8-13 Years
Group : Herding

The second most popular dog in the USA, the German Shepherd is courageous, confident and smart. Known as Alsatian in Britain, these intelligent dogs are still serving in both the military and the police.

Originally a herding dog, the German Shepherd  has earned an eminence for its agility, nobility and all weather working capacity. He holds a reserved personality only to be melted down by his family members. It makes him a splendid watchdog.

Why did the Brits use the name Alsatian? British people used to abhor anything German during the Second World War. This dog first came to light during that restive period. So, the British people started calling him ‘Alsatian’ instead after the place of their origin.

4. Golden Retriever:

Golden Retriever

Lifespan:

Height : 21’’-24’’
Weight : 55-75 Pounds
Lifespan : 10-12 Years
Group : Sporting

The third most popular dog Golden Retriever is friendly, intelligent and devoted. He is a Scottish gun dog reputed for search and rescue. Goldens are sociable, trustworthy and all-for-family dogs. This lavishly beautiful dog takes his job seriously and puts a lot of efforts into it.

Solemn working attitude makes him a perfect trainee. He loves your presence and seeks for ways to please you with an adorable companionship. This sporting dog is highly energetic for a watchdog but not as a protector or guard.

Therefore, why is this big dog not a protector? They are more social than necessary. These dogs barely know the meaning of aggression. They are likely to welcome a stranger with a big smile on their face. So, this is an unfit candidate for protection purposes.

5. Doberman Pinscher:

Doberman Pinscher

Lifespan:

Height : 24’’- 28’’
Weight : 60-90 Pounds
Lifespan : 10-13 Years
Group : Working Group

The AKC mentions this sleek and strenuous dog as loyal, intrepid and alert. Majestic Doberman is a grand combination of physical superiority and sharp intelligence. Their fierce outlook and bright understanding gives them a prominence for an incomparable protection dog.

Consequently, what is the guarding capacity of a Doberman? Not to mention, his nature does not permit him to seek for troubles. But this one will go a long distance to minimize an imminent threat. His physical and mental soundness requires plenty of exercise. Nonetheless, deep loyalty to the family has placed the Doberman as one of the top rated dogs.

6. Shetland Sheepdog:

Shetland Sheepdog

Lifespan:

Height : 13’’-16’’
Weight : 15-25 Pounds
Lifespan : 12-14 Years
Group : Herding

Energetic and bright Shetland Sheepdog belongs to the herding group. He is a nimble runner, distinguished jumper and obedient herder. Watchdog Sheltie bears a close resemblance to his cousin Border Collie. Lively Shetland asks for more physical exercise and mental stimulation than his small size necessarily indicates.

Shelties are kind of withdrawn among the strangers. But they are deeply amicable with their family members. Sensitive Shelties need a tranquil trainer’s voice. Messy environment will weigh in on your nerve with his corresponding high pitched barking.

7. Labrador Retriever:

Labrador Retriever

Lifespan:

Height : 21’’-24’’
Weight : 55-80 Pounds
Lifespan : 10-12 Years
Group : Sporting

The topmost popular dog in America, Labrador Retriever is active and outgoing in nature. Robustly built Labradors are ardent athletes looking for a ton of both physical and mental exercise in the form of swimming and fetching.

Unquestionably, he accommodates many roles. This is a swift retriever, show dog, affectionate companion and hard worker. Labradors are astounding swimmers assisted tremendously with its webbed feet along with a water repellent smooth coat. Hunter Labrador easily gets bored without a good amount of energy expenditure.

Why are they so much popular? They are all in family companions. Sporty Labrador is warm, intelligent and ready for any family needs. Dog competitions bear testimony to their agility and obedience.

8. Papillon:

Papillon

Lifespan:

Height : 8’’-11’’
Weight : 5-10 pounds
Lifespan : 14-16 Years
Group : Toy

Toy spaniel and wonderful companion Papillon has a reputation for friendly, alert and happy demeanor. He has ears resembling butterfly wings that demonstrate his nimble athleticism. This toy breed is almost exempt from bellicosity and is adorned with fast movement suitable for unleashing a cascade of tricks.

Inevitably, Papillon beauty does not bar us from mentioning his strenuous capacities. This sturdy dog can tolerate both warm and cold climates. They belong to the highest performing breeds in canine competitions. This splendid little watchdog can steer clear your place of rodents. His higher intelligence makes him easily trainable. Sweet tempered Papillon makes a superb family dog.

9. Rottweiler:

Rottweilers

Lifespan:

Height : 22’’-27’’
Weight : 85-135 Pounds
Lifespan : 8-11 Years
Group : Working

Robustly built Rottweiler is loyal, loving and confident guardians. They are self assured, calm and courageous. Instinctively territorial Rottweilers are befitting as police dogs, herders and service dogs.

These innate guard dogs, in the right hands, turn into magnificent family protectors. He loves family companionship. Frankly, he is a real two edged sword who may get involved into tragic incidents if he is kept unsupervised. With impeccable physical build up and intelligent understanding of the situation, a Rottweiler could become your best friend in the world.

10. Australian Cattle Dog:

Australian cattle dog

Lifespan:

Height : 18’’-20’’
Weight : 30-50 Pounds
Lifespan : 12-16 Years
Group : Herding

Alert and pleasant Australian Cattle Dog belongs to the herding group. Besides, high energy ‘Australian Heeler’ regularly outdoes his master. He is a man of action and abhors idling around. You must keep him busy all the time or he will demonstrate destructive behavior. In addition, his compact and muscular physique is a symbol of energy and agility.

On top of that, they perform their superiority at chasing, hunting and herding cattle. He bonds intimately with a single person and maintains kind of reserved relationship with the others.

Certainly, he is especially built for rough weather or terrain and can undergo immense pressure.

11. Pembroke Welsh Corgi:

Pembroke Welsh Corgi

Lifespan:

Height : 10’’-12’’
Weight : +-30 Pounds
Lifespan : 12-14 Years
Group : Herding

First of all, smart and affectionate Pembroke Welsh Corgi belongs to the herding group. In fact, they are the smallest in this category.

Furthermore, they are the most amiable among the miniature sized dogs. Their higher intelligence level has incorporated them into the family dog group. This profession is more comfortable than their previous working dog status. They are still the most in-demand herding breed.

Reliable, agile and focused Pembrokes contain a big dog personality in their short legged small size. Besides, He is stubborn too. But this is very much common to the intelligent dog group. Observant Pembroke is a watchdog with nerve shuddering barks. But he is gentle with the guests.

Frankly, this is a fantastic trainee and a loyal family dog. He is susceptible to obesity. So, you have to take care not to overfeed him.

12. Miniature Schnauzer:

Miniature Schnauzer

Lifespan:

Height : 12’’-14’’
Weight : 11-20 Pounds
Lifespan : 12-14 Years
Group : Terrier

Miniature Schnauzer, a German dog breed, stands out as friendly, smart and intelligent. This terrier group member is the 17th popular canine pet and it tells a lot about his personality. His cheerful, extroverted presence and lightweight size makes him a flawless family dog.

In addition, he was bred to be a farmland guard dog against smaller threats. Nowadays, a spunky Miniature would love to join the amusements of a family. He also prefers an all time company agreeable to his high energy.

Why should I pet a Miniature Schnauzer? Generally, healthy Miniatures bring in a congenial shaggy beard and eyebrows. His minuscule size demands a little outdoor exercise but feisty indoor games.

Moreover, he can be trained easily because of a superb wit. But he may act a bit awkward because of a terrier nature. Undoubtedly, he is a non-aggressive character and goes well with the others.

13. English Springer Spaniel:

English Springer Spaniel

Lifespan:

Height : 19’’-20’’
Weight : 40-50 Pounds
Lifespan : 12-14 Years
Group : Sporting

Versatility lies at the core of an English Springer Spaniel. He promises happy, lively personality along with intense family ties. He is fit for any job that you can think of for a pet dog. Hunting, tracking, agility, obedience tests and show rings are some of his splendid performance areas. They demonstrate tremendous tenacity and stamina in a difficult situation.

However, family remains to be their common ground of expertise. No matter how tough the situation is, his happiness never gets diminished while he is with the people he loves. They can impeccably adapt to a social circumstance as these dogs are reputed for outgoing character and active participation in the events around them.

14. Belgian Tervuren:

Belgian Tervuren

Lifespan:

Height : 22’’-26’’
Weight : 45-75 Pounds
Lifespan : 12-14 Years
Group : Herding

Intellectually sufficient Belgian Tervuren comes in a medium size. These smart dogs love hard challenges and busy working schedules. Previously, he was a farm dog with a jam packed routine.

Athleticism and versatility are the words perfect for a Belgian Tervuren. He is the most handsome member of the four Belgian sheepdogs. You will have access to unending humor with a Tervuren by your side. This is truly a swift learner of your tricks and commands.

15. Belgian Sheepdog:

Belgian Shepherd

Lifespan:

Height : 22’’-26’’
Weight : 45-75 Pounds
Lifespan : 12-14 Years
Group : Herding

Here comes another herding group member into the most intelligent dog club. This smart dog takes no time to capture your training by its heart. His extraordinary intelligence demands an experienced owner.

You must plan in advance to keep him busy as his endless energy requires continuous jobs. Superb performance in sports and agility is nothing special if you have this dog. Belgium has gifted the world with this multi-talented dog.

Finally:

If you do not find your dog in this list of the most intelligent dogs, there is no point to be disappointed. The smartest dogs require plenty of jobs and companionship which is quite awkward for a busy person. They are usually hard working dogs and in case of few tasks to perform, their behavior goes nuts.

So, be a proud owner of a smart dog only when you have thought out these points thoroughly. Their high level of energy asks for more attention, more work, more company and so on. You can be happy as well with your current pet depending on your needs and circumstances.

Ultimately, remember that the most intelligent dogs are often the most difficult to handle.

8 Replies to “A Complete List of 15 Most Intelligent Dogs”

  • While the Brits may have had their reasons some 70+ years ago for referring to the German Shepherd as an Alsatian, it would be incorrect for North Americans to follow suit, since in this hemisphere there is already a breed of Husky known as the Alsatian. It is found primarily in northwestern Canada and Alaska. Further, referring to something originating in the former Alsace region might more usefully be considered French rather than German. To avoid saying the word ‘German’ by substituting a word having a strong French connotation seems fruitlessly obscurantist. I wonder if the Belgian Sheepdog would be amused by the Brits’ impertinence in this regard…

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