When it comes to intelligence, it’s important to know which dog breeds are smart and trainable. Intelligent dogs are quick learners, adaptable and obedient, making these breeds great choices for owners who are looking for clever and capable companions. While the Border Collie is generally considered to be one of the smartest dogs, a canine’s intelligence can be adaptive, working and/or instinctive. All dogs are perceptive and intuitive in some ways, but what makes a dog smarter in the eyes of humans is often how quickly a breed can pick up on new commands.
Whether you need a family-friendly pet that is easy to train or a working dog with a high IQ that can learn quickly and follow commands, there are several smart types of dog breeds to consider. Some owners will want a small dog that is highly-intelligent, cute and can learn tricks, while others may prefer large breeds that are teachable, friendly and playful with kids.
With so many fun and clever breeds, it can be a challenge choosing the perfect trainable pet. To inspire you with ideas, we’ve compiled a list of the smartest dog breeds in the world. From the German Shepherd to the Poodle, explore the most intelligent dogs to find a cute and friendly canine companion you’ll love!
- 1 Smartest Dogs
- 1.1 Border Collie
- 1.2 Poodle
- 1.3 German Shepherd
- 1.4 Golden Retriever
- 1.5 Doberman Pinscher
- 1.6 Shetland Sheepdog
- 1.7 Labrador Retriever
- 1.8 Papillon
- 1.9 Rottweiler
- 1.10 Australian Cattle Dog
- 1.11 Pembroke Welsh Corgi
- 1.12 Miniature Schnauzer
- 1.13 English Springer Spaniel
- 1.14 Belgian Tervuren
- 1.15 Schipperke
- 1.16 Bloodhound
- 1.17 German Shorthaired Pointer
- 1.18 Keeshond
- 1.19 Jack Russell Terrier
- 1.20 Alaskan Husky
- 2 Get The Most Intelligent Dog Breeds
Border Collies have long been revered for their herding abilities, which is why you’ll often find them working as sheepdogs. Shown to be exceptionally hardworking, agile and easy to train, Border Collies are considered one of the smartest dog breeds in the world. Their athleticism is marvelous, so you should be able to teach them complex tricks that other breeds may not be able to perform. Able to retain information easily and perform commands accurately, Border Collies are fast-learning canine companions that are easy to train. Before you get a Border Collie, it’s essential to note that these intelligent dogs need near-constant stimulation. If confined to the home for too long, you may find your Border Collie getting restless and turning to destructive behavior. You should aim to keep their brain active with fun activities and games.
Poodles are a smart, cute and friendly dog breed known to be extremely trainable. These dogs may look prim and proper, but there is more to them than meets the eye. Poodles are excellent hunters and are also great water dogs. When combined, these skills make poodles the best swimming retrievers in the canine world! While this breed is generally favored for its skill and intelligence, Poodles are extraordinarily gentle and good with kids. These traits make them a top choice for families, as they show unfaltering loyalty towards their humans. Always quick off the mark with commands and shown to excel in obedience training, Poodles are wonderful companions for owners who need a well-behaved, intelligent dog.
Not only are German Shepherds handsome pups, but they’re often employed as police dogs due to their intelligence, attention to detail and hunting abilities. Despite their fierce appearance and demeanor when at work, German Shepherds are incredibly intelligent and love the company of humans. German Shepherds should always be given a purpose. Whether it’s learning new tricks, protecting the family’s children, or just keeping watch over the house at night, these dogs need to exercise their brains at all times. This breed is reliably obedient, so you shouldn’t have trouble teaching even the oldest dog new tricks.
Friendly and teachable, Golden Retrievers are one of the most popular dog breeds and make excellent canine companions for families with young children. These beautiful dogs are always willing to work and love positive reinforcement from their owners. This willingness to please makes them an excellent choice for both guidance roles and search-and-rescue work. These tasks require commitment, obedience and focus, making this dog breed smart and capable. While not quite as naturally intelligent as Border Collies or Poodles, Golden Retrievers are remarkable pets that are always ready to please.
The Doberman Pinscher is one of the most popular guard dogs on the planet. They are partially chosen as guard dogs on account of their reputation as an agile, strong breed with an instinct to protect. However, their intelligence is arguably more impressive than their innate features. Dobermans are working dogs renowned for their trainability, which explains why they’re ranked highly when it comes to aptitude and intelligence. Quickly retaining commands and being able to perform under pressure, these dogs never fail to come through for their owners. Due to their high intelligence levels, Dobermans will need sufficient activity to keep their brains active. If given a loving home and plenty of activity, a Doberman Pinscher is sure to be the perfect pet.
The Shetland Sheepdog is an energetic and playful herding dog. This smaller dog breed is clever and hard-working, and often utilized to round up livestock. While these dogs may look goofy at times, they perform incredibly well in working situations and can keep a watchful eye over other animals without difficulty. Due to their natural herding instinct, Shetland Sheepdogs are often employed on farms to manage cattle and sheep. In addition to being great herders, these pups are incredibly quick and alert. This allows them to follow complex instructions and commands with ease. Although they’re primarily working dogs, Shetland Sheepdogs need love and affection, making them an ideal choice for active families.
Labrador Retrievers make incredible guide dogs because they are highly-intelligent and extremely friendly. They are mostly known for their lovable nature and hardworking attitude, but Labradors are also highly intelligent. Able to perform difficult service tasks as well as complex tricks, these pups are one of the most popular breeds for a reason. They’re a naturally clever breed, but their willingness to please their owners certainly adds to their trainability score. Emotionally intelligent, docile and downright adorable, Labrador Retrievers are the quintessential family pet.
You may be surprised to find the tiny Papillon on a list of the smartest dog breeds. However, these small lapdogs have a competitive spirit and high degree of intelligence that propels them straight to the top in international dog competitions. It’s worth noting that Papillons are reward-driven, so you may need to boost your treat stash before holding a training session. With time and effort though, Papillons can learn incredible tricks and respond to commands effectively.
Rottweilers are known for their fierce protective instincts, but they are also one of the most gifted dog breeds. These pooches are often found as guard or police dogs due to their distinctive ability to read subtleties in body language. Despite their reputation in some circles as fearsome dogs, Rottweilers show an incredibly soft side once trust has been earned. These pets may be wary around people they don’t know, but once you get to know a Rottweiler, this breed is loving and easy to train. With their muscular build, these dogs can perform impressive tricks and have great memory.
Australian Cattle Dog
Native to Australia, the Australian Cattle Dog is tough as nails. Bred to work in Australia’s harsh climate, these pups are used to hard work. As you might expect from its name, this breed excels at herding and endurance work. Able to herd cattle across large distances and ensure that no one puts a toe out of line, these dogs are both intelligent and commanding. Despite being working dogs by nature, Australian Cattle Dogs know how to let their guards down around humans. They can be troublesome when not exercised sufficiently, but they’re fast learners who will slot easily into an existing family unit. To keep your pup stimulated, keep a frisbee on hand and be sure to engage in agility work.
Pembroke Welsh Corgi
The Pembroke Welsh Corgi is the Queen of England’s favorite breed and happens to be one of the smartest breeds around. These pooches are endlessly loyal and tend to function best when they are given tasks to do. Corgis are very affectionate, but they won’t need constant attention like some other breeds. Therefore, they are a great choice for laidback individuals looking for a companion that fits into their current lifestyle. Not seeking attention can be difficult for dogs, but Corgis excel at keeping themselves occupied. This ability to think on their feet and find things to do makes them one of the most intelligent dog breeds. They’re certainly self-sufficient dogs, but all Corgis appreciate training sessions and fun games to keep their brains in tip-top condition.
The small and mighty Miniature Schnauzer is easy to train and tends to be a fantastic competitor in agility sports. Both obedient and fast to adapt to different environments and situations, this breed is sure to be an excellent companion for those who find themselves constantly on the move. They’re naturally inquisitive, so tend to take training and hunting tasks in their stride. Unlike some of the more guarded personalities on this list, the Miniature Schnauzer is an all-around friendly pup that will always have your back.
English Springer Spaniel
You’ll often find English Springer Spaniels zipping around in fields as hunting dogs. These dogs are among the most impressive when it comes to stamina and endurance, which explains why they’re a top choice for field workers and farmers. Able to move quickly and take on several tasks at once, English Springer Spaniels are ideal working dogs. These dogs were once used by Brits as gun dogs, making them adept at hunting and tracking. These days, Springer Spaniels are unbeatable companions for active adventures in wide-open spaces.
The Belgian Tervuren is a majestic dog that was originally bred for herding and hunting, making them amazing working breeds. These versatile large dogs are intuitive, quick-learners and hard-working. This breed has a proclivity for activity, so if you don’t enjoy long walks and constant engagement, then this dog may not suit your needs. Despite its need for stimulation, these bright pups can keep themselves occupied when required. Belgian Tervurens genuinely enjoy learning new tricks and impressing their owners. Therefore, you shouldn’t be surprised if you find your pup trying to figure out something new while your back is turned. With a kind temperament and curious nature, this smart breed will be loved by any family.
If you’re on the hunt for a small and inquisitive dog, then a Schipperke is likely to be a great fit. This breed is tiny, but Shipperkes are fiercely protective of their humans and are always on hand to ward off attackers if they sense a threat. Unlike larger dogs, Shipperkes tend to adapt well to apartments. However, it’s worth noting that due to their hunting instincts, you may struggle to keep them under control in smaller apartments. When these dogs are bored or in guard mode, they may bark incessantly which will attract negative attention from neighbors. If you’re concerned about this, keep your Shipperke occupied with toys, games and loving attention. Due to their intelligence and excellent recall, you should have little trouble removing unwelcome behavior through training.
With a sense of smell that is infinitely more powerful than humans, Bloodhounds are natural tracker dogs often used as police dogs. Despite their somewhat frightening name, Bloodhounds are largely gentle dogs that are easy to train. Their attitude to work is excellent and these pups often won’t throw in the towel until they’ve hunted down their target. Able to perform admirably under pressure in tracking roles, these dogs certainly deserve to be classed as one of the smartest dog breeds.
German Shorthaired Pointer
German Shorthaired Pointers are powerful and agile hunting dogs. As these dogs were specifically bred to work in fields with their owners, it’s unsurprising that they’ve retained a degree of speed and endurance in their physical makeup. Their perfectly streamlined bodies propel them at high speeds, making them excellent gun dogs. Exceptionally easy to train, German Shorthaired Pointers can be taught to retrieve, trail, hunt and obey just about any command.
Many intelligent dogs are known for their tracking and hunting abilities, but not Keeshonds. This charming breed is known for its glowing personality. Usually alert, excited and raring to go, Keeshonds are an ideal family pet for fun-loving families. Due to their small size and training ability, Keeshonds also tend to excel in competitions that focus on agility and obedience.
Jack Russell Terrier
Jack Russell Terriers tend to be small and feisty, but this breed possesses natural intelligence. Originally classed as hunting dogs, these playful pooches will stop at nothing to hunt down their prey. This can be anything from a trusty tennis ball to an unfortunate rodent. You may wish to use training to dampen a Jack Russell Terrier’s enthusiasm slightly, but it’s rarely harmful – they mostly just see their rowdy endeavors as play! Jack Russell’s are extremely energetic, making them slightly harder to train than other smart dogs. Patience is important with this breed, but once trained, these friendly dogs are a dream.
Alaskan Huskies are brilliant classic pack dogs, making them easy to bond with. These pups do take a decent amount of training to get under control, as they will want to take control of the situation on occasion. As long as you commit to asserting your authority with patience and obedience training, this clever dog will quickly accept you as its leader. Wonderfully fluffy and eye-catching, this gorgeous dog is as bright as it is beautiful.
Get The Most Intelligent Dog Breeds
While these are the most intelligent dog breeds according to experts, you can increase your pet’s intelligence with proper training and consistent mental stimulation. When motivated, all dogs are trainable and learn better when offered rewards, affection and praise. You can start by playing games and teaching your canine companion basic tricks. Smarter breeds will require more stimulation and exercise, and can become frustrated without activity. Regular walks and trips to the park can be great ways to train behavior while developing a smart dog.
On averages, studies show that large dog breeds are smarter than small dogs. When choosing the right pet for your needs, you’ll want to consider more than just an animal’s level of intelligence. The best dogs are a combination of friendly, cute, loyal, resilient and trainable, making them excellent options to have at home and in your community. Sometimes, a happy and adorable dog may be the perfect choice!