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Top 5 Smartest Dog Breeds

4 min read

Dogs are super intelligent animals, they can learn a huge amount of human language and can even understand your moods! But did you know that some dog breeds are smarter than others? Keep reading to find out what the top 5 smartest dog breeds are.

Dogs are incredibly intelligent animals. Not only can our dogs learn and react to a wealth of human language, they also seem to be able to understand our moods. But did you know that some breeds are smarter than others?

When it comes to deciding which dogs are smart and which are bottom of the class, it isn't as simple as you'd think. Dog IQ tests are mostly based on a dog's desire to get treats or toys, so the results are often coloured by how treat-driven the dog is.

Over hundreds and sometimes thousands of years, dogs have been bred to be specialists at doing certain jobs, so some breeds excel at certain skills more than others. For example, Bloodhounds can follow a week-old scent for over 100 miles, while Border Collies are incredibly talented when it comes to showing off their tricks and agility.

However, some dog breeds are particularly good at learning new things, including tricks and commands. So, we've put together a list of the top five smartest dog breeds from around the world.

1. Border Collie

The majority of obedience champions, agility stars, flyball wizards and sheepdog herding winners are Border Collies.

Their intelligence, enthusiasm and willingness to work has seen them awarded the top spot in canine psychologist Stanley Coren's intelligence rankings, so they deserve their place at the top of a list of smartest dog breeds.

Amazingly, most border collies can learn a brand-new command in under five seconds and follow it 95% of the time. They even have an intense stare technique that intimidates livestock. Be warned though, they'll probably do it to you to try and convince you to hand over your sandwich!

Who is the smartest dog in the world?

The smartest dog in the world is a Border Collie called Chaser. Not only does she know the name of all her 1,000 unique toys, she knows a huge amount of words and brings things when asked. Apparently, she has the cognition and development of a toddler. How's that for a clever dog breed?


2. German Shepherd

A German Shepherd is a very common working dog, and it's thanks to their huge intelligence. This is a breed who has been a devoted companion to the armed forces, police and security services, so you may not be surprised to know that they are one of the cleverest dog breeds. Extremely adaptable and trainable, German Shepherd dogs are always a popular dog among the military and police as they're easy to train to sniff out bombs, drugs and even people! Due to their super-powered nose, they're also frequently used as search and rescue dogs.

German Shepherds' ability to learn new things also means that they were used as the first ever guide dogs. If you're thinking about getting one, you should know that they require plenty of exercise and mental stimulation for all that brainpower, so if you don't have much time on your hands, a German Shepherd may not be for you.

Before considering a German Shepherd, it's important to know that this breed can be prone to health problems. Be sure to do your research and only purchase a puppy from a Kennel Club accredited breeder or a breeder that does health tests.


3. Toy Poodle

These dogs are so much more than your average pampered pooch. Many believe that Toy Poodles are little more than fluffy fashion accessories. But did you know that they are one of the smartest dog breeds and have an extremely high working intelligence?

Many people forget the poodle's working roots, but they were actually bred to fetch things out of the water, making these dogs amazing swimmers. They're an incredibly clever dog breed and they can read human body language, and sometimes are even known to anticipate their owner's actions before they speak or gesture.

Despite being small in stature, they're considered one of the most trainable dog breeds, as Toy Poodles genuinely enjoy learning. Plus, they're a hypoallergenic dog breed, which is perfect for people with allergies to dogs.


4. Papillon

Named the smartest of all the toy dog breeds, the Papillon is no lap dog. Despite their small size, they're highly active and make brilliant watchdogs. The original purpose for the Papillon breed was to be ratters and get rid of pests, and apparently even Marie Antoinette had one.

Papillons are a small dog with a huge brain and are the number one toy breed in obedience competitions. They also excel in the mini versions of virtually every dog sport, making them great for outdoor dog training. This smart dog breed even has a sophisticated French name - 'papillon' means butterfly in French, and it comes from the shape of their ears!

5. Shetland Sheepdog

You may recognise this breed of dog as looking like a miniature version of Lassie! The hardworking Shetland Sheepdog is one of the smartest dog breeds and they are incredible at obedience and agility competitions.

Their instinct to herd is so ingrained in their DNA that apparently, they've been known to try and herd their family members.

Did you know that a Shetland Sheepdog can understand a new command in less than five repetitions? Now that's a clever dog breed! They are also devoted to their owners, as well as being full of energy and ever alert for anything that's different or exciting.

Did your dog make the list? Or is your dog breed super-smart and hasn't made the list? Let us know on our Facebook page!

If you're thinking about getting a new dog, have a look at our dog breed library for information on almost 200 breeds of dog.