Following on from my articles regarding dog training, here is a list and profile of the most intelligent dog breeds. This is based on Stanley Coren's book, The Intelligence of Dogs. These rankings are based on a dog's obedience intelligence and working intelligence. As a result, these dog breeds are classed as the easiest breeds for training purposes. All the dogs on this list take fewer than 5 repetitions before learning a new command, and obey the first command 95% of the time, making them exceptionally easy to train. If you have just acquired a dog, you can read my article to help you get started training him/her!
10. Australian Cattle Dog
Coming in at number 10 on our list of the most intelligent dog breeds is the Australian Cattle Dog. As the name suggests, this dog was originally bred for herding and driving cattle over long distances in Australia. The Australian Cattle Dog is classed as a medium size, short coated dog with pricked ears, usually with a long, undocked tail. It's a sturdy, strong and agile breed with a very active mind. In order to prevent boredom this breed must be kept occupied and challenged for a significant portion of it's life; this includes both mental stimulation and physical exercise. When not in work, this can include a variety of training regimes, long walks and dog agility challenges.
Number 9 on our list of most intelligent breeds of dog is the Rottweiller. This breed was originally developed for herding livestock and pulling tasks, more recently they are employed in a number of important roles, including guide dogs, search and rescue and guard dogs. Rottweillers are a large breed of dog with exceptional strength. They are generally good natured and placid in temperament, but can become very protective over their families and homes. This, combined with their natural cautiousness towards strangers and their intimidating size, make them excellent guard dogs and companions.
The 8th most intelligent breed of dog is the Papillon, also known as the Continental Toy Spaniel. The Papillon is a small breed of dog with a long, fine coat which has extra frill on the ears, chest and tail. This extra frill on it's ears shows off one of the Papillon's most recognisable features, the butterfly look of it's frilly ears (This is actually what the name "Papillon" was derived from, meaning "butterfly" in French). The Papillon is known to be very easy to train with a diverse range of personalities. They can be both highly active and playful in large groups of familiar people, but are equally happy in a calm environment. This breed of dog is not known for any aggressive tendencies, and are generally a very happy, playful breed.
7. Labrador Retriever
Number 7 on our countdown is the Labrador Retriever, a breed classed as medium to large with a short coat and hanging ears. They come in a wide variety of distinctive colours, including black, golden and chocolate. They are widely known for their use as guide dogs for the blind and disabled, but are also excellent hunting dogs and are also used in detection for law enforcement agencies. Due to their use as hunting/retrieving dogs, they have a very soft mouth and instinctively enjoy holding anything in it. Temperament wise, the Labrador Retriever is an all purpose family pet, with a king and loving nature. They are not distrustful of strangers or other dogs and will try to make friends with anything and anyone.
6. Shetland Sheepdog
With a name derived from their origin on the Shetland Islands, the Shetland Sheepdog ranks as the 6th most intelligent dog breed. They are classed as small to medium sized dogs, with a long double coat that comes in all manner of colours. As their name suggests, they were originally bred for the use of herding sheep, and as such are excellent working dogs that are very easily trainable. Shetland Sheepdogs, or "Shelties", are known to be playful, intelligent and exceptionally loyal. They have a great need for both physical and mental stimulation, and if not fulfilled it can result in behaviour such as excessive barking and nervousness. The Shelties tolerance of children, loyalty, and obedience make it and excellent all round family pet.
5. Doberman Pinscher
Halfway through our list of most intelligent dog breeds is the Doberman Pinscher, at number 5. In appearance Dobermans are of a medium to large size with a short coat and normally carry cropped, erect ears, although naturally their ears fall to the side of their heads. In recent history they have been used commonly as guard, war, and police dogs, which made aggressive lines of the breed more desirable. However, since then breeders have toned down on aggressiveness and, despite their public portrayal, they are now known to have good natured temperaments in general. However, they still have an exceptionally loyal nature, and show a willingness to protect their owners at all costs, which makes them effective guard dogs.
4. Golden Retriever
Coming in at number 4 on our list is the Golden Retriever, a large breed with a long haired coat. As the name suggests, they were bred as gun dogs and used to retrieve hunted waterfowl due to their love of water. Thanks to their exceptional intelligence and good natured temperament, they are now used widely as guide dogs for the blind, as well their use in hunting,detection, and search and rescue. The Golden Retrievers temperament one of the main reasons they have become the 3rd most popular pet breed in the United States. They are known to be kind, loving, confident, eager to please and patient with children, making them well rounded family pets. However, their friendly, jovial attitude towards strangers make them unsuited to guard dog duties.
3. German Shepherd
3rd on our list of most intelligent dog breeds is the German Shepherd, a large dog used for a variety of tasks professionally such as guard dog, personal protection, guide dog, police dog, search and rescue and acting. Their coat is thick and medium to long in length and can come in a variety of colours, ranging from all-black to all-white. The main characteristics of German Shepherds are their loyalty, courage, confidence and intelligence. Due to their protective instinct and intimidating appearance they make excellent guard dogs, however they are generally not aggressive dogs if socialised and trained correctly.
Coming in at number 2 on our list of most intelligent breeds of dog is the Poodle. Unlike most breeds, Poodles can come in a wide array of sizes, ranging from toy and miniature versions for medium sized dogs. They have a very distinctive coat, a single layer of thick curly fur that can come in a variety of colours. As working dogs, Poodles are used as gun dogs, where the main use of the dog is to retrieve animals (usually birds) that have been shot by the hunters. Poodles are also widely used as show dogs, and are a favourite amongst top show competitors and judges alike. Due to the Poodles intelligent and active nature they get bored very easily and, without a proper training regiment that challenges them intellectually and physically, they can become very adept at making mischief.
1. Border Collie
The winner of the title of most intelligent dog breed goes to the Border Collie. This breed of dog is classed as medium size with a thick, medium length coat that can come in a multitude of different colour variations. Due to their intelligence, athleticism and high energy levels, they are most commonly used as herding animals, primarily sheep and regularly compete in sheepdog trials and a variety of dog sports. The Border Collie's mental and physical energy makes them a very demanding pet, and without a strict and active exercise and training regime they can become intolerable. This behaviour stems from boredom, and they are known to dig holes, destroy furniture and chew through walls if they do not get the proper stimulation. They are also unsuited as pets due to their instinctive herding abilities, this can include the attempted herding of children and other pets. To highlight their incredible intelligence, one Border Collie has reportedly learned over 1000 words and commands.
Here are some honourable mentions of dog breeds that didn't quite cut the mustard for our Top 10 list. These are breeds that are still very trainable and obedient, but aren't quite up there with the best of them. These are classed as excellent working dogs, and take between 5 and 15 repetitions for learn a new command or skill, and have a 85% success rate in obeying the first command:
11: Pembroke Welsh Corgi
12: Miniature Schnauzer
14: Belgian Shepherd Dog
15: Belgian Sheepdog
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