What are the top 10 most intelligent dog breeds? The answer to this question usually depends on who you ask. A bloodhound might not look so sharp if trying to herd sheep, and a husky would seem like a dullard if asked to retrieve ducks on a hunting trip.  There are several breeds however that do seem to be multi-talented and more prone to learning a wider range of tasks and behaviors. All dogs have intelligence, and some of the most capable dogs are the most independent and therefore underestimated by many people.

When doing some research for a definitive answer regarding the 10 most intelligent dog breeds, it seems that each publication, study or website provides a different set of answers. But across the board the following breeds seem to turn up among the smartest dogs.

  1. Labrador Retriever— This breed is well-known for its ability to independently locate and bring back ducks and other quarries for hunters. This ability to independently perform trained tasks makes Labrador Retrievers the go to breed for service dogs as well.
  2. Border Collie— A very popular herding breed dog, Border Collies are renowned for their intelligence, trainability and boundless energy. One of the most famous Border Collies in the world was named Chaser who had a vocabulary of one thousand words and is considered to be the most scientifically Important dog of the century.
  3. German Shepherd— This breed is found doing police work, guarding, herding and also frequently used as an assistance animal. German Shepherds are loyal and sensitive with high work drive as well as being motivated to please their handlers.
  4. Australian Cattle Dog— This herding breed dog is known for its work ethic and Independence. They are very energetic and are quite willing to direct it towards tasks to help their humans. They are capable of putting a large contrary bull where they want him to go. Perhaps the most famous Australian Cattle Dog was one named Skidboot who was the right hand of his owner and was seen doing many tasks to include leading horses back into their stalls using their reigns.
  5. Papillon— This small breed dog can be found in a variety of situations working with humans. They are among agility champions, hearing dogs for the deaf, and loyal companions to many households.
  6. Golden Retriever–These beautiful dogs are almost legendary for their service to people in many capacities from hunting to seeing eye dogs. It is seldom a surprise to find a capable Golden Retriever helping people.
  7. Border terrier— This little Terrier is a rare mix of fearlessness, affection, even temper and obedience. All wrapped up in a little wiry haired package. Bred to hunt fox and vermin, Border Terriers often compete in nose work and agility events and are known to be good family members.
  8. Poodle–These hypoallergenic highly trainable dogs are being seen more often in agility events, service dog work and their original job of hunting. Poodles are known to be loyal and affectionate with people and highly trainable for on and off leash activities.
  9. Doberman Pinscher— These dogs are most often found working as guard dogs. They are highly intelligent and can be trained to do a variety of tasks besides guarding from tracking to retrieving. They are loyal and observant making them good partners and companions.
  10. Shetland Sheepdog— These beautiful herding dogs are well-known for their trainability, work ethic and loyalty to their families. Shetland Sheepdogs herd and guard almost tirelessly and enjoy having a job to do.

 There are dogs of many breeds performing tasks and committing acts of heroism and wonder around the world. Science is beginning to confirm what many dog lovers have suspected about canine intelligence, it seems that dogs have often been underestimated and know much more than they have been given credit for.

Of course, when choosing a dog to take home, make sure you research the breed extensively to see what to expect, prepare properly, and only get puppies from the best dog breeders that are registered with the RPBA to ensure that you only get puppies that are bred in a humane and responsible manner. 


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