The 20 Smartest Dog Breeds, Ranked
Dogs are way smarter than we give them credit for. In fact, while we’re busy bickering about the smartest dogs, they’re busy figuring out how to take over the world. OK, maybe they’re not quite that smart, but they certainly have dog experts chasing their tails as to which dog breed is the smartest. With the help of our canine experts, we managed to cut to the chase.
Pembroke Welsh corgi
This happy, smaller breed is most fulfilled when there is a job to do, says Dr. Hauser. And adorably, they have a tendency to “herd” their family members, particularly younger children. Find out why Queen Elizabeth II owns so many corgis.
“These quick learners enjoy being challenged and often excel at sports where they must use their intelligence, like agility and competitive obedience,” said Steffen and Hughes. “Unlike many of the others breeds in the terrier group, Miniature Schnauzers have a strong desire to please and the smarts to do so,” points out Dr. Hauser.
English Springer spaniel
“The Springer is the place where beauty and utility meet,” according to the American Kennel Club (AKC), which adds that the Springer spaniel’s energy, stamina, brains, and smooth “rear drive” movement have earned them an exalted place in the realm of bird dogs. “But a Springer—with his smartly marked coat, yearning spaniel expression, and long, lush ears—would be prized for good looks even if he couldn’t tell a grouse from a mouse [which he can!],” shares the website.
Belgian Tervuren, sheepdog, and malinois
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The Beglian Tervuren, Sheepdog, and Malinois all descended from the Belgian sheepdog and all “deserve to make the list due to their intelligent nature and affinity for sports such as agility, tracking, herding, and sledding,” according to Steffen and Hughes. The Tervuren is “loyal and smart,” and “great at tricks,” says Morgan. The Belgian Shepherd shares a common heritage with the Schipperke, discussed below. Of the Malinois, Dr. Hauser says, “Classified as working dogs, Belgian Malinois are most recognizable for their roles as police and military dogs.” Smart, loyal, and confident, they possess an admirable work ethic. Don’t miss these 19 things your dog actually wants from you.
Another brainy Belgian dog, the Shipperke descends from the same family as the Belgian Sheepdog. Curious, confident, and clever, the Shipperke is a big, brave dog in a small package and makes an excellent watchdog, particularly for boats. In fact, that’s how it got its name: the Flemish word for “boat” is “schip,” and Schipperkes were bred to be ratters on canal barges.
This breed, made famous by the 1943 movie, Lassie, has developed an amazing level of intelligence over the years and is great for herding, protection, water rescue, and as a guide for the blind, according to Steffen and Hughes. “We know her best because she could tell us when Timmy had fallen into the well,” jokes Morgan. Maybe your dog doesn’t have as many crises to solve as Lassie did, but here are 6 smart ways to keep him busy while you’re at work.
“These thick coated medium-sized dogs were once known at the Dutch Barge Dog,” notes Morgan. They’re used as seeing-eye dogs and are amazingly fast learners. That said, their independence requires a committed and disciplined trainer. Don’t miss these unbelievable facts you never knew about your pooch.
German shorthaired pointer
“Pointers have traditionally been used as sporting dogs, in bird hunting. They are loyal, smart dogs that thrive in very active households,” says Dr. Hauser. These hunting dogs were bred to locate prey and hold a point to identify where the prey is located, which takes an amazing amount of self-confidence and self-control, notes Morgan.
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The AKC says that the flat-coated retriever, which developed out of the same family as the Labrador, is confident as well as intelligent, and makes for highly energetic hunting dogs. Like the Lab, the flat-coat is not only one of the smartest dogs, but also makes a wonderful therapy dog. Don’t miss these superpowers you never knew dogs had.
Honorable mention: Bloodhound
Given that bloodhounds have a sense of smell that is three million times better than a human’s, which in addition to their intelligent nature, makes them perfect for tracking or finding people, according to Steffen and Hughes, it just seems wrong not to give them at least an honorable mention here. Next, check out more ways dogs are smarter than you think.
Fun fact: The Bloodhound’s ability to trail a scent is so accurate that it will hold up in a court of law.