Top 20 Smartest Dog Breeds [From Collies to Bichons With Photos]

Smartest Dog Breeds

About the Author: Emma loves to have dogs as her pets and with so much knowledge about dogs, she started to share it with other dog lovers and parents. She is a Pet Specialist and Pet Behavior Analyst, who studied at the University of South Dakota.

Let cross finger here and hope that your beautiful pup is also one of 20 smartest dog breeds that are highly intelligent and smarter than other dog breeds. These dog breeds are not only smart but intelligent and sharp too.

First of all, I would like to tell you what is smartness in dogs and why smartness is important. 

  • The smart dog breeds have advanced memory skills and can read and react towards humans more appropriately than other breeds. They can understand gestures, pointing and human voice commands. 
  • Smart dogs are easily trainable and can concentrate for a long time. And once they are trained they react that way.

Some people still don’t believe in the smartness of dogs. So, here I will mention the psychologist Stanley Coren in his book “The Intelligence of Dogs”, mentioned the most intelligent breeds and also described the intelligence of dogs in detail.

According to Coren, a dog’s smartness can be identified by its ability to carry out tasks, obedience, and working intelligence. So, along with this data other research shows that as some humans can be more intelligent than other humans, dogs can also be more intelligent than other dogs.

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20 Smartest Dog Breeds Around The World:

From smartest dog breeds around the world, top 20 are these:

  1. Border Collie
  2. Poodle
  3. German Shepherd
  4. Golden Retriever
  5. Labrador Retriever
  6. Shetland Sheepdog
  7. Doberman Pinscher
  8. Australian Shepherd
  9. Papillon
  10. Rottweiler
  11. Belgian Malinois
  12. Pembroke Welsh Corgi
  13. Keeshond
  14. Old English Sheepdog
  15. Australian Cattle Dog
  16. Gordon Setter
  17. Bloodhound
  18. Calvier King Charles Spaniel
  19. Border Terrier
  20. Bichon Frise

Border Collie

Border Collie is known as “ the most intelligent breed” of dogs.  Border Collies are enthusiastic to learn, which earns them the top spot in this smartest dog ranking.

Border Collie
Border Collie sits with his little puppy

Border Collie is a medium-sized British breed of herding dog. It originates from British sheep dogs that were found in the British Isles. Border Collies are dogs with a coat, which is thick and prone to shedding. Black and white is the most common coloring of the Border Collie, the breed appears in just about any color and pattern known to occur in dogs.

It requires more physical exercise and mental stimulation than many other breeds. As I mentioned, border collie is widely considered to be the smartest dog breed.

The border collie ranks 1st in Stanly Collins’ The Intelligence of Dogs, being part of the top 10 brightest dogs. Although the primary role of the border collie is to herd livestock, the breed is becoming increasingly popular as a companion animal.

Besides all this Collie is considered a workaholic as she works hard and loves to do work. They are energetic. They can also live with other animals if they are trained well.


Poodles are also selected to be the top-ranked breed of smartest dogs. Poodle breeds are also highly intelligent according to researchers. As they are one of the smartest dogs they are also quick learners. They are highly trainable. 

Poodle (1)
Poodle shows his beautiful smile

According to Lazhar Ichiro, “Poodles learn quickly and often surprise their owners by how human-like they can be.” So they are quick learners and can learn the training tasks easily.

Poodles besides this are loyal, smart, and gentle. 

Their intelligence and enthusiasm to make others happy make them great service dogs. Poodles are also employed as guide dogs

German Shepherd

The German Shepherd is the most famous dog breed. It is the breed that is already known for their loyalty and courage.  They are fighting dogs and are known for security purposes.  It is common to say that those who fight are not necessarily intelligent. But you will be shocked to know that the German Shepherd is one of the top of the smartest dog breeds.   

german (1)
German Shepherd shows his smile while sitting on a couch

So, after knowing that a German shepherd is powerful and smart.

They work in the police force after being trained. GS breed makes an excellent guard dog, police dog, military dog, guide dog for the blind, and search and rescue dog. All these qualities are already depicting that German Shepherds are genius. They can be trained for security purposes and hunting also. Their bite can kill anyone easily. They are powerful and trainable. So, they can be good hunting companions.

Golden Retriever

I have seen that the Golden Retriever is compared to the German Shepherd. Like GSDs, Golden Retrievers also are very powerful, energetic, and one of the smartest dogs. They can also be trained easily as they are smarter than many other species of dogs. And like GSDs can be used for hunting purposes. 

Golden Retriever (1)
Golden Retriever stands next to his owner

But unlike German shepherds, their behavior is puppish even when they are adults. They are eager to play and are joyous. Besides all this loyalty is the most prominent quality of Retrievers. They are highly loyal and smart, the fourth most popular dog breed in the USA.

Labrador Retriever

As you know I am describing the smartest dogs so, here is a Labrador Retriever which is also one of them. Labrador is a smart dog as it makes a good family dog. Some researchers put Labrados at the top of the list of the smartest dogs. This shows the Labrador is a smart dog.

Labrador (1)
Little Labrador Retriever puppy lying on the carpet

Moreover, he is proficient in language and math. Research has shown that it can do tricks and commands in other languages. And with the learning of 250+ words where the average is 85 words Labrador is of course a smart breed. 

Shetland Sheepdog

Shelties have a high level of intelligence. According to Dr. Stanley Corel, the Shetland Sheepdog is one of the brightest dogs, ranking 6th out of 138 breeds tested. The Shetland Sheepdog is not only a genius but it is a herd dog.

Shetland Sheepdog
Shetland Sheepdog lying on the floor

The research found that an average Sheltie could understand a new command in fewer than five repetitions and would obey a command the first time it was given 95% of the time or better. It obeys its owner and has a working IQ. 

They are obedient, bark, and not friendly toward strangers making them a good watchful dog.

Besides these shelties are small dogs and are 13 to 16 inches high.

Doberman Pinscher 

Doberman Pinscher are the next smart dogs. They excel in intelligence and obedience. They are highly cautious and are good competitors and police dogs. As they are conscious and cautious dogs they can be used for security purposes. These sleek dogs are in demand for their intelligence and protective abilities. 

Doberman Pinscher  (1)
Doberman Pinscher  shows an aggressive look

They quickly study and can work as service dogs. 

They mostly work with the police and for service. They are highly mentally active and get bored easily. And if you are looking for a guard dog, Doberman is a good option. They are so eager to please, which can help them in training. 

Australian Shepherd

As the name shows it is one of the herding dog breeds. These are the dogs that are one of the most intelligent dogs as described by the American Kennel Club. They are known for their intelligence, obedience, agility, and herding characteristics. 

Australian Shepherd (1)
Australian Shepherd enjoying while having fun on the bridge

They’re eager to learn and respond well to reward-based training, allowing them to participate in a vast area of enjoyable activities including agility, and flyball.

In addition to being herding dogs, Australian Shepherds serve as Seeing Eye dogs, hearing dogs, drug-sniffing dogs, and search and rescue dogs. Besides all this Australian Shepherd are both watchful and intelligent.


The next breed is the Papillon, the most social dog plus intelligent. They are highly clever and creative and respond very well to training. They are obedient like other smart dogs but their obedience is not instantaneous. They don’t bark a lot and are not nervous or fearful. They also like to socialize with other dogs and cats.

Papillon (1)
Papillon sits on the couch

Besides being intelligent, they are eager to please humans. And instead of being a small breed, they learn language faster than other small breeds. Learning the language is a good thing and makes the training easy.

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Unlike many other smart dogs. If we go back to Roman times they were used as herd dogs and today they are the smartest dogs because of their sharp perception and acute awareness. Besides all this, they are loyal dogs too. 

Rottweiler sits over the soffa

They are usually very aggressive when they protect their owners.

It is employed as guard dogs, rescue dogs, and police dogs. All this shows that they are smart dogs because they are watchful as they serve as guard dogs and can detect scents.

Belgian Malinois

Belgian Malinois is one of the smartest dogs according to a study. This breed is known for its intellectual prowess. In both the gesture and cognition tests, the  Malinois came first.  Because of their high energy, strong sniffers, trainability, agility, speed, drive, work ethic, loyalty, and, when needed, fierceness they are considered for the military. 

Belgian Malinois (1)
Belgian Malinois lying over the carpet

They are considered robust dogs and are used for law enforcement. They exert greater force when they bite. Malinois have the strongest jaws. Moreover, they are smart and strong at the same time.

Pembroke Welsh Corgi

Like most of the other herding dogs, they are also the smartest dogs that originated in Pembrokeshire, Whales. It is descended from the Spitz family of dogs. Pembroke became famous as Queen Elizabeth preferred royal Corgi and had more than 30 of them. 

Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Pembroke Welsh Corgi tries to hide itself under the table

Although these dogs have been preferred by British royalty for more than seventy years, among the British public due to such popularity they have recently fallen into decline.

Not only in Britain Corgi are very famous in the United States also. 

The dogs can also be challenging to train due to their working background, stubbornness, and intelligence – they were ranked as the eleventh most intelligent dog in Stanley Coren’s The Intelligence of Dogs. 


Keeshond is the next smart dog breed. The keeshond are very smart and are highly trainable. Keeshond is active and agile. “These thick coated medium-sized dogs were once known as the Dutch Barge Dog,” notes MorganUnlike other northern breeds, the Keeshonden are easy to train. They don’t bark frequently, but they will bark with a warning that a stranger is near.

Keeshond (1)
Keeshond shows his beautiful smile

 The Keeshond is an old dog breed and were companions and watchdogs on the barges and boats that traveled the canals and rivers of Holland in the 17th and 18th centuries. But now they are a companion dog.

As this breed used to live on small barges they can now easily adjust in any small place.

Old English Sheepdog

A sheep dog or sheepdog is generally a dog or breed of dog historically used in connection with the raising of sheep. So it shows it must be smart to take care of sheep. These include livestock guardian dogs used to guard sheep and other livestock and herding dogs used to control sheep and other livestock.

Old English Sheepdog (1)
Old English Sheepdog tries to stand over the couch

Unlike Other smart breeds Old English Sheepdogs are not very obedient, but independent. The Old English Sheepdog is a large, athletic dog breed with an unmistakable shaggy coat. The OES was historically a drover, helping farmers drive cattle and sheep to the market. They need a hard hand for training purposes. The English Sheepdog is gentle and calm. I would say that I like calm nature and prefer it to other habits. OES is very protective if it comes to owners. Their protective nature makes them even more of a smart dog.

Australian Cattle Dog

When it comes to Australian Cattle Dogs, I will mention their three famous qualities. Firstly, ACD is smart, loyal, and alert. This is also one of the famous smart dog breeds with many other plus qualities. ACD is not boring like many other dog breeds but they like challenges. In case they are not challenged they get bored and do mischief. So, the ACDs’ owners are suggested to play some games with them and try to make it challenging. Playing sports with ACDs is good for both physical and mental fitness.

Australian Cattle Dog (1)
Australian Cattle Dog doing hiking with his parents

Besides all this, ACDs live the longest as compared to other dog breeds. The longest-living ACD was named Bluey. She lives 29 years and 5 months. Her name was written in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Gordon Setter

The next smart breed is the Gordon Setter. It is a medium to large-sized breed from Scotland. Gordons, big males might stand 27 inches at the shoulder and weigh 80 pounds. The stunning coat is a glistening black, with tan markings and long hair on the ears, belly, legs, chest, and tail. They are famous for their stubborn behavior, those who live in small apartments should beware of it. Setter needs a lot of exercise to burn their energy.

Gordon Setter (1)
Gordon Setter sits in the flower garden

In the past, they were hunting dogs. This breed needs patient training. They can be a bit stubborn and sometimes like to have their way. In the 20th century, they were famous hunting dogs and due to in demand in that age, they are rare nowadays. Besides being rare they are still valued for their nature and hunting capabilities. 


Bloodhound is a famous smart dog breed and its name is unique. So, besides its unique name and smartness, some other qualities of Bloodhound are unique. You will be surprised to know that its sense of smell is three million times better than humans according to Steffen and Hughes. I know it’s unbelievable but still believe it. Due to such an excellent sense of smell, they are perfect for tracking and finding people. 

Bloodhound shows his beautiful face

Their ability to sense a scent is so accurate that they are held up in a court of law. Bloodhounds mostly work with the police for detecting purposes.

Calvier King Charles Spaniel

The Cavalier King Charles spaniel is highly intelligent and easy to train. Claviers are motivated by love and affection. Fortunately, they are not shy and aggressive. The two most famous qualities of the Clavier are; that they are attractive to its viewers and they are athletic.

Calvier King Charles Spaniel (1)
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel sleeps peacefully in the bed

 Claviers are kind, gentle, and loyal and feel very upset when they are alone at home. They’re very adaptable and are happy as long as they get plenty of exercise and mental stimulation. But still, keep in mind that Claviers can be active or can be couch potatoes depending upon owners.

Border Terrier

Border Terrier is a highly intelligent breed that excels in agility and playing games. These small dogs don’t bark a lot and are calm. They bark occasionally, just to get the attention of the owners.

Border Terrier (1)
Border Terrier stands and shows his attention stance

They are loyal to the owners. Usually, Terriers are not very aggressive but if they are not trained when they are young and not introduced.

Bichon Frise

Last in my list of smartest dogs, but not less intelligent. A Bichon Frise is a small-sized, thick-coated dog. It is so friendly and goes well with other dogs.  Bichon Frise dogs are not a particularly vocal breed. However, they bark when they try to alert owners as it is considered a companion dog.

Bichon Frise (1)
Bichon Frise sits on his little bedsheet

Usually, they are white or cream-colored. They are alert and curious but can not be a guard dog.

So, after describing the 20 smartest dog breeds I will add some FAQs here that are useful and will increase your knowledge. Generally, FAQs are the questions that are frequently asked by the people. So, it would be helpful for you to know the answers to these questions. The following are some of them.


What is the strongest dog?

According to different researchers, different dogs are the strongest dogs. But it’s difficult to say this or that breed is the strongest. But I would like to introduce you to a few dogs that are considered to be the strongest. According to a few, Mastiff is the strongest dog as it weighs 230 lb. Saint Bernard is the second strongest and it weighs 180 lb. But at the same time, Dogo Argentino is considered even stronger than a lion.

Which dog breed is a leader?

We have often talked about human leaders but it would be a different experience to state leaders in dog breeds. So according to some research, Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers make dog leaders.

What dog breed is considered friendly?

Dogs are said to be friendly. But the question is which dog breed is most friendly. So, Retrievers are said to be the most friendly among other breeds.

Which dog is fearless?

German Shepherds are considered one of the most quality holders and fearless dog breeds. They are known for their intelligence, loyalty, and protective nature, they are often used in police, military, and search and rescue work. These dogs have a strong presence and are confident in any situation. So there is no doubt German Shepherds are the most brave dogs.

What is the best fighting dog?

According to my study, The American Pit Bull Terrier is often considered the ultimate fighting dog because of its powerful muscular body and fighting nature. This breed has become increasingly popular for its bravery, and ability to defend its owner and his family. The American Pit Bull Terrier is famous for being involved in the blood sport.

What is the fastest learning dog?

As I have stated previously, learning is directly related to the intelligence of dogs. So as far as learning is related no doubt Border Collie is one of the most intelligent and fastest learners.

Final Thoughts

So now as I am going to end this writing, I would like to sum up all this. In this article, I have stated the 20 smartest dog breeds. Firstly, I have told you about the concept of smartness, the importance of smartness, and the answer to the question; How do we know if a dog is smart or not? Why is smartness necessary?

Then I have stated about some people who don’t believe in the smartness elements in dogs. And then I have stated about the psychologist who stated about the smartness of dogs.

 After all this, I have stated 20 smartest dogs. Their number can vary according to different researchers and according to different parameters. But the common thing is that all of them are considered smart.

In the end, I would like to share my ideas about the smartness of animals or pets. So, according to me, smartness does not mean any animal can be an all-rounder. None of the creatures on earth including humans can be all-rounder. Different animals have different duties in nature and no other can fulfill the duty of the other.

Similarly, every dog breed is unique and has qualities that can not be replaced by one another. Shepherd dogs can’t replace hunting dogs no matter how smart the dog is. This is written to increase your knowledge about dogs but not to compare the creation.

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