Top 50 Most Intelligent Dog Breeds (2023)

The most intelligent dog breeds have largely been a matter of speculation until recently. Since it was discovered that all dogs are not equally intelligent, people have often wondered what dogs are near the top of the pyramid, and what breeds are at the bottom.

It is important to note that intelligence varies in its forms; and also that the types of duties which have traditionally been given to different dog breeds can affect the perception of intelligence with which they are labelled.

Perhaps the most intelligent dog breeds are those that can perform well in the broadest range of tasks.

Most Intelligent Dog Breeds

1. Border collie

Border collies are medium sized dogs that were once found all over the British Isles, but which are now mostly in the area around the England/Scotland border. They come in a great variation of colors; and can sometimes come in smooth coats, although Border Collies are mostly known for their rough, thick coat, which is a double coat, and prone to shedding.

Border Collies are generally accepted to be the most intelligent dogs in the world; they understand commands and carry them out to perfection. They are hardworking, and energetic, and can even work without human supervision.

Border Collies are mostly employed in sheep herding; they are vigilant to threats against the livestock, and they can be quite fierce when defending their ground. Border Collies are excellent companions in the open field, they instinctively know stop the sheep from straying, and will raise the alarm, and stay with strays until help arrives.

2. Poodle

Poodles are mostly suited to indoor life; they are mostly companion dogs, and that is because they are some of the smartest dogs in the world. Poodles can be recognized for the great mass of fluffy hair on their tails, ears, and head.

Poodles come in different colors (mostly all white, or all black), and they also come in different sizes; from big (Standard Collies), to very small (Toy Collies).

Poodles probably come from Germany, but it seems that it was in France that this dog breed first became popular; due to its intelligence and ability to understand commands, the dog was used in circuses to perform stunts for the thrill of the crowds.

These days, Poodles are mostly kept as companions by wealthy individuals, and poodles can even be a status symbol.

3. German Shepherd

German Shepherds are some of the most popular dog breeds in world; they mostly look like wolves, but the breed was actually first developed by a German Military Officer named Capt. Max von Stephanitz. They pack a combination of intelligence and strength; and are found throughout the world.

German Shepherds are excellent for herding sheep; they keep a sharp look out for strays; and can be quite vicious towards predators.

German Shepherds are now used for many other jobs such as warfare, search and rescue, police work, and so on. Few other dogs combine intelligence, bravery, agility, and strength like this dog breed.

4. Golden retriever

Golden retrievers are the best types of dogs to have around children; they are caring, affectionate and intelligent enough to protect children. Golden Retrievers are from Scotland, and they are easily identified by their smooth coats, and their mostly yellow coats.

Golden Retrievers are mostly kept at home as pets. It is the most popular dog breed in most countries of the world going by pet registrations.

Golden retrievers are also used for showmanship; they can also be used for hunting and other such activities. Golden retrievers are very obedient dogs, and they are noted for being alert and brave. This is one of the few dogs whose origins are well documented; there is no controversy about their history.

5. Doberman Pinscher

Doberman Pinschers are somewhat similar to German shepherds in build and size; the dog breed was developed in Germany. Doberman Pinschers are known for being strong, agile, intelligent and very loyal.

In most cases the dogs’ tails are removed; and the ears are trimmed, and trained to be upright. This, together with the dog’s mostly black coat is the most recognizable features of the Dobberman Pinsher.

These dogs are known to be medium to big in size; and they are known to be quite muscular and intimidating. They excel as guard dogs, and can be used for many other purposes including police work, search and rescue, and so on.

Doberman Pinschers are very agile; they stand on their pads, and are quick footed.

6. Shetland Sheepdog

Shetland Sheepdogs may look like border collies but they are different because they have rougher; longer hairs on their coats; and because they have miniature sizes. People may mistake Shetland sheepdogs for Border collie puppies.

Shetland Sheepdogs understand new commands very well, and they are very obedient dogs. Shetland Sheepdogs were also developed in Scotland; but it does not have any genetic resemblance to the border collies.

Shetland Sheepdogs are very agile despite their small size; they are also very vocal, and they are great for herding sheep. They are strong and hardy, and can with withstand harsh weather, and even fight off bigger enemies when defending their flock.

7. Labrador Retriever

The Labrador Retriever is a medium to big dog which was developed in Britain. It does not seem that the development of the species was intentional; it happened in the 1830’s when fishing dogs from Newfoundland in Canada were brought to the United Kingdom, and were mated with British hunting dogs.

The Labrador Retriever is mostly a companion dog; it is affectionate and loyal, and this makes it probably the best guide dog in the world. Being inherently intelligent it can detect when a person is uneasy or in distress, and can provide needed aid.

Labrador Retrievers, when used as guide dogs, exhibit patience, care and compassion. They are trained to avoid obstacles, and to be emotionally supportive to their owners.  Labrador Retrievers are playful and energetic; which makes them ideal pets for small children. Interestingly these dogs were originally bred and hunting dogs; and they excelled at that that task as well.

8. Papillon

Papillon is a small, hairy type of dog; it is also called the toy spaniel. It derives its name from the butterfly like appearance of its face; due to the long hairs on the sides of its face; that droop down from under its ears.

Papillons are known to be very playful; which makes them ideal companions for small children, especially because they are small, and so children do not find them intimidating. Papillons are also very intelligent; they can learn new tricks and new commands very easily. Nevertheless, they are known to be quite shy and reserved around people they do not know.

Papillons are favorites among dog trainers because they are good at obeying commands and doing tricks. The dog needs plenty of space to run around; it is very energetic; and it can be very friendly with other animals. However, this dog breed is not very hardy- it is not very suitable for work, or to exposure with the weather.

Being so small, they can easily be trodden or injured by larger animals, which means you have to be very careful when keeping Papillons as pets.

9. Rottweiler

Rottweilers are mostly known for being massive, strong beasts; people seem to overlook the fact that they are highly intelligent dogs, and are suited to many different roles. These dogs are known for their smooth coats, which are usually black with brown around their chests, bellies and lower legs.

The history of this dog breed is quite interesting; it was used to herd cattle and sheep, but mostly cattle. This big, muscular dog was also used to pull carts stocked with meat to the markets. With the advent of effective rail systems, there was no need to pull carts anymore.

The Rottweiler became a guard dog; its primary duty is to protect its master, and property. Rottweilers are very ferocious when they need to be; when protecting their masters they don’t just bark, they bite.

Even today they are used to herd cattle; they will stand their ground against the big animals, enforcing order even when it looks like they are at a disadvantage. They are also used as police dogs; guard dogs, search and rescue dogs, and so on.

Interestingly, this is one of the oldest surviving types of dogs; it goes back to Roman times when it was part of the setup of the Roman Armies- it protected the humans and drove their cattle.

10. Australian Cattle Dog

Australian Cattle Dog resemble German shepherds in their build and stature, but their coats are very different. These dogs are very agile and alert; they were developed in Australia for the purpose of driving cattle and sheep over long distances in very rough terrain.

The dog appears blue, but in reality it is black hair which is spread over white fur; thus given that blue appearance. Others may have a red appearance.

This is one of the toughest dog breeds; it was achieved by crossing Dingoes with dogs that were trained to herd cattle. The resulting dogs were called Hall’s Heelers (after the breed’s developer Thomas Hall) and were very efficient herders.

The dog is also very efficient as a guard dog; it is very protective of its owners and their possessions.

The following is a more extensive list of the 50 most intelligent dog breeds in the world, and what they are mostly used for.

Rank Dog Breed Intelligence Uses
1 Border collie Very Shepherding
2 Poodle Very House Pet
3 German Shepherd Very Sheepherding
4 Golden retriever Very Guide Dogs, Emotional Support, House Pets, Sheepherding
5 Doberman Pinscher Very Guard Dog
6 Shetland Sheepdog Very Shepherding
7 Labrador Retriever Very Hunting, Racing,
8 Papillon Very House Pet, Show dog
9 Rottweiler Very Shepherding, Guard Dog,
10 Australian Cattle Dog Very Shepherding
11 Pembroke Welsh Corgi Very Shepherding
12 Miniature Schnauzer Good Intelligence Pets
13 English Springer Spaniel Good House Pets
14 Belgian Shepherd Dog (Tervuren) Good Shepherding
15 Schipperke Good Pets, Guard Dogs
16 Collie Keeshond Good Guard Dog, Hunting, Racing
17 German Shorthaired Pointer Good Guard Dog
18 Flat-Coated Retriever Good Guard Dog, Hunting, Racing
19 Brittany Good Guard Dogs
20 Cocker Spaniel Good Guard Dog, House Pet
21 Weimaraner Good Guard Dogs
22 Belgian Malinois Good Guard Dog
23 Pomeranian Good Pets, guard dogs
24 Irish Water Spaniel Good Shepherding
25 Vizsla Good Pets, guard dogs
26 Cardigan Welsh Corgi Good Pets, guard dogs
27 Chesapeake Bay Retriever Good Pets, guard dogs
28 Puli

Yorkshire Terrier

Average Intelligence Guard Dog
29 Giant Schnauzer Average Pets, guard dogs
30 Airedale Terrier Average Hunting/ guard/ sports/ shepherding
31 Border Terrier Average Hunting/ guard/ sports/ shepherding
32 Manchester Terrier Average Hunting/ guard/ sports/ shepherding
33 Welsh Springer Spaniel Average Pets, guard dogs
34 Samoyed Average Guard Dog
35 Manchester Terrier Average Guard Dog
36 American Staffordshire Terrier Average Pets, guard dogs
37 Kerry Blue Terrier Average Pets, guard dogs
38 Norwegian Elkhound Average Pets, guard dogs
39 Affenpinscher Average Hunting/ guard/ sports/ shepherding
40 Dalmatian Average Guard Dog
41 Norwich Terrier Average Hunting/ guard/ sports/ shepherding
42 Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier Average Working/Obedience Hunting/ guard/ sports/ shepherding
43 Curly Coated Retriever Quite Obedient Hunting, racing
44 Australian Shepherd Quite Obedient Shepherding, Hunting
45 Finnish Spitz Quite Obedient Hunting/ guard/ sports
46 Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Quite Obedient Pets
47 Siberian Husky Quite Obedient Hunting/ guard/ sports/ shepherding, Pulling sleighs
48 Tibetan Spaniel Quite Obedient House Pets
49 West Highland White Terrier Quite Obedient Hunting/ guard/ sports
50 Great Dane Quite Obedient House Pet, Companion



The most intelligent dogs in the world are those that are used for the more important functions because they are smart enough to trust. Using dogs with lower intelligence for such important tasks can result in serious problems or even fatalities. It is not clear why some dogs have developed more intelligence than others, but the more intelligent ones have earned a special place in the hearts of men.

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