The 5 smartest dogs in the world


Questions are often heard about who is the smartest dog or the smartest breed. However, the answer to this type of question is more complex than one might imagine and the first great difficulty lies precisely in the definition of intelligence.

The 10 races that according to the surveys appear above the list as the fastest to learn are:

  1. Border collie
  2. Poodle
  3. German shepherd
  4. Golden retriever
  5. Dobermann
  6. Shetland Shepherd
  7. Labrador Retriever
  8. Papillon
  9. Rottweiler
  10. Australian cattle dog

As of today, there is no single definition, although intelligence is often related to problem solving, reasoning ability and the use of language and tools. It is also possible that intelligence is not a single trait and that there are rather different types of intelligence. In the case of people, for example, we talk about spatial, linguistic, musical intelligence, etc. In the case of dogs, research and cross-breed comparisons have focused on two aspects of intelligence, which are also related to each other: the ease of learning new behaviors and the ability to understand some human communicative cues such as the direction of the look and the indication with a finger. Let's see what these investigations reveal about the most gifted races.

Ease to learn to perform new behaviors under signal

For anyone who has had to train dogs of different breeds, the difference between individuals is obvious. Some learn with very few repetitions, while others have a hard time understanding the exercise even if they end up learning it in the end. And even, after learning the behavior, some dogs respond better to people's signals: they do it more quickly and respond correctly almost every time they receive the signal.

In some cases, these differences may have nothing to do with different levels of intelligence and may depend rather on the ability of the trainer or the motivation of the dog to get the prize used in training. Even so, in a survey conducted among judges of obedience tests, marked differences emerge in the so-called work intelligence of 79 dog breeds. This type of intelligence would correspond to the ability of dogs to respond correctly to the commands given by the dog's guide. The 10 races that according to the survey appear on the list as the fastest to learn and the most obedient are, in descending order, the Border Collie, the Poodle, the German Shepherd, the Golden Retriever, the Dobermann, the Shetland Shepherd , the Labrador retriever, the Papillon, the Rottweiler and the Australian cattle dog. Dogs of these breeds would tend to take less than 5 attempts to learn to perform a new behavior under signal and would respond correctly to the signal 95% of the time. At the opposite end of the list are the races that according to the obedience judges surveyed have minimum levels of work intelligence: Shih tzu, Basset hound, Mastiff, Beagle, Pekingese, Blood hound, Borzoi, Chow chow, Bulldog, Basenji and Afghan Hound .

The fact that the Border Collie appears at the top of this list is little surprising. In recent years several Border Collies have achieved fame due to their ability to learn the name of a large number of toys. The first was Rico who recognized the name of approximately 200 objects but the one who has stood out in this task is Chaser, a female Border Collie, who knows the name of more than 1000 toys and can identify them both based on the name and based on the category to which they belong.

On the ease of training dogs of different breeds another study has also been carried out. In this case, only 11 dog breeds were analyzed and the owners themselves were to express a judgment on some characteristics of their dogs related to the training facility: the availability to respond to the owner, obedience to simple commands, the collection of objects, the ease of learning quickly and the tendency to ignore distractions. According to the results, in general, the sports and work races obtained the highest scores. In descending order they were classified as the 6 easiest races to train the Labrador Retriever, the Golden Retriever, the Shetland Shepherd, the Rottweiler, the English Springer Spaniel, and the Poodle. At the opposite extreme, the Yorkshire terrier, the West Highland white terrier, the Dachshund, the Basset hound, and, finally, the Siberian Husky were classified. The different levels of traceability seem to correspond to different processes of genetic selection where dogs used to work cooperating with people may have developed a greater predisposition to be trained.

Easy to understand some human communicative signals

Many studies have been published in recent years on the extraordinary ability of dogs to use some human communicative signals to locate hidden food. It is a capacity in which dogs surpass their closest relatives, wolves, and also surpass our closest relatives, chimpanzees.

To test this ability, experiments are usually organized in which dogs have to find food hidden under an object, choosing between two identical objects and being guided exclusively by the indications given by a person. The typical situation is as follows: the owner keeps the dog on a leash while a few meters away, another person indicates one of two identical containers located at the same distance from the dog. One of the containers hides a piece of food and it is just the container that the person is indicating by touching it with the finger, pointing it with the finger at a distance, making a movement of the head in its direction or even just looking at the object. Once the person has indicated the container, the owner releases the dog. If the dog goes to the correct container, he can eat the prize hidden inside. Several studies have revealed that depending on the breed, dogs show differences in their ability to be guided by human indications.

In general, the breeds selected for cooperative work with people, such as sheepdogs and bill collectors, would be the ones that give the best results in this type of test compared to the breeds selected for other purposes, including dogs selected for perform more "independent" jobs, such as hounds or terriers.

In addition, it seems that canine breeds that have certain morphological features, such as the frontal position of the eyes (present in brachycephalic dogs, that is, those with flattened heads), tend to give better results in this type of test, which It suggests that the visual capacity and the perception of depth could partly explain the racial differences related to this capacity.

According to other research, the oldest dog breeds, such as the Australian dingo and the guinea pig dog, are the ones that have the most difficulty in guiding human directions to locate hidden food, especially when it comes to following the people look. Its capacity would be intermediate between the capacity of the wolves and that of the rest of the dogs.


So there is not a single answer to the question about which dog breed is the most intelligent and possibly depending on what we understand by intelligence our answer could change. But the research carried out so far suggests that among the dogs selected to do cooperative work with people we can find the most "intelligent" individuals of the species.

To know more

  1. Coren S, 2006. The fabulous intelligence of dogs.
  2. Gacsi M, McGreevy P, Kara E, Miklosi A. Effects of selection for cooperation and attention in dogs. Behav Brain Funct. 2009, 5: 31-38.
  3. Smith BP, Litchfield C a. Dingoes (Canis dingo) can use human social cues to locate hidden food. Anim Cogn 2010, 13: 367-376.
  4. Wobber V, Hare B, Koler-matznick J, Wrangham R, Tomasello M. Breed Differences in Domestic
  5. Dogs (Canis familiaris) Comprehension of Human Communicative Signals. Interact Sudies. 2009, 10: 206-224.

1. Border Collie

The border collie is considered as the smartest dog in the world from the Stanley Coren list. For generations, the Border Collie has been a sheepdog, watchdog and therapy dog. Fortunately today many people enjoy the company of this adorable dog simply because of the attractiveness in education it offers: it is capable of remembering a wide range of orders. We currently know the case of Chaser, a Border Collie capable of identifying 1,022 different toys.

It is a medium sized dog, very restless, that need a proactive owner and athlete, able to combine the rhythm offered by this breed. He is a fantastic hiking partner, running or camping. It also requires a lot of attention, affection and mental stimulation through the different intelligence games.

2. Poodle or poodle

He second smartest dog The poodle or poodle is considered one of the most famous contest dogs in the world. In the beginning the poodle was an excellent water dog, collector of dejected pieces, but soon acquired popularity until it became one of the favorite dogs of the French and British courts.

The poodle dog has a lot of energy and is skilled at the time of learn tricks all types. We usually talk about a very sociable dog that is always willing to please its owner, who always happily follows. They have a very affectionate character and sociable so the poodle is undoubtedly one of the favorite dogs in the whole world. In addition, the poodle behaves beautifully with young children with whom he spends long periods of exercise and enjoying tricks in exchange for treats.

Do not forget that positive reinforcement is the best way to educate these intelligent dogs, do not skimp on congratulations, snacks and kind words!

3. German shepherd

Third, we have the German shepherd, a sensitive, intelligent and intuitive dog. For generations the standard of this breed has been perfectly taken care of by its huge mental attributes, physical and cognitive. This has had a very negative impact on the health of this noble dog causing a predisposition to suffer various diseases such as hip dysplasia.

We must know that it is a race that needs a lot of affection, intelligence games, obedience practice and moderate physical exercise. It is not a dog for people with little experience in education and dog training since it may have a tendency to develop behavioral problems if it is not cared for as it deserves.

The German shepherd dog besides being one of the smartest in the world enjoys a extraordinary beauty. It is appreciated in most countries of the world. Currently, he competes as a police dog with the Belgian shepherd Malinois.

4. Golden Retriever

The golden retriever stands out, not only for being the fourth smartest dog in the world, but also for its beauty and its affable character and good-natured It is an energetic dog that enjoys the water enormously for its past as a retriever dog (like the poodle). It is one of the most popular breeds in the world and it is very easy to know why: it is an excellent dog, that well educated, will behave wonderfully with other dogs, children and adults. Perhaps for this reason, the golden has become popular as a therapy dog ​​for autistic children.

This is a very smart dog that can assume all kinds of tasks from police dog detecting drugs, as rescue dog or simply as a wonderful companion dog. He is very tolerant of the small children he cares for, protects and lets make nonsense.

5. Doberman pinscher

Finally we will talk about the doberman pinscher, one of the fastest dogs at the time of automate orders and in training in general. In spite of the bad press that sometimes has come to have is a race quite calm and tolerant with all family members including of course the little ones.

The majority of behavioral problems of the Doberman Pinscher derive from a bad education, lack of physical or mental exercise and, of course, the use of this dog as a protector of farms. The Doberman Pinscher is a very sociable, active and intelligent dog that detests loneliness and boredom. On the contrary, the Doberman dog enjoys exercising and being with his family. He will always take care of her. It's a dog noble and beautiful He is always vigilant and attentive.

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