These Are The Smartest Dogs Breeds, Did Yours Make The List?

People bring a dog into the family for many different reasons. Some want a companion, others want a protector, and sometimes, people just want to adopt a pup simply because they’re cute. Dog owners who brought home a pup for their cuteness were probably unhappily surprised to realize that their dog wasn’t also the smartest. Having a dog that can’t learn new tricks can be frustrating. If you’re thinking of adopting a dog and intelligence is important to you, take a closer look at the dog breeds on this list.

Rottweilers Have Been Used For Cattle, Military, and Police

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Rottweilers may be notorious for their protectiveness, but that’s just because of their long history as a professional working dog. According to Pet Health Network, Rottweilers were first brought to Germany by the ancient Romans.

They were used as herding dogs until the cattle car was invented. Once people stopped breeding them for their farms, Rottweilers almost went extint. Thankfully, police and military saw the intelligence in this dog breed and took them on, keeping the population alive.

Doberman Pinschers Were Bred To Protect The Taxman

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Speaking of protective police dogs, the Doberman ranks amongst the highest on the list of intelligent dog breeds. In fact, the Doberman was bred specifically in order to protect taxman and dog breeder Louis Dobermann, hence the name.

The American Kennel Club says in 19th Century Germany the “Tax Collector’s Dog” was bred from the Black and Tan Terrier, German Pinscher, and Rottweiler. No wonder the dog has an international reputation with the military.

Golden Retrievers Are Very Trainable Dogs

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MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images

The Golden Retriever is known as a loyal, life companion. Their gentle temperament may not make for the ideal guard dog but it does help them excel as service dogs for the disabled.

Retrievers have been trained to assist the deaf, blind, hunters, and search and rescue teams. They were originally bred to be a medium-sized bird dog in 1850. Today, according to CBS News, the dog also ranks third in the most popular dog breeds in the US.

Labrador Retrievers Have An Excellent Sense of Smell

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In Pictures Ltd./Corbis via Getty Images

The Labrador is an excellent communicator, and can oftentimes assist not only the blind and deaf but those with special needs in getting through the day. Reuters notes that in 2018 they maintained the number 1 breed in the US for the 28th year in a row.

The breed is highly intelligent and has incredible focus if they’re motivated to a task. They’re an ideal breed to become a search and rescue dog and to work as a therapy dog.

Dingoes Are Their Own Kind Of Animal

dingos
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PartnerHund

According to Smithsonian, the long-standing notion that Dingoes descend from an East Asian variation of the grey wolf is incorrect. In a new study, Dingoes were found to have anatomical features that separate them from wolves and dogs.

Distinguishing Dingoes from dogs is vital in order to understand their behavior. Unlike most domesticated hounds, these animals require aggressive training. In certain areas, a permit is even required to own the challenging pet.

Poodles Are Surprisingly Good Swimmers

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Imagno/Getty Images

Poodles are well known for being smart. Studies have shown that poodles receive their best scores on memory and obedience, making them overtly responsive to commands.

A lesser-known fact about poodles is that their famous curly coat is liquid-resistant, keeping them dry in wet conditions. In fact, poodles historically love the water and are excellent swimmers, also largely due to their webbed feet. Their athleticism coupled with their intelligence makes them excellent dogs to train.

German Shepherds Are Basically Born To Be Police Officers

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Tom Nebbia/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

While several dogs breeds respond to training, the precision of the German Shepherd makes this breed top dog. German Shepherds can perform tasks after being shown only a handful of times and have a sense of smell that can detect even the smallest differentiation.

Beyond their intelligence, experts also attribute these dogs with a defining amount of courage, confidence, and loyalty, all of which any officer requires. They’re also excellent at patrolling, tracking down criminals and detecting when a hostage is being held.

Australian Shepherds Are Obedient, If They’re Challenged

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Christophe Gateau/picture alliance via Getty Images

Ironic to the name, the Australian Shepherd actually began their herding career in Europe, where they were called the Pyrenean Shepherd. It was in Australia that herders bred the shepherds with Collies and Border Collies amongst other canines.

Once the dogs migrated to California from Australia, ranchers adopted their new name. True to their roots, these dogs will corral anything, even children, and require challenges to their stamina and learning in order to maintain obedience.

Saint Bernards Rescue Those in Need in Harsh Conditions

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The Sandlot made this dog a beast not to be reckoned with. Despite their size, these dogs actually aren’t aggressive at all. They were bred in Switzerland as mountain dogs and are incredibly sweet with humans.

As workers, these dogs were able to find and rescue travelers who had been swallowed by avalanches, greeting them with their big, happy expressions. Though they are said to have carried casks of brandy, this is a myth.

A Great Dane Is Basically A Giant Lap Dog

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General Photographic Agency/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The Great Dane may be large, but they’re able to adapt to smaller spaces. This is largely due to their tendency to lean, sit, and plop onto the couch and their owners. Their laziness as compared to other dogs is part of what makes them so patient and friendly.

Pictured above is Teddy Keystone, a Great Dane and the first canine superstar in America. On set, the holds child actor Jackie Lucas while he golfs in the water.

Collies Are Great Working Dogs

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Three Lions/Getty Images

Anyone who has ever seen the movie Lassie actually has relatively good knowledge of how these animals operate. Highly intelligent, obedient, and high in stamina, Collies are highly motivated, only requiring some gentle training.

Collies can be trained to herd cattle, sheep, and other livestock, oftentimes, they prefer it! This is not a breed of dog that enjoys lying around lazy. Like Retrievers, these dogs are loyal and friendly, making them ideal candidates for family dogs.

Border Collies Love To Perform

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MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images

The Border Collie is kind of like a Collie that’s stuck on fast-forward. Agile and quick-minded, these dogs win prizes at sheepdog trials and dog sports like no other breed. This breed is especially talented at taking specific commands.

Developed in Scottland, this pooch was mostly used for herding sheep. These dogs are affectionate and happy to cuddle with their owners, but they don’t do well with a sedentary lifestyle.

Bearded Collies Are The Grandpas Of The Dog Family

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OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images

The Bearded Collie looks like an old man for a reason– they are tough, reliable, and independent thinkers. More like a fun grandpa, these dogs are energetic and love to socialize with kids. They are also notorious goofballs, and in order to keep them focused, you have to match their level of interesting.

Illustrated in paintings from the 1700s, the Bearded Collie was a prized member of high society and these dogs have the intelligence to match.

The Old English Sheepdog

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The Old English Sheepdog looks like no other breed. These furry dogs are known for their long, thick, shaggy grey and white coat that is in constant need of taming. Also known as the “Bearded Collie” this dog was mainly a show dog owned by the wealthiest American families in the early 20th century.

They enjoy working on a farm in a rural setting and have high marks for obedience, flyball, tracking, and herding.

The Irish Setter Is A Kid At Heart

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Gene Lester/Getty Images

Dr. Seuss was more than an inspirational children’s book author, he was an Irish Setter lover. The American Kennel Club calls these elegant animals big kids at heart, which definitely explains why Dr. Seuss would have one as his companion. Known for its beauty and grace, these dogs are swift chasers and affectionate snugglers.

However, they’re also very talented gundogs, a perfect companion for hunters looking for a dog to retrieve their ducks and other birds.

Pembroke Welsh Corgi: A Dog Fit For A Queen

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The look of surprise on this Corgi’s face could be that it just realized its owner is the queen. High-status dogs are nothing new, and this one happens to be royalty sitting next to Queen Elizabeth II. The Queen has owned more than 30 corgis in her reign, making this breed a near necessity in the royal kingdom.

These alert dogs with intimidating barks make for excellent watchdogs. They are loyal to their owner until the end.

The English Springer Spaniel Has A Split Personality

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Marco Di Lauro/Getty Images

This loyal and affectionate dog is the mellow snuggle companion you’ve always dreamed of. On the flip side, these animals are born hunters, sharp as a whip and highly trainable. The American Kennel Club notes that they are miserable when alone and crave the company of dogs and people.

This picture shows an English Springer Spaniel working with a military officer to see if there are any items or people in the car that don’t belong.

The Fast and The Furious Jack Russell Terrier

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Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

In this photograph, a hunter releases his Jack Russell into a hole to find the badger he hopes to hunt. This pup knows to locate the badger, corner it, then run back as an indication to the owner where his prey is.

Jack Russell Terriers are little balls of energy just bursting to be used in a productive way. Badgers are a walk in the park for these fast and fearless fox hunters.

Alaskan Malamutes Are Horses Of The Snow

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These dog’s body composition is perfect for physically-exhaustive work in the snow: weatherproof fur, powerful chest, and shoulders, heavy bones. Not only are they perfect sled dogs because of their strength, but also their mentality. These dogs thrive in a pack, and that leader better be you.

Malamutes may own you if you don’t own them, but they’re also big teddy bears. They know their strength and are gentle and safe with kids.

Akita Inus Detect Stranger Danger

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Yuri SmityukTASS via Getty Images

These Japanese dogs are wired to protect the ones they love. Their deep and dark eyes may look forgiving, but these dogs are always on alert when it comes to strangers. Though they may be slow to trust, once you’ve established yourself as family these dogs will reveal their soft side.

Similar in composition to the Malamute, Akita Inus are massive and heavy balls of fluff that will be your knight in shining armor when necessary.

You’ll Need To Keep Your German Shorthaired Pointer Busy!

Rolf Moen of Brainerd receives a dove from his German shorthaired pointer, Sally,
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Dennis Anderson/Star Tribune via Getty Images

This sporting dog breed is an extremely smart hunter and retriever. German Shorthaired Pointers are friendly and affectionate, making them terrific family companions. Despite this, they can also be independent-minded and tend to want to roam off on their own at times!

Like most intelligent dogs, German Shorthaired Pointers need plenty of exercise and mental stimulation. They also keep a puppy level of energy throughout their entire lives, so do best with humans who are active and can keep up.

Bernese Mountain Dogs Are Excellent Family Pets

A little girl walks her Bernese Mountain Dog on a leash
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NurPhoto/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Here’s another large breed with above-average intelligence. Although some people perceive Bernese Mountain Dogs to be slow or dim-witted because of their size and lumbering way of getting around, that is not the case. “Berners,” as they’re called by fans, can grow to weigh around 100 pounds!

This is a great working breed that excels at herding. They have calm, mellow temperaments and get along with strangers and other animals.

Weimaraners Are Known As “The Dogs With The Human Brains”

Man enjoying the Sunday newspapers with his Weimaraner dog Max
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In Pictures Ltd./Corbis via Getty Images

Weimaraners are German pups that were bred to hunt in the Black Forest. They’re incredibly smart and quick to learn. The breed’s intelligence has led to the nickname “the dog with the human brain.”

They’re also quite unique looking and tend to attract attention. This medium breed is known for its friendly, charming personality in addition to its intelligence. Weimaraners are excellent family dogs and even tolerate cats at times (although not usually, since they were bred for the hunt!).

Alaskan Malamutes Love Children

 A veteran reacts as she strokes an Alaskan Malamute sled dog
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Ian Forsyth/Getty Images

This is one of the oldest dog breeds around. These giant fluffballs were bred to pull sleds in the harsh climate of Alaska. They’re super smart and love having a job to do. Although young pups are pretty small, they can grow to weigh up to 100 pounds. They’re social and loving animals that enjoy meeting all kinds of strangers.

Fun fact: George Lucas’ Alaskan Malamute inspired the character Chewbacca from the Star Wars movie franchise!

Chesapeake Bay Retrievers Are Still Used In The Area They Were Originally Bred

three nine week old female pups
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Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post via Getty Images

These adorable pups are Chesapeake Bay Retrievers. They were bred in the 19th century to help retrieve waterfowl for hunters. This is one of the only true American dog breeds, and they’re still widely used in the Chesapeake Bay area during hunting season.

Like other smart dogs, these pups can be a bit stubborn when they’re given a command they don’t feel like obeying. But they’re great companions and excellent family pets.

American Leopard Hounds Can Avoid Injury

Hela, a Catahoula leopard hound, cools off by a fan at the animal rescue facilty D.A.R.T. for animals affected by Hurricane Charley August 20, 2004 in Punta Gorda, Florida.
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Mario Tama/Getty Images

American Leopard Hounds are known for their intelligence. These all-purpose tree dogs were bred with an innate desire to please their masters, which is why they are easy to train and can learn a lot. When it comes to sport, these dogs are excellent at avoiding injuries and will fiercely protect children.

Treats are essential to training these dogs but must be used sparingly, because American Leopard Hounds are more prone to becoming overweight.

American Staffordshire Terriers Are Great In Show Business

American Staffordshire terrier (Canis lupus familiaris) in garden .
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Arterra/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

American Staffordshire Terriers love to be challenged both physically and mentally, which is why they are regarded for their intelligence. That’s why these dogs are quite easy to train and often end up in show business.

An AmStaff has been the subject of Horatio’s Drive and the 1930s Our Gang comedies. An AmStaff named Sgt. Stubby was America’s most decorated war dog in World War I and was admired by at least three U.S. presidents.

Appenzeller Sennenhunds Are Natural Herders

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:murb:/Flickr

Intelligence isn’t lost on an Appenzeller Sennenhund, which was originally bred in the region of Appenzell, Switzerland. These dogs were bread as cattle dogs and with their high-pitched barking could alert their humans of any oncoming danger.

These smaller dogs are considered rare in North America but are found all over Europe. They could be easily trained if they had a fair but firm “leader” guiding them into their full potential.

Belgian Malinois Are Constantly Using Their Minds

Dog, Belgian Malinois Adult Female Belgian Laekenois. Exercise Of Obediance 'Remain In Place' Belgian Laekenois Female
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BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The confident Belgian Malinois was meant to be active with its human companions. These dogs are smart, which is why they constantly need to be using their brains in order to thrive.

With a high prey drive and a keen sense of whatever is moving around them, these dogs need to be trained well in order not to let those traits lead to unfavorable behavior like chasing cars and children. That’s why it’s essential to get them socialized and trained as early as possible.

Barbets Are Happy To Show You How Smart They Are

Michel Raymond and Chocovan a 4 year old Barbet at Purina National Dog Show at the International Centre on Mar 10 2012 .
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Vince Talotta/Toronto Star via Getty Images

A Barbet is a quintessential French waterdog that is considered very bright and agile. In order to use these traits to the best of their abilities, Barbets need a positive and upbeat training environment. This ostensibly leads to their loyal and friendly nature towards other dogs and people.

These water dogs were initially used to hunt water game and almost went extinct during the World Wars. They are now considered a rare breed.

Papillons Are Eager To Please

1999 Westminister Kennel club dog Show winner of Best-In-Show Ch. Loteki Supernatural Being or Kirby as he is known struts his stuff in the center ring at Madison Square Garden.
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Jason Green/Getty Images

Papillons are curious dogs and despite their diminutive size have a lot to offer in terms of athleticism. Because of their intelligence, they are easily trained due to their eagerness to please the humans to which they are bonded.

These are companion dogs at heart, which is why they grow close to humans and other animals they are socialized with. They will learn quickly, but their humans must also learn not to overindulge them.

Chinooks Are Great Family Dogs

A pair of Chinook, one of three new breeds, meet the press during a press event at Madison Square Garden January 15, 2014 to promote the First-ever Masters Agility Championship at the 138th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show .
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TIMOTHY CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

Chinooks make awesome family dogs because they are smart, patient, and devoted. Conceived as rugged hauling dogs, the Chinook has proven that it works well with children and people. They can be trained to do simple tricks or something as difficult as carting, search-and-rescue work, or herding.

These dogs were originally bred in New England and have become a rarity in the present day. They are one of the scarcest American Kennel Club dogs.

Australian Kelpies Are Actively Intelligent

Jack, a two year old kelpie at Colin Sies' Winona kelpie stud near Gulgong, 13 July 2006.
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Fairfax Media via Getty Images/Fairfax Media via Getty Images via Getty Images

It’s hard to tire an Australian Kelpie. They are hardwired to do active work with their innate sense of alertness and intelligence, which is why they were originally bred to herd sheep in Australia. With their boundless energy, they can learn a lot and put it all to good use if they are trained correctly.

These are very active dogs that crave something to do, so training in agility and obedience that will challenge them mentally is key.

Berger Picards Can Do It All On Their Own

The Berger Picard breed debuts at 140th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show - Meet The New Breeds at Madison Square Garden on January 21, 2016 in New York City.
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Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

The Berger Picard are smart, likely as a result of how observant they are. They know how to assess a situation and solve problems for themselves if need be. For centuries they have been used as herders and left to their own devices, which is why they are independent and easily take charge.

The flip side of this is that they can be pretty stubborn, so early socialization and obedience training will help if you want a Picard that isn’t troublesome.

Bloodhounds Will Smell Things Out

Bloodhound, Champion Leo of Reynalton, is cuddled by a rather worried-looking Dorothy Horder.
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William Vanderson/Fox Photos/Getty Images

There’s a reason that Bloodhounds are always pictured as spy dogs. These inquisitive dogs are equipped with impeccable sense and were naturally bred to suss out scents for a number of reasons.

That’s why they have been utilized in police departments around the world to find criminals, lost children, or confused seniors. No matter how long a task takes them, they won’t stop until they find what they’re looking for.

Shetland Sheepdogs Dominate The Competition

Shetland Sheepdog / collie / Sheltie (Canis lupus familiaris) in garden.
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Arterra/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Shetland Sheepdogs may be smaller than their Border Collie cousins but they are just as smart. These eager dogs excel in international dog shows where they dominate in obedience, agility, and herding trials.

They also make for excellent watchdogs due to their cautiousness around strangers and their propensity for barking. Despite these disciplined traits, they can be affectionate when the time calls for it and make awesome family dogs due to their sensitive nature.

Tsventnaya Bolonkas Will Mimic You

Russian Tsvetnaya Bolonkas at the Russia 2018 International Dog Show (CACIB), at the Crocus Expo exhibition centre in Krasnogorsk, Moscow Region; the dog show was organised by the Russian Canine Federation (RKF).
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Sergei FadeichevTASS via Getty Images

You may not have heard of a Russian Tsvetnaya Bolonka but they’re not as exotic as you might think. They’re actually members of the Bichon family that make excellent family dogs due to their intense loyalty and hypoallergenic fur.

Their intelligence lies in their ability to be clever and funny, as they can easily mimic the actions of those around them. These sociable dogs are love to play but are content to keep watch by the door also.

Australian Cattle Dogs Are Related To Dingos

Bridget Ratti plays catch with her Blue Heeler/ Australian Shepherd mix, Sissy, in Golden's Ulysses Park, on Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 8, 2010. Diego James Robles, The Denver Post
Diego J. Robles/The Denver Post via Getty Images
Diego J. Robles/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Australian Cattle Dogs are known for their intelligence. That combined with their alertness makes them excellent watchdogs because they are wary of strangers. This makes sense, considering that they were originally bred as herding dogs.

These dogs are actually related to the wild dingos of Australia, since British imports that were supposed to be used for herding on the continent weren’t suited to the warm temperatures, rough terrain, and vast traveling distances.

Azawakhs Can Chase Prey From Miles Away

Chien Azawakh.
Elizabeth LEMOINE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
Elizabeth LEMOINE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Azawakhs are intelligent hunters that have been chasing gazelle across the Sahara desert for thousands of years. These sprinters are members of the sighthound family and can spot prey from miles away then chase after them at lightning speed.

Historically, they were owned by nomads along the border regions of Mali and Niger, and were incredibly helpful into these peoples’ survival in the desert heat. They have been fierce protectors of homes and flocks.

Belgian Tervurens Can Outsmart You

Belgian Shepherd Tervuren / Tervueren (Canis lupus familiaris) dog in garden.
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Arterra/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Belgian Tervurens always need something to do. They are highly intelligent and alert with a work drive that constantly needs to be attended to. They are known to be able to master any task and can be pretty mischievous, so much so that they sometimes like to delight in outsmarting their masters.

This breed originated in Belgium over a need to herd and guard the farm and family. They are versatile helpers and great companions.