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Smartest Dog Breeds by Science

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Smartest Dog Breeds by Science

Since the Stone Age, humans have trusted dogs. Over millennia, people developed dogs to be excellent canine companions. According to Stanley Coren, PhD, the smartest dog breeds have been navigators and field guides, wartime comrades, detectives, garbage collectors, movie stars, and security consultants. Few animals have flown to space, but dogs have saved countless lives.

Coren thinks there are three forms of dog intelligence based on how dogs interact with people. The first is “instinctive” and emphasizes the dog’s human-bred abilities. The second is “adaptive,” or how well the dog solves difficulties using its surroundings. Third is “working and obedience,” or how hard the dog works to satisfy its owners and accomplish its job. All three have a desire and capacity to communicate with humans—both by interpreting their signals, actions, and orders and by barking, moving, and acting.

According to Coren, dogs can grasp 160 words on average and 250 or more. Dogs generally care, which may make them even better communicators. Alexandra Horowitz, head of Columbia University’s Barnard College Dog Cognition Lab, told the AKC that dogs are exceptionally attentive and sensitive.All dogs are clever, but the brightest have features that set them apart. According to Coren’s criteria, some of our furry pals are friendly, petite, or non-shedders, while others are the smartest. How clever are dogs? Our dogs may not play cards, but they perform their tasks effectively.


French dog breeds like the poodle are considered high-maintenance. Curly hair won’t style itself. But don’t believe they’re less smart. The breed is smart and passionate. Coren puts the poodle second in intelligence behind the border collie.

The dogs may seem fancy, but they’ve delivered food to soldiers in conflict. Quick-learning poodles were ideal since the work demanded obedience, attentiveness, and clear-headed decision-making. Poodles are trainable and appreciate challenging hobbies like hunting, tracking, agility sports, and obedience, according to veterinarian Wendy Hauser, DVM. The breed is also cheery and likes to play tricks and appear charming. Humans adore them nevertheless. Poodles—from teacup to standard—are adorable and playful.

German shepherd

Coren ranks the German shepherd as the second-smartest herding dog and third-smartest dog overall. The breed was bred for its intelligence (the AKC says they may learn a new command on the first try), attention, obedience (which makes training easy), and protective instinct for its “pack” members.

Jill Cline, PhD, site director of the Royal Canin Pet Health and Nutrition Center in Lewisburg, Ohio, says this breed can assess difficult situations and choose the best course of action. German shepherds serve in law enforcement, search-and-rescue, and as service dogs for disabled persons because of it.

Golden retriever

Dog intelligence goes beyond brainpower. Golden retrievers are fourth because they “comply with commands or tasks asked of them by their owners,” according to Cline. These dogs are constant because they want to please their owners. Their quickness and strong stride make them ideal search-and-rescue dogs.

The golden retriever is loved worldwide for its loyalty and hard work. Disabled individuals love golden retrievers because of their cheerful mood and ability to learn 200 instructions, most of which they acquire on the first time. Fun fact: Seniors love these pets.

Doberman pinscher

The AKC-described courageous, loyal, and alert Doberman pinscher was produced by a German tax collector who had time and desire to breed the ultimate canine protector. Because tax collectors may make people quite irritable.

Coren calls these strong yet graceful, powerfully athletic beasts ideal guard dogs because of their fearlessness, quickness, and deep stamina. This fierce-looking dog breed is actually quite docile. They also train well.


The papillon is Coren’s brightest little dog. Caitie Steffen, a pet expert with animal activity tracker company Whistle, and Angela Hughes, DVM, PhD, a veterinarian geneticist with dog DNA test kit Wisdom Panel, say the breed’s almost 700-year history contributes to its intelligence. The papillon, one of the oldest dog breeds, has had more time than others to become one of the brightest dogs in the world, and its breeders have utilized that time well.


The Schipperke, known as the “little captain” because it was developed to manage pests aboard Flemish canal boats (“schip” is Flemish for “boat”), ranks 15th on Coren’s intellectual dog breeds list. It is curious, bright, bold, fearless, and mischievous (how else could it hunt rats on a boat?). Even though the schipperke is little, its powerful physique is built for work. If you acquire or adopt one, give your new BFF lots of room to play.

German pointer

The German shorthaired pointer has practically everything—by design. German hunters sought the perfect hunting companion in 1861. The AKC says the breed is smart and ready to please.

The German shorthaired pointer is loyal, trainable, and slim with distinctive coloration that typically includes “ticking” (dog-speak for “fur freckles”). Obedience training can help this breed become its best, most obedient, smarty-pants self.

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