10 Smartest Dog Breeds: Intelligent Dog Rankings

Regardless of size or origin, the smartest dog breeds all have one thing in common: how quickly they understand and follow commands.

Regardless of size or origin, the smartest dog breeds all have one thing in common: how quickly they understand and follow commands.

Everyone wishes they could have a dog to train to do tricks. But while all dogs make great best friends, some are more lovably clueless than others.

Throughout history, the smartest dog breeds have served as more than just man’s best friend: they’ve been wartime comrades, detectives, movie stars, and security consultants.

Moreover, we’re constantly hearing about new and incredible things that dogs can do. For example, some dogs detect cancer, others warn their owners of low blood sugar, and others perform extraordinary tricks and stunts.

However, it’s important to remember that the smartest dogs aren’t always the best pets. Your job is to find a breed that is a good fit for your lifestyle and focus on bringing out the best in your dog.

What Makes a Dog “Smart”?

There’s no doubt that intelligence is one of the many reasons we’ve chosen to live side by side with dogs for thousands of years.

Dog intelligence, like human intelligence, comes in various forms. As canine psychologist Stanley Coren wrote back in the ’90s, when it comes to dogs, there are three types of intelligence:

  • Adaptive intelligence refers to a dog’s ability to learn problem-solving skills from his surroundings.
  • Working intelligence is defined as the ability to learn and execute commands.
  • Instinctive intelligence is a natural ability that a dog has due to its breed or type.

As a result, all of these types of intelligence play a role in how intelligent a dog is. Every dog, regardless of breed, has the potential to be intelligent in some ways.

A dog’s intelligence is measured by its ability to learn new information, memorize it, learn new behaviors, and mix and match what they’ve learned to use in new situations.

However, certain dog breeds stand out from the rest when it comes to working intelligence.

10 Smartest Dog Breeds

The intelligence of a dog expresses itself in various ways, and trainability is a sign of intelligence. This list focuses on dogs who understood commands in less than five repetitions and obeyed them at least 95% of the time.

So, if you’re looking for dogs that can follow your commands precisely or simply an pleasant family pet who can roll over for a treat, here’s a list of the breeds that will most likely be the easiest to train.

1. Border Collie

Border Collie
Average Height18 to 22 inches
Average Weight30 to 55 pounds
Life Expectancy12 to 15 years

According to many experts, the Border Collie is the smartest dog breed. They enjoy learning new tricks and putting in the extra effort.

In addition to quickly learning cues, these dogs are intelligent enough to learn and understand routines, and they can be trained to handle daily tasks without much supervision.

This dog began as a sheep and livestock herding dog in England and Scotland. Because of their speed and concentration, Border Collies can learn quickly and excel in agility sports.

Above all, border collies require a lot of mental and physical stimulation, so owners should be prepared to provide it.

2. Poodle

Average Height15 inches or more
Average Weight50 to 70 pounds
Life Expectancy10 to 18 years

Some may believe that the Poodle is nothing more than a showy dog in the arms of the upper classes, but they would be mistaken.

Despite their posh appearance, the dogs have been used to deliver supplies to soldiers on the battlefield during wartime.

The breed gets high marks for its emotional and cognitive intelligence. The Poodle is well-suited to various jobs and canine sports, ranging from assistance dogs to agility competitors.

Breeders love poodles for more than just their hypoallergenic qualities but because the Poodle is one of the world’s smartest dog breeds.

3. German Shepherd

German Shepherd
Average Height22 to 26 inches
Average Weight50 to 90 pounds
Life Expectancy7 to 10 years

The German Shepherd is prized for everything from show competitions to home protection to military and police work. It has one of the best combinations of size, athleticism, and intelligence in the dog kingdom.

They can make great family dogs as long as they have enough exercise and mental stimulation. In other words, they require a ton of work.

4. Golden Retriever

Golden Retriever
Average Height21 to 24 inches
Average Weight55 to 75 pounds
Life Expectancy10 to 12 years

Golden retrievers are well-liked for their friendly, people-pleasing, and joyful personalities. But, in addition to being some of the most sociable dogs on the planet, they’re also among the most intelligent.

Despite their origins as gun dogs, their exceptional emotional intelligence makes them a perfect candidate for assistance dogs. These dogs easily make friends wherever they go, with people and other animals alike.

They can think independently and make quick decisions while working, necessary for many of their roles.

5. Doberman Pinscher

Doberman Pinscher
Average Height24 to 28 inches
Average Weight60 to 100 pounds
Life Expectancy10 to 12 years

In 1890, the Doberman Pinscher was bred as a protector dog to stand by the local tax collector’s side. As a result, they are highly trainable, and their instinct to protect means they have razor-sharp focus and attention.

They’re excellent police dogs, just like the German Shepherd. Dobermans are often referred to as “war dogs” because of their incredible physical characteristics and high intelligence.

So, if you’re looking for a dignified companion that will protect you and your family at all costs, you’ve found the dog.

6. Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retriever
Average Height21 to 24 inches
Average Weight55 to 80 pounds
Life Expectancy10 to 12 years

According to American Kennel Club, the Labrador Retriever is the most popular dog breed in the U.S., and for a good reason. It has been ranked as the number one breed to be kept worldwide.

Labrador Retrievers are sweet, affectionate, and almost always cheerful, and they do well in family situations where there are plenty of people to lavish their love on.

From working as guide dogs and therapy dogs to serving in the military and police, there’s nothing that the lovable Labrador Retriever can’t do. 

7. Rottweiler

Average Height22 to 27 inches
Average Weight80 to 135 pounds
Life Expectancy9 to 10 years

The Rottweiler, descended from the mastiffs of the Roman legions is a guard dog with a big heart. As working dogs, Rottweilers need a lot of exercises and tend to excel when they have a job to do.

They are affectionate and loyal dogs who are quick to learn and obey. Rottweilers make excellent family pets and entertaining companions.

There aren’t many people I know who want to mess with one. Rottweilers make excellent police dogs, herding dogs, service dogs, or simply as a companion and friends. They’re just that versatile.

8. Papillon

Average Height8 to 11 inches
Average Weight5 to 10 pounds
Life Expectancy14 to 16 years

Perhaps one of the more surprising entries on this list, these small dogs aren’t just quick to pick up commands – they also have a superior hearing.

Because of their regal appearance and charming personalities, these adorable little dogs have long been a favorite of royalty and aristocracy.

But don’t let their small size fool you. There’s a brilliant mind hidden inside those tiny, plumed heads!

The Papillon is one of only two small dog breeds (the other being the toy poodle) that rank among the top ten smartest dogs in the world.

9. Shetland Sheepdog

Shetland Sheepdog
Average Height13 to 16 inches
Average Weight15 to 25 pounds
Life Expectancy12 to 14 years

Shetland Sheepdogs are remarkably easy to train and consistently place high in agility competitions. In addition, they make excellent family pets because they are obedient and eager to please their master.

These intelligent herding dogs make excellent family dogs because they enjoy learning new tricks and do so quickly.

Some argue that they are the best playmates for children. Furthermore, they make excellent watchdogs because they are naturally vigilant, especially around strangers.

10. Australian Cattle Dog

Australian Cattle Dog
Average Height17 to 20 inches
Average Weight35 to 50 pounds
Life Expectancy12 to 16 years

Active dog owners would adore the Australian cattle dog. These puppies have a dingo in them, which has resulted in a lifelong love of the outdoors.

Blue Heelers are another name for Australian Cattle Dogs. They got their name from their unique herding technique, in which they nip at the cattle’s heels. Many Australian Cattle Dogs have blue coats, hence the complete name.

Dealing with animals much larger than itself necessitates the Australian Cattle Dog’s tenacity, drive, and quick thinking, all of which they possess in spades.

These dogs are known for having an incredible work drive – so much so that experts advise owners to keep their dogs busy with work, sport, or exercise because they can be mischievous.


It’s not an accident that the breeds in this list are intelligent – almost all are descended from working dogs. On top of that, they are also high-energy dog breeds. They enjoy doing a job that allows them to use their brains.

It’s also worth pointing out that taking on such an intelligent dog necessitates time and effort.

You must ensure that you are prepared to keep them entertained, which means providing plenty of mental stimulation such as games, training, and challenges in addition to their regular exercise routine.

So, does your loyal pup’s breed make a list? Of course, if he isn’t on the list, that doesn’t mean he’s not a good boy; some characteristics are simply unmeasurable.