13 of the Smartest Dog Breeds

brown and white dog wearing glasses and a bow tie

Dogs show intelligence in a variety of ways. Some dogs pick up on training faster than others. Other dogs are independently-minded and quick on their feet, even if they don’t respond to your commands all the time. Regardless of how they show their intelligence, here are some of the smartest dog breeds:

1. Australian Cattle Dog

The Australian Cattle Dog is also known as the Blue Heeler. They are a herding dog and working dog that bonds closely with their families and needs a ton of exercise to stay happy and healthy.

This high-energy dog breed is also highly intelligent. Blue Heelers are loving and attentive. Their hardworking nature, determination, and eagerness to please paired with their intelligence mean they pick up on things quickly and makes them a highly trainable dog breed.

2. Australian Shepherd

The Australian Shepherd is a dog breed that combines high intelligence, hard work ethic, and high energy into one serious working dog. Although they take their jobs seriously, they are also lovingly devoted and loyal to their families.

These dogs tend to be persistent when it comes to training. They exhibit a seemingly innate desire to follow commands, which means they are eager to please their owners and tend to pick up on things quickly and easily.

3. Belgian Malinois

The Belgian Malinois is one of the four Belgian sheepdogs. Their potentially intimidating appearance and high intelligence make them a top choice for serving as police or military dogs. These dogs are eager to please, but require an owner with some experience who can provide them with firm, positive, and consistent training.

4. Belgian Tervuren

The Belgian Tervuren is another one of the four Belgian sheepdogs, which makes it a close cousin of the Belgian Malinois. They are known for their potentially intimidating appearance and imposing presence. This, paired with their high intelligence and inherent obedience, makes them another popular choice for work as a police or military dog.

5. Border Collie

Like other herding and working dogs, the Border Collie is happiest when they have a job to do. Their high energy and high intelligence can sometimes be difficult for a first-time dog owner to handle because they will get bored easily.

These dogs crave attention and affection from their owners, so they are eager to please during training sessions. They pick up on things quickly and look forward to learning new things. You just have to be careful that things don’t become boring or repetitive. Otherwise, your Border Collie may create their own fun!

6. Doberman Pinscher

When people think of a Doberman Pinscher, they usually think of an imposing guard dog. Although their protective instinct still serves them well as guard dogs, the Doberman is also prized for search and rescue work, work as a police or military dog, and as a beloved family pet.

This dog breed is one of the most protective and powerful in the world. They also bond closely with their families and are loving and affectionate dogs. They are highly intelligent and have a strong will.

7. German Shepherd

The German Shepherd is one of the most well-recognized dog breeds in the world. They can be found working on the farm as a herding dog and all-around farm dog. They can also be found working in the police force, as military dogs, and as service dogs. And, of course, they are a popular choice as a beloved family companion.

This dog breed is highly intelligent. They are also eager to learn new things and have an innate thirst for training and fulfillment. Like the Doberman, they also have a strong will and are a born protector. They are devoted to their families and are loving companions.

8. Golden Retriever

Although they are known for their smiling face and happy-go-lucky attitude, the Golden Retriever is also one of the smartest dog breeds. They are open and friendly, which also means they are eager to please their owners. That, paired with their natural smarts, means they pick up on things easily and are a highly trainable dog breed that is suitable for owners of any experience level.

9. Labrador Retriever

The Labrador Retriever often performs hilarious and goofy acts. This sometimes gives them a reputation for being silly or dense. But, Labs are one of the smartest dog breeds. They’re also one of the most popular dog breeds in the U.S.!

Known as one of the friendliest dog breeds, the Labrador Retriever is a fantastic family companion. They are eager to please, learn quickly, and absolutely adore their families. Whether performing tricks or training for rescue work, the Lab is up for the challenge.

10. Papillon

The Papillon is a small dog breed that is known for their charming personality. They are natural charmers that are loving and affectionate with their families. They’re also highly intelligent, which means they pick up on things easily.

That also means they can easily be trained into bad habits. So, it’s important to keep your training methods positive and consistent and to avoid inadvertently rewarding undesirable behavior.

11. Poodle

Although Poodles often have a reputation for being a “frou-frou” dog, they are actually quite athletic and intelligent. After all, the Poodle was originally a working dog! Poodles love their families and have a sensitive nature, which means they also tend to be intuitive and in-tune with their families.

In training, this makes them eager to please. That eagerness to please, thirst to learn and work, and their high intelligence makes them a highly trainable dog breed. They pick up on things quickly and tend to be a good fit for owners of all experience levels.

12. Rottweiler

Rottweilers are widely recognized for their powerful and imposing presence. Although they have a reputation for being a guard dog, they are big sweethearts that love their families and bond closely with them. They are also one of the smartest dog breeds.

Their hardworking nature and innate intelligence have made them a popular choice for police and military work over the years in addition to work as a service dog. Because they are a large, powerful dog breed, it’s important to start training the Rottweiler early. Thankfully, that tends to be easy because they are intelligent, eager to learn, and eager to please.

13. Shetland Sheepdog

The Shetland Sheepdog, or the Sheltie, is a small herding dog. They are loving, devoted, and loyal to their families. These dogs are known for their bright, charming, and playful personalities.

They are also highly intelligent, eager to please, and obedient, which makes them a highly trainable dog breed. Shelties also tend to have a sensitive nature, which makes them very in-tune with their families.

“Intelligence” can mean a lot of things. In dogs, intelligence doesn’t always mean obedience, so it’s important to research the dog breeds you’re interested in to make sure they’re a good fit for you. Just because they’re one of the smartest dog breeds doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the best fit for your lifestyle, experience, and more.