The 15 Most Intelligent Dog Breeds, According to a Psychologist

Posted by Katherine Ripley

If you want an intelligent companion, consider one of these Einstein-esque breeds!

Dogs are about as smart as the average two-year-old, but there is a range of dog intelligence across different breeds. These intelligent dogs will win you over with their smarts, from learning new commands to just knowing what you are thinking.

Psychologist and trainer Stanley Coren's famous book The Intelligence of Dogs is regarded as a definitive ranking of more than 100 breeds. Coren interviewed numerous breeders and trainers of dogs over several years, identifying what exactly defines intelligence.

Often met with mixed emotions, Coren's central thesis marks a few factors of how to identify smart dogs: these are breeds that are responsive to commands, radiate obedience and working intelligence, and can be trained for specialized tasks like hunting or security -- Many of the top breeds in Coren's list are often guide dogs or search and rescue heroes.

The Intelligence of Dogs - Stanley Coren
Amazon

According to Coren's decade-long research, here are the 15 smartest dog breeds, which ultimately ranks 131 breeds. (If only their barks could talk!) If you have any of these breeds, ensure they never stop learning new tricks or going through obedience trials!

15 Smartest Dogs Breeds, Ranked

1. Border Collie

Border Collies are so smart that they need to have a job to keep them occupied. These high-energy pups make excellent herding dogs, and as family pets, they are happy to help around the house. Australian Cattle Dogs and Australian Shepherds also fall into this category.

2. Poodle

Poodles are usually associated with canine fashion, but they are also among the very best dog breeds for intelligence. They were originally bred for bird hunting and water retrieving and have been trained to bring supplies to soldiers wounded in battle.

3. German Shepherd

The German Shepherd is heralded as great police, military, and security guard dog. They're trained to sniff out bombs, drugs, and people. They're also extremely loyal to and protective of their masters.

4. Golden Retriever

Golden Retrievers make fantastic family pets, and their intelligence makes them well-suited to be service dogs. English Setters can also be put in the smart retriever category.

5. Doberman Pinscher

The Doberman Pinscher was originally bred to be a guardian by a tax collector who wanted protection while making his rounds. Dobermans also make great police dogs and military dogs.

6. Shetland Sheepdog

Herding dogs like the Shetland Sheepdog tend to be highly intelligent. Shelties make great family pets and can be easily trained to perform in agility competitions. Dog obedience judges love Shelties!

7. Labrador Retriever

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Friendly and intelligent, Labs have been the most popular AKC (American Kennel Club) dog breed in the U.S. for two decades and make wonderful family dogs. In addition, Labs are great hunting dogs, and they are also frequently used for water dog rescue, as therapy dogs, and as assistance dogs, such as seeing-eye dogs.

Labs are all-around a good dog!

8. Papillon

At only 11 inches high, the Papillon is the smartest of the toy breeds. They're highly active and highly trainable small dogs.

9. Rottweiler

The Rottweiler gets a bad reputation, but they are actually very affectionate when raised with love. They are extremely loyal to their families and don't hesitate to defend them, making for ideal watchdogs.

10. Australian Cattle Dog

As high energy as they come, Australian Cattle Dogs have a high instinctive intelligence. This makes them great working dogs that excel in a variety of roles, especially moving livestock on farms.

11. Pembroke Welsh Corgis

The Pembroke Welsh Corgi is a smart, intelligent, and affectionate breed, according to the American Kennel Club. These dogs make amazing herding and guard dogs and are loyal, loving pets who are easily trained.

12. Miniature Schnauzers

Mini Schnauzers are intelligent, willing to please, and excellent at obeying commands. These loyal dogs are fast learners, and they make great companions.

13. English Springer Spaniel

Among the most affectionate dog breeds out there, don't let those dreamy eyes fool you: English Springer Spaniels are rugged, well-built dogs for hunting and are highly trainable.

14. Belgian Tervuren

Belgian Tervurens (or Belgian Shepherds) are high-energy, eager-to-please dogs. Relaxed owners will want to proceed with caution, as Tervs need lots of mental and physical stimulation to keep them happy.

15. Schipperke

These Belgian sheepdogs may be small, but they're among the most famous breeds for being stealthy, small-animal hunters. Schipperkes were even used during World War II by the Belgian Resistance, which used these dogs to run messages between hideouts without Nazi armies realizing they were, well, secret agents.
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Other intelligent breeds that Cohen identifies are Collie, German Shorthaired Pointer, English Cocker Spaniel, Brittany, Cocker Spaniel, and Belgian Malinois.

Popular dog breeds that fell towards the bottom of Coren's list -- Again, these rankings are based on trainability and obedience intelligence -- include Shih Tzu, Pekingese, Bloodhound, Chow Chow, Bulldog, and Afghan Hounds.

Training dogs is all about consistency, focus, regimented schedules, and patience. Starting young is the best way to ensure your companion is well-equipped for whatever life has in store, even they aren't always the sharpest tools in the shed...

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Does your dog have a favorite trick? Share your little genius at your Wide Open Pets Instagram!

This article was originally published on August 29, 2019. It was updated to reflect Professor Coren's republished edition of his book.

READ MORE: Separation Anxiety in Dogs: 6 Breeds That Hate Being Alone

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The 15 Most Intelligent Dog Breeds, According to a Psychologist