No doubt there’s an element of bias that comes into play when discussing the most intelligent breed of dog, but there’s actually scientific proof to prevent heated arguments among passionate owners.
The Intelligence of Dogs by psychologist Stanley Coren was first published in the early Nineties.
Within the dog-related tome, Coren examines breeds through three forms of intelligence – instinctive, as in what they were originally bred for; adaptive, referring to the ability to solve problems by themselves; and obedience, which relates to how well they handle information from humans.
It’s perhaps no surprise the book created headlines on release, prompting much debate from dog enthusiasts as to whether or not they agreed with the rankings, but three decades on, it’s now considered an essential guide to breeds.
It’s always worth revisiting, especially now given so many people have become new dog owners through lockdown, or are considering getting themselves a dog now as life returns to normality.
So, with that, here are the top 10 breeds in order of intelligence…
(Image: Alan Tunnicliffe Photography/GettyImages)
1. Border Collie
Most people associate the Border Collie with sheep herding, and it’s remarkable to watch them at work, and observe how they respond to commands, so it should come as no surprise that this bright-eyed breed takes the top spot.
It can be easy to overlook the Poodle, as they’re often thought of as a preening, pampered breed, but that’s doing them something of a disservice as they’re incredibly smart, patient and capable of learning all sorts of commands.
3. German Shepherd
The German Shepherd ranks highly as they’re hardworking dogs originally bred for herding but commonly used as part of the police force and military these days. They’re also fiercely loyal, so you never need to worry about house intruders.
4. Golden Retriever
Golden Retrievers are popular family dogs as they’re trustworthy, reliable, adaptable and smarter than what some might give them credit for. They’re also keen to please, and retain a puppy-like curiosity throughout their life.
5. Doberman Pinscher
The impressive-looking Doberman Pinscher is a powerful breed, boasting brains and brawn. Like the German Shepherd, this dog is often recruited as a form of protection as they’ve got a keen sense of perception.
6. Shetland Sheepdog
The Shetland Dog is as active as it is intelligent, and truly flourishes when given tasks to undertake. As with the Border Collie, these dogs are also super active, and need plenty of stimulation.
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7. Labrador Retriever
Labrador Retrievers have puppy dog eyes and a sweet temperament that make them one of the country’s most popular dogs, but there’s plenty of brain power too, which is why they’re often trained to be guide dogs.
Don’t be deceived by the diminutive Papillon breed. These sociable little dogs are smart, as well as outgoing and enjoy relaxing as much as a run around.
The Rottweiler has suffered from negative headlines over the years, but these commanding dogs are loyal and protective, as well as intelligent, so make notable guard dogs.
10. Australian Cattle Dog
As the name suggests, the Australian Cattle Dog has been used for years as a herding animal, and with great success. They relish structure in their lives, as well as learning new commands, which is why they round-up the top ten intelligent breeds.
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