I think my dog is a pure genius, and she’s a mutt, so naturally I think she’s smarter than any purebred dog could ever be. As a rule, I think the best breeds of dog are just the ones that are a Heinz 57 all around and just plain act like DOGS, not dogs with a built-in persona, look, or job to do due to heavy genetics. Still, that doesn’t mean I’m not curious to find out what the smartest breeds of dog actually are. Shall we find out? I think we shall!
My guess for number one would be the border collie- these dogs are practically psychic when it comes to their prediction of their owner’s commands and their herding skills are simply AMAZING. Every border collie my dad has ever owned to help him weed out cattle has just blown me away with their keen sense of surroundings and ability to anticipate commands before they even occur. A single border collie can do in 2 minutes with a huge herd of cows or sheep what my dad can do in an hour. Was I right? Did the border collie take the intelligence cake?
You betcha! According to royalrank.com, the border collie is the clear winner of the smart dog breeds. This canine is a no-brainer when it comes to smarts, but the following breeds in the top 10 were a bit surprising to me overall.
Number two is the poodle, which shocked the hell out of me. The only thing I’ve ever seen a poodle do is get brown gunk on its eyes and mouth and look stupid in their haircuts. Yet these yappers (even the large poodles are high strung and annoying) are supposedly the second smartest dog in the world. Maybe it’s just their owners who are stupid for giving them those dumb haircuts (I know, I know- the reason poodles “traditionally” have their fur shaved this way with the balls of fur on the joints is to protect their joints from the cold water when diving to retrieve water fowl during hunting- the only reason people do it now is to hide their dog’s secret intelligence, I suppose). Unless your poodle is an avid hunting dog (which I highly doubt), give the poor dog some dignity and quit cutting his hair. He may just be smart enough to shave your head in retaliation. Who knows?
The third smartest dog breed is the German Shepherd. What? The damn poodle beat out the big, bad ass German Shepherd in smarts?! There’s a reason this dog is used as a cop’s favorite companion- these hardy beasts are easily trainable and can tell the difference between when to attack and when to let go in a split second, and these dogs know how to work. Loyal, tough, and definitely intelligent, these dogs make great family protectors and awesome bad guy getters without losing focus on just being a dog. They know when to be tough and when to just be man’s best friend. Gotta respect this breed.
The lovable Golden Retriever makes it at number 4, which surprised me a bit. These gentle beauties are known more for being a family favorite rather than a smarty pants. However, these dogs know how to listen and learn, and make just as good of a hunting dog (for retrieving fallen fowl) as they do as a well-trained family pet. Don’t let their pretty face fool you- these dogs got IQ.
Another toughie but smartie- the Doberman Pincher, at number 5. I know this breed to be one of the shyest dogs I’ve ever met, so I think their reputation for being brutal is a bit overkill. However, I’ve also never seen a dobie that wasn’t very well-behaved. They do commands on a dime, and seem to just “watch” you intently like they’re about to open their mouths and talk right back to you. They can identify their toys by name, and remember where they put things. These are great, smart dogs.
Number six is the Shetland sheepdog, and I’m not surprised to see another herding dog in the top 10. In fact, hunting or herding dogs seem to be the majority of the top 10 list. Also known as a “sheltie” ( I can hear a dozen people going, “Oh, NOW I know what a Shetland sheepdog is!”) this tiny lassie look-alike is used as a companion far more than it is for herding animals, but they will often keep their families in line by herding them instead, and keeping an eye on the kids. These crafty dogs can sneak out of many enclosures and can even figure out how to unlock gates to get out of the yard. My neighbor’s sheltie used to do this all the time to come play with my dog. A delightful breed.
The Labrador retriever comes in at number seven. America’s favorite dog may act like a puppy, but this hardy, jovial dog is eager to please, and pretty smart when he wants to be. Labs typically reserve their intelligence for figuring out how to open the fridge or unscrew the garbage can lid, but nevertheless, these dogs are like toddlers- leave them alone for a minute, and they WILL find a way to get into something. Naturally curious and highly trainable, I am not surprised to see this dog in the top 10 at all.
Number eight shocked me a little bit- another tiny dog making the cut- the Papillon. Papillon is actually French for “butterfly” as these little dogs’ ears fan out like butterfly wings. This pretty little prissy dog is no dummy either, apparently. They may be the eighth smartest dog, but they still can’t seem to understand what the word “shut up!” means, because these shaky little yappy dogs bark at EVERYTHING. However, they are easily potty trained (which is saying a lot for a smaller dog) so perhaps these beautiful little barkers aren’t so bad.
Coming in at number nine is the Rottweiler, one of my absolute favorite breeds. This gentle giant was actually originally used to protect cattle, and these beastly dogs know their size. They may have a dopey appearance, but my dad’s rottie would go grab his toys by name or color, and he knew each of us kids by name. These dogs appear to know how large they truly are, and love to show affection or roughhouse via rubbing their big asses on you. Rottweilers fight by butting out their opponents, rather than using their teeth. They also love to cuddle. Big softies.
And the tenth smartest dog breed goes to my least favorite dog on the entire planet- the Australian Cattle dog. Not to be confused with the Australian Shepherd, this snappy, growly, feisty, bully of a dog is often a rodeo’s choice for the ring, as these hardy, tough dogs can take a beating without fear from bulls and horses, and these dogs know what they are doing when it comes to work and their trademark nipping of animals’ heels. However, these dogs are also aggressive by nature, and any cattle dog I’ve ever met I hated on sight. My 3 year old niece was attacked by one once (my own mutt kicked that stupid dog’s ass hardcore and sent that dog packin’ for biting her), and these dogs bite my tires when I drive by. Not afraid of anything (but not too nice, either) these dogs are very loyal to their families and known for animal aggression, but very easily trained and given lots of love and attention, are actually great dogs. Not the perfect first-time family pet, and they are known to nip at people’s heels, too, but hey, at least we know they’re smart!
Note: I was SURE that the Australian Shepherd would have hit the top ten- and was completely dumbfounded that it hadn’t. This breed (my personal favorite) is actually ranked at number sixteen, right after the Saint Bernard. I was very shocked to find this out, as I’ve never seen an Australian Shepherd who didn’t work as hard or as smartly as a border collie, but then again, this herding dog can easily just become a pet when not used for herding, whereas a border collie always has to be “doing” something. Maybe that makes all the difference. Nonetheless, I was disappointed to see that my favorite breed was indeed not in the top 10 smartest breeds of dogs.