As you’re probably aware, dogs can make great pets — they keep us company when we’re home alone and they love to play with our kids (although they definitely aren’t very good at sports). They also provide companionship during long work days or just after a stressful day at school. But what if your dog is smart? You want the smartest pet around, right? These nine breeds have it all — intelligence, loyalty, cuteness, even health issues!
Here are 18 of the most intelligent breeds of canine to help you decide which kind is best for your family (or if they’re suitable pets at all).
- 1.Border Collie
- 2. Beagle
- 3. Standard Schnauzer
- 4. Dachshund
- 5. Miniature Sized Dog
- 6. Newfoundland
- 7. Bernese and Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs
- 8. Labrador Retriever
- 9. Airedale
- 10. Yorkshire Terriers
- 11. Maltese
- 12. Pomeranians
- 13. Golden Retrievers
- 14. Bichons
- 15. Boxers
- 16. West Highland Whites
- 17. Boston Terriers
Smaller dogs tend to have more intelligence than larger ones because their brains are smaller relative to body size. The border collie fits this pattern perfectly. At just 20 pounds, this small Scottish terrier packs a big brain with an estimated IQ of 120.
This makes the border collie one of the top-performing animals when it comes to mental tests. It’s also one of the fastest dogs out there, clocking in speeds up to 35 mph running long distances while chasing birds or herding sheep. In addition, these agile little guys can pull sleds weighing as much as 300 pounds without breaking a sweat.
The average beagle weighs about 22 pounds, so its diminutive frame doesn’t make sense until you consider how smart this pup really is. These energetic little furballs are known throughout the world for being hyperactive, curious, friendly and sweet natured.
But don’t let the cuteness fool you — beagles are among the smartest dogs around. They love toys, often playing fetch outside and inside simultaneously. And although they may seem silly at first glance, beagles know hundreds of words and phrases and understand complex commands such as sit, stay and come here! Their inquisitive nature means that beagles will check everything from bookshelves to clothes hangers to see what’s behind them before returning to where they were originally standing.
3. Standard Schnauzer
Schnauzers are among the largest purebred dogs in America, yet despite their large stature they possess very tiny brains — between 60 and 90 grams each. That said, the standard schnauzer is still incredibly smart. Not only do these lovable giants live longer than any other breed, they’ve been proven to outperform greyhounds and pugs in various cognitive tasks like memory, problem solving and agility. What’s more, they display high levels of socialization skills and sensitivity, making them excellent companions for families looking for a loving pet.
If you want a puppy that loves nothing better than rolling around in the yard, get yourself a dachshund. Despite their funny appearance, these wiener dogs actually pack quite the punch when it comes to intelligence.
Although they weigh between 5 to 12 kilograms, their small bodies contain massive noggins measuring anywhere from 8 to 15 centimeters across. Because of their compact frame, dachshunds need lots of room to move around, which helps develop their keen intellect.
Plus, since dachshunds are natural hunters, they rely on their instincts rather than verbal cues to communicate. As a result, they’re pretty slow learners, taking up to 30 minutes to learn new tricks and take direction.
5. Miniature Sized Dog
While giant dogs typically require more time and energy to walk, house train and groom, miniature sized dogs benefit from those same attributes due to their lower weight. Smaller dogs generally have shorter lifespans compared to bigger canines, but thanks to their small frames they manage to age gracefully.
For example, the lifespan of medium-sized dogs ranges from 13 to 16 years whereas life expectancies for miniaturized versions range from 14 to 19 years. Due to their low maintenance requirements, miniature sized dogs are great choices for people who aren’t able to devote hours every day walking their dogs or cleaning up after them.
However, small dogs’ small bodies mean that they usually have less gray matter than larger breeds, which explains why they’re considered more intelligent per pound.
When talking about “big” dogs, Newfoundlands probably rank near the bottom of the list. Standing at least 33 inches tall and weighing upwards of 200 pounds, this rough coat mutt originated in cold climates along Canada’s Atlantic coast and Greenland.
Like huskies, Alaskan malamutes and Arctic wolf cousins, newfies are tough enough to withstand harsh weather conditions while retaining their thick coats year round. Unlike larger dogs, however, newfies are relatively calm and laid back. So, if you prefer a couch potato companion, then look no further than this gentle giant.
7. Bernese and Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs
These two types of German mountain dogs hail from Switzerland, Germany and Austria, respectively, and both are highly prized by farmers, hikers and outdoor enthusiasts in search of sturdy and obedient working stock.
Both varieties enjoy spending time outdoors exploring forests and mountainsides, hunting rabbits and squirrels, and pulling carts full of hay or logs during ski season. While Bernese mountain dogs are slightly taller and heavier than their lesser counterparts, they share similar characteristics such as strong legs, short muzzles, alert ears and expressive eyes. Additionally, these loyal canine friends excel at retrieving game, tracking down lost objects and protecting flocks of chickens from predators.
8. Labrador Retriever
Although Labradors are commonly associated with swimming pools, beaches and boat rides, these playful golden retrievers are also known for their exceptional intellectual prowess. Labs are extremely popular with owners seeking dogs that won’t mind jumping into the water with them, but these athletic canines also perform well academically.
According to studies published by the National Center for Education Statistics, labs score higher than 75 percent correct on standardized tests such as SAT/ACT exams, graduating magna cum laude from colleges and universities. When it comes to learning tricks, dogs like labradors are experts at finding hidden food within seconds. On top of that, they respond quickly to verbal signals and obey simple orders given through hand gestures.
This quiet, soft-coated Yorkshire native hails from England, where it was bred to herd livestock and retrieve dead ducks off of frozen lakes. Today, Airedales continue to play integral roles on farms worldwide, helping shepherd cattle and protect poultry from predators. With their featherless faces and shaggy hair covering their heads, Airedales resemble a lion crossed with a rabbit.
But aside from their unique looks, this pedigree breed has earned praise for its loyalty, obedience and intelligence. The American Kennel Club considers Aireadales a medium-to-high-energy breed that requires plenty of exercise and stimulation. After all, it takes more than a few days to teach an old dog new tricks.
10. Yorkshire Terriers
You’d think that because of their small stature, Yorkies would be stupid little things who couldn’t learn anything new, but nope — these guys come from England where they were bred for hunting birds in marshes so they’re actually quite clever.
In fact, some experts say they’re smarter than wolves. One way they show off this brain power is by making high-pitched yelps called “Yorkie Barks.” Another trick these pint sized wonders use is knowing how to open doors without being let outside first.
Their tiny bodies mean their legs don’t get as strong as other dogs’ so they need an indoor gym like Toto’s Palace to exercise them. And finally, though they may seem sweet natured, most Yorkies will bite you if you hurt one of their family members. Even worse, they’ll do it on accident since they sometimes chew on people instead of food. It’s best not to take up scissors near a Yorkie unless you know exactly which breed yours is.
The Maltese has been known to its owners as the Sugar Cube ever since its owner gave her the nickname back in 1894 when she was still a puppy. This adorable ball of fluff doesn’t really resemble any kind of sugar cube at all, however — she looks more like a cross between a poodle and a shih tzu, with curly fur and a short tail.
Don’t worry about malteses getting fat while sitting inside doing nothing all day — they only weigh about 11 pounds and eat about 2 ounces of dry kibble each per week. The biggest problem many have with owning one is picking out the perfect outfit every morning before heading into the office.
If you choose wisely, your Maltese should look pretty cute dressed up nice for dinner parties too. Like other terriers, Maltese tend to bark at strangers and animals that they see as threats, but they won’t attack anyone without provocation.
These little balls of energy usually live indoors with humans who feed them treats made specifically for poomers. Poomers are famous for having more toys than everyone else combined — even Santa Claus gets jealous of their toy boxes.
While most pups like jumping on couches and playing fetch with their owners, poomers are especially fond of running through sprinklers and chasing tennis balls across lawns.
Today, there are two different kinds of poomers — smooth coat and rough coat. Rough coated ones are generally larger and heavier than smoother coated ones. Both types are equally intelligent, gentle and easy going, although some claim that the smooth coats are better suited for homes with older children.
13. Golden Retrievers
What could possibly be greater than golden retrievers? We don’t really know yet, but hopefully someone does soon because golden retrievers are among the top 10 smartest dogs in America according to tests run by Animal Psychology Professor Dr. Patricia McConnell. She said that golden retrievers have such big brains that they’ve developed special ways to help themselves remember everything they read, hear or watch on TV.
On top of that, he says they’re able to process lots of information quickly so they can respond appropriately to daily situations. That means they’re excellent at finding lost objects and bringing them to human beings. For example, if your gold retriever sees something lying under the couch, chances are they’ll lie down next to it until you notice.
Then, once you pick it up, they’ll drop whatever they’re holding so you can walk away with your treasure. A study done by animal psychologist Dr. Stanley Coren found that golden retrievers understand words related to food, people and places better than any other type of dog. However, they don’t care much for hearing commands like sit and stay — they prefer following directions given by pointing and looking directly at their masters.
If you thought bichons were cute before, wait till you meet a chihuahua. Chihuahuas and bichons both belong to the same group of dogs called spaniels, but their similarities end there — whereas bichons are fluffy and round with rounded ears, chihuahuas are skinny and pointed with erect ears.
This makes them sound like a chipmunk when they talk. They’re also notorious for chewing shoes and furniture. Fortunately, unlike other spaniels, they don’t dig holes. Instead, they spend their free time sniffing around garbage cans and searching for scraps of stale foods thrown aside by careless adults.
Their small size means they don’t require any space for exercising and they don’t need a fenced yard either. Most importantly, they’re incredibly affectionate toward their parents, siblings and close friends. Unfortunately, chihuahuas have recently gained a reputation for biting children.
To prevent this from happening, teach your child never to touch or handle their mouths. Also, don’t leave your small dog unattended anywhere — they might start digging again and escape from fences or rooms.
One thing that separates boxer dogs from the rest of the pack is that boxers are natural predators. When their instincts tell them to chase a squirrel or rabbit, they go full force — dodging branches and trees while tracking down their targets.
However, they’re not always successful at catching their prey. Luckily, they’re skilled enough at retrieving dropped items that they’re becoming increasingly popular as therapy dogs. Boxers are also well equipped to survive cold weather thanks to thick double layers of insulating skin.
As far as grooming goes, this breed needs minimal upkeep due to their soft fur. Of course, they do need regular baths to avoid fleas and ticks, and it takes longer to train them than it does other dogs. Lastly, boxers are famously known for their ability to detect bombs and drugs hidden inside packages sent via mail. Not bad for a pup.
16. West Highland Whites
Although west highland white terriers are officially classified as sight hounds, they’re arguably more closely linked to working dogs. They originally came from the Scottish Highlands where farmers needed a dog capable of pulling carts loaded with heavy rocks and boulders. Since then, they’ve evolved into a versatile part of the American family — they now guard property against intruders, pull sleds carrying hunters and rescue drowning cats.
They’re also commonly seen guarding livestock at fairgrounds and sporting events. Despite their impressive physical strength and stamina, wighties are relatively docile and nonthreatening.
However, just like other dogs, they do exhibit territorial aggression towards strangers and other animals. Finally, they need plenty of mental stimulation — otherwise they’ll curl up and die.
17. Boston Terriers
Like other terriers, Boston terriers are highly energetic and active. They’re also known for being rather stubborn and independent creatures. Owners must establish rules and guidelines for their terrier puppies, or else they could easily cause problems later on. For instance, they shouldn’t jump onto counters, tables or dressers.
They also shouldn’t be allowed to roam freely outside of their yards — they could accidentally damage plants or scare neighborhood wildlife.
Boston terriers are also prone to overheating so they need a lot of room to move around. Finally, don’t expect your Boston to tolerate being picked up frequently — they need to be touched infrequently. Otherwise, they may develop separation anxiety.
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