6 Dog Breeds with an Incredible Memory

Some dogs know how to “sit” or “fetch,” but others can detect substances or memorize an entire obstacle course. Their abilities are outstanding, and it’s all thanks to their memories.

May 25, 2024By Lisa Szymanski
dog breeds with incredible memory

Have you ever wondered just how smart your dog is and where they’d rank in terms of their memory? If you have a Labrador retriever, border collie, or German shepherd, you’ve probably noticed how quickly they can learn new things. This doesn’t mean that other breeds don’t stand a chance! It’s just that some dog breeds are far superior in terms of their recall and ability to grasp complex commands or learn tricks. To understand just how smart our four-legged companions are, we delve into the top 6 dog breeds with the most incredible memory.

1. Border Collie

black and white border collie lying on grass
Border collies are versatile dogs that are sheepherders and active family pets.

The sheep herder and obstacle course master best represent the border collie. These nimble dogs are among the most intelligent in the world because they can learn new routines quickly. You’ll see border collies dominating the obstacle course or leading the way in obedience competitions.

You only need to learn the story of Chaser, a female border collie, to understand why this breed has an exceptional memory. Chaser was trained to understand over 1000 words in addition to short sentences. Amazingly, these include a combination of verbs and nouns! But we all know these black and white collies for their ability to watch, guard, and herd sheep. Some can take the lead without the constant guidance of their handlers, while others respond to verbal commands and hand gestures in seconds. There’s no doubt that border collies are dogs with incredible memories.

2. German Shepherd

shepherd dog running with large stick in mouth next to puppy
The German shepherd is as strong as they are intelligent.

Next on our list of dogs with the best memory is the German shepherd. Brave, heroic, and loyal friends are what encompass these large dogs. You might be familiar with their roles in the military and police force as detection and attack dogs, but they’re also among the biggest stars of the red carpet. Famous German shepherds include Rin Tin Tin, Bullet the Wonder Dog, and Rex the detective dog from the TV show Hudson and Rex. Due to their temperament, intelligence, and loyalty, these dogs easily learn new tricks and respond to basic and higher-level commands.

Another interesting fact about German shepherds is that they were the first seeing eye dogs in America, not Labrador retrievers. This can certainly attest to their outstanding memory and dedication to their handlers. What we know for sure is that these talented dogs continue to pave the way, whether they’re in combat or protecting their families at home.

3. Golden Retriever

golden retriever holding a plush duck
Golden retrievers were bred to assist hunters.

There’s no way you can mention the most intelligent dog breeds in the world without talking about the golden retriever. America’s family dogs are well-known for their loving personalities and quick-witted nature, but they’re also intelligent pets that have wormed their way into many hearts. To determine just how smart they are, it’s important to understand their history. Retrievers were bred to hunt and retrieve fowl, such as ducks and pheasants. They not only learned to track these animals but also to carry the carcasses very gently without causing damage to them.

Both golden and Labrador retrievers are eager learners, and their willingness to please makes them easy to train. This breed serves as guide dogs, therapy dogs, and emotional support animals. They can learn commands such as turning the light off in a room and fetching medication. As guide dogs, they’re required to navigate public roads and keep their handlers safe, which is a monumental task requiring exceptional memory and intelligence.

4. Poodle

white poodle begging
Poodles can learn all sorts of tricks and love to beg for treats.

Have you ever wondered why poodles are the most popular dogs in the circus? Maybe animal circus acts are a little bit controversial, but these fluffy pooches became show-stoppers in the ring because of their above-average memory. Known for their curly hair and fashionable looks, poodles are ranked in the top 10 of the world’s most intelligent dogs.

Whether a miniature or standard poodle, these fluffy dogs are quite clever and can learn to retrieve objects, perform tricks, and they’re excellent at obedience. While poodles certainly steal the show when it comes to intelligence and hairstyles, they can be wilful and require constant training to prevent unwanted behaviors. If you are looking for a trendy companion with a great memory and a zest for life, then the poodle is the obvious choice.

5. Cocker Spaniel

brown cocker spaniel sitting
Cocker spaniels are graceful, sensitive dogs with a good memory.

Spaniels are smart dogs with great memory, but not in the conventional sense. They can learn different tricks and they do very well with basic commands such as “sit,” “stay,” and “paw.” Despite being fast learners, don’t get on the wrong side of a cocker spaniel. This breed is rather sensitive, so harsh forms of training or speaking with a loud voice will cause them to retreat rather than learn. If you raise your voice once or twice around these spaniels, they’ll remember, and it will take some time for them to come around.

With their wavy coats and long ears, spaniels are cherished family pets. They make wonderful companions because they’re loveable and always willing to please. These dogs love to swim, so you can easily engage them with water and plenty of treats.

6. Belgian Malinois

belgian shepherd malinois agility training with weight in mouth
The Belgian Malinois is always on the go.

The Belgian Malinois deserves an honorable mention as a dog with a really good memory. Widely recognized as dogs in the force, they are fast, intelligent, and brave. Belgian Malinois were originally herding dogs because they could round up farm animals quickly and they learned commands with ease. Today, they work with the police and military, where they can track and protect their handlers. They’re extremely popular in search-and-rescue missions because of their recall abilities. This breed’s flawless memory led to their role as messenger dogs during World War I. Because of their intense drive and energy, this breed needs someone who is experienced in dog training to handle their very big personalities.

Every dog can be taught commands and unique tricks, but it might take some a little bit longer to learn than others. The above breeds have made their mark in history as having the best memory, but they also make remarkable pets. However, you may want to think twice before you bring a Belgian Malinois home because these mighty dogs might just outsmart you!

Lisa Szymanski
By Lisa Szymanski

Lisa is a wildlife enthusiast who enjoys hiking and gardening and has four years of experience volunteering at pet shelters. She is the proud mom of two dogs, a Pitbull named Ragnar, a Boerboel named Blueberry, and four feisty chickens, or as she calls them, the "queens of the yard," Goldie, Gray, Peaches, and Brownie.