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Top 10 Smartest Dog Breeds (#7 will surprise you)

Top 10 Smartest Dog Breeds (#7 will surprise you)

December 14th

See where your dog ranks on the list of the top 10 most intelligent breeds.

What is the smartest dog breed?

Your brainy bulldog may seem like the sharpest pooch in town, but in reality his breed is among the most difficult to teach. The happy-go-lucky Goldendoodle down the street is a valedictorian in comparison.

Like humans, the intelligence of a dog comes in different forms. A persistent dog owner can certainly nurture some qualities with time and effort, but the truth is that every breed has intrinsic specialties and disadvantages.

A significant deciding factor is what task the dog was bred to perform. A breed that was used for herding or hunting will typically be more agile, hardworking, and eager to please you. These breeds will learn much faster than others. A dog from a livestock-guarding or scent-tracing background will be easily distracted and harder to get through to.

If your pup is one of the latter, don’t panic! Even if certain breeds are more adept than others, it is definitely possible to teach any dog basic commands — some just catch on faster than others. You just need to know what he was made for and how to motivate him accordingly.

Smart doesn’t mean perfect. Above all, you should choose a breed that works best with your lifestyle and do what you can to help your furry friend reach his full potential.

The smartest dogs

According to Stanley Coren, PhD, the number one indicator of intelligence in dogs is trainability. The psychology professor analyzed the assessments of over 200 obedience judges who scored 110 breeds on their obedience test performance. The top 10 dog breeds assimilated commands within five repetitions and obeyed almost 100% of the time.

1) Australian Labradoodle
A cross between a Labrador Retriever and a Poodle (two others on the list!), the first Labradoodles were bred in Australia in 1988. They are great family dogs — easy to train, loyal, protective, and reserved with strangers.

2) Goldendoodle
Part Golden Retriever and part Poodle, Goldendoodles are also known as Curly Retrievers, Groodles, and Goldenoodles. They are extremely intelligent and playful — you won’t have any trouble teaching these furballs of energy new tricks.

3) German Shepherd
As the canine face of the military and police, German Shepherds are also great herders and loving members of the family. There’s not much a Shepherd can’t do!

4) Doberman Pinscher
Another guardian breed, Dobermans are known to be police and war dogs. Their strongest attributes are speed and stamina.

5) Border Collie
These dogs live for work! Border Collies are extremely intelligent sheep herders, with incredible instinct and workability.

6) Poodle
Poodles are very sharp and were made to retrieve things out of the water. It is speculated that miniature poodles were used to sniff out truffles.

7) Shetland Sheepdog
Basically a mini Collie, the Sheltie is a longhaired breed that specializes in herding. They are highly intelligent workers.

8) Labrador Retriever
Gentle, sporty, and smart, Labrador Retrievers make wonderful family dogs.

9) Rottweiler
Rottweilers are strong and sturdy, making them great dogs for a variety of jobs. In addition to being loyal companions, this breed is also used as therapy dogs, police dogs, service dogs, herders, and obedience competitors.

10) Papillon
Formerly known as Dwarf Spaniels, the Papillon only grows to be 8 to 11 inches tall. They are alert, upbeat, and almost never mean or timid.

Are smart breeds better pets?

Stanley Coren says “Smart doesn’t mean easy”.  A smart dog won’t always do what you want it to do.

Brainy canines need stimulation to stay satisfied, and are more aware of what’s going on around the house. They might destroy the house when you leave for work, while others won’t even notice you’re gone.

Border Collies are wired to work all day, so if you keep them cooped up in the house, the unspent energy will manifest as destructive behaviors. They might run away, nip at children, or tear things apart. Think of smart dogs as smart kids: they get into trouble if they aren’t busy doing something.

Coren’s own Beagle, who didn’t do so well on obedience tests, is great with his grandchildren because he doesn’t seem to mind (or recall) getting his ears pulled.

When adopting a dog, one should calculate their energy and activity level in comparison with potential breeds. Can you take them out to exercise for a few hours every day? How much time are you willing to dedicate to training? High energy dogs usually require more training and patience. If an obedient pup is what you’re looking for, smart isn’t necessarily the answer: attentive is.

Can “dumb” dogs learn?

Dogs who are independent and aloof can often be mistaken as empty-headed. Training them requires patience and utilizing the right kind of reward, whether it be pats, praises, or treats.

For high energy, low intelligence breeds like the Jack Russell, a simple head pat might not cut it and interest in learning will dissipate quickly. Naturally smarter breeds like the Australian Labradoodle may be perfectly happy with head pats as a reward.

For the elementary level “sit”, “down”, and “come”, most dogs will learn at the same rate. The speed at which more advanced commands are absorbed will depend on instinct and inherent capabilities.

The independent Beagle will need more time than others to learn. Bulldogs, another low-scoring breed, can learn surprisingly quickly if they don’t feel like they are being pushed around. Beagles and Bulldogs are among the lowest scores on Coren’s obedience tests. As opposed to 5 times, these dogs needed 80 to 100 tries before obeying 25% of commands.

The lowest scoring breeds include:

  1. Beagle and Mastiff
  2. Bulldog
  3. Shih Tzu
  4. Bassett Hound
  5. Bloodhound
  6. Chow Chow
  7. Pekingnese
  8. Borzoi
  9. Basenji
  10. Afghan Hound

Dogs are complex creatures and generalizing breeds as “smart” or “dumb” is not the best way to determine which one is best for you. Whatever you choose, consistent training and positive reinforcement will turn any uneducated pup into a great companion.

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