DogsCatsFish & AquariumsReptiles & AmphibiansRodentsRabbitsExotic PetsBirdsFarm Animals as Pets

Top Ten Most Intelligent Dog Breeds. Really?

Updated on January 31, 2017
DrMark1961 profile image

Dr. Mark is a veterinarian in Brazil. He has been working with dogs for more than 40 years.

The experts in the canine world have determined that this is the most stupid dog breed. Really?
The experts in the canine world have determined that this is the most stupid dog breed. Really? | Source

The racism continues!

Since the “experts” are no longer allowed to say that certain people are better than others, they have chosen to pick on animals — beasts too helpless to argue. I am here to argue for those unable to argue. It may be okay to rank dogs according to who sheds, or who barks, but as to who is smart?

Intelligence should be defined as the ability to use past experiences to deal with new situations. (A bloodhound that learns that an escapee always runs into the river to hide his scent is a smart dog. A beagle that learns to hunt rabbits even more effectively as she gets older is a smart dog.)

Instead, a PhD published a book on dog intelligence and focused on trainability. According to him a trainable dog is a more intelligent dog. He came up with a list and it has spread across the internet like a maggot infestation on the hind end of a chow chow.

If you want to know

  • the ten most intelligent dogs
  • the ten least intelligent dogs
  • how to find the right dog for you

this article will provide you with that information. You do need to ask yourself, though, is intelligence the right factor to base your decision on?

The experts have also determined that the border collie is the most intelligent breed. These cattle definitely think so.
The experts have also determined that the border collie is the most intelligent breed. These cattle definitely think so. | Source

The author of this book has decided that intelligence should be determined by which dog is willing to obey commands. Since he published this every list of intelligent dogs follows his lead.

Read this book if you want to know which dogs will obey you whether or not they know better. The section on increasing your dog´s intelligence is more useful.

This is one of the least intelligent breeds? Reading hubpages!
This is one of the least intelligent breeds? Reading hubpages! | Source

Most Intelligent

According to this professor, the most intelligent breed is the border collie. Sure, border collies are smart. I have seen them able to herd sheep following only a few commands. Anyone who has worked on a farm knows that sheep are the most intelligent of the barnyard beasts and any animal that can herd them must be of superior intelligence.

The Top Ten:

  1. Border Collies
  2. Poodles
  3. German Shepherd Dogs
  4. Golden Retrievers
  5. Doberman Pinschers
  6. Shelties
  7. Labrador Retrievers
  8. Papillons
  9. Rottweilers
  10. Australian Cattle Dogs filled out the list of the top ten.


A member of the top ten.
A member of the top ten. | Source

Box of Rocks

The Bottom Ten:

  1. The Shih Tzu
  2. Basset Hound
  3. Beagle
  4. Pekignese
  5. Bloodhound
  6. Borzoi
  7. Chow chow
  8. Bulldog
  9. Basenji
  10. the Afghan Hound

These are the breeds that do not respond to commands as often as the top ten.

Cats certainly think this is an intelligent move.
Cats certainly think this is an intelligent move. | Source

Finding The Right Dog

So what good is this list to you? Despite what a lot of novice dog owners believe, you do not need to select a breed just because he has made the top ten list and you do not need to discard your choice just because he made the bottom of the list.

I was shocked to learn that the Maltese barely missed making the bottom ten! Sure the tiny little guys can be slackers but they have always been a breed I found willing to obey when at the clinic; I found my own dog easy to train. If I had followed this list, and knew nothing about dogs, I would have ended up with a Poodle.

Whether you get a mixed breed, a Borzoi, a Pekignese, or even an Afghan Hound, your dog is going to pay you back by being loyal and a faithful companion. It doesn’t matter where he is on the list. Really.

Does the ability to jump through hoops make you intelligent?
Does the ability to jump through hoops make you intelligent? | Source
Only humans care about that top ten list. We are just a bunch of dogs. Really!
Only humans care about that top ten list. We are just a bunch of dogs. Really! | Source

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • DrMark1961 profile image
      Author

      Dr Mark 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Hold on there, Ms Cellany, are you saying your dog is more intelligent than all other breeds? You will be able to say this when you have owned all other breeds. I suggest you start by going out and buying a scenthound.

    • profile image

      Miss Cellany 4 years ago

      Border collies ARE the most intelligent dog - you won't understand until you own one yourself. They understand nearly everything said to them. You don't even have to train them to understand, they pick it up on their own if you speak to them every day. Other dog owners are frequently amazed by how much my dog understands, their dogs just don't compare in linguistic comprehension. The only other breeds that come close are the other dogs on the top 10 but even they are nowhere near a border collie in intelligence. Its not just trainability by any means that makes these dogs smart. My BC is not particularly trainable, he's devious and tries to outsmart me constantly, it's a real headache trying to train him! Not because he learns slowly (he learns within 1 or 2 repetitions most of the time), but because he wants to do things his way and if I don't put the effort in to stop him he will do. Biddable? Ha! Only when he wants to be.

      For example, when I want to run through his tricks I usually only give 1 treat after he's completed everything I've asked for (rather than one treat after each trick individually). He caught on to this very quickly so now if I hold a treat and ask for a trick he'll do EVERY SINGLE TRICK he knows (starting with the one I asked for) without a pause in between them (it's funny, it looks like a weird kind of dance) so that I can't ask him for the other tricks (he's already done them) and he gets the treat faster... Now if he was simply OBEDIENT he would just do the trick I had asked for, and wait for further instructions.

      Border collie owners have a saying: "If its not a Border Collie, its just a dog."

    • DrMark1961 profile image
      Author

      Dr Mark 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      I agree with that definition. Each family should have their own top dog, not just what some scientist determines is the best.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 4 years ago from California

      Terrific distinction between dog intelligence, train-ability. Top dog should be what breed fits your family.

    • DrMark1961 profile image
      Author

      Dr Mark 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Really! If you do everything the teacher says, does that make you more intelligent?

    • Highland Terrier profile image

      Highland Terrier 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      I would be of the opinion that the ones that cannot be trained are the bright ones.

    • profile image

      10awesome 4 years ago

      Rankings and tops are made for those that really pay attention to them and let tops rule their lives and decisions. Whether the dog that stood next to you for a shorter or longer time, is placed on the first ten most intelligent dogs or at the bottom of the list, it shouldn't count, and I think that for real dog lovers, it doesn't count at all.

    • DrMark1961 profile image
      Author

      Dr Mark 5 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Thanks Eiddwen. I hope you enjoy the site!

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

      Oh yes so beautiful and here's so many more to share on here.

      Eddy.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

      Oh yes so beautiful and here's so many more to share on here.

      Eddy.

    • DrMark1961 profile image
      Author

      Dr Mark 5 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Kind of like geese, they really respond to their caretaker.

    • Farmer Rachel profile image

      Rachel Koski 5 years ago from Minnesota

      Pretty low, I bet! But my flock comes when I call, or if I shake a coffee can of grain. *shrug* Seems like I trained them, wouldn't you think?

    • DrMark1961 profile image
      Author

      Dr Mark 5 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      I wonder where Dr. Coren would rate sheep on his over-rated and over-used intelligence score?

    • Farmer Rachel profile image

      Rachel Koski 5 years ago from Minnesota

      LOL. This was a good one :) I have an australian cattle dog/border collie mix and I swear she is alternately smarter than me and dumber than a stick. Great hub, voted up etc.

      PS - Sheep are actually much, much smarter than people generally give them credit for. I say this from experience. Breeding them has certainly turned my prejudice around.

    • DrMark1961 profile image
      Author

      Dr Mark 5 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Thanks for the comment. I am always one of those stubborn ones.

    • profile image

      Zephammo 5 years ago

      I agree with this totally. Trainability does not equal intelligence. Is a stubborn person automatically stupid? No, and the same goes for dogs. I personally have found that doberman pinschers are very intelligent dogs, but that doesn,t mean all of them are smart, or no other breed is smart. It is mostly down to the individual, although breed origins may have affect. Great hub!

    • DrMark1961 profile image
      Author

      Dr Mark 5 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Great comment. I really appreciate your input here.

    • profile image

      DoItForHer 5 years ago

      Intelligence is LARGELY a product of education. If Einstein had lived a life that excluded him from an education, he would have been far more average and certainly would not have been considered one of the greatest minds of all time.

      My dog, Waffles, knows a lot and people often comment how smart she is. This comment is usually based on a her congenital intelligence rather than what she has learned from her environment. The opposite is far more true. She is an average dog in almost every way, but she used what she was born with and appears way more intelligent than her 'peers'.

      Furthermore, when people learn she is a Border Collie/pit bull mix, the comment often is, "She really takes after the Border Collie part, huh?"

      Nope.

      She has a stubborn character with lots of energy. The energy motivates her to use what she has and the stubborn part keeps her dialed in no matter the distraction. Is energy or stubbornness intelligence? No, but that along with a responsible owner allows her education to make her appear like she was born a gifted dog.

      The biggest influence on intelligence isn't the breed; rather it is the quality of education given to the dog and the dogs inborn energy. You can't train energy. An intelligent dog that is lazy will appear average or less.

    • DrMark1961 profile image
      Author

      Dr Mark 5 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Thanks doberdog you get the point! Dogs are individuals, and individuals vary despite the stamp they are given when newborn. How many of us have been shoved into a category based on our birth/ethnic origin? It happens to dogs even when they don´t deserve it.

    • doberdog profile image

      doberdog 5 years ago

      Lol yes i know the gsd is placed higher and think that's another good reason to - as you are - challenge the thinking behind the ways these lists have come about.

      Is it not possible that dogs are individuals and despite breed some may just be cleverer than others? Perhaps we should think along the lines of the "dog"as a species where like the human species individuals have their own gifts and downfalls?

      i don't profess to know all the answers but i just enjoy watching my boy learn new things.

    • DrMark1961 profile image
      Author

      Dr Mark 5 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Hi doberdog I enjoyed your comment. Have you noticed that they placed the GSD above the Dobie in intelligence? Does that seem fair, after watching the "stick through the gate" exercise? I would like to try that one with my Pit cross. I am sure she would just drop the stick and forget about it, as she has a Zen/acceptance (or you could say slacker canine) attitude about those things.

    • doberdog profile image

      doberdog 5 years ago

      You may have a point that ability to quickly learn commands isn't the best judgement on intelligence. However, having owned a doberman for 5 years i can say they are definitely smart dogs. Having watched him playing with the dozens of dogs he has access to i have watched him learn very quickly learn how to outsmart them in play fighys etc. also his ability to outzmart them when it comes to getting his own way with toys food etc.

      Also i watched him at just 6months old try to walk through a narrow gate with a long stick in his mouth - a feat which even my ffiends gsd could not master. My boy tried only twice to walk through with the stick in his mouth then turned his head and laid the stick down lengthways to the gate, he then walked through, turned and pulled the stick through lengthways before triumphantly picking it back up and trotting away with it - if that doesn't show the ability to quicklu problem solve i don't know what does -still to this day another friends staffy can't fathom this and will spend ages simply trying to bash her way through the same gate with a stick in her mouth. So is my boy more intelligent or not?

      Theres a plethora of things i could go into where mu boy has astounded me with his ability to quickly learn things which my friends dogs find somewhat unachievable or difficult so am i being bias or does my boy have a real ability to learn and troubleshoot where other dogs may fail? If so does.this show intellect or a dumb following of human commands? Well as ive never commanded him to try to walk through a gate with a stick or play fight i can only assume he deserves a place as an intelligent breed

    • DrMark1961 profile image
      Author

      Dr Mark 5 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Sorry that was just a comment from another hub where we read that the APBT´s brain continues to grow after its head stops growing and that is why they are all crazy. Maybe Rottweilers too.

      DoItForHer, I was just wondering if "der" is German? I have a large German clientele (they usually live here for six months of the year but have dogs) and maybe they would like it if I changed my name to der Mark.

    • Bukarella profile image

      Lyudmyla Hoffman 5 years ago from United States

      Good point, but it is my understanding that it's not how big the brain is, but it is how big it is in the proportion to the body of the animal combined with how flat vs. grooved its surface is, is what predicts the intelligence of the animal. I'm not knowledgeable enough in the structure of each breed's brain to make any further guesses than that. It sounds like a fascinating topic to examine.

    • DrMark1961 profile image
      Author

      Dr Mark 5 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Did you notice that dog breed with the giant brains did not make this list? How could that be possible?

    • profile image

      DoItForHer 5 years ago

      I just realized your first name isn't pronounced "der". It's actually short for "doctor"! (Boy, is my face red.)

      Have you seen some of those Houdini dogs? Wowzer. Now that is showing some serious intelligence. Is there a specific breed known for its ability to manipulate fasteners and such?

    • DrMark1961 profile image
      Author

      Dr Mark 5 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Even that gorgeous Afghan in the first photo has a few brain cells floating around in there. It is hard sometimes to figure if they are thinking about the next hunt or maybe she is just hoping some human will comb out her knots! I always enjoy your visit, thanks for coming by wetnosedogs.

    • wetnosedogs profile image

      wetnosedogs 5 years ago from Alabama

      aw, my brother and sister dogs are part chow. They aren't dumb. They always seem to be one step ahead of me.

      I like k9keystrokes comment-the 2nd paragraph-a love so loyal.

      and the other comment on "color inside the lines." My youngest dog is the rebellious one and she's the one that make life most interesting for us.

      I don't think any dog is dumb.

      Enjoyed the pictures.

    • Bukarella profile image

      Lyudmyla Hoffman 5 years ago from United States

      I'm not defending Rotties, per se. I'm simply saying the research you are trying to claim as completely invalid may actually have something to it.

    • DrMark1961 profile image
      Author

      Dr Mark 5 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Thanks Bukarella. I am glad you are defending Rotties. What about Papillons? Why should Miniature Poodles be placed at number two and Maltese at 59? K9keystrokes, I agree with you about the children. Definitely more interesting, despite any variance in IQ scores. mecheshier, thank you for the visit. I appreciate your sharing the article.

    • mecheshier profile image

      mecheshier 5 years ago

      Nice Hub. Some very interesting theories. You are right about many things, e.g. "Intelligence should be defined as the ability to use past experiences to deal with new situations".

      Thank you for sharing. Voted up on useful.

    • K9keystrokes profile image

      India Arnold 5 years ago from Northern, California

      drmark1961, no apology necessary. If we also say that those human children who are the most compliant are also the most intelligent, I think we discover your point to be the more accurate. I find those rebellion-riddled children far more interesting and intelligent than their "color inside the lines" counterparts. But, I would never let my kids --or my Golden-- know....shhhh! ;)

      Have a great weekend Mark~

    • Bukarella profile image

      Lyudmyla Hoffman 5 years ago from United States

      First of all, I don't mean to make this disagreement personal, by any means, but I really have wondered about this research and its validity. This is a subject of high interest to me, and what I am relaying here is merely the conclusion I came to on my own...

      All I'm saying is that the breeds that make it to the top have both, willingness AND ability to partner up with humans. If a breed is missing one of the two, it won't be able to make it to the top of that particular list. I do want you to consider though, why the breeds that are considered by training professionals to be "stubborn" were still able to place at the top, and breeds that are considered to be less dominant, and more prone to follow the leader, are not beating "stubborn / dominant" breeds. If you look at it from that point of view, maybe the results won't seem all that crazy after all.

    • DrMark1961 profile image
      Author

      Dr Mark 5 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Except if you add the "and able" part, you are stating that the Beagle, Basset Hound, Bloodhound, and Basenji are not able. I think they are able, just not as willing.

    • Bukarella profile image

      Lyudmyla Hoffman 5 years ago from United States

      I also like the part "and able" ;)

    • DrMark1961 profile image
      Author

      Dr Mark 5 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      I like "Ten Most Willing to Serve" a lot better than "Most Intelligent". Rotties, GSDs, (and Malinois, I for one will not forget them!) and some other breeds are used in Schutzhund training for that reason: they are always willing.

    • Desertarmor profile image

      Desertarmor 5 years ago from Arizona

      What about the Belgian Malinois... Always get pushed to the side by the German Shepards...

    • Bukarella profile image

      Lyudmyla Hoffman 5 years ago from United States

      I really don't think that strong-headed breeds mentioned on the list can be called "gullible", nor easy to work with. In fact, I wondered when I heard about this research (which was before I got my rottie, by the way), whether or not willingness of a dog to respond to a command was the same as ability to learn. However, let's face it, when a dog wants a piece of raw chicken, he wants a piece of raw chicken! Some breeds are more likely to figure out how to get it out of a human than others. I think that's all this comes down to. Is it a valid measure of intelligence? Well, it's as good of a measure as a science can administer at the moment. It's neither flawless, nor is it insane to be considered. If "intelligence" really strikes the nerve, then it could be reworded into "most willing and able to work/most willing and able to respond/most willing and able to serve" a companion to a human. I enjoy the fact that I can communicate with my dog, and she responds. If and when I get a little lapdog (which is on my to do list), it will be because I want a lapdog, something little and sweet to cuddle up on a couch with. I got a Rottweiler because I wanted a dog willing and able "to do" things with me. If that's what intelligence scale actually measures - well, that's how I interpreted anyway. :)

    • DrMark1961 profile image
      Author

      Dr Mark 5 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Having worked with plenty of different breeds, I understand your point, but I do not think we can judge our dogs based on their ability to respond to humans. Maybe they should say "Ten Most Gullible Dogs That Will Respond to Arbitrary Commands" instead of "Ten Most Intelligent"? (My apologies to your Rottweiler and K9keysrokes Golden!)

    • Bukarella profile image

      Lyudmyla Hoffman 5 years ago from United States

      I agree with your point that the ranking system you quote does not define the best companion for everyone. Different breeds can fulfill different needs. A lap dog doesn't always need to be the most intelligent creature on the block, and a running partner does not have to be able to perform 214 circus tricks. However, in the limited experience I do have with obedience training, and working with dogs in general, I find myself siding, or rather understanding why the breeds are ranked in that particular way by that particular expert. Have you ever tried to teach a command to a Shih Tzu vs. Rottweiler? I have. Big difference. Admittedly, I own a Rottie, so there... I'm biased! :)

    • K9keystrokes profile image

      India Arnold 5 years ago from Northern, California

      drmark, I really enjoyed this hub! It's interesting how humans judge k9 intellect. Your subtle point regarding 'smarts and hoops' speaks very loudly to me. I have a Golden Retriever, and do in fact find him to be among the smartest breeds I have handled throughout my 40+ years of breeding and handling k9s. My cousin raised Afghans for a while, and even as they are...ummm...not as bright as some breeds, they are a wonderful companion (providing you don't mind all of the grooming maintenance). So, for me, your expert would be right-on with these two breeds.

      To me, the most brilliant thing about any dog is their willingness to love us unconditionally. A priceless commodity to be sure.

      Thanks for putting together this informative article, nice job!

      Cheers~