The Smartest Dog Breeds

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There are hundreds of dog breeds in existence, but some are smarter than others. The dogs that are considered some of the smartest dog breeds test higher in teachability, problem solving, and communication. Here is the smartest dog breeds list including a brief description of the breed itself.

The Border Collie

border collie

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The Border Collie is a high energy dog that loves people. They are ranked the 39th most popular dog breed according to the American Kennel Club and are best known for their affectionate and incredibly smart personality. They are so smart that in an article by USA Today, one Border Collie named Chaser was able to learn over 1,000 words in the English language, which is the largest known vocabulary of any animal to this date. Chaser’s owners taught him the different words by playing with her. They say that through playing with her, the words take on value because she is having fun. This smart Border Collie is a testament to the potential of this smart breed and how hundreds of years of breeding led to a higher intelligence of this breed.

The Poodle

black poodle

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Bred as water dogs in Germany, the Poodle is the second smartest dog breed. Although some of their wacky haircuts may convince you otherwise, poodles exert an intelligence that makes them easy to train. In fact, they are so easily trained that back in the 1800s you would be able to easily find a poodle at any circus. Circuses would train poodles to do tricks and act like humans and then dress them up in funny outfits to entertain guests and visitors. Poodles exemplify their intelligence through their proud demeanor. They are also great family dogs because of their obedience and gentleness.

The German Shepherd

german shepherd

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Ranking number 2 in one of the most popular dog breeds by the American Kennel Club, the German Shepherd is also one of the the smartest dog breeds. This breed is classified as a working dog and is commonly used as a police dog and military dog to help do activities such as search and rescue missions, track and pursuit of suspects, and even crowd control. They excel in these jobs because of their athletic capabilities and strong sense of smell. The German Shepherd is also one of two types of dogs, the other is the Rottweiler, that the police academy accepts for training because of their intelligence, confidence, and courageousness. The German Shepherd is an ideal pet for those who want a dog who is protective, loyal, and smart.

The Golden Retriever

golden retriever

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Golden Retrievers are a larger breed of dog that are known mostly for their friendliness and fun spirit, but they are also extremely smart animals. The Golden Retriever’s intelligence is actually thought to be potentially scientifically proven. In an article by Huffington Post, a geneticist answers questions about how DNA between certain breeds can be different depending on the genetic codes found in the strands of DNA. The article also suggests that further research of the differentiated DNA and the traits found in them has determined that a chemical called glutamate may play a part in determining a dog’s behavior and tendency towards certain actions. Although research is still being continued and discovered in this area, there is proof that has been found that suggests that certain breeds are proven to have a higher chance of being brighter, including the Golden Retriever. The Golden Retriever is also an perfect pet because of its playfulness and love of being around people.

The Doberman Pinscher

doberman pinscher

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A dog that was originally bred by a tax collector from Germany, the Doberman Pinscher is a mix of  many breeds including the Rottweiler, German Shorthaired Pointer, Weimaraner, Manchester Terrier, Beauceron, Great Dane, Black and Tan Terrier, and Greyhound. The Doberman Pinscher is a breed created and specially formulated for high functioning.This extremely, but intentionally mixed dog has an intelligence that aids in its ability to be a great guard dog. The Doberman Pinscher is found to often be easily bored and even outsmart their owners at time. Their personalities vary from being overly aggressive to being a big softy. These dogs desire intellectual stimulation and their high energy levels can lead to high physical activity. Doberman Pinschers are easy to train and are also fiercely loyal which makes them great dogs to own.

The Shetland Sheepdog

shetland sheepdog

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Ranked in the top ten of the smartest dog breeds, the Shetland Sheepdog is a gorgeous dog with a strong intelligence. Known as a herding dog, this breed is a hard worker with a very high energy level. Research by dog intelligence expert Dr. Stanley Corden states that the average Shetland Sheepdog can understand a new command in less than five repetitions. Besides learning commands easily, like the others mentioned above, the Sheltie is also known for being playful and very good with kids. This extremely smart dog is ideal for a house pet because of its affectionate behavior. On the downside, this breed sheds a lot so consistent grooming is required due to its multiple coats and abundance of hair.

The Labrador Retriever

Yellow Labrador Retriever

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Labrador Retrievers are smart dogs who are the most popular dog to own in the United States. This popular dog breed is typically used as a disability dog or service dog because of their ability to learn complex tasks and eagerness to please their owners. As a disability dog, Labrador Retrievers can be taught to do everyday tasks like opening doors, helping their owner with the laundry, and even bringing their owner the daily newspaper. The Labrador Retriever also makes a great therapy dog because of their loving nature and gentleness. It makes sense why these dogs are the most popular dog to own because of their friendliness and loyalty. Labradors are easily trained and often learn skills like sitting on command and laying down quickly. If you are looking for a dog that if full of love and affection and is easy to train, the Labrador Retriever is the dog for you.

The Papillon



Having a name that stems from the French word meaning “butterfly”, the papillon is an intelligent breed that has ears that mirror the wings of a butterfly. The papillon, who commonly appeared in portraits of royal family members, is a dog with a happy personality and energetic lifestyle that predates the royal family. This dog is more of a doer and not a cuddler, although it is known as a lap dog. This might not be the dog for you if you want a dog that is less energetic and more easy-going. Some of the Papillon’s strengths include that it is easily trained, very alert, and low maintenance to take care of because it does not have to be frequently groomed because of its lack of undercoat.

The Bloodhound


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A dog known for its strong sense of smell, the Bloodhound is a dog that is especially bright. The Bloodhound was originally bred for hunting dear and wild boar, but have been used since the Middle Ages to track people. Their keen sense of smell gives them an edge in tracking people over long distances, even after it has been a couple of days. Their ability to track the human scent makes them vital in search and rescue missions and tracking criminals. The Bloodhound’s intelligence mixed with their great sense of smell is what makes it a breed that is fundamental for the police. The Bloodhound also makes a great pet with its propensity to be great with kids and its ability to learn very quickly.

The Rottweiler


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The Rottweiler is a very smart dog that can play many different roles because of its natural strength and obedience. The Rottweiler can be trained to be a search and rescue dog, a police dog, a guide dog, and a guard dog. Because of their tendency to be protective and their need to be in control, they are often portrayed in media as very aggressive and violent dogs. On the flip side, the Rottweiler has an affectionate behavior when around their owners and children. This dog is not recommended to first-time dog owners because it is a higher maintenance dog and it needs to be frequently groomed.

These breeds of dogs are the most intelligent based on findings by the American Kennel Club. When thinking about what kind of dog you want to buy, intelligence can play a role in what breed you choose to buy. If you already own a dog, it is fun to read through and see if one of your dog is apart of the top smartest dogs. There seems to be a correlation between the intelligence of a dog and how long it has been around. In this article, most of the dogs listed had a long history of breeding and had ancestry could be traced back for hundreds of years. The dogs breeds listed above have intelligence and also display their intelligence in their everyday choices and actions.


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