The Top 20 Smartest Dog Breeds

Most dog owners want to believe that their canine companion is the most intelligent on the block, and the reality can depend on factors such as the breed and pedigree. “Man’s best friend” seems to be smarter than the credit they get for their intelligence, and you might be surprised to find out about the top 20 smartest dog breeds mentioned below. Although each dog type seems to possess unique charm and personality, some tend to respond to commands and orders much quicker than the rest of the pack. Most of us might already be thinking about the breeds German Shepherd and Labrador Retriever, as they are famous for their smartness, but there are many more breeds out there have superior IQ levels.

What Makes a Dog Smart?

According to leading canine researcher Stanley Coren, dogs have the cognitive ability to solve complex problems and they can be closer to us than we think in terms of their intelligence and interpretation of commands. He said that the mental capacity of a general breed of dog can be compared to that of 2 years old human child. They have a high ability to adapt to different situations, and they can even use deception to receive treats from their owners.

The degree of receptiveness to which a dog might respond can differ from one breed to another, and some canines might show more signs of obedience because of their emotional attachment with their human. A bloodhound might not respond well to the tricks taught to him but he can be used for sniffing purpose because of its keen sense of smell. So, each breed holds unique traits and behaviors that might be attributed to their ability of comprehending commands.

If you are looking for an intellectual furry companion, then you should refer to the list of breeds mentioned in this article.

Border Collie

It is not a surprise that this outrageously responsive breed of dog is on the top of our list. According to various surveys, they can understand a new command within 5 seconds and have a substantially high probability of remembering it for many years to come. Traditionally used as a herding dog, these gentle canines are known for their controlled temperament and friendly nature. They show a tendency of thriving on getting praised by their owners, and would even try to solve a problem just to get a reward.

According to DogTime, seeing a Border Collie herding sheep in the field is truly awe-inspiring as they have an intuition of keeping the entire herd in a designated location with no compromise on letting them escape. They can even take part in destructive activity if they are not given the required amount of stimulation on a daily basis.


​Apart from their hypoallergenic qualities – which make them perfect choice for people with fur allergy – poodle is known for its gentle nature and high intelligence. The owners of this breed are highly advised to maintain a strict discipline from them as they are likely to consider themselves as alpha of the pack if the owners show leniency in terms of training. They exhibit a calm disposition and can be really laid back around the kids of the family.

​German Shepherd

​They are mostly seen as service dogs in the law enforcement sector because of their obedience and responsive behavior. They can easily sniff out drugs on the airports and outdoor spaces, and can prove to be great working dogs. They have an innate ability of evaluating the best course of action in a complicated situation and are likely to make appropriate decisions when they are faced by challenges.

​Golden Retriever

​That’s right. America’s favorite family dog made it in the list of most intelligent canines in the world. Goldens have been observed to show consistency in their calm behavior, and they are even used as therapy dogs for people in rehabilitation centers and retirement homes. These pooches are not only highly adorable and clumsy in their overall disposition, but they can even be exceptional when it comes to fetching objects.

​Doberman Pinscher

​These fearless protectors have an intimidating appearance and can be perfect guard dogs for a residential house or an open-air place. Despite their threatening appearance, they tend to be quite peaceful around kids and can be perfect companions for a family. Dobie doesn’t get aggressive without reason, and can remain calm around guests as long as they don’t disturb him. These sturdy service dogs require high level of intellectual stimulation in order to ensure that they don’t become agitated or destructive.

​Shetland Sheepdog

​Also known as Shelties, these four-legged pooches initially served as herding dogs along the coast of Scotland. They are highly adaptable and their furry coat enables them to withstand adverse climate conditions. Their affectionate nature makes them great companions for farmers who require someone trustworthy to guard their far-stretched lands.

​Labrador Retriever

​Labs thrive on pleasing their owners and they demand high level of love and affection from their human. These companionable housemates are not only highly obedient but they also show high level of intelligence. In order to tone down their natural exuberance the owners are advised to provide them daily exercise and playing opportunities.


​These big-eared pooches have been around for several centuries and they are known to be descendants of toy spaniels. Their sparkling personality is really appealing to new strangers and they can easily befriend anybody on the block. They prove to be great contenders that can take part in dog sports as they have high trainability quality.


​This formidable breed can be dated back to the times of Roman Empire when they were originally bred to protect the livestock on farms. They have a presence that demands respect, and can prove to be really protective of their family. Rotties are known to be highly energetic and outgoing, and it advised that the owner keep them engaged in some sort of productive activity on daily basis.

​Australian Cattle Dog

​This breed came into existence by the breeding efforts of the Australian settlers as they needed someone to protect their cattle. They have noticed to outsmart their owners on a routine basis and tend be completely independent when it comes to their survival out in the wild.

​Pembroke Welsh Corgi

​Among the most sought after housedogs, Corgi is a lively breed who is always eager to follow the commands of its owner and they are known for their loyalty. Despite their obedience, the owners should never think them to be subservient as they can act stubborn and rigid sometimes when they are faced with something they don’t like.

​Miniature Schnauzer

​When it comes to giving numerous instructions to this terrier breed of dog the limit is your creativity as they have impressive memorization skills. With their extroverted temperament, this pooch likes to be in the center of the action and never hesitates from trying out new tricks. Their long beard and bushy eyebrows give them distinct appearance, and they are guaranteed to make you laugh every day.

​English Springer Spaniel

This medium-sized canine is mainly used as a pheasant hunter in the field, but they can also be great companions in household settings. Athletic and versatile, they are known to show off new tricks in return for some form of reward or even belly rubs. They can be great pets to have when you go out into the woods or for a hiking trip over the weekend. This dog is highly preferred by sportsmen for its athletic features, and they can also be kept in homes as loyal companions.

According to DogTime, you should always purchase from breeders who deal with dogs with no genetic diseases as recent breeding techniques have affected the overall health of this breed. They also require early socialization in order to remain stable and calm during their adulthood.

Belgian Tervuren

​Original bred in Belgium during the late 19th century, this is a self-assured herding dog that is known for its elegance and regal look. They can be highly possessive of their loved ones and they can act aggressive towards strangers if they are not given enough opportunity to socialize during their early life stage. Because of his shy nature he should be given enough space to feel calm, and he would never attack without cause.


​It is the traditional barge dog that is a descendant of the same family tree as the Belgian Sheepdog. This little and robust black pooch can act mischievous if they are left alone for a long period of time, and require daily activities and exercise in order to feel contended and relaxed. They are highly sensitive and can even get traumatized by soft punishments, this is the reason you should treat them in a polite manner at all times.


The amiable Keeshond is known for being highly observant of its surroundings and they are amazingly fast learners. They don’t handle punishments well as they are soft and gentle in terms of their temperament and disposition. They are highly vocal pups and can even bark out of excitement when they see other dogs in the neighborhood.

They have a foxy face and pointy ears, and their thick furry coat tends to shed a lot throughout the year. The owners should be prepared to perform vacuum cleaning chores several times in any given week in order to ensure that they don’t suffer from any respiratory diseases.

German Shorthaired Pointer

​They have been traditionally used in bird hunting and they are known to be enthusiastic gundogs. They have built-in ability of hunting and fetching various types of game, and can perform the retrieving tasks on various kinds of terrain. Whether you want to venture out in a muddy area or a landscape covered by rivers, you can take your pointer to assist you in catching the best game. You need to come up with exciting exercise techniques to exert some of their boundless energy, so that they remain calm and confident for the rest of the day. They don’t tend to get nervous or flighty when they are introduced to new situations, and can be kept in fenced or open areas.

​Brittany Spaniel

These are stylish and versatile gundogs that show relentless energy levels in open fields and outdoor areas. Because of their hyperactive nature, they are perfect fit for dog sports and can show great athletic skills because of their impressive stamina and endurance.  

They are people-oriented and don’t tolerate loneliness in a positive manner. Because of their excessive activity levels they may even bite accidently when they are highly stimulated. This is the reason; they should not be left alone with kids without the supervision of an adult. Their pups tend to be playful and curious, and would always be up to explore new areas of your house. The zeal and versatility of this pooch can be channeled into something highly productive, as long as the owner knows how to properly train a dog with discipline.


Also known as the “grey ghost”, it is a moderately large breed of working dog that is easily recognizable because of its light greyish coat. Their short coat is tight against the whole body, which gives them a nice and smooth appearance.

Always on the alert, the Weimaraner has a strong prey drive and can even show signs of aggression towards strangers if not trained by a professional owner.

Belgian Malinois

This is a world-class working dog that can easily make a strong bond with its owner for life. These canines have a great deal of stamina, and their well-muscled built allows them to work hard regardless of the terrain they are raised on. They tend to be reserved towards strangers and don’t easily mingle new dogs or people. You need to provide it with communication opportunities around other canines in order to ensure that it turns out to be a well-rounded dog.

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