The 79 smartest dogs (according to a dog psychologist)

Think you might be harbouring a fluffy Einstein? Or perhaps more likely a Homer Simpson? Check out this list of the smartest dogs, according to a canine psychologist.

Welcome, dog lover. Where would we be without man’s best friend? Dogs help with loneliness, anxiety, exercise, visual impairments, and so much more, except when they’re going through puberty, of course. But have you ever wanted to know whether your cute (and incredibly handsome) doggy makes the cut of the world’s smartest dogs?

If you’re feeling brave, keep reading to find out – and good luck!

smartest dogs

If we’re solely judging intelligence, all dog breeds were not made equal. Deep down, you know it’s true. My family used to own a Border collie/Labrador and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. One was the unbeholden master of escaping our backyard, while the other couldn’t go a minute without unparalleled attention. While they were loved equally, it’s not rocket science to know which of these doggos knew his left from his right, and which one didn’t.

Still, dog intelligence is no easy measurement. There’s adaptive intelligence, instinctive intelligence, spatial intelligence, and so on. According to animal behaviourist Frans de Waal, it’s common for humans to judge an animal’s intelligence unfairly. But, if we’re solely judging working intelligence (aka following orders), there’s a man with reliable answers.

Canine phycologist Stanley Coren’s 1994 book The Intelligence Of Dogs is about as accurate as it gets, shaped by the congruous opinions of 199 dog obedience judges. Still, before you rapidly scroll down to see if your dog’s breed made the cut of smartest dogs, a few precursors:

  • The way a dog is trained can have a considerable impact
  • Every breed has its exceptions
  • We love every breed on this list and every breed not on this list

Now, let’s jump into it!

1-10: Obey 95% of the time. Learn new commands in 5 exposures or less.

1. Border collie

2. Poodle

3. German shepherd

4. Golden retriever

5. Doberman pinscher

6. Shetland sheepdog

7. Labrador retriever

8. Papillon

9. Rottweiler

10. Australian cattle dog

11-26: Obey 85% of the time. Learn new commands in 5-15 exposures.

11. Pembroke Welsh corgi

12. Miniature schnauzer

13. English springer spaniel

14. Belgian Tervuren

15. Schipperke, Belgian sheepdog

16. Collie Keeshond

17. German short-haired pointer

18. Flat-coated retriever, English cocker spaniel, Standard schnauzer

19. Brittany spaniel

20. Cocker spaniel, Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever

21. Weimaraner

22. Belgian Malinois, Bernese mountain dog

23. Pomeranian

24. Irish water spaniel

25. Vizsla

26. Cardigan Welsh corgi

27-39: Obey 70% of the time. Learn new commands in 15-25 exposures.

27. Chesapeake Bay retriever, Puli, Yorkshire terrier

28. Giant schnauzer, Portuguese water dog

29. Airedale, Bouv Flandres

30. Border terrier, Briard

31. Welsh springer spaniel

32. Manchester terrier

33. Samoyed

34. Field spaniel, Newfoundland, Australian terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, Gordon setter, Bearded collie

35. American Eskimo dog, Cairn terrier, Kerry blue terrier, Irish setter

36. Norwegian elkhound

37. Affenpinscher, Silky terrier, Miniature pinscher, English setter, Pharaoh hound, Clumber spaniel

38. Norwich terrier

39. Dalmatian

40-54: Obey at least 50% of the time. Learn new commands in 25-40 exposures.

40 Soft-coated wheaten terrier, Bedlington terrier, Smooth-haired fox terrier

41. Curly-coated retriever, Irish wolfhound

42. Kuvasz, Australian shepherd

43. Saluki, Finnish Spitz, Pointer

44. Cavalier King Charles spaniel, German wirehaired pointer, Black-and-tan coonhound, American water spaniel

45. Siberian husky, Bichon Frise, English toy spaniel

46. Tibetan spaniel, English foxhound, Otterhound, American foxhound, Greyhound, Harrier, Parson Russel terrier, Wirehaired pointing griffon

47. West Highland white terrier, Havanese, Scottish deerhound

48. Boxer, Great Dane

49. Dachshund, Staffordshire bull terrier, Shiba Inu

50. Malamute

51. Whippet, Chinese shar-pei, Wirehaired fox terrier

52. Rhodesian ridgeback

53. Ibizan hound, Welsh terrier, Irish terrier

54. Boston terrier, Akita

55-69: Respond around 40% of the time. Learn new tricks in 40 to 80 repetitions.

55. Skye terrier

56. Norfolk terrier, Sealyham terrier

57. Pug

58. French bulldog

59. Brussels griffon, Maltese terrier

60. Italian greyhound

61. Chinese crested

62. Dandie Dinmont terrier, Vendeen, Tibetan terrier, Japanese chin, Lakeland terrier

63. Old English sheepdog

64. Great Pyrenees

65. Scottish terrier, Saint Bernard

66. Bull terrier, Petite Basset Griffon, Vendeen

67. Chihuahua

68. Lhasa apso

69. Bullmastiff

70-79: Obey around 30%  of the time. Learn new tricks in over 100 repetitions.

70. Shih Tzu

71. Basset hound

72. Mastiff, beagle

73. Pekingese

74. Bloodhound

75. Borzoi

76. Chow chow

77. Bulldog

78. Basenji

79. Afghan hound

Of course, there are always exceptions to this list, but regardless, wherever your doggo lands, we love them all the same.

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