Top 10 Most Intelligent Breeds of Dogs

dogs playing pokerHere is a list of your brightest and smartest (most intelligent) dog breeds, worldwide, according to the accomplished author, Stanley Coren, of the publication entitled “The Intelligence of Dogs”. Both a psychologist and trainer, Mr. Coren studies the psychological makeup of dogs in an attempt to answer many questions about canine emotions and intelligence.

According to Stanley Coren, there are three types of dog intelligence:

  • Adaptive Intelligence (learning and problem-solving ability) – This is specific to the individual animal and is measured by canine IQ tests.
  • Instinctive Intelligence – This is specific to the individual animal and is measured by canine IQ tests.
  • Working/Obedience Intelligence – This is breed dependent.

So, without further ado, here are the Top 10 breeds … in order… drum roll please 🙂

#1 – Border Collie

Border_CollieLike many intelligent breeds, the Border Collie needs a job to do.  If they don’t have a purpose in life or some kind of job, they will not be happy.  Border Collies should  definitely not be left at home alone all day, and if they are, they can become quite destructive. They need constant companionship, praise, and extensive exercise.  So if you work and live in the city, a Border Collie probably isn’t the dog for you!  Because of their legendary intelligence, Border Collies set the standard in competitions for such skills as agility, obedience, and of course, sheepdog trials.


#2 – Poodle

poodleYes, the Poodle is at number two.  The standard Poodle is highly intelligent and one of the easiest breeds to train.  They love to be around people, and really hate to be left alone.  Some standard Poodles are good guard dogs, and some can even be trained as hunters!  Overall, Poodles are very sensitive and pleasant. They tend to be a happy breed.


#3 – German Shepherd

german_shepherdGerman Shepherds are extremely intelligent, courageous, and have a very strong protective instinct (they are one of the best guard dogs).  As long as they are trained in obedience from an early age by a loving but firm hand, they can be great family dogs, and excellent with children.  Because of their intelligence, a German Shepherd needs a purpose or job in life to be truly happy. This intelligence, coupled with their courageous nature make German Shepherds excellent police and search dogs.


#4 – Golden Retriever

golden-retrieverConsistently ranked as the most popular breed of dog, the Golden Retriever personifies everything we love about dogs-loyal, loving, patient, great with children and eager to please.  With such great intelligence, it’s no wonder that Golden Retrievers excel in obedience competitions and at performing tricks.  It should be no surprise that the Golden ranks highly on the list of top 10 most affectionate dogs.


#5 – Doberman Pinscher

doberman-pinscherDobermans are an extremely loyal, assertive, and fearless breed.  They have incredible stamina, and love to work (they are one of the top 10 best guard dog breeds)  Although known as a dominant breed, Dobermans can vary greatly as far as temperament goes.  Some can be quite docile, and even work as therapy dogs in hospitals!  Dobermans can be great family dogs too, if trained properly from an early age.  Although not vicious, you can count on a Doberman to aggressively protect its master if necessary.


#6 – Shetland Sheepdog

shetland-sheepdogMany Shetland owners swear that their dog has nearly human intelligence!  Shelties were originally bred to herd hundreds of sheep and cattle, requiring great concentration and, of course, intelligence.  They can be a little wary of strangers and children, but are very loyal and affectionate within their own family.  In fact, the Sheltie very much craves human companionship.


#7 -Labrador Retriever

Labrador_RetrieverAn extremely loving, affectionate, and patient dog, the Labrador Retriever is one of the most popular breeds of dog in the world.  They love to work, and need a lot of exercise.  Without proper exercise, Labs have been known to develop weight problems.  Because of their good nature, and love of children and other dogs, they are a very popular family dog.


#8 – The Papillon

papillon3Does this dog scare you at all?  Well it should, because Papillons are actually a lot tougher than they look!  Some would characterize Papillons as a little moody and aggressive, but they are simply very possessive of their masters and “home turf”.  It may surprise some that the Papillon is considered one of the most affectionate dogs. Another very intelligent dog, and very easy to train.


#9 – Rottweiler

rottweilerThe Rottweiler, #9 on the list, has a fearsome reputation that is largely undeserved.  The Rotti is only average in intensity, and make a great family dog.  Not only is the Rottweiler intelligent, but extremely courageous and reliable – Also, one of the best guard dogs around.


#10 – Australian Cattle Dog

australian_cattle_dogThe Australian Cattle Dog is a very active breed.  They need to be exercised on a regular basis, both mentally and physically.  As they were originally bred to herd in cattle in Australia (hence the name), they are freethinking, resourceful, and very protective of their property, including people!


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19 Responses

  1. I don’t agree wih your method of measuring a dog’s IQ.
    It’s not how well a breed performs those acts for which it’ is bred. That’s instinctive— innate. IQ should be measured by how well the breed understands concepts beyond its instincts. Language, recall, application, abstracts, etc. are the true tests. Like people, training is not a good test. In fact, I contend, that a willingness to perform the same tasks repeatedly and tirelessly, is mere training and indicative of a lower level of intelligence. Higher intelligence goes beyond instincts and basic training.

    • @Daisy Sarno. Perhaps you didn’t read the intro at the beginning of the article. Three tests are applied – only one of the three tests, the Working/Obedience Intelligence test, is “breed dependent”, the other two tests, Adaptive Intelligence and Instinctive Intelligence, “are specific to the individual animal”.

      One should also note that this doesn’t mean ALL Border Collies are smarter that ALL Labrador Retrievers. Just as a general rule.

      From my experience I’d have to say the list is pretty accurate. Just my opinion.

      I’ve owned several German Shepherds in the past and because of their intelligence, couldn’t imagine owning any other breed. That is, until I got a Border Collie/Springer Spaniel mix. I had to put my Border down this December 09 (cancer) and it was the hardest thing I ever had to do. Now it would be difficult for me to think of owning anything other than a Border (but a German Shepherd would be a close second).

  2. I have long haired Chihuahuas. They seem pretty bright. Certainly they listen to humans in conversation, and react to key words – such as car, shopping, family names, and of course ‘sausages’.

  3. me encantan los rott
    Translated: I love rotts

  4. los rot no son malos depende como los crien si los creas pera atacar si son malos . son buenisimos
    Translated: the rot is not as bad – depends on whether you like the breed – pair will attack if they are bad. They’re very good.

  5. The best dog for you is the one that fits perfectly in your life. I have owned AmStaffs and they are great guard dogs who love children and adapt easily to an apartment environment. GSD and Dobes are great too, but they need a plenty of place to run, and a specific work to regularly do on a daily basis. The retrievers are excellent family dogs, but they too need to run. They also are heavy shedders and bad guard dogs. If I had no AmStaffs I may go for Poodles!

  6. I love Dobermans.

  7. Of the top ten most intelligent dogs my favorites are: Border Collie,German Shepherd,Golden Retriever,Shetland Sheepdog,Papillon & Rottweiler.
    My favorite is the Shetland Sheepdog. I have a Chihuahua named Fifi, she is really sweet.

  8. ooooooooo me parece que estos perritos son muy lindos yo e tenido algunos de ellos me parecen que son muy lindos y espero que los sepan cuidar ok ok ok …………..
    posdata: todos los perros me gustaron
    mua mua mua mua …………………..mua mua

  9. my fav r rottweilers lol their b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l!

  10. Dobermans have to be my favorite dogs.I had one when I was a kid and I’m trying to talk my wife into letting me get one again.

  11. Ik had vroeger een rottweiler heeft me gered van een kogel,nu wandel ik met een rottweiler uit het asiel en wie weet(ik hoop)

  12. Nearly 40% of small breed dogs live longer than 10 years, but only 13% of giant breed dogs live that long. The average 50-pound dog will live 10-12 years. But giant breeds such as great Danes or deerhounds are elderly at 6-8 years.
    So, prefer small breeds like Pappilon…cute

  13. I found this post is very interesting. Learn a lot about dog breeds now. Pretty smart post. Good job!

  14. hehe. This is so ironic. basically says everything.

  15. great information! dogs are not only dog, they are great companion to people we should love, care and treat them as part of our family.

  16. he he he he. Information is quite good. I love Parmorian and labrador.

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