10 Smartest Dog Breeds According To Dog Experts

There’s no denying that dogs are social animals. We love them because they make the bestest friends. When it comes to intelligence, it’s also true that some canines are smarter than others. If you want to know the top smartest dog breeds in the world, this guide is for you.


Can A Dog’s Intelligence Be Determined?

You might appreciate the fact that your dog quickly responds to your commands. He’s curious about almost everything, and even solved that clever puzzle game!


But here’s what you should know:


Dog trainers and researchers alike have a hard time agreeing on one method for testing canine intelligence. Because the truth is, a dog’s ability to learn and obey commands is not the only measurement of intelligence [1].


However, certain dog breeds are easier to train. Examples of these breeds are Border Collies and Golden Retrievers [1].


Stanley Coren, a psychologist and leading canine researcher, says that there are three types of dog intelligence [2]:


  • Instinctive – This refers to the abilities that are inherent in a dog species.
  • Adaptive – This refers to how well your dog learns from his environment.
  • Working and obedience – This is the result of training that humans give to dogs.

As someone who’s looking to get a dog soon, know what a certain dog is bred to do. Is the breed made for hunting, herding, or retrieving things?


Once you understand the different types of dogs, you won’t create unfair expectations and even be able to maximize your fur baby’s potential.


10 Smartest Dog Breeds According To Dog Experts

The AKC and canine experts agree that these are the smartest dogs in the world [3]. Is your pooch one of them? See the list below.


1. Border Collie

Superstars in the herding dog group, Border Collies need a job to do. While they’re energetic, they would love to cuddle with you at the end of the day. Interesting fact: A Border Collie named Rico demonstrated knowledge of 200 spoken words and fast-track learning [4].


2. German Shepherd

The German Shepherd is large and athletic and also serves as an outstanding herding dog. They’re also widely used as service animals to help lead the blind. If you have this dog, make sure to give him tons of exercise [5].


3. Golden Retriever

Golden Retrievers are the best dogs not just because of their intelligence, but also because of their friendliness. They’re also easy to train. If you’re looking for a loyal and playful dog to join your family, the Golden Retriever is a great choice.


4. Australian Cattle Dog

The Australian Cattle Dog is very active, loyal, and wary of strangers. These dogs were developed in the 19th century to help ranchers. Their hardworking nature means that they need mental and physical stimulation. When bored, they can become destructive [6].


5. Belgian Sheepdog

The Belgian Sheepdog boasts of a shiny, black coat. While this dog breed is study and a workaholic, he’ll love playing fetch or frisbee with the kids. Do you live an active lifestyle? Need a great protector and loyal friend? If so, the Belgian Sheepdog is for you.


6. Poodle

Poodles may look cute and cuddly, but don’t be fooled. One of the top 10 smartest dogs, poodles can learn new commands and tricks in no time. They also tend to be hypersensitive, which means that they can easily sense emotional tension. You must avoid speaking to them in an aggressive tone [7].


7. Doberman Pinscher

Also called Dobe or Doberman, this dog breed was created in the late 1800s by a tax collector named Karl Friedrich Louis Dobermann. His goal back then was to create a fierce dog that would protect him while he did his collections in bandit-infested areas [8].


8. Papillon

Papillons are small in their size, but they make excellent watch dogs. They’re well-known for their signature “butterfly” ears. Did you know that they were bred to control pests at home? Alert and happy, Papillons stand out in obedience competitions.


9. Rottweiler

If you want a smart, fearless, and loving companion, consider the Rottweiler. Rotties need vigorous exercise daily. Got a yard for these dogs to play in? That will make them truly happy. You may not know this, but Rotties were among the earliest police and military dogs.


10. Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retrievers make outstanding service dogs for disabled individuals. They’re easy-going and friendly with kids and animals alike. Labs also enjoy playing games such as fetch and hide and seek!


Can You Train A Dog To Make It Smarter?

The smartest dogs have high instinctive intelligence, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore dog training.


Research tells us that training helps dogs become more proactive in solving problems since they learn to try out different behaviors to get a reward [9].


So, the more you train your furry friend, the more commands they learn – which makes them smarter.


The AKC offers some useful dog training tips [10]:


  • When training a puppy, adjust your expectations. For example, do not expect your pup to learn what the word “no” means immediately.
  • Reward your dog for being good! That way, he will know that he is doing the right thing.
  • Provide exercise and mental stimulation so they don’t get into trouble for being bored. Physical activity will also benefit their developing bodies.

Are Large Dogs Smarter Than Small Dogs?

Do dogs with bigger dogs with large brains perform better? Recent studies reveal that brain size may be related to cognition.


A biopsychologist thinks that this is reasonable since a bigger brain has more neurons. This allows an animal to process information and remember things better [11].


In one memory test, a treat was placed under one of two cups in front of the dog. After 60-150 seconds, the dog was to be released and should be able to locate the correct cup. The study involved 1,888 dogs, and the results showed that the larger dogs were able to remember the right cup for longer periods [11].


An article from the University of Arizona states that brain size does not necessarily relate to all types of intelligence. Yet, it reveals that dog breeds with big brains have better short-term memory and self-control compared to smaller dogs [12].



Always keep in mind that a dog breed can possess traits that aren’t found in another breed. It’s not right to stereotype dogs because intelligence is a subjective matter. And don’t forget: Training your dog will help him gain new skills and be a better companion. Be patient and consistent!



  1. ScienceDaily. Dog intelligence. https://www.sciencedaily.com/terms/dog_intelligence.htm
  2. American Psychological Association. Smarter Than You Think: Renowned Canine Researcher Puts Dogs’ Intelligence on Par with 2-Year-Old Human. 2009 August 8 – https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2009/08/dogs-think
  3. American Kennel Club. Smartest Breeds of Dogs. https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/smartest-dogs/
  4. American Psychological Association. Dogs’ Intelligence On Par With Two-year-old Human, Canine Researcher Says. 2009 August 10 – hrefhttps://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090810025241.htm
  5. Stregowski J. German Shepherd: Dog Breed Profile. 2019 June 21 – https://www.thesprucepets.com/breed-profile-german-shepherd-dog-1117967
  6. The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. Australian cattle dog. https://www.britannica.com/animal/Australian-cattle-dog
  7. Parker L. Poodles & Emotional Tension in the Home. https://pets.thenest.com/poodles-emotional-tension-home-10945.html
  8. The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. Doberman Pinscher. https://www.britannica.com/animal/Doberman-pinscher
  9. Coren S. Does Training Make Your Dog Smarter? 2015 April 29 – https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/canine-corner/201504/does-training-make-your-dog-smarter
  10. Erb H. 12 Very Useful Dog Training Tips. 2017 January 26 – https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/12-useful-dog-training-tips/
  11. Coren S. Are Big Dogs Smarter Than Small Dogs? 2019 January 17 – https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/canine-corner/201901/are-big-dogs-smarter-small-dogs
  12. University of Arizona. Are Big Dogs Smarter Than Small Ones? Scientists Finally Have an Answer. 2019 February 3 – https://www.sciencealert.com/are-big-dogs-smarter-than-small-ones-scientists-finally-have-an-answer

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