HomeThe Smartest Dog Breeds Ranked

The Smartest Dog Breeds Ranked

When it comes to a dog’s level of intelligence it’s a highly debated subject. The American Kennel Club is an organization that keeps up to date on the current dog standards. They recognize 190 breeds, so it’s no wonder that there is such diversity.

Different breeds have different strengths, some dogs have a keen sense of smell while others find it much easier to convey that they want from their owner or have amazing loyalty. According to veterinarians and dog trainers, here are the most intelligent dogs out there.

An imposing breed is the Bernese Mountain Dog, they weigh a whopping 100 pounds when they’re fully grown but despite this, there are extremely intelligent and need lots of exercise.

Even with their imposing stature, they are actually very sweet when it comes to children. They can get especially attached and dependent on one person over others. So they’ll always have a family favorite.

Old English Sheepdogs are notorious for their fluff and hidden eyes. With all of that fur, they can appear quite burly even though they’re smaller than they appear. Sheepdogs are obedient and will listen to commands.

The reason why they are so obedient is due to them being breed for herding aminals for their owner. Although they excel in rural environments if you train them well they will be fine in an urban environment.

The Bearded Collie has very similar intelligence to The English Sheepdog but they both have different personality traits. Collies have more charisma than their cousin and are known for getting up to more hijinks.

The best thing about Collies is how good they are in their fieldwork. They are tough dogs that will always do the job their owner needs them to. They are affectionate to boot and will need a big space to run around in.

When it comes to attitude most people think of the Jack Russel Terrier. Despite its small frame, the dog is exceptionally athletic and protective of its owners. They are also obedient to whoever trains them and treats them well.

If you watched Frasier then you’d recognize that Eddie is a Jack Russel. The producers used this breed because of its obedience and vocals when needed.

Weimaraners are a breed that you don’t see every day. They were originally bred to hunt small game with their owners. They originate in Germany and make excellent pets.

With their background as hunting dogs they’re very strong and athletic, but also have a strong prey drive, just be careful and don’t get one if you have any small animals like cats. But to humans, they are very affectionate.

You can see English Springer Spaniels in many paintings due to their regal appearance. At one point the dog was even the most common in America. Their personality can be broken up into two sides, their lovable affectionate side and their amazing hunting side. 

With a long line of hunting they are clever and fast and their feet. When old America thought about what the epitome of a family dog was this breed is what would come to mind.

Everyone loves Corgis! They are the favorite dog in Buckingham Palace and The Queen stands by her choice. The clever breed is a breeze when it comes to training.

They will only bark when they have good reason to and which means they make great guard dogs. Even though they’re small they make for it with their friendly demeanor towards kids.

Another breed that’s a hunting dog, it seems to be a common theme on this list. People have also called them bird dogs since they could hunt birds and bring them back to their owners without harming them.

The breed is a clever and obedient dog and can even be great therapy dogs, you can find them in hospitals and schools for those that need them. Irish Settlers make amazing dogs for a growing family.

German Shorthaired Pointers are great at what they do, they’re another hunting breed that has an amazing nose that can find prey far away followed by them pointing in the direction of where they are.

They need lots of open space to run and daily exercise. If they don’t get the proper amount of exercise they can be known to get up to a lot of trouble.

When you think dogsleeding, the Alaskan Husky most often comes to mind. This breed is meant for the cold-weather, and they are very comfortable in a snowy and icy climate. The husky has a wolf-pack mentality, their dogsled team is their family.

The Alaskan Husky’s means of communicating is very intelligent, the group sport contributing to this. The Alaskan Husky is the product of crossing with European breeds such as the Siberian Husky.

The Siberian Husky is very similar to the Alaskan Husky, their intelligence evident when they interact with other dogs. Due to cross-breeding, a few Husky breeds share genetic traits with the extinct Taymyr wolf of North Asia. 

Siberian huskies are less dependent on humans, making them less protective and not great guard dogs. Oh, and this also means they often prefer to be on their own, whether that be outside in the snow, or laying on the ground rather than next to you on the couch.

The Alaskan Malamute is another breed meant for the cooler temperatures, but rather than pulling sleds, these big fluff balls are better at working hard for their families. This breed especially loves kids, making great family dogs. 

They are also very intelligent and loyal. The Alaskan Malamute, the Siberian Husky, and the Alaskan Husky all share a close genetic relationship.

We’re sure that many of you recognize the Collie breed from none other than the world-famous 1950’s TV show, Lassie. The Collie in the show (named Lassie) was very intelligent, effectively communicated danger, and helped people in dire situations. 

The TV show did a good job of properly characterizing the breed, as the Collie is very smart, easily trainable and a great family pet. Collies in the best physical condition possible are able to play all day long and never get tired. This breed is also very loyal and highly motivated.

The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is also known as the “Duck Dog of the Mid Atlantic”. As you may have guessed, this breed is bred in the U.S. in the Chesapeake Bay region. These dogs are amazing in that after a bird is killed, they are able to calculate where it will land after being shot.

The retriever is able to achieve this thanks to its heightened senses and a very high intellect. These guys are known to question authority at times, and are also known to be very talkative when excited…you may even catch them smile by baring their front teeth!

Funny enough, Australian Shepherds don’t originate from the land down under, but rather on California ranches. Australian Shepherds are herding dogs, so don’t be alarmed if you catch them constantly bothering animals, and even children! Although they are smart, loyal and very strong, they can stubborn at times, and will try to become the alpha by challenging their owner. 

They love to play, so be ready to play games, and teach them new tricks. They are very eager to learn, and are very energetic so be sure to keep them focused and happy! Australian Shepherds also have great stamina and are used for long distance treks.

Most of us will recognize the Saint Bernard breed from the Beethoven movie series dating back to the late 90’s. They don’t look goofy like dogs from comedies, and they definitely don’t look scary like aggressive dogs from thrillers. They were breeded for generations and generations as skilled mountain dogs in Switzerland.

They are often called the Gentle Giant of dogs because although they are massive in size, they are very sweet, patient and calm. But, as with many large dogs, it is important to train them with both people and other animals to prevent aggression or fear.

The reason the Akita Inu supposedly exists in the U.S. is thanks to Helen Keller. In 1938 she was given two of them as gifts from the Japanese government. Just a year later, they were a standard edition to dog shows across the U.S. Akitas are known to be great family dogs, very kind and super intelligent. But, they can be very suspicious of others, and distrust many, if not all strangers other than their owners.

It is very unlikely that they will be tricked into something they don’t want to do as they are extremely independent dogs. Although they are trainable, they will often ignore commands that they deem unfitting or unjust. Sounds like you’ve got another teenager on your hands!

Hundreds of years of hunting and human companionship attribute to the English Setter’s intellect. This field dog is bred to track and hunt foxes, combining their intelligence and heightened smelling sense to figure out where small prey have gone. English Setters are known for their energetic nature, and for their amicable, people-friendly temperament.

This breed will thrive best in an environment where they are given loads of attention, and where their playfulness is acknowledged. English Setters are often referred to as “Gentleman by Nature”, although they also do have a mischievous and strong-willed side to them.

Next up is the largest breed of dog out there…the Great Dane. But, they are so much more than that! Not only are they big in size, but their brains are massive as well. These dogs are extremely smart, and are known to be very protective of and loyal to their owners. You may recognize this breed from Scooby Doo; the main character in the franchise is none other than a Great Dane. Just like Saint Bernards, Great Danes are also gentle giants.

Although they are huge, and you’d expect that they need a ton of exercise, they are actually coach potatoes and regarded as “the world’s biggest lapdog”. Although a large home is great as they have the freedom of lots of space, they are also comfortable with life in a small apartment.

The Brittany is a very intelligent dog with lots of energy. They were bred as hunting dogs, known for their sweet-nature and for being easy to train. Obedience competitions and field sports are where they excel as they love to complete tasks and run around. 

The Brittany is a very sensitive breed, and without proper socialization at a young age, they can become extremely shy.

The Australian Cattle Dog is very visually similar to the Australian Shepherd. They are often the winners at global obedience competitions, their sharpness and loyalty above all the rest. Any activity that requires endurance, athleticism and quick-thinking is made for the Australian Cattle Dog.

These pups are skilled ranchers, with the ability to direct cattle that’s unparalleled. They live on the need to perform jobs, and without tasks they can become bored and destructive, so training is key! They are also very needy dogs, and need consistent and constant interaction with their owners.

Don’t be scared by their exterior, these guys are gentle and are extremely intelligent. But don’t mess with their families, they are extremely protective of their loved ones. Their unparalleled love for humans is the reason Rottweilers are often used as service dogs.

A Rottweiler named “Stinky” saved the life of a man battling PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) by showing him unconditional love. In 2011, Stinky was inducted into the Purina Animal Hall of Fame and was awarded service dog of the year.

The Papillon is one of the smartest toy dog breeds out there. These little guys are extremely determined, loyal and are very successful when it comes to obedience training.

Unlike other small dog breeds, these guys are very energetic and understandably need a lot of exercise. They are also excellent watchdogs and will notify their owners of anything suspicious with a symphony of high-pitched yapping.

The Doberman Pinscher is, among others, the breed of choice for police and military personnel. Although they can be aggressive due to their protective nature, they are very sweet and are naturally good with people. 

Their personality type is very unique and specific to the Doberman Pinscher breed.

The Shetland Sheepdog may look very similar to the Collie, but they are intellectually very different. Shetland Sheepdogs are actually more agile and intelligent than their counterpart. Sometimes people call them mini Collies, but they’re actually a completely different breed of dog! Shetland Sheepdogs are both strong and sharp bundled into a compact size. 

As a herding dog, they share many characteristics that other Shepherds and Collies have. This beautiful breed is extremely obedient and highly trainable. They were originally developed to withstand harsh climates of their native islands, hence the long-haired warm coat.

The Golden Retriever comes in as the 5th most intelligent breed on our list. They are the ultimate family dog, known to be extremely lovable, smart, and loyal. They often look to their owners for guidance, and are attached to their loved ones at the hip. These guys need function and purpose in their lives, more so than any other dog breed. 

They often serve as disability assistance dogs, as their sense of detection and search & rescue is top notch. Golden Retrievers are the 3rd most popular family dog breed in the U.S. Their gentle and friendly nature makes it no surprise why they’re so popular!

The Labrador Retriever is the shorter-haired cousin of the Golden Retriever. Understandably, these two breeds share many characteristics and traits. The Lab is considered man’s best friend, and is the face of the American outdoors. 

Their off the charts intelligence, and impressive ways of communicating make them ideal for people with special needs. There are 2 kinds of labs: the English Lab and the American Lab. English Labs tend to be more trainable, while American Labs are known to more energetic, requiring more training.

German Shepherds are another breed of dog used in police and military units, and these guys may be the most effective breed out there for this particular work. Precision training is their specialty, their selective smell the reason they work in explosive and drug detection. 

This breed became famous for their intelligence, and this is the reason they are bred today. After testing and training it was discovered that German Shepherds obeyed the first command given to them over 90% of the time, and executed simple tasks after five or so reps. It’s no wonder they made #3 on our list!

The amazing intelligence of Poodles comes as a surprise to many as they’re more known for their crazy hairstyles opposed to their IQ. When the Poodle was tested, toy, mini and standard were all included in the study. Their obedience and memory afforded them cream of the crop marks.

Their sharp working sense makes them very responsive to commands, while their webbed feet make them superb swimmers. Poodles love water, and thankfully their liquid-resistant coat serves them well in the rain. This majestic breed is also extremely athletic.


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