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Top 10 Smartest Breeds

Everyone likes to believe that his or her dog, or breed of choice, is the smartest. But, because of their breeding and history, some breeds just tend to be smarter than others. Herding and working dogs tend to have higher levels of intelligence and trainability than do some hunting and toy breeds. While there is not technically a dog version of an IQ test that can be used to determine a dog's exact intelligence level, studies have been performed and opinions polled to come up with criteria for determining a dog's smarts. One such study, conducted by a psychology professor, named Stanley Coren, ranked dogs using responses and assessments provided by obedience trail judges. Intelligence levels were determined based on their understanding of new commands, as well as their obedience to commands issued to them. Based on history of the breeds, findings from studies and obedience assessments like the one conducted by Coren, we've compiled a list of the top 10 smartest dogs to settle the debate.

Border Collie

Like many herding dogs, Border Collies are highly intelligent and trainable. They were bred to complete complex tasks, both with and without human direction. Due to their intelligence, Border Collies constantly need companionship, praise and exercise. Border Collies also have a high level of focus and concentration, making them great in competitions for such skills as agility, obedience and sheepdog trials.


Bred for their intellect, the Poodle is one of the easiest breeds to train. They have an intense desire to please their owners, which can also make them very easy to train. Poodles love to be around people, and really hate to be left alone. Some standard Poodles are good guard dogs. Overall, Poodles are a sensitive, pleasant and happy breed.

German Shepherd

German Shepherds are extremely intelligent and courageous. They were bred with to be the perfect service dog, with the motto "utility and intelligence". As long as they are trained in obedience from an early age, they can be great family dogs, and great with children. This intelligence, paired with their courageous nature makes German Shepherds excellent police and search dogs.

Golden Retriever

The Golden Retriever represents everything we love about dogs. With such great intelligence, it's no wonder that Golden Retrievers excel in obedience competitions and at performing tricks. The first American Kennel Club obedience trial, they consistently rank high in obedience tests. The Golden, as they are affectionately known, is always ready to work for and please their owners.

Doberman Pinscher

Best known as a fierce watchdog, the Doberman Pinscher was bred for protection. Their combination of intelligence, fearlessness and loyalty make them easy to train. Dobermans, with the proper training, can make excellent family pets.

Shetland Sheepdog

Shelties were originally bred to herd hundreds of sheep and cattle, requiring great concentration. They are very loyal and affectionate within their own family. In fact, the Sheltie very much yearns for human companionship. The strong bond that Shelties form with their owners, combined with their intellect, makes them among the easiest dog breeds to train.

Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retrievers are extremely loving, affectionate, and patient dogs. Like many hunting breeds, they love to work and need a lot of exercise. Among other breeds, labs have a unique ability to learn and do so with even the most basic training. They are a very popular family dog because of their good nature and love of children.


Don't be fooled by their size, Papillons are actually a lot tougher than they look. Papillons can be a little moody and aggressive, but they are simply very possessive of their masters and their territory. The smartest of the toy breeds, Papillons are a very intelligent dog that is very easy to train. Their natural confidence is increased with training and praise, which makes them eager to show off what they know.


The Rottweiler has a fearsome reputation that is largely undeserved. The Rottweiler is only average in intensity, and makes a great family dog. Not only is the Rottweiler intelligent, but extremely courageous one of the best guard dogs and reliable. Bred to work and protect, the Rottweiler dates all the way back to Ancient Rome. It is in their nature to work and please their owners, but they need a lot of training in order to be taught boundaries.

Austrailian Cattle Dog

The Australian Cattle Dog needs to exercise on a regular basis, both mentally and physically. They are freethinking, resourceful, and very protective of their property. They have an innate eagerness to please their owners and will go above and beyond in order to do so. This and their extreme devotion make them among the smartest, and easiest breeds to train.

Honorable Mentions:

Welsh Corgi

Pit Bull

Great Dane


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Top 10 Smartest Dog Breeds