Top 10 World’s Smartest Dog Breeds

Written by Abby Parks
Updated: October 2, 2022
© Anciens Huang/Shutterstock.com
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Key Points:
  • Border Collies have very high canine IQ’s, being highly trainable, possessing the special ability to herd other animals, and are able to quickly learn from past experiences.
  • Rottweilers served as herd sitters for battle legions in ancient Rome, and today are often trained to serve as police dogs because of their high intelligence and diligence.
  • Originally bred as companion dogs for royal and aristocratic women, Papillons were a favorite breed of Marie Antoinette. While certainly a posh lap dog, this breed is also highly intelligent.

Smart dogs are loads of fun. They quickly learn tricks and lifestyle routines, making them super roommates. Plus, intelligent dogs are often sensitive to their humans’ needs, making them super friends. If you’re thinking of welcoming a new dog into your life and want it to be on the smarter side of the scale, consider one of the breeds below.

#10 Smartest Dog Breed: Alaskan Klee Kai

Alaskan Klee Kais look like miniature Huskies. Plus, they’re great at agility competitions. And while they’re not the most sociable dogs on the scene, Alaskan Klee Kais are very bright. They’re also very curious, which is why owners should not let them off-leash outside. Secure, high fences in the backyard are also a must if you don’t want your Alaskan Klee Kai to go wandering off on an expedition.

How did they get their names? Klee kai is Eskimo for “little dog.”

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An Alaskan Klee Kai with its tongue out.
Alaskan Klee Kais look like miniature huskies and are very bright but not that social.

©bon9/Shutterstock.com

#9 Smartest Dog Breed: Doberman Pinscher

Doberman Pinschers are fearless, muscular, alert, and highly intelligent. To live their best lives, Doberman Pinschers need lots of activity. Plus, it’s essential to get them trained early. An unruly Doberman may bite strangers, which can lead to expensive lawsuits and medical bills. However, they’re unshakably loyal to their humans and go above and beyond to please family members.

Click here to learn more about Doberman Pinschers, which are very strong.

A Doberman Pinscher laying on the ground, surrounded by leaves, in the forest.
The Doberman Pinschers is a fearless, muscular, alert, and highly intelligent breed.

©DragoNika/Shutterstock.com

#8 Smartest Dog Breed: Golden Retriever

In a way, Golden Retrievers are the quintessential dog breed. They’re adorable, friendly, and fill the role of “man’s best friend” perfectly. Golden Retrievers are also one of the smartest dog breeds and are very easy to train. Whether you’re a family or an individual, the highly-adaptable Golden Retriever will complement your life and add lots of joy. Just make sure you leave time for the doggy park. They need a good daily romp!

Click here to learn more about Golden Retrievers, which shed profusely.

A Golden Retriever walking through tall, dead grass with its tongue out.
Golden Retrievers are one of the smartest dog breeds and are easy to train.

©Lunja/Shutterstock.com

#7 Smartest Dog Breed: Briard

Briards earned the tagline “hearts wrapped in fur” on account of their loyalty and affection toward owners. With their peek-a-boo bangs and long hair, the breed is also gorgeous. But kindness and good looks aren’t Briards’ only calling cards. The traditional herding dogs also rank among the smartest breeds.

Briards aren’t particularly outgoing with strangers. However, they keenly watch over their families’ children, whom they see as sheep that need protection.

A Briard laying in the grass with its tongue out.
Originally bred as a herding dog, Briards are loyal and affectionate towards others.

©hsunny/Shutterstock.com

#6 Smartest Dog Breed: Papillon

Papillons may look fancy, but they’re far from stuck up. The chipper lapdogs are friendly, athletic, and super easy to train. And though they love their owners the most, Papillons make friends easily. Originally bred as companion dogs for royal and aristocratic women, they were a favorite breed of Marie Antoinette.

A Papillon standing on a sidewalk covered in fallen leaves.
Papillons are friendly lapdogs that are easy to train.

©AndyBir/Shutterstock.com

#5 Smartest Dog Breed: Rottweiler

Rottweilers have a fierce reputation, but the stocky, muscular guardian dogs behave superbly with their loved ones. Confident and hardworking, Rotties got their big break in ancient Rome, where they accompanied battle legions and served as herd sitters. Since they are intelligent and diligent, today’s Rottweilers frequently serve as police dogs.

Note, however, that members of the breed must be trained early. A rebellious Rottie can cause big problems.

Click here to learn more about Rottweilers, which love to chew on things.

A Rottweiler laying on a wooden bridge with its tongue out.
Rottweilers are muscular guard dogs that frequently serve as police dogs.

©EKATERINA SOLODILOVA/Shutterstock.com

#4 Smartest Dog Breed: Shetland Sheepdog

Commonly called “Shelties,” Shetland Sheepdogs are obedient herding dogs originally from Scotland. Cousins to Collies, Shelties are quick, energetic, and very smart. So long as you don’t mind giving them a good brushing two or three times a week, Shetland Sheepdogs make great family pets because they’re very intuitive when it comes to human moods and needs.

A Shetland Sheepdog standing in the grass with its tongue out.
Shetland Sheepdogs are obedient herding dogs originally from Scotland.

©atiger/Shutterstock.com

#3 Smartest Dog Breed: German Shepherd

The superstar workhorse of the canine world, German Shepherds are confident, easily trainable, and eager to please their people. Typically, it only takes German Shepherds five tries to learn a new command. The breed is famous for its law enforcement work, and they also make excellent family pets.

Click here to learn more about German Shepherds, the second most popular dog breed in the United States.

A German Shepherd laying in the grass with its tongue out.
German Shepherds are easily trainable and eager to please, making them a favorite for law enforcement.

©Happy monkey/Shutterstock.com

#2 Smartest Dog Breed: Poodle

Some animals have it all: looks and brains. And such is the luck of the Poodle. The gorgeous canines are not only attractive, but they’re the second smartest dog breed. Although, Poodle owners might argue that their beloved four-paws top the intelligence list since they know when and how to chill! That’s not to say they don’t need exercise; the former hunting dogs should get out for a romp daily. But they’re not nearly as rambunctious as the smartest dog breed.

Some ways that their intelligence is utilized by humans is in roles as assistance dogs to physically handicapped people, service dogs, guide dogs, and therapy dogs. Another unique job they’ve been known to do is hunt for truffles.

Click here to learn more about Poodles, which don’t shed much.

A brown poodle and a white poodle sitting on a rock in a park.
Poodles are a former hunting breed and the second most intelligent dog breed.

©Anna_Bondarenko/Shutterstock.com

#1 Smartest Dog Breed: Border Collie

Border Collies are widely considered the smartest dog breed. Firstly, they have a special intelligence specific to dog herding that sets them apart from most other breeds. They have the ability to learn from past experiences, which is suggestive that border collies have a high adaptive IQ. And they rank high on the spectrum of trainability.

They’re also incredibly energetic and need tons of exercise to maintain their physical and mental health. In short, Border Collies are not dogs for lazy people! In terms of grooming, they need good brushings about twice a week, and they do shed seasonally.

Click here to learn more about Border Collies, which can be big barkers.

A border collie lying in the grass with its tongue out.
Border collies are widely considered the most intelligent dog breed.

©Tepepa79/Shutterstock.com

Summary of Top 10 World’s Smartest Dog Breeds

Here’s a review of the dog breeds we found to have the highest I.Q.’s:

RankBreed
1Border Collie
2Poodle
3German Shepherd
4Shetland Sheepdog
5Rottweiler
6Papillon
7Briard
8Golden Retriever
9Doberman Pinscher
10Alaskan Klee Kai

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About the Author

Abby Parks has authored a fiction novel, theatrical plays, short stories, poems, and song lyrics. She's recorded two albums of her original songs, and is a multi-instrumentalist. She has managed a website for folk music and written articles on singer-songwriters, folk bands, and other things folk-music oriented. She's also a radio DJ for a folk music show. As well as having been a pet-parent to rabbits, birds, dogs, and cats, Abby loves seeking sightings of animals in the wild, and has witnessed some more exotic ones such as: Puffins in the Farne Islands, Southern Pudu on the island of Chiloe (Chile), Penguins in the wild, and countless wild animals in the Rocky Mountains (Big Horn Sheep, Mountain Goats, Moose, Elk, Marmots, Beavers).

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