Top 5 Most Intelligent Dogs

Dec 26, 2022 | Articles, Nature

Dog owners always say their dog is very smart and intelligent. And while every dog can learn, some learn it the easy way, and some need more work. I have a friend that says “I can teach a monkey to write”. Yes, you can, but some monkey will need time, and some will learn to write in a day or two.

So that brings us to the question, “How Smart is your dog”? Well, some people tried to answer that question. One of them is Stanley Coren, a psychologist, and a dog trainer. He answers the questions “do dogs really think”, “can dogs communicate with us”, “how can we understand our dogs”, and so on. Dogs are very intelligent creatures. They might not be on pair with dolphins, but they are pretty damn intelligent. Coren wrote a book, ranking dogs by intellect.

He ranked dogs by their “adaptive intelligence”, or the intellect and the time they need to figure things out. If you want the whole ranking, you can always read his book. But we wanted to present you five of the most intelligent dogs. They are ranked by Mr. Coren in the top tier. He describes dogs in the top tier as “brightest working dogs, who tend to learn a new command in less than five seconds and obey at least 95% of the time”. You’ll be surprised by some of the breeds.

Border collie

This came as a big surprise to me. I never thought the border collie is one of the most intelligent dogs. And Mr. Coren has him ranked as No.1. Recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1995, this working farm is famous for his “intimidating eye”.

Yes, he is one of the most intelligent dogs, but also one of the most challenging to live with. Since the collie has a huge intellect, he is unsuitable for some homes. Combine his intellect with his intensity and zeal for working, and the border collie is a challenge to live with.

Since we are long pass the days of farms, the collie needs challenge. He cannot work with livestock, so you have to find alternatives for his exercise. The collie needs several 45 minute walks per day, and off-leash romps in a safe area.

High intelligence dogs learn very quickly, but that means you need to throw new challenges at them often. The collie, for example, analyzes and thinks every movement you make. So you have to be careful.

German shepherd

The German shepherd is ranked third on Mr. Coren’s list, but let’s forget about that for a moment. Some of the most intelligent dogs come from Germany, and the shepherd is one of them. In Germany, he is part of the police force. And in the past years, police forces all around the world has adopted the German shepherd as part of their unit.

The American kennel club describes the breed as “one with a distinct personality marked by direct and fearless, but not hostile, expression, self-confidence”. Because of its high intellect, when you are working with the shepherd, you must be approachable and quietly stand your ground to show confidence and willingness to work.

Because of overbreeding and mixing, this breed nowadays tend to have a bad rep. Some people cry over their high temperament, and energy levels can vary from vigorous to laid-back.

The most important thing you need to know is that German shepherds need exercise, and ongoing and early socialization. They are eager to earn, and in the hands of the right owner, they can be magnificent companions.

Golden retriever

We all know the golden retriever as one of the most intelligent dog. That is no secret. His kindly expression says it all. There is a reason golden retriever is one of the finest family dogs. In addition to his high intellect, the dog is cheerful and trustworthy.

Two walks per day are a must, but also you have to play fetch games with him. One downside of retrievers is they are friendly with everyone, strangers and cats included. His bark is welcoming, not protective. He will be enthusiastic, so early obedience training is a must. The retriever will be eager to please, and will forgive new and inexperienced owners every mistake they make.

The biggest downside is that his body is robust. Therefore, train him early, or you’ll need good biceps to walk him. The retriever tends to pull on the leash.

Doberman pinscher

For some people the Doberman might be a surprise choice on the list of most intelligent dogs. But this German breed is smart, intelligent, alert, tenaciously loyal, and very responsive to training. Developed by Karl Friedrich Louis Dobermann, this breed was used as a protector back in the days.

But because of his high intellect, the Doberman might be stubborn. He is driven at all times, and unless you find a way to train him. Remember, he is not looking to be the alpha. The Doberman will start pleasing and working once his place is well established.

Another downside is that he needs a lot of walking every day, and running as often as possible. Lack of exercise often leads to behavior problems. The Doberman needs socialization, or he will stay reserved and shy.


Probably the biggest surprise on the list, the Rottweiler is another dog that comes from Germany. Back in the days, the Rottweiler was a working butcher dog. He herd livestock, and pull carts laden with butchered meat.

Nowadays, the Rottweiler uses his intelligence for different purpose: to search and rescue. They are also used as police dogs, and guide dogs for the blind.

The one downside is that the Rottweiler values his territory. The dog has territorial instinct, and if not socialized as a puppy, he can become aggressive. The Rottweiler strivers for dominance, but will respect an assertive owner who can handle his strong-minded dog.

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Thomas B.