Top 100 most intelligent dog breeds: study reveals the smartest breeds worldwide

Imagine you are walking with your dog in the park and once again he shows you that he understands exactly what you want from him. He is attentive, learns quickly and surprises you again and again with his clever little head. If this sounds like your dream dog, you've come to the right place!

In this blog post, we present you the top 100 most intelligent dog breeds, based on research conducted by American professor and dog psychologist Stanley Coren. Be impressed not only by the list, but also by other findings of the professor.

The study and the 10 smartest dog breeds

Stanley Coren is a psychology professor and author who specializes in canine intelligence. In his book "The Intelligence of Dogs" (new edition 2006), he examines the intelligence of dog breeds and provides a ranking of canine intelligence. Coren divides the intelligence of dogs into three main categories:

  • Instinctive intelligence: This type of intelligence refers to a dog's breed-specific abilities, such as herding, retrieving, or tracking.
  • Adaptive intelligence: This intelligence includes the dog's ability to solve problems independently and learn from experience.
  • Obedience and work intelligence: This refers to a dog's ability to learn and perform tasks set by humans.

Even though the book is over 15 years old, the results still hold true. Coren evaluated over 100 dog breeds for their obedience and working intelligence.

Accordingly, the top 10 most intelligent breeds are:

  • Border collie
  • Poodle
  • German shepherd dog
  • Golden Retriever
  • Doberman
  • Shetland Sheepdog
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Papillon
  • Rottweiler
  • Australian Cattle Dog

What does the study say - and what doesn't it say?

This ranking is based on a specific type of intelligence, namely the Obedience and work intelligencethe dog's ability to learn and perform tasks set by humans. In other words, the more docile and obedient a dog is, the higher it appears on the list.

There are many factors that contribute to a dog's intelligence, and some dogs may be particularly gifted in certain areas, even if they are not at the top of Coren's rankings.

What a 3-year-old child does not understand, the dog does not understand either

The best dog is the one that fits one's lifestyle. Intelligent dogs like Border Collies are not suitable for every household because they are very active and need constant activity to avoid becoming neurotic. According to Coren, many of these dogs end up in shelters because their owners can't handle them. An English Bulldog, which is further down the intelligence scale, can easily be left alone for a few hours, while a Doberman can quickly become bored and do damage. A good dose of self-reflection helps to avoid such situations.

Coren's tests show that dogs have the cognitive ability of 2.5- to 3-year-old children. An average dog can understand 165 words, signals or gestures, while particularly intelligent dogs can grasp up to 250 words. Emotions in dogs are similar to those of teenagers. This understanding helps dog owners better understand their animals and predict their behavior. Say to yourself: What a 2 or 3 year old child can't understand, the dog can't understand either.

The whole list

Stanley Coren did not explicitly list the top 100 dog breeds in his book, The Intelligence of Dogs. Instead, he evaluated over 100 breeds and divided them into six classes based on their obedience and working intelligence.

Thus, the first group consists of the above 10 dogs, they understand commands in less than 5 repetitions and have a success rate of 95%. The 2nd group understands commands repeated 5 to 15 times and has a hit rate of 85%. And so on.

The list also does not include lines 1 to 100, because some breeds share a place.

  1. Border collie
  2. Poodle
  3. German shepherd dog
  4. Golden Retriever
  5. Doberman
  6. Shetland Sheepdog
  7. Labrador Retriever
  8. Papillon
  9. Rottweiler
  10. Australian cattle dog
  11. Pembroke Welsh Corgi
  12. Miniature Schnauzer
  13. English Springer Spaniel
  14. Belgian Shepherd Dog (Tervuren)
  15. Schipperke, Belgian Shepherd Dog (Groenendael)
  16. Collie (Scottish Sheepdog)
  17. Keeshond
  18. German Shorthaired Pointing Dog
  19. Flat-Coated Retriever, English Cocker Spaniel, Medium Schnauzer
  20. Staffordshire bull terrier
  21. Australian Shepherd (Australian Shepherd Dog)
  22. Gordon Setter, Bearded Collie
  23. Cairn Terrier, Kerry Blue Terrier, Irish Setter
  24. Norwegian Elkhound
  25. Affenpinscher, Australian Silky Terrier, Dandie Dinmont Terrier, English Setter, Irish Terrier, Welsh Terrier
  26. Bedlington Terrier, Fox Terrier (Smooth)
  27. Curly-Coated Retriever, Irish Water Spaniel
  28. Kuvasz
  29. Clumber Spaniel
  30. Pharaoh Hound, Rhodesian Ridgeback
  31. Tibetan Terrier
  32. English Foxhound
  33. Otterhound
  34. American Foxhound
  35. Greyhound
  36. Harrier
  37. Beagle
  38. Field Spaniel
  39. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  40. Brussels Griffon
  41. Maltese
  42. Newfoundlander
  43. Norfolk Terrier, Sealyham Terrier
  44. Skye Terrier
  45. Dalmatian
  46. Bedlington Terrier, Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen
  47. Tibetan Spaniel
  48. English Toy Spaniel
  49. Whippet
  50. Chinese Crested
  51. Dandie Dinmont Terrier
  52. Pekingese, Airedale Terrier
  53. Australian Terrier, Border Terrier, Boston Terrier
  54. Bull Terrier
  55. Cocker Spaniel
  56. Havanese
  57. King Charles Spaniel
  58. Lhasa Apso
  59. Mudi
  60. Parson Russell Terrier
  61. Pomeranian
  62. Puli
  63. Shiba Inu
  64. Silky Terrier
  65. Skye Terrier
  66. Swedish Vallhund
  67. Tibetan Mastiff
  68. Welsh Springer Spaniel
  69. American Eskimo Dog
  70. Basset Fauve de Bretagne
  71. Bearded Collie
  72. Belgian Laekenois
  73. Cardigan Welsh Corgi
  74. Dachshund
  75. English Bulldog
  76. Finnish Lapphund
  77. Finnish Spitz
  78. German Wirehaired Pointer
  79. Glen of Imaal Terrier
  80. Irish Terrier
  81. Leon

For those hungry for knowledge - the books of Stanley Coren

For those who want to delve deeper into the subject, Stanley Coren has written close to a dozen books, some of which have also been published in German. These books cover a wide range of topics, including dog intelligence, communication, behavior, and even funny stories about living with dogs.

Coren even published a guide "Understanding Your Dog For Dummies" in 2007, but I could only find it in English and Spanish. I will briefly introduce the three most popular books that are available in German.

  1. The intelligence of dogs: there's not much more to write about this beyond the sections earlier in the post. Except maybe some helpful quotes:
    • "The most successful trainers and handlers use praise and rewards liberally. (Chapter 4)
    • "The general rule is that any dog can be trained for any task that suits his physical abilities, if you are willing to be patient and persistent." (Chapter 5)
    • "A well-trained dog is one that understands it has a job to do and takes pride in doing it well." (Chapter 5)
  2. Understanding dogs: Learning dog language and interpreting it correctly: Understanding Dogs, Stanley Coren examines communication between dogs and humans and shows how to better understand dogs' body language, sounds, and behaviors. He explains how dogs communicate and describes how they express needs, emotions, and intentions.
    • "By observing how a dog holds its tail, ears, and body, you can determine its emotional state and intentions." (Chapter 1)
    • "One of the most important aspects of dog communication is the way they use their eyes." (Chapter 4)
  3. Can dogs dream? 72 everyday questions about our four-legged friends: the book is written in question-and-answer format and covers topics such as dreams, emotions, memory, communication, and more. But Coren also answers the question of whether dogs can dream: Yes, they do.
    • "When a dog dreams, it is more likely to act out its dreams in a manner reminiscent of the sleepwalking that some humans experience." (Chapter 1)
    • "Dogs can experience the same range of basic emotions as humans, including happiness, sadness, fear, anger, and surprise." (Chapter 2
    • "A dog's memory is not the same as a human's, but it is still quite sophisticated, and dogs are capable of remembering much more than we first think." (Chapter 3)

Have fun reading!

Border Collie - the test winner 🙂

Border collie

The Border Collie is considered one of the most intelligent dog breeds in the world and is known for its impressive abilities in both obedience and work. Originally bred as a herding dog, the Border Collie is characterized by exceptional focus, energy and stamina, making him the ideal partner for demanding tasks and sporting activities.

The high intelligence of the four-legged friend allows him to quickly learn complex commands and reliably execute them in different situations. Although the Border Collie was originally bred to work with sheep, over time he has also established himself as a versatile companion in other areas. Thus, today he is often found in dog sports such as agility, flyball or disc dogging. His speed, agility and ability to learn make him an excellent athlete in these disciplines.

One of the most remarkable characteristics of the Border Collie is his ability to form a close bond with his owner and intuitively understand his body language and signals. This trait, coupled with its high intelligence, makes the Border Collie an extremely loyal and faithful companion that fits perfectly into family life.

Fun Fact: The Border Collie is known not only for its intelligence, but also for its unique "eye work". When working with sheep, the Border Collie directs the animals in the desired direction with his intense gaze, without making physical contact. This fascinating working style is typical of the breed and has made it famous in the world of herding dogs.

If you are thinking about adding a Border Collie to your family, you should be aware that this dog breed, due to its high intelligence and energy, needs regular mental and physical challenges to be content and balanced. This means daily walks and ample employment opportunities. Likewise, the breed is particularly suitable for active people who enjoy mastering new challenges together with their dog and constantly developing their skills.

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