The Top 10 Most Intelligent Dogs

Border Collie

In Stanley Coren’s book, The Intelligence of Dogs, he listed the top 10 most intelligent dogs. In 1994, around 200 judges from the Canadian and US Kennel Clubs completed a questionnaire about the characteristics of various dog breeds and the intelligence of these breeds. The intelligence ratings were based on how many repetitions it took for the breed to complete the command.

Here is Coren’s list of the Top 10 Most Intelligent Dogs:

#1 — Border Collies: These dogs need constant companionship and lots of exercise. Border collies set the standard in agility and obedience competitions and sheep dog trials.

#2 — Poodles: They are one of the easiest breeds to train. Some standard poodles can be good guard dogs or even trained as hunters. Overall, they have a pleasant personality.

#3 — German Shepherds: They are courageous and have a strong protective instinct. Their combination of intelligence and courage makes them good police and search dogs.

#4 — Golden Retrievers: They are consistently ranked as the most popular breed. Golden retrievers excel in obedience competitions and performing tricks.

#5 — Doberman Pinschers: They have an incredible stamina and love to work. They also are extremely loyal and protective.


#6 — Shetland Sheepdogs: Many Shetland sheepdog owners say that their dog has close to human intelligence. These dogs were originally bred to herd hundreds of sheep and cattle.

#7 — Labrador Retrievers: They are one of the most popular breeds of dogs in the world. They love to work and need lots of exercise.

#8 — Papillons: They are easy to train and quite possessive.

#9 — Rottweiler: They are extremely courageous and reliable.

#10 — Australian Cattle Dog: They were originally bred to herd cattle in Australia. They are freethinking, resourceful and protective.

Feel free to add your comments on what you think the top 10 most intelligent dogs are. Feel free to tell us about your own intelligent dog. Mutts are definitely welcome!

Coren’s Top 10 Least Intelligent Dogs will be posted up tomorrow.

47 Responses to “The Top 10 Most Intelligent Dogs”

  1. dog collar addict says:

    my friend has a border collie & the IS quite smart. that is a dog breed, that if you own it, be prepared to keep it working all the time, or be in for trouble!

  2. HighNote says:

    I have had collies all my life and they truly are very smart and obediant. I had one collie that was very protective of the family, But like all dogs, some are smarter then others and some try to please very hard, while others can be hard to manage. I think dogs are like people, each one is very different with his or hers very own personality and each one very unique.

  3. rjc says:

    Trainability is not the same as intelligence.

  4. mittens says:

    i know of a border collie who got away from it’s owner on a walk and ran into traffic to ‘herd’ the cars. the poor thing was killed. i suppose this dog comes under the heading of ‘ difficult to manage’. it’s so important for people to get a dog that matches their personality and that they can deal with effectively. some dogs are clearly too much dog for some people to handle.

  5. Pit Bull Lover says:

    Alas, the American Staffordshire Terrier ranks #34 (as does the Field Spaniel, Newfoundland, Australian Terrier, Gordon Setter, and Bearded Collie), according to Coren’s criteria.

    - Above Average Working Dogs
    - Understanding of New Commands: 15 to 25 repetitions.
    - Obey First Command: 70% of the time or better

    That’s alright. I’d rather my girl be voted Miss PB Congeniality, anyway. :)

  6. Katie says:

    I agree rjc, obedience does not equal intelligence.


  7. aApe says:

    Bunny, our american bulldog mix is not super smart, but she’s perfect just the same. it’s my job to be the smart one, and hers to be the cat snuggler, the sprinkler chaser, the food eater, the couch hogger, and the foot snuffler. in those areas she performs perfectly.

  8. mittens says:

    what should be further added to the equation is that inbreeding in pure breed dogs leads to the same problems as with humans marrying their siblings and breeding-physical problems/disease related to recessive traits and going to school on the small bus…

    irish setters are lovely animals but can be dumb as stumps, high strung and of course are prone to hip displasia….pure bred breeding at work.

    there are plenty of mutts out there that are super intelligent.

  9. sandi says:

    I do not like ratings. I have found super intelligent in all breeds, like humans, some have it , some do not. Environment, nuturing, like children also makes dogs intelligent.


  10. sandi says:

    I do not ocnsider irish setters dumb. They were bred for a purpose, and like cockers, many are couch potatoes, not using their natural genetic abilities.


  11. straybaby says:

    while I’ll give the intelligence rating to BC’s and a couple of the other breeds there, like others have said, trainabilty and obeying aren’t signs of high intelligence.

    mittens, proper breeding of PB dogs does not create stupid dogs with issues ;) A good Irish breeder is not looking to create a dog that is a High Strung Stump with bad hips. Nor would they use one in their breeding program any more than a Dal or any othe good PB breeder would.

  12. Traci says:

    I am a cat person so I don’t know that much about dog breeds; I am surprised that the Siberian Husky is not listed, aren’t they among the smartest dogs?

  13. Jeanie says:

    I have to agree with Mittens. At the top of that list should be Mutts. I’ve had mixed breeds my whole life and every one of them were extremely intelligent and easy to train. And we didn’t have worry about health problems from the inbreeding. I would never adopt a purebred dog.

  14. straybaby says:

    Jeanie says:
    July 5th, 2007 at 7:10 pm

    *sigh* RESPONSIBLE breeders breed away from health problems. They stand behind their dogs. I’d be thrilled to own a well-bred Dalmatian!!!

  15. mittens says:

    as a result of so called ‘ proper breeding’ in dogs and cats we have dogs and cats with prized ‘ smashed in snouts’ that cause congenital breathing problems( if you look at old photos of show winning persian cats they have straight noses and un-pushed -in faces), the already mentioned hip displasia common to many pure bred breeds, small dogs with congenital eye problems.the list is endless of debilitating physical ailments caused by breeding animals that are to closely related. it has nothing to do with whether i like the idea of pure bred animals or not..genetics are what they are and inbreeding over years even by more ‘reponsible’ breeders causes the advancement of recessive traits some of which are appealing and unharmful( blue eyes and blonde hair in humans for instance of which i am a ‘ victim’. i’m more prone to skin cancer as a result of these genetics) like long fur or a certain color coat but other recessive traits come foward and cause a higher incidence of physical deformaties, congenital health problems( heart disease in persian cats)and like in humans developmental problems that would lead a dog to not be as ‘ smart’.

    of course not all irish setters are ‘ dumb’ HOWEVER close breeding of mammals tends to result in birth defects that range from the physical to the mental. animals can be mentally challanged as can humans. genetics. it’s beyond human control. just try and convince me you never came across a ditzy, high strung irish setter or more than a few boarder collies that herd squirrels or humans or tragically cars.

    humans think they control life. it’s arrogance and not an arrogance without some horrible consequences.

  16. twinky says:

    I have in my care an extremely smart rescued mini poodle. He is NOT easy to train, simply because he doesn’t want to be. He is the sweetest, best little dog I have ever known. He is a COMPANION DOG! Not a “work” dog, not a “guard dog”, not a “hunting dog”. He doesn’t mess up the carpet, bite people or act like a fool for the most part. He likes me and I like him. He is my “PET” and much loved. What’s all this rating stuff????

  17. pam says:

    i just love my beagle mix, but he’s a hound and has a “nose” type of intelligence. he can track like a trooper…but he has no concept of “oh a truck’s coming, i’d better get out of the road.” he defends his territory and has defended me. you couldn’t ask for a more loyal companion, but sometimes i’ll give him a command and he looks at me like he’s never heard it before! so, i think each dog has a certain type of intelligence relative to their breed….actually, wolfie’s so smart…he got my husband and i to adopt him at 6 weeks in 2001 when he had deformed ribs, a blue eye from his shots and a hook at the end of his tail. the woman at the shelter said the eye would turn brown, the tail might need surgery and his ribs might not grow properly which meant his organs wouldn’t have enough room and he’d have to be put down. we decided to take him and give him one hell of a life even if it was only going to last for a year. here it is 2007, my husband is dead, wolfie’s ribs are boxed but big enough for everything, his eye is brown and that tail still has the hook. the dumb hound dog….my dog.

  18. Donna Barrett says:

    I have a Boston Terrier who is close to the top ten when it comes to intelligence. Bostons are good at “reading” their owners. I also have a part Boston/part Australian Cattle Dog. She gets bored easily! Frankly, I look at it this way: dog spelt backwards is God. End of discussion!

  19. Mom and Pup's says:

    Donna I agree about Boston’s abilities to read their owners. That’s a great way to put it. My Boston terrier knows a load of impressive tricks (all of the basics plus obedience plus some fun ones like crawl, sneeze, yawn, “get your tail” rollover, give me 5, other side, now slap me 10) but she can’t figure out to nudge open a door that’s slightly ajar. I frequently have to rescue her from the bathroom.

  20. Top 10 Not-So-Obedient Dog Breeds | Itchmo says:

    […] we posted up the Top 10 Most Intelligent Dogs according to Stanley Coren’s book, The Intelligence of Dogs. Today, here is his list for the […]

  21. Kathy says:

    The most intelligent dog I ever knew (that would be almost 60 years worth of dogs, mine and every one I run across) was 1/2 (papered) Rott, and 1/4 (maybe) white German Shepherd, 1/4 (maybe) yellow lab. He was gorgeous, he was smart as a whip, loved learning new commands even up til his death at 9 due to Nutro Natural Choice Lamb and Rice Small Chunks Large Breed Adult. Long live the mixed breeds!!!!

  22. Bandit's Mom says:

    I think a major oversight has occurred. What about the Australian Shepherd??? I dare say my Aussie is smarter than most humans I’ve met & the breed is typically ranked right up there with the Border Collie.

  23. How Smart Is Your Pet? Give Your Pet An IQ Test | Itchmo says:

    […] to know what the Top 10 Most Intelligent Dog Breeds or the Top 10 Not-So-Obedient Dog […]

  24. HighNote says:

    I have found that the female is easier to train then the male in all species.

  25. eiram says:

    I agree with Bandit’s mom. I too have an aussie and I’ll never get another breed. he is the most loving dog I ever had with a fantastic personality who likes to give hugs. He is also very intelligent and is a joy to be around.

  26. soraya says:

    where are the most top 10 intelligent dogs i cant find them its just about that collie and any dog comes when its name is called that dont mean its intelligent because when u get the dog u bribe it with biscuits when its names call and it comes although i have never done that to mine i just called there name 3 times when i first got them does that mean everydog is intelligent

  27. Renee says:

    hey, if your dog isnt really smart, who cares…. if you love him and stuff that is all that matters. intelligence in dogs only matters to some people….. such as myself… merely because i like a dog who is not just a mere companion, but a friend who looks at me intently when i speak, understands numerous amounts of vocabulary etc.

    but not everyone is like me. i get a dog who i can speak to like a person….. many do not…. so, if your dog is at the bottom of these bloody intelligence lists… do you really care?
    course not!

  28. Renee says:

    also…. dogs can be likened to people… children say….. you may have 3 kids, 2 apparently smarter than the others in many ways….. one is excellent at maths, the other is a fantastic english student, the other just averagely rounded in many spheres. but none of that matters does it? you love them all the same. one of your kids may go to make great money and prestige coz of their intelligence, the others may not. but this anyway would only be a part of who they are…
    similar can be said of the dog…. some born with more brains than others that people can choose for that sole reason, or if inclined, one can choose a breed that is content to lay there and have the kids jump all over him, not giving much thought to anything at all!
    there are general facts about dogs and their breeds. we dont need to argue about it or fail to leave room for the odd exception of each huh?

  29. Louise says:

    I concur with the Boston owners. This breed has an incredibly high instinctive intelligence, and will often figure out the path that suits them best.

    My BT picks up new commands in five goes or less.

  30. Regan says:

    My old roommate had a papillon, and that dog was about as stupid as they come. I was thoroughly unimpressed; she got it just because she thought it was cute. I’m sure it still relieves itself in the house.

  31. Deb says:

    I think intelligence in dogs is so difficult to measure as independence is such a factor in testing for intelligence. I have a terrier who is extremely bright and learns extremely fast; however, due to his terrier nature does not always respond as if he knows what I know he knows!

  32. Anthony De says:

    I also have a Australian Shepherd and yes she is so smart, but I take her to the dog park every morning and found that each dog has there own spacial traits and I just love them all so much. Just love your Dog and talk to them they understand.
    Anthony De

  33. Colby says:

    Let me start off by saying I love mutts and volunteer as a foster with a dog/puppy rescue saving mostly mutts from the shelter. However, mutts can be very unpredictable in their temperament and health. My brothers mixed breed (looks like a cross between a german shepherd and a lab) has a great temperament, is intelligent and trainable, but has really bad hip dysplasia (identified when he was 6 months old). He will probably have hip replacement surgery at a very young age. Our family dog was a mutt (looked like a cross between a lab and border collie). He was highly intelligent, super hyper, protective, and great health. He lived till he was about 20 years old and only had health issues as a result of old age.

  34. annelouise says:

    My jack russell is very smart. Sometimes even a con-artist!

  35. Maggie's Mom says:

    I have a 14 year old BC and she’s the best dog I’ve ever had. I qualify that with knowing that NOT everyone would enjoy or be able to handle a BC. She is more like a genius/hyperactive 3 year old human than a dog. And even at 14 I still have to teach her new things, she still has a “job” (protecting the house from squirrels) and I still have to exercise and play with her. If she didn’t have all those things, she’d have a nervous breakdown. Granted since she turned 10 she’s calmed down quite a bit, but mentally she still needs a lot of stimulation.

    So really, the intellegence of a BC isn’t necessarily a good thing, they are definitely NOT for everyone. Their smarts makes them a VERY high maintenance dog. Basically unless you are willing to adopt a 3 year old child, and you won’t be able to take them into restaurants or on a plane or in a store, you don’t want a BC. And they are prone to Seperation Anxiety. They get lonely and bored when left on their own too long. Too much energy for an apartment and possible even a suburban house if you’re not willing to work with them for at least a couple of hours a day. They are (i beleive) the only akc breed which are rated almost exclusively for temperment and intellegence above physical attributes.

    So, while a BC may be really smart, a Golden or another breed might be a better choice, and would certainly make an easier family pet.

  36. Lee says:

    i own 2 pure-bred american bulldogs, a male and a female, and the male is extremely intuitive and seems to know my every intention. i have performed many IQ tests with him and he has finished all of them with flying colors, most of the time maxing them out! even when in the woods, he is very intelligent. i can literally point my finger at a certain cluster of bushes or something and he will seriously go and check the area out! i have never owned, or heard of any other dog that will do that! now my female on the other hand isn’t quite as smart, she will have her blonde moments =) but for the majority of the time she seems to be able to figure things out relatively well. i love the american bulldog breed and will never own another breed of dog…

  37. SuzyQ says:

    I am a 11 year old border collie and I can do things you wouldn’t believe! I can understand what my mommy says and know what it is she is doing. I talk to her and enjoy watching TV. My favorite shows are on Animal Planet of course but I really like Jeff Corwin. I enjoy using the computer and watching myself on the webcam. I am older now so I rest alot at home, but when I am asked to go byebye I am ready at a moments notice. We are an intelligent breed but some in the brees tend to be stubborn and some a fearful of the one thing we are bred to do herd sheep! My sister was like that although her family had two min pins who harrassed her constantly. Well, I must get off the computer and go make some hot tea. It is after all the civilised thing to do!

  38. Anonymous says:

    ppl, c’mon jak russasl r brilant! they can b taugh so quick and no a ton! mine is the best but urs is totaly smart 2. JACK-JACKS RULE!!!

  39. Marissa says:

    I think that the most intelligent dog breeds are in this order-1.Border Collie 2.German Shepherd Dog 3.Poodle
    4.Australian Shepherd 5.Labrador Retriever 6.Sheltland Sheepdog 7.Rottweiler 8.Australian Cattle Dog
    9.Doberman Pincher 10.Papillon

  40. Wesley says:

    I would have to say that Australian Shepherds belong in the top ten. They are well known by ranchers, trainers, and breeders alike to be one of the smartest dog breeds.

    Anyone notice that the BC and Aussie look nearly identical on the AKC breed description pages?

    Herding dogs are bred for intelligence, every one of the top ten should be herding/guard dogs.

    1. BC 2. German Shepherd 3. Labrador Retriever 4. Australian Shepherd 5. Pembroke Welsch Corgi 6. Poodle 7. Rott 8. Australian Cattle Dog 9. Doberman 10. Shetland

  41. chris says:

    Had a chock Lab and three Aussi Shepherds. The Lab was as smart as a rock and the shepherds would play cruel jokes on him. They would also make the dogs next door(Rottweiler and hound)run into the back fence. LMAO!

  42. Eleanora Feucht says:

    I’ve had 2 dogs of the san\me mixture - Collie abd /german shepherd. We got the first one when I was 5 years old. The first thing I did was puller her tail. She turned around and you cold almost see her shrug her sgoulders saying, “it’s only a kid” Years later My mother put her food dish on the floor and asked her to come abd eat. Queenie looked up at the studio couch on which my infant cousin was lying a little too close to the edge. Queenie did not move until the infant was picked up. Many years later when I was a mother with 5 children I had a male dog of the same mixture. I swear he could understand English and was very obediaent. Jethrow knew when it was a weekday and when it was a week end. When the kids went out on a weekday, he didn’t buge. On a week end he was right there ready to go out with them.He knew when It was getting time for them to come home from school. He wouuld pace impatiently in the foyer. One day, I said to him, “do you want to go out to wait for the boys”. I opened the door and instructed him not to move from the porch. A short while later, I hear him bark, so I looked out the window. There ws a man walking a small dog on the sidewalk. Jethrow barked, but stayed on the porch.
    He would not go in the street. He would not go into the living room or dining room. It was a step down living room, he thought it was okay if he sat on the step and pt his two paws in the living room, but if his ball rolled into the living room, he would raise one hind leg into the air and sidle in with his front paws until he could reach the ball.My kids should have been as obedient!

  43. Tessyboo says:

    i also heard that the Jack Russel was a smart dog also..

  44. Haha says:

    I have a Golden Retreiver that I love and he is not smart at all. He runs into walls. I have gotten his vision checked by the vet he is good. And just all around isnt smart!@

  45. squiggles' daughter says:

    My dog could probably be ranked at 2. She’s an old golden retriever. She’s S–M–A–R–T. Smart!!!

  46. edward kiernan says:

    This ranking loses all credibility in ranking Australian Shepherds 44th in intelligence. That’s insane. I’ll grant you Border Collies are on average brighter that an Aussie, but anything else is debatable. To not put Aussies in the top ten is laughable. I’ve been around dogs all my life and have owned two Australian Shepherds. By far, they’ve been the smartest dogs. This list is the only I’ve ever seen which doesn’t attribute to them intelligence. When a assessment is this far off, it calls into question the entire list.

  47. rockerchick says:

    i have a golden retriever, he is scary smart. he likes to trick the labrador next door by running in circles around a tree with the lab following, then leaping over the labs back to confuse him lol! he is so forgiving too, when the lab bites him or bumps him he kind of acts aloof, then begins to play again. when people come to the door, he barks and barks, and when they come inside he is very sensitive to my mood. if i am nervous, he barks and tries to attack, but when i am happy at the arrival, he wags his tail off.
    goldens, when bonded with, are the best dogs ever, in my opinion.

E-mail It