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Life stage

The Smartest Dog Breeds

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.

What Constitutes A “Smart” Dog Breed?

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 the smartest dog 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 dogTier 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

There are 6 tiers in total in Coren’s list, which can be found in his book, for a total of 79 breeds that he mentions. Each dog with their own type of intelligence. 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.

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! Is your dog one of the smartest dog breeds?

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