The Smartest Dog Breeds in the World

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Certain dog breeds are more intelligent than others. They do, however, present unique challenges. Discover which dogs are the smartest and how to train them.


What Makes a Dog “Smart?”

There are three factors that make a dog "smart," according to professor and researcher Stanley Coren in The Intelligence of Dogs: A Guide to the Thoughts, Emotions, and Inner Lives of Our Canine Companions. They are as follows:

1. Adaptive intelligence: Adaptive intelligence refers to the lessons a dog learns from its environment and its ability to apply that knowledge to solve problems. This factor frequently varies between animals of the same breed; for example, one or two Labrador retrievers in a group of ten may not learn new commands as quickly as the others.

2. Instinctive intelligence: Any natural ability that a dog has as a result of its breed is an example of instinctive intelligence. Herding dogs, such as Australian cattle dogs and Belgian Malinois, are born with herding instincts, whereas German shorthaired pointers are born hunting dogs.

3. Working intelligence: also known as obedience intelligence, assesses a dog's ability to learn and understand commands. Breeds with high working intelligence include police dogs (such as German shepherds), service dogs (such as golden retrievers), and therapy dogs (like beagles or poodles).


What Are the Smartest Dog Breeds in the World?

According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), the following popular dog breeds are also among the smartest dog breeds:

1. Belgian sheepdog: Belgian sheepdogs are medium-sized herders who frequently serve as police dogs. They are highly trainable working dogs. Because of their extreme loyalty and affection for their owners, they are also popular breeds for family dogs.

2. Belgian Tervuren: The medium-sized Belgian Teruven rose to prominence in the nineteenth century as one of the country's best herding dog breeds. They're also one of the most intelligent dog breeds when it comes to learning new tasks, which often brings out a mischievous sense of humor when they achieve their goals, according to the AKC.

3. Border collie: Border collies are herding dogs that were bred in England and Scotland to herd sheep. Border collies are still popular herding dogs, but their physical agility, intelligence, and high energy levels make them appealing as family pets as well.

4. Doberman pinscher: Doberman pinschers are fast and powerfully built animals that are believed to be a cross between several breeds, including the rottweiler and German pinscher. They're also quick to learn and fiercely protective of their owners.

5. German shepherd: No task is too difficult for German shepherd dogs. They are highly valued as police dogs, guard dogs, search and rescue dogs, and drug detection dogs. The German shepherd isn't a "best friend" dog—don't expect to cuddle with one—but it is extremely loyal to its owners.

6. Papillon: This toy dog is named after its pert, wing-shaped ears. ("Papillion" means "butterfly" in French). This friendly, playful breed excels at agility competitions.

7. Poodle: Poodles of all sizes, standard, miniature, and toy, are considered smart dogs by breeders and trainers. They are affectionate family pets who quickly learn new tricks and can handle most tasks.

8. Rottweiler: The rottweiler's formidable strength and territorial nature frequently conceal its playful nature. Early dog training often smooths out any personality flaws and turns rottweilers into devoted companions.

9. Shetland sheepdog: Shelties are relatives of collies and share their obedient nature, having been bred by farmers in the Shetland Islands to protect gardens. They're also sensitive dogs with an empathetic nature who want to please their owners.

The following dog breeds are also listed in the second and third tiers of smart dogs in Stanley Coren's book: Pembroke Welsh corgi, toy schnauzer, English springer spaniel, schipperke, Keeshond collie, and Newfoundland.


Pros of Training a Smart Dog

There are numerous advantages to training a smart dog. These are some examples:

Friendly dogs are less difficult to train. Many intelligent dogs strive to please their owners, and as a result, they make excellent family pets. The ability to engage with people improves their trainability over non-engaging dogs.

Instinctive intelligence equates to ease of training. Dogs with instinctive abilities—hunting, herding, retrieving—tend to be more sensitive to work in their daily lives. These dogs are less difficult to train, especially if the command or trick requires physical and mental strength.

Smart dogs learn the fundamentals faster. Smart dogs learn new commands and tricks more quickly than other dogs. This includes agility training, fundamental obedience, and a variety of tricks.


Challenges of Training a Smart Dog

Smart dogs can also be difficult to train. Among them are the following:

Smart doesn’t mean trainable. While smart dogs learn commands and tricks faster, their intelligence also makes repetition difficult. Smart dogs are more inquisitive and easily bored, which often leads to deviations from training, mischief, and boundary challenges.

Smart dogs need more attention. When a smart dog receives praise and affection from its owner for performing a command or trick, it will frequently push for more training in order to continue the cycle of performance and positive reinforcement. As a result, owners of intelligent dogs should anticipate that training will continue long after their dogs have mastered the fundamentals.

Training doesn’t always translate into behavior changes. It is simple to teach a smart dog commands. Smart dogs perform admirably in training classes and competitions, but owners frequently report that they do not repeat training actions in the real world.

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