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Top 5 Smartest Dog Breeds

Many dog owners believe their precious pups have Einstein IQs. From dogs’ emotional attunement to their knack for learning new tricks, these loving animals certainly possess impressive intelligence. However, some canines shine above the rest when it comes to canine intelligence. 

If you want to learn about dog intelligence, you’re in the right place. Below, we’ll discuss which dog breeds boast the greatest intelligence. We’ll also review a few helpful dog training tips that can turn any breed of dog into an astute, straight-A student. 

What Makes a Dog Smart?

Just like human intelligence, dog intelligence can describe many different things. It may refer to a dog’s instinctive skillset, its ability to work in various settings, or its adaptability in new environments. However, the crux of canine intelligence is being able to understand commands and obey them quickly. 

Dog intelligence researcher, Stanley Coren, studied various breeds of dogs to determine which ones were best at:1

  • Learning a new command in less than five tries
  • Obeying the new command at least 95% of the time

Thanks to these characteristics, brighter breeds of dogs are often easier to train. However, all types of dogs can excel in their obedience with the right training. 

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What is the Most Intelligent Dog Breed? The 5 Smartest Breeds

So, which dog breeds are the smartest of the bunch? 

Here’s a list of the five most intelligent dog breeds:

#1 Border Collies

Border collies are the true valedictorians of the canine class. According to Coren, border collies were the best at learning new commands quickly and following them consistently. 

For many centuries, these intelligent pups sharpened their sheep-herding skills in Scotland and Wales. Today, these dogs are still outstandingly observant and agile. In turn, they make for fantastic search and rescue dogs.

This sheep-herding dog possesses extraordinary intelligence and exceptional work ethic. When you say “sit,” they’ll never fail to make you proud. 

#2 Poodle

At first glance, poodles may seem like they possess more beauty than brains. However, these pooches bring both qualities to the table in droves. 

Poodles can hunt, swim, and retrieve, all while showing off their smarts and obedience. Some breeds of poodles can even hunt for truffles.

Poodle mixes, like Goldendoodles and cockapoos, also have superior smarts compared to many other breeds. As an added bonus, these curly-coated pups are hypoallergenic, meaning these types of dogs don’t shed

#3 German Shepherd

In many societies, securing a high-powered job indicates intelligence. This sentiment reigns true for dogs, too. When it comes to the working dog, German shepherds lead the pack. These clever canines often hold positions as a:

  • Police dog
  • Military dog
  • Guard dog
  • Seeing-eye dog
  • Therapy dog
  • Medical assistance dog

German shepherds are chosen for these roles because they display high intelligence. They’re obedient and eager to please. They can also pick up new skills at impressive speeds and perform them consistently. 

In addition to being bright, German shepherds are athletic, protective, and deeply loyal. A well-trained German shepherd is a wonderful companion.

#4 Golden Retriever

Golden retrievers have a natural knack for hunting and retrieving. They’re also one of the friendliest dog breeds and happen to be incredibly cute. Due to their advanced intelligence, golden retrievers are often used as a guide dog during search and rescue scenarios. Many goldens also act as a service dog or therapy dog. 

With their adorable demeanors and superior smarts, golden retrievers are also a wonderful choice for a family pet. 

#5 Doberman Pinscher

The last quick-witted pup on this list is the Doberman Pinscher. These sweet dogs exhibit stamina, speed, and smarts all in one. It’s no wonder that they have a long history of serving as war dogs, guard dogs, and police dogs. 

Doberman Pinscher’ physical strength, coupled with their high intelligence, make them a wonderful protection dog. With proper training, these shrewd pooches should have no problem picking up new commands and tricks quickly.

Dog Training Tips

Whether your furry friend is a super smart dog or adorably clueless, you can use similar training techniques to bring him or her up to speed on your house rules. 

Here are a few basic dog behavior training tips for beginners:2

  • Enroll your dog in obedience training right away
  • Use positive reinforcement, rather than aggressive training techniques
  • Offer dog food, toys, and loving pets as rewards
  • Give them treats immediately after the desired behavior
  • Don’t give out extra treats during training sessions, as this may confuse them
  • Train in short sessions of five to fifteen minutes
  • Only say command words once
  • Train before meals so your dog is eager for a tasty treat
  • Limit distractions during training
  • Give generous “good boy” compliments when your pup has nailed a command

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  1. American Psychological Association. Smarter Than You Think: Renowned Canine Researcher Puts Dogs’ Intelligence on Par with 2-year-old Human.
  2. American Kennel Club. Teach Your Puppy These 5 Basic Cues.



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