The 8 Most Intelligent Dogs

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What does it mean to be a smart dog?

Smart dogs are more easily trained and capable of picking up commands without too much repetition. Most ‘smart’ breeds can even be trained to help around the house, herd livestock, or guard children.

list of most intelligent dogs

Of course, dogs also make wonderful companions, so when you’re considering a new pet, a smart dog is the way to go.

So, what are the most intelligent dogs you can own?

8 Most Intelligent Dog Breeds

Border Collie

The Border Collie originated from a breed of sheepdogs found on the border of England and Scotland – hence their name.

The Border Collie of the modern day continues to possess the intelligence, agility, and dependability of their sheepdog ancestors.

With a medium-length double coat, the Collie is a wonderful ball of fluff. Their inner coat is soft, providing insulation, while their outer coat is coarse to protect them from the elements.

They can come in different colors and patterns but are commonly seen with a black and white coat. They have a muscular body with an alert expression, creating an air of intelligence and alertness.

Considered to be the most intelligent dog breed, the Border Collie can be miles away in terms of intelligence and ability when compared to other dog breeds.

Training this dog will be a breeze, as they can easily pick up instructions and are always happy to help. They also love to be active; long runs where they can see new sights and sounds are a treat to this small genius.

Perfect for: Attentive Families

While Border Collies can excel in arguably everything, they need a lot of attention. Their intelligence means that they are fairly low-maintenance, can easily clean up after themselves, and will follow a routine.

However, they also require a lot of exercise and activities to keep their brains busy.

They are also very high-energy dogs, meaning they will need at least one long walk daily. Apartments aren’t the best home for this breed, either; a yard where they can play is more suitable.

Border Collies aren’t the best with being left alone either. When left to their own devices, they will find their own methods for staying busy, often by chewing furniture, digging, or barking.

However, if your family has the time and space to accommodate this wonderful, smart breed, you will not regret it.

Mini Schnauzer

Coming from a breed in Germany during the 19th century, the Mini Schnauzer was originally made to catch rats and small rodents on farms.

Their role as dependable ratters made them agile, intelligent, and protective of their kin.

The Mini Schnauzer often has an interesting appearance, with a small, square-shaped build. They have a double coat, with a wiry outer coat and soft undercoat.

Often, owners trim their Mini Schnauzers to have short fur on the body, with longer fur on the ears, face, legs, and belly.

smart dog breeds

Perfect for: Families in Small Spaces

Because they are small dogs, they are perfect for families that live in a small space, like an apartment. However, they are still high-energy dogs and will need to be kept busy with activities and exercise.

They are also noisy dogs, despite their small size. Extremely protective, they will be barking at strangers, whether that’s other dogs or people. Even if they’re small, the Mini Schnauzer makes a wonderful guard dog.

They are also very sociable around human beings and will prefer to be by your side at all times. While this makes them incredibly affectionate dogs, you will also need to provide them with lots of attention.

Expect them to be near you constantly, and maybe even disrupting you when you’re doing important work.

If you have a Mini Schnauzer, make sure there’s always someone ready to give them attention. If you don’t mind your pup barging in from time to time, or if you have someone else to keep them busy, the Mini Schnauzer is for you.

Golden Retriever

Considered to be one of the world’s most popular dog breeds, the Golden Retriever has perhaps the friendliest face around.

Originally meant to accompany hunters and shooting parties, they are named after their ability to collect or retrieve shot game. With their soft mouth, they are the ideal breed to pick up game like waterfowl, ducks, and other birds.

Their origins developed in them a keen intelligence, and they can easily pick up training from their owners.

Their appearance varies slightly between American, British, and Canadian breeds. However, their general shape and coat stay the same.

They have a medium build and their slightly wavy coat appears in varying shades of gold. Because their original role often put them in water, the Golden Retriever has a dense, water-repellent coat.

Perfect for: Families With Children

Golden Retrievers are known for their friendly and gentle temperament. Alongside their intelligent nature, the Golden Retriever is popular among families, especially those who have small children.

They are trusting and friendly, both to their owners and strangers. While they make terrible guard dogs, this means they can live peacefully with small children, adults, and even other pets or livestock.

Unlike most friendly dogs, the Golden Retriever doesn’t need a lot of exercise. They like to be kept busy, but they are also patient enough to keep still for hours on end.

With at least one walk a day, and enough chores here and there, Golden Retrievers are the best dogs around.

most intelligent dogs

Australian Shepherd

Also known as the ‘Aussie,’ the Australian Shepherd was originally bred to be a sheepherder. In the modern day, this tireless breed is known for its ability to keep up with commands, all while being quick and agile.

The Aussie can come in a variety of colors, like black, red, and blue, with their own unique patterns and markings.

Their eyes also come in different varieties, as most of them can have heterochromatic eyes, with one eye color different from the other.

Aussies can also have merled eyes, with one iris containing two different colors.

Perfect for: Active Owners

Because of their origin as shepherds, the Aussie is a high-energy breed. They are always up for physical activity, whether it be long runs or playing with their owners.

They are also protective guard dogs and will bark when they see any activity around the neighborhood. Aussies tend to stick to their owners and tend to stay close to their people.

Because of their intelligence, Aussies love constant stimulation; paired with their vast amounts of energy, they can be a tiring dog.

Without chores or activities to distract them, Aussies can engage in destructive behaviors like digging or chewing furniture.

Here’s a video with more details on the Australian Shepherd.


Named after the French word for butterfly, the Papillion is a dog that’s as adorable as it is smart.

The Papillion’s origins support its regal looks; its ancestor, the Dwarf Spaniel, used to sit atop the laps of lords and ladies back in the 1500s. In fact, many paintings show Papillion’s alongside their noble owners.

The Papillion is named for their fringed, upright ears, which resembles the wings of a butterfly. Alternatively, Papillion also comes in a variety called ‘Phalene,’ which means moth; the Phalene’s ears are drooped, resembling the folded wings of a moth.

Their coats are white with patches of color, and most of them have a blaze – or an area of white from the top of the head to between the eyes.

Perfect for: Those Who Want a Small, Active Dog

While their size makes them seem like the perfect lap dog, the Papillion is hardly suited for sitting quietly for long periods. Instead, this dog is friendly and adventurous, curious of both owners and strangers.

The energy levels of the Papillion may not be the best pair for older or more aggressive dogs, as well as small children. However, their size, combined with their friendliness and exuberance, makes them the perfect companions for those living in small spaces.

German Shepherd

Considered to be the second most popular dog breed, the German Shepherd is an intelligent, hard-working dog.

In fact, they can be found working as service animals, like guide dogs for the blind, and can even work for the police and military, most popularly as bomb-sniffing dogs.

The German Shepherd is a medium to large dog breed with a strong jaw, a square muzzle, and a two-layer coat.

They can either have a medium or long coat, commonly with either a tan/black or red/black color. They often have a black mask pattern and black body markings.

list of most intelligent dogs

Perfect for: Those Who Want a Dependable Guard Dog

Germans Shepherds continue to show their dependability in the various roles they have in our society.

Whether they’re sniffing out survivors in a calamity or leading the blind, there’s nothing quite like a German Shepherd to depend upon. Of course, with the right training and care, they make excellent house pets.

However, compared to other breeds, the German Shepherd’s watchdog tendencies can lead to anxiety in new circumstances.

Safely exposing them to different areas, people, and pets can help them take new circumstances in stride.


Of all the breeds on this list, the Poodle may be an unexpected addition. Despite its appearance, the Poodle can hold its own against other intelligent breeds.

Originally bred to be a hunting dog, the Poodle continues to be one of the most intelligent dog breeds in the modern day.

They’re often seen as a performing animal. Poodles balancing on a ball or jumping through hoops does seem like a silly trick, but the brain power required to understand these commands are impressive.

The popularity of Poodles can be due to their unique coats. The Poodle doesn’t shed, making them a hypoallergenic breed; however, this means that they need constant grooming to make sure that their coarse, curly coat doesn’t matt.

Poodles often come in a solid color, including white, cream, black, and brown. They can also be parti-colored, which means that they have solid patches of color over a white coat.

The Poodle comes in three sizes: toy, miniature, and standard.

Perfect for: Owners Who Want a Calm But Social Dog

The Poodle is often described as mischievous, with an air of dignity that is unique to their breed. Their personality pairs well to their regal appearance, as well as their origins as a favorite breed by aristocrats back in the Renaissance.

However, despite their personality, Poodles are generally calm and are always up for play. They also make excellent watchdogs and are protective of those in their charge.

They tend to be aloof with strangers but will warm up to newcomers once their trust is earned.

This breed works great with children, especially Standard Poodles. They make great playmates, especially in a quiet and calm environment.

With enough play and space for them to retire, the Poodle is the perfect companion for most families.

smart dogs


Rounding out our list is a breed well-known for its friendliness: the Labrador. Lovingly referred to as the ‘Lab,’ the Labrador originated from a breed called St. John’s Water Dog and were originally tasked to aid fishermen.

Their tasks include pulling nets and ropes from the water and even catching fish that escaped their nets. To this day, Labradors continue to have a fondness for the water and are inclined to help.

In fact, Labradors make great working dogs, such as therapy dogs, assistant dogs, and search and rescue dogs.

Because of their origins, the Labrador’s coat is water-resistant and will naturally be oily to the touch. Their coat is short and dense, with colors that are black, yellow, or chocolate.

Perfect for: Owners Who Want the Friendliest Dog

Labradors are intelligent enough for many tasks. However, as perhaps the friendliest dog breed, they make terrible watchdogs.

Labradors will welcome anyone, owners and strangers alike, often with a friendly hug. Of course, this means that Labradors make wonderful companion dogs and a loving addition to any family.

Hopefully, this list has helped you find the perfect dog for you. Just remember: Even the smartest dog can make a terrible companion if they aren’t given enough training and attention.

No matter which breed you get, love and attention will turn your dog into the best companion for your family.

Here’s a video with more details on training a Labrador dog breed.

What’s your favorite most intelligent dog breed?

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