What Are the Smartest Dog Breeds?
All dogs are clever in their own way
When choosing a dog breed to welcome into your family, you may want an intelligent dog breed.
Smart breeds are easier to train and therefore better behaved. This means they are less stressful for you and are generally happier within themselves.
Whilst smart breeds are popular for the above reasons, they are not necessarily the most expensive. Rescue dogs available in shelters are often smart breeds.
The smartest breeds need more mental stimulation than other dogs. You will need to dedicate time to bond with them and exercise them daily.
Other ways to stimulate your smart dog breed include obedience classes, agility training, puzzle toys and walking them to new places they haven’t been before.
When most people think of a smart dog, they think of working breeds such as a border collie or German shepherd. But there are many fluffy, small dogs that are intelligent too.
Many of the smartest dog breeds were originally bred to work with humans doing specific jobs.
These include working on farms, being search and rescue dogs, hunting dogs, guide dogs or working as a guard dog.
Check out our list of the smartest dog breeds below and see which dog breed is right for you:
Australian Cattle Dog
There are two variations of Australian cattle dogs.
The Australian cattle dog and the Australian stumpy tail cattle dog (aka. blue heeler) who has a natural bob-tail.
Australian cattle dogs are one of the smartest dog breeds.They are a true working dog, bred to herd cattle on outback farms.
Their hard work has led to the growth of the Australian livestock industries.
Pet Australian cattle dogs are eager to please their owners and do well at agility.
They are high energy dogs so need to be walked daily and provided with mental stimulation to prevent them getting bored and becoming destructive.
They can be prone to biting if not trained, as they were bred to nip at cattle. The breed is medium sized and muscular.
They have a short coat that can be red or blue with markings.
Australian Cobberdogs are one of the smartest dogs.
Their intelligence means they learn new commands well and thrive at obedience training.
They can be trained to work as therapy or assistance dogs.The Australian Cobberdog is a purebred Labradoodle.
They first were recognised as their own breed in 2021.
They make a great family dog due to their good sense of humor and playful nature.
Their coat doesn’t shed so they are suitable for people with dog allergies.
This dog breed comes in 4 sizes – miniature, medium, large and extra-large.
Their curly coat comes in a wide variety of colours and gives them a cute teddy-bear appearance.
Belgian Tervurens are one of the smartest dog breeds as they love to have a job to do.
They were originally bred to herd sheep but are now used as police dogs and guard dogs.
This dog breed is loyal and protective. They have an instinct to chase so are not suitable for households with pocket pets such as guinea pigs or mice.
They are a medium sized breed with long legs and pointed ears. They look similar to a German shepherd.
Bloodhounds are one of the smartest kinds of dog.
Their intelligence and strong sense of smell make them the perfect scent hound.
They are a true hunting dog that can be trained to track wild animals. Despite their large size, pet Bloodhounds are friendly and can be very gentle.
They require a lot of daily exercise and are not suited to living in an apartment.
They have a short lifespan, typically living only 10 years.They have distinctive loose skin with droopy eyes and floppy ears.
Their coat is usually brown with black markings.
The border collie is an intelligent dog breed.
They were bred to herd cattle so love to run around and learn new commands.
Border collies make great family pets and are very affectionate.
Owners need to ensure they provide their smart border collie with daily exercise and mental stimulation.
The breed is recommended for people with larger backyards. Border collies are a medium sized dog.
They can have a rough or smooth coat which is commonly black and white but can also come in red, grey or tri-colour.
The Doberman Pinscher is one of the smartest dog breeds.
Their intelligence and naturally fearless nature makes them suitable to work as a guard dog.
Doberman Pinschers bond closely with their owners.They require regular training and socialisation to prevent any aggressive behaviour.
Their large size makes them unsuitable for families with small children. This dog breed has a large yet slender body.
They have a naturally bob-tail and pointed ears. Their short, sleek coat is black and tan.
English Springer Spaniel
English Springer spaniels are one of the smartest dog breeds.
They were first bred for hunting which means they train quite easily. They can also be taught to work as sniffer dogs.
This dog breed is affectionate and warms well to strangers.
They are high energy dogs so are best suited to owners who can dedicate time daily to exercising and playing with them.
They are a medium dog breed with a thick coat and long, floppy ears.
German shepherds are intelligent and have the ability to learn many new tricks and commands.
They are suitable for various jobs such as police dogs, sniffer dogs, security, search and rescue, therapy dogs and herding.
They are able to work in busy and stressful environments including airports and with the military.German shepherds are gentle giants and love to be in the company of humans.
They need daily exercise and human interaction to keep them happy. They also shed a lot of hair so need regular brushing.
They are a large breed with a long tail and expressive, pointed ears. German shepherds have a double coat that is a mixture of black and gold.
Golden retrievers are one of the most popular family dogs in Australia.
They have a well proportioned body and gentle eyes. Their soft, golden fur requires daily brushing.
They are one of the smartest and most loyal dog breeds.
They were originally bred in Scotland to retrieve shot game for hunters.Golden retrievers are known for their happy personalities.
They are very playful so some take longer than other breeds to outgrow their puppy years.
They require plenty of exercise.
Labrador Retrievers, affectionately known as labs, are one of the most popular dog breeds in Australia.
They are intelligent dogs who learn commands easily.
They can be trained to work as guide dogs, therapy dogs or to assist with search and rescue.
Pet labs are devoted to their human owners and love cuddles.
They can be prone to overeating and weight gain so ensure you feed them a balanced diet and regularly exercise them.
They have a medium sized body and a short coat that comes in yellow, chocolate or black.
Lakeland Terriers were first created to protect sheep from foxes, making them both fast to train and confident.
Their intelligence means they get bored easily so need daily mental stimulation.
This breed sheds very little but needs regular brushing to avoid tangles.
They have a lot of energy but are gentle, making them suitable for families with children.
They are a medium sized breed with long legs and a square face.
Their coat is wiry on the top but soft underneath and comes in a variety of different colours.
Miniature Schnauzers are highly intelligent.
They thrive in obedience training and perform well in dog shows. They were originally bred to catch rats so are very curious and alert.
Giant and standard schnauzers are available but miniature schnauzers are their own breed.
They can be very independent so you will need to make sure they know you are the pack leader.
They have a bold personality and are prone to excessive barking.
They are a small breed with a square body and long legs.
They have a distinctive beard and bushy eyebrows.
Despite their tiny size, Papillon are very smart.
This toy breed loves to learn new tricks and they do well in obedience and agility.
Papillons make great family pets as they are intelligent, alert and playful.
They are not suitable for families with small children as they are too little and can easily be injured by rough handling.
Papillon are a toy breed, weighing only 4kg.
Their name is French for ‘butterfly’ because of their ears that are shaped like fluffy butterfly wings.
Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Pembroke Welsh corgis are one of the smartest dog breeds.
They were originally bred in Wales to herd cattle.
Their intelligence made them easy for farmers to train and their small size allowed them to nip at the heels of cattle.
Despite their small size, they are a tough breed and are suitable for families with children.
They are prone to obesity so make sure to regularly exercise your pet corgi.
Corgis have short legs and a long body.They have distinctive bat-like ears that give them their adorable appearance.
They have a natural bob-tail.
Poodles are one of the smartest dog breeds.
They were originally bred to hunt, particularly to retrieve game from the water for their owners.
This means they are intelligent and train well. Their curly coat sheds very little so they are an ideal choice for allergy sufferers.
However, they do require regular grooming.
Poodles come in three sizes – standard, miniature and toy.
They are commonly cross bred to make adorable mixed dog breeds such as:
- Groodles (golden retriever x poodle)
- Spoodles (cocker spaniel x poodle)
- Maltipoos (maltese x poodle).
Rottweilers are a smart dog breed.
They were first bred to be cattle drovers and in modern times are trained as guard dogs.
Their intelligent nature makes them easy to train and they are very loyal to their owners.
Affectionately known as rotties, this dog breed can be calm and affectionate if trained and socialised properly.
They are very powerful and therefore not suitable for families with small children.
Rottweilers are a large breed with a strong, muscular body.
They have black and tan coloured fur, floppy ears, and expressive facial features.
The Shetland sheepdog breed is smart and has the ability to learn many new tricks and commands.
As their name suggests, they were originally bred to herd sheep and therefore train well.
Affectionately known as shelties, the Shetland sheepdog is highly affectionate.
They require human companionship and a lot of exercise therefore thrive in agility.
A Shetland sheepdog has a similar appearance to a rough collie but they are much smaller.
They have a thick, straight coat that is usually a mixture of white, black and tan.
They have a long face and always look happy!
Tenterfield Terriers are intelligent and confident.
They can be trained to follow many commands and do well in agility competitions.
They are also known as Miniature Fox Terriers or Mini Foxies.
They were first bred in Australia in the late 1800’s but didn’t get their name until the 1990’s.
They are not yet official recognised by kennel clubs outside of Australia and New Zealand.
This breed can be quite stubborn so you will need to regularly practice obedience training with your pet.
Like all terriers, they have a natural drive to hunt so cannot be left alone with pocket pets such as rabbits or guinea pigs.
They are a small breed with long legs and a lean body. They have a short coat which is commonly white with coloured markings.
- Photos from American Kennel Club: https://www.akc.org/