What are the Smartest Dogs?

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What are the Smartest Dogs? – Dogs, Intelligence, and Why it Matters

In this article we are going to answer the question “what are the smartest dogs” by reviewing dog intelligence and listing the top 10 most intelligent dog breeds.

Dogs are known as man’s best friend, though we can’t always say that’s true. If you have ever owned a dog, you probably encountered those days where you have a slight bit of regret for getting the dog.

From chewed up shoes to messy carpet to washing a smelly dog that only seems to smell worse after, dogs can be a pain sometimes but OF COURSE, their cuteness makes up for it!

You might think your Beagle is the smartest canine on the block, but he’s got the dubious honor of being among the least trainable of dog breeds. The snarling Doberman next door? He’s a quick study.

Dog intelligence, like human intelligence, comes in various forms. And although the best in any breed can be nurtured by owners willing to put in the time and effort, there are fixed realities when it comes to your animal’s inbred qualities.

If it’s bred to hunt, herd, or retrieve, the dog is more likely to be quick on its feet, eager to work, to move, and to please you. It will learn faster. If it’s bred to be a livestock guard dog or a scent hound, it may seem distracted and just a bit dense.

Yet, even if some breeds are more nimble  – some might call them smarter – trainers say any dog can learn the basics like sitting and staying. It just might take them longer to catch on.

The key is knowing what your pooch is built for and how to motivate him.

But keep in mind that the smartest dogs often don’t make the best pets, trainers and vets say. Your job is to find a breed that suits your lifestyle and to focus on bringing out the best in your dog.

Smartest Dog Breeds

In his bestselling book, The Intelligence of Dogs, neuropsychologist Stanley Coren, PhD, focuses on trainability as a marker of intelligence.

The University of British Columbia psychology professor relied on the assessments of 110 breeds by more than 200 professional dog obedience judges who scored breeds based on working/obedience tests.

Before we go any further, it is important to note that there are flaws in this study. For example, the study measures intelligence by how well dogs respond to human commands, which does not considers intelligence as a mechanism by which dogs survive. As the Doggerel accurately points out, the study is more about obedience than anything else. Additionally, “Hounds rank very low according to this list, but that’s because Coren’s study cannot measure the independent-thinking and creativity that is employed by most hounds, especially scent hounds.

What is interesting is that there are a lot of similarities between “intelligent dogs” and “high-maintenance dogs,” as Dear Dog Diary points out.

The top dogs absorbed commands in less than five repetitions and obeyed them 95% of the time or better. Here’s the list, along with a breed description by the American Kennel Club:

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4 Comments

  1. Do you have the list of “in-between” dogs relative to intelligence and where they rank? I read a book by an expert who claimed that miniature schnauzers are twelfth in intelligence and training ability. My dog seems pretty smart, but she’s also independent–my fault since I didn’t know I should have taken her to puppy kindergarten until she was several years old and “set in her ways” (much as I am). She definitely seems to have a large vocabulary of English words. It amazes people when she’s in bed playing and I tell her to “lay your head on the pillow and go to sleep”…and she does–instantly! Pretty good, huh? (I need some praise for both of us so I don’t feel like a loser pet-mom!)

    • It varies a lot. Bunk is quiet smart when we wants to be, even though pugs aren’t traditionally ranked very high. He is really good with commands and never darts for his food until we say “release!” 😀 😀

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