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Smartest Dog Breeds

Sandy Robins

By Sandy Robins


Canine intelligence is a very popular topic. We all want to know if that lovable goofball on the couch is smart too. Fortunately, the smartest dog breeds come in all shapes and sizes. So, it’s easy to find a savvy furry family member to welcome into your home. 

According to the American Kennel Club (AKC) most dogs are smart but in different ways. They elaborate saying, “working breeds learn how to perform jobs quickly because of their instincts and natural abilities, while other breeds are motivated based on their strong desire to please. But intelligence alone doesn't automatically make a good pet. To bring out your dog’s natural smarts, you have to study the breed, put in the necessary time to train, and understand his natural traits, like whether he’s a quick study or slow and steady.”

World renowned, canine psychologist Stanley Coren, author of the book The Intelligence of Dogs further outlines the different types of intelligence, as follows:
•    Adaptive intelligence – how dogs figure stuff out. 
•    Working intelligence - following orders.
•    Instinctive intelligence – a dog’s innate talents. 
•    Spatial intelligence - the ability to generate, retain, retrieve, and transform well-structured visual images.
•    Kinesthetic intelligence, the ability to process information physically through hand and body movements, control, and expression.
Based a survey amongst 199 dog obedience judges, Coren breaks down canine breed intelligence into six tiers ranking the dogs on how quickly they are able to learn a command. The top tier lists breeds that tend to learn a new command in less than five exposures and obey at least 95 percent of the time. The sixth-tier breeds are classified as those who may learn a new trick after more than 100 repetitions and obey around 30 percent of the time. 
Stanley Coren’s Six-tier List of The Smartest Dog Breeds: 
Tier One.  Breeds that tend to learn a new command in less than five exposures and obey at least 95 percent of the time.
1. Border collie
2. Poodle
3. German shepherd
4. Golden retriever
5. Doberman pinscher
6. Shetland sheepdog
7. Labrador retriever
8. Papillon
9. Rottweiler
10. Australian cattle dog
Tier Two. Dogs that tend to learn a new command in five to 15 exposures and obey at least 85 percent of the time.
11. Pembroke Welsh corgi
12. Miniature schnauzer
13. English springer spaniel
14. Belgian Tervuren
15. Schipperke, Belgian sheepdog
16. Collie Keeshond
17. German short-haired pointer
18. Flat-coated retriever, English cocker spaniel, Standard schnauzer
19. Brittany spaniel
20. Cocker spaniel, Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever
21. Weimaraner
22. Belgian Malinois, Bernese mountain dog
23. Pomeranian
24. Irish water spaniel
25. Vizsla
26. Cardigan Welsh corgi
Tier 3. Dogs that tend to learn a new trick in 15 to 25 repetitions and obey at least 70 percent of the time.
27. Chesapeake Bay retriever, Puli, Yorkshire terrier
28. Giant schnauzer, Portuguese water dog
29. Airedale, Bouvier de Flanders
30. Border terrier, Briard
31. Welsh springer spaniel
32. Manchester terrier
33. Samoyed
34. Field spaniel, Newfoundland, Australian terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, Gordon setter, Bearded collie
35. American Eskimo dog, Cairn terrier, Kerry blue terrier, Irish setter
36. Norwegian elkhound
37. Affenpinscher, Silky terrier, Miniature pinscher, English setter, Pharaoh hound, Clumber spaniel
38. Norwich terrier
39. Dalmatian
Tier Four. Dogs that tend to learn a new trick in 25 to 40 repetitions and obey at least 50 percent of the time.
40. Soft-coated wheaten terrier, Bedlington terrier, Smooth-haired fox terrier
41. Curly-coated retriever, Irish wolfhound
42. Kuvasz, Australian shepherd
43. Saluki, Finnish Spitz, Pointer
44. Cavalier King Charles spaniel, German wirehaired pointer, Black-and-tan coonhound, American water spaniel
45. Siberian husky, Bichon Frise, English toy spaniel
46. Tibetan spaniel, English foxhound, Otterhound, American foxhound, Greyhound, Harrier, Parson Russel terrier, Wirehaired pointing griffon
47. West Highland Terrier, Havanese, Scottish Deerhound
48. Boxer, Great Dane
49. Dachshund, Staffordshire bull terrier, Shiba Inu
50. Malamute
51. Whippet, Chinese Shar-Pei, Wirehaired fox terrier
52. Rhodesian ridgeback
53. Ibizan hound, Welsh terrier, Irish terrier
54. Boston terrier, Akita
Tier five. Dogs that tend to learn a new trick in 40 to 80 repetitions and respond about 40 percent of the time.
55. Skye terrier
56. Norfolk terrier, Sealyham terrier
57. Pug
58. French bulldog
59. Brussels griffon, Maltese terrier
60. Italian greyhound
61. Chinese crested
62. Dandie Dinmont terrier, Tibetan terrier, Japanese chin, Lakeland terrier
63. Old English sheepdog
64. Great Pyrenees
65. Scottish terrier, Saint Bernard
66. Bull terrier, Petite Basset Griffon Vendéen
67. Chihuahua
68. Lhasa Apso
69. Bullmastiff
Sixth tier. - Dogs that may learn a new trick after more than 100 repetitions and obey around 30 percent of the time.
70. Shih Tzu
71. Basset hound
72. Mastiff, Beagle
73. Pekingese
74. Bloodhound
75. Borzoi
76. Chow Chow
77. Bulldog
78. Basenji
79. Afghan hound
Some behaviorists believe that each dog acquires his or her social intelligence through the sheer amount of time spent around humans – that’s why puppy socialization is so important. The more time dogs spent around their favorite people, the better the understanding and the stronger the bonds that will form. 

Bonding Over Pet Food

Serving your dog his meals is a great way to bond. So, when you bring your smart pooch home, consider serving a very flavorful high-quality natural pet food like Wellness Pet Food .There’s a great variety of premium wet and dry dog food recipes that he is sure to enjoy, all crafted to meet all his nutritional needs at all life stages.

Dog Brain Games

Dog Puzzles used as a food bowl, or, to dispense treats as a reward, are a great way of testing a dog’s smarts while simultaneously offering lots of mental stimulation.  There’s a great selection of puzzles available that require different degrees of skill in order to nose, or paw open the puzzle components to retrieve the tasty morsels inside. 
The Dognition Assessment Tests 
These are a series of interactive games that Dr. Brian Hare, Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology at Duke University and the Director of the Duke Canine Cognition Center which studies animal cognition, designed in collaboration with a team of leading canine scientists and trainers. The goal is to give dog owners an unprecedented perspective on how their dog sees the world. 

The science-based games are played by the owner and the dog. They assess five core dimensions of a dog's cognition namely empathy, communication, cunning, memory, and reasoning. Afterwards, the owner receives their dog's unique Profile Report, an individualized insight into the cognitive strategies the dog employs, and in-depth breakdowns of the results of each game. With millions of potential outcomes, each report is one of a kind — just like your smart dog!

About This Page

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Sandy Robins
Sandy Robins

As one of the country’s leading multi-media pet lifestyle experts, Sandy Robins documents the wonderful relationship that we have with our pets highlighting trends and innovative ideas as they happen. She is the winner of the Excellence in Journalism and Outstanding Contribution to the Pet Industry Award, presented by the American Pet Products Association.

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