Five Most Intelligent Dog Breeds

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Are you looking for a smart dog? Intelligent dogs have an aptitude for learning, which can make them easier to train than most. But they can also present challenges that might not make them a good fit for everyone.

A border collie in a yellow dog agility tunnel.The list of the world's smartest dog breeds, according to a survey of 122 veterinary professionals conducted by Vetstreet, probably comes as no surprise. Border collies, German shepherds, poodles, Australian shepherds and golden retrievers all have a reputation for being intelligent dogs. Here are a few benefits and challenges of each breed to help determine whether one of these smart dogs is right for you.

Border Collie

Topping the list as the smartest breed, there are few things a border collie can't be taught to do. Chaser, a famous border collie, has even been taught to understand the meaning of over 1,000 English words and respond to their commands. These are high-energy dogs with intense focus that is an asset when they're given a job to do, such as sheep herding. But a lack of healthy direction for that focus can cause problems. Border collies need obedience training from a young age with a special emphasis on socialization, says the American Kennel Club (AKC). Exposing your border collie pup to a variety of people, animals and situations will help him develop into a confident, calm and stable adult. Like most intelligent breeds, border collies have a lot of energy and need a lot of daily activity and exercise to keep them calm and happy.

German Shepherd

There's a reason German shepherds are a popular choice for police and military work. These dogs are not only fast learners, they're fearless, highly adaptable and they have a natural instinct for protecting their friends. As such, they make excellent guard dogs. On the flip side, German shepherds have a loving and loyal temperament that makes them excellent family companions. German shepherds excel at most every canine sport. Their aptitude for learning makes obedience training a breeze, but these energetic dogs become bored easily and they need at least 40 minutes of exercise a day.

White poodle with red harness with tongue out.Poodle

Poodles love to learn, and they have a sense of humor, making them the comedians of the dog world. While poodles are generally easy to train, they possess a stubborn streak that requires a lot of patience and persistence to overcome. Their happy disposition comes with boundless energy that requires a lot of exercise to burn. They can get bored easily if ignored or left alone for too long without an activity to keep them entertained. It's important to note that poodles come in three sizes – standard, miniature, and toy – and while they're all highly intelligent, the tiny toy poodle is bred to be a lap dog and doesn't require as much physical activity as his larger counterparts. Even so, they'll still need plenty of attention and playtime to prevent destructive behavior.

Australian Shepherd

This is a loving and devoted breed that tends to be excellent at whatever he sets out to do. Australian shepherds have a strong herding instinct that might cause them to attempt to herd your children, other pets and even passing cars. While these dogs can be a lot of fun, they need a firm yet loving hand to keep them in line, and you'll need to devote a lot of time and energy to burn off their boundless energy. Training from the get go will help keep them happy as well as provide them with much needed exercise.

Golden Retriever

One of the most popular breeds in America, according to the AKC, goldens are well-rounded dogs that not only make excellent family pets, but they're also suitable for a wide range of services like search and rescue or helping the disabled. About the only thing they're not good at is acting as guard dogs, a task for which they're way too friendly. Goldens have a sweet and gentle disposition, and they're as eager to please as they are eager to learn. Like the other smart breeds, goldens have a lot of energy and a tendency to get bored. Good activities to tucker out your pup are hiking, swimming and playing lots of fetch. Goldens delight in solving puzzle toys, so it's a good idea to stock up on these if you'll be leaving your golden alone for long periods of time.

What these intelligent dogs all have in common is boundless energy and a tendency to become bored, which can lead to destructive or annoying behavior. Smart dogs need patient, active pet parents who are willing and able to provide them with a significant amount of daily activity and exercise, in addition to proper training.

Choosing the "Smartest" Dog for You

While these five breeds may be considered the most intelligent breeds, it doesn't mean that there aren't other smart breeds or dogs out there that are perfect for you. Dogs are very loyal pack animals that are looking to be taught how to act from their pack leader. If you're willing to put in the time and training with your dog, any pup can be trained to do a number of incredible things. All it takes is some time, patience, love and training. So, if you're in the market for a new dog, don't hesitate to check out your local animal shelter, where many breeds can be found. These dogs are just looking for a loyal family willing to put in the time with them, and they will reward you for your love and affection by showing you just how smart they can be.

Contributor Bio

Jean Marie Bauhaus

Jean Marie Bauhaus


Jean Marie Bauhaus is a pet parent, pet blogger and novelist from Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she usually writes under the supervision of a lapful of furbabies.


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