Brainy Canines: The 10 Most Intelligent Dog Breeds!

Everyone thinks their pooch is the smartest. But not all breeds are equally intelligent. Keep reading to learn about the 10 most intelligent dog breeds.

Mar 8, 2024byHolly Ramsey
brainy canines most intelligent dog breeds

Most dogs are intelligent in their own ways, depending on their purpose and training. Each breed has been bred for a specific purpose, whether they are herding livestock, guarding the home, aiding hunters, or ridding their space of vermin. Specific dog breeds, however, are more intelligent than others. Here are the 10 most intelligent dog breeds.

Border Collie

border collie running through grass
Image credit:

Most dogs can recognize and respond to an average of 160 words, but Chaser, a Border Collie from South Carolina, was able to recognize over 1,000 words. While one linguistically gifted dog does not mean the entire breed is overly smart, there have been several very intelligent Border Collies.

These crafty canines are athletic, bright, and must have a job to do to keep them from creating mischief. Expect your Border Collie to keep you on your toes and find a way to communicate their wants and needs to you. Their tenacity and propensity for solving problems and being one step ahead of their owners have made many people say they are the most intelligent dog breed.


standing white poodle
Image credit:

The Poodle was developed in Germany as a water retriever. The fancy haircuts that you see in the show ring are more than just pretty; these haircuts served a purpose when they were out hunting and diving into the water. Poodles excel at dog sports, especially rally and obedience.

While the Poodle may look high maintenance, their coat, when properly conditioned, is easy to care for and keep clean. Despite their froufrou appearance, they are one of the smartest dog breeds. Trainable and malleable, Poodles have been used during wartime to carry important messages and supplies to soldiers.

German Shepherd Dogs

german shepherd running
Image credit:

Before the Belgian Malinois was the go-to dog for the military and police, the German Shepherd was used extensively because of their intelligence and trainability. They have a high level of focus and can learn a new command after the first lesson.

German Shepherd Dogs are constantly thinking and can quickly evaluate situations. Their ability to make decisions without the guidance of their handlers makes them fabulous as service dogs or as part of search-and-rescue teams.

Golden Retriever

golden retriever running leaves
Image credit:

One of America’s favorite dog breeds is also one of the most intelligent. These happy-go-lucky retrievers can learn new commands quickly and want to please their people. This is one of the reasons the Golden Retriever is so popular with families.

Golden Retrievers excel in dog sports including scent work, rally, and trick dog. They are also used on search-and-rescue teams often and perform well as assistance dogs for the disabled. These lovable companions excel when they are completing tasks for their owners.

Doberman Pinscher

doberman pinscher bite work
Image credit:

Intimating and fearless accurately describe the Doberman Pinscher, but so does trainable and highly intelligent. These dogs make the perfect guard dogs but are also loyal companions. It is common to see Doberman Pinschers in the performance ring stacking up titles and championships.

While not thought of as a family dog, the intelligent Doberman is gentle and loving, preferring to curl up on the sofa rather than patrol the yard in the cold. They can be stubborn but do enjoy training sessions that are upbeat and fun. Once trained, Doberman Pinschers are amazing companions.

Labrador Retriever

black lab yellow lab
Image credit:

Another favorite dog breed, the Labrador Retriever, is a malleable breed bred to assist hunters. They hail from the Canadian island of Newfoundland and were bred to retrieve ducks from the water. Today, the Lab is a wonderful family companion, especially for families with young children.

Their exuberant personalities make them seem not so smart, but underneath it all, Labs are one of the most intelligent breeds and easy to train. They do not need formal training to learn new skills, they take a watch-and-learn approach.

Pembroke Welsh Corgi

pembroke welsh corgi puppy
Image credit:

Made popular by Queen Elizabeth during her 70-year reign, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi is known to be alert, affectionate, and incredibly intelligent. These low-slung dogs are athletic and excel at dog sports, especially scent work, where they can put their tracking skills to good use.

With a fearless attitude and highly obedient nature, the Pembroke Corgi is a wonderful watchdog and family companion. They also still excel in herding and love spending time out in the fields helping ranchers move their livestock. Pembroke Corgis want to please their families and will look for ways to help where they can.


rough collie in grass
Image credit:

When you think of a Collie, Lassie is probably the superstar that pops into your mind. Aside from being a friendly, happy companion, Lassie was also very intelligent. The breed as a whole, Rough and Smooth coats, is smart and loyal. They are trainable and want so much to please you.

Collies make wonderful emotional support dogs, especially for children, and they love spending time with their families while playing games or stretched out watching television. Dog sports, including rally and obedience, are the perfect ways for Collies to work their brains and showcase their smarts.


standing rottweiler in field
Image credit:

These fearsome canines can be traced back to the Roman Empire when they were livestock herders and guardians. Today, the Rottweiler is used as a guard dog and companion. Their sharp perception and problem-solving abilities make them one of the most intelligent dog breeds. They are stubborn, but with consistency and a strong leader, these formidable pups are trainable and fun to have around.

Their loyal nature and alert demeanor make them great guard dogs and search-and-rescue dogs. Rotties have also been used as police dogs. Most people would not consider these brutes smart, but they will fool you. Rottweilers have an active mind and look for ways to stay busy, they love playing games and trying new things.


papillon standing on rock
Image credit:

When you think of the most intelligent dog breeds, toy breeds do not usually come to mind. But the butterfly-eared Papillon is one of the smartest breeds. They desperately want a job to do and will find things to keep busy when their owners are not able to entertain them.

Papillons have a high aptitude for learning and excel in agility and rally. They love learning new things and are eager to please their owners. Great things really do come in small packages, and Papillon owners love teaching them fun tricks and playing games to keep their minds sharp.

All dogs are smart in their own ways and make their owners proud with their antics and learning capabilities. Take the time and effort to harness your dog’s intelligence into a productive canine that is easy to live with and fun to be around. Check out some training tips and tricks. Owning a very intelligent dog means you must work harder and be smarter to keep them occupied and out of trouble.

Holly Ramsey
byHolly Ramsey

Holly is a 2nd generation dog breeder/trainer and has over 25 years of experience with several different breeds. She enjoys working with her Japanese Chin and Rough Collies and helping her mom and daughter with their chosen breeds. Most evenings, Holly is hanging out with her daughter watching movies, crafting, or playing with the fur-kids.