Smartest Dog Breeds: Top 10 List

Galina Mikova LittleThings writer by Galina Mikova
Galina is a freelance writer for LittleThings based in the U.K. and specializes in lifestyle content.

There is a reason why dogs are man’s best friend. They’re loyal, lovable, and, above everything else, intelligent and intuitive.

But are some dogs smarter than others? Numerous studies have tested the canine ability for quickly learning new commands and being able to complete simple tasks to determine what is the smartest dog breed. And while there are different requirements for dogs used for hunting, herding, or protection, let’s look at the 10 smartest dog breeds known for their ability to be trained easily and be a dependable companion.

How smart are dogs compared to humans?

According to the findings of canine IQ tests that examine a dog’s language development, arithmetic and social skills, emotional intelligence, and other abilities, smart dog breeds exhibit dog intelligence similar to 2-year-old children in language, and 3- or 4-year-olds in basic arithmetic. They show basic emotions similar to human toddlers like happiness, anger, and disgust, but are unable to experience more complex ones like guilt.

Based on data from hundreds of obedience judges and training schools on which are the easiest dogs to train, here are the 10 smartest dog breeds in order of size.

Smartest Dog Breeds

1. German Shepherd

Smart dog breed German Shepherd

There is a reason why this beloved canine is considered the smartest breed of dogs. It is the world’s leading police, guard, and military companion while also being an excellent family dog and herder. The German shepherd has a calm demeanor; it is smart, confident, courageous, and reliable; it loves children and is relatively low-maintenance.

2. Doberman Pinscher

Smart dog breed Doberman Pinscher

With an appearance of a dog of medium size and a fiercely loyal behavior, the Doberman pinscher is known for its stamina and speed. It is highly intelligent and trainable, but needs a strong personality to handle it, so it’s not ideal for families with children. Originally bred to protect tax collectors on their route, it is revered as one of the smartest dog breeds kept as a guardian and in demand by the police and military.


3. Rottweiler

Smart dog breed Rottweiler

The ancient Romans were well aware of the many qualities of the rottweiler as one of the most intelligent dog breeds. The strong, brave canines make excellent cattle herders, cart pullers, and guardians. They are known as “gentle giants,” which makes them suitable for family companions. This smart dog breed responds well to training and socialization.

4. Golden Retriever

Golden Retriever smart dog breed

Intelligent, friendly, devoted — it is easy to see why this is one of the more popular smart dog breeds. The powerful and active canines make wonderful companions as they have kind expressions and a personality that is eager, alert, and self-confident.

5. Labrador Retriever

Smart dog Labrador Retriever

Labs have a reputation for being friendly and outgoing. Their natural intelligence makes them perfect companion dogs for blind and special needs people, as they can be taught to carry out simple everyday tasks. Their good temperament and athletic build make them suitable for hunting as well.

6. Border Collie

Smart Border Collie

The list of smartest dog breeds would be incomplete without a mention of this handsome dog. Originally known as a “Scotch sheep dog,” the border collie was bred to think independently and at long distances from human shepherds. They have strong problem-solving skills, intelligence, and working drive, making them perfect for families with children.

7. Shetland Sheepdog

smart Shetland Sheepdog

As a miniature version of the border collie, the “Sheltie” is a beloved breed of intelligent dogs. It is a working dog, which means it is intelligent and keen to learn. Bright, playful, and energetic, it has an alert personality and is among the easiest dogs to train.

8. Poodle

Smart dog breed Poodle

Poodles may be high-maintenance when it comes to their coat, but they’re exceptionally smart and active. Originally bred as bird-hunting companions to retrieve things from the water, they have several breed varieties: standard, miniature, and toy. As one of the most intelligent dog breeds, the poodle is known for its loving nature, trainable intelligence, and dignified demeanor.

9. Australian Cattle Dog

Australian Cattle Dog smart dog breed

This unique crossbreed of blue merle shepherds imported from England and the native Australian dingo is in the top of the 20 smartest dog breeds. Energetic and hardworking, the Australian cattle dog thrives in an active home and loves activities like agility training, rally obedience, herding trials, and flyball.

10. Papillon

Papillon smart dog

This adorable little toy dog has grown in popularity in recent years as it’s easy to look after in an apartment. Its lovable personality along with the fact that it’s one of the easiest small breed dogs to train makes it ideal for families and working professionals who live in the city. It is active, friendly, and alert.

Many of the dogs on this list of top 10 smartest dog breeds are very popular pets. Their natural dog intelligence makes them more responsive to human beings and human signals. Similarly to people, dogs are social creatures and have the same need for validation and companionship, so they understand human needs better. At the same time, having a highly-intelligent canine comes with great responsibility and more work as smart dogs are like smart kids – they quickly figure out what they can and can’t get away with, and if bored – will get themselves in trouble just for entertainment. This is why regularly exercising and socializing them with other canines is a must!

If you’re looking for a suitable canine companion and have liked these top 10 smartest dog breeds, make sure to SHARE the article with everyone you know!