The Most Intelligent Dog Breeds

The Most Intelligent Dog Breeds
The Most Intelligent Dog Breeds

Every puppy parent likes to think that their dog is a bit of a canine Einstein, even if the average pup tops out at the intelligence of a human toddler. However, some dog breeds have a well-deserved reputation as teachers' pets. Intelligence can be a highly prized trait among dog owners, as smarter dogs can be more easily trained and handle more complex tasks.

Several dog breeds, ranging from toy types to working breeds, have been noted for their intelligence. The most intelligent breeds include Border Collies, Golden Retrievers, Vizslas, Toy Poodles, Bloodhounds, and Papillions. Of course, this isn’t exhaustive, as many other breeds are also known for their intelligence. To take things further, a dog’s receptivity and capabilities are more to do with their patience, effort, and training capabilities.

Are you interested in learning more about the breeds considered the most intelligent? We’ve rounded up six of our favorite dog breeds below. Each of the dogs has intelligent in their own respect. The information below will expand on each.

Border Collie

Originally called the “Scotch Sheep Dog," the Border Collie is a hard-working breed from Scotland. Praised by 18th-century poet laureate Robert Burns as “honest” and “faithful,” these diligent dogs are happiest in an environment that stimulates their bodies and minds. While they make great family dogs, border collies need prolonged and consistent activity to be fulfilled. Border collies are known to excel at agility and obedience competitions. They also excel on the farm with herding sheep, cattle, or horses.


Both standard and toy poodles are great dogs that are notoriously smart. Plus, you can pick the perfect indoor or outdoor companion with two size options. Toy poodles – weighing in at around five pounds and rarely exceeding ten inches in height – are by far the smallest highlighted on our list. Note that standard poodles are on the larger size as they can get to upwards of 70 lbs.

As a bonus, poodles are hypoallergenic. This means a couple of things. Those who have dog allergies are either not affected or have below-average effects when in contact with them. This also generally means that they do not shed. No more pesky dog hair to clean up after.
If you think that adult Toy Poodles are small, wait until you see them as puppies; they are adorable beyond words. This is likely part of the reason why it is so rare to see Toy Poodle puppies for sale

Golden Retriever

Anyone who has seen Air Bud knows that golden retrievers are smart enough to play team sports with humans, such as hockey, soccer, and basketball. Low and behold, the infamous golden retriever that stole the heart of every household is famous for its intelligence outside of the Air Bud cinematic universe, too.

Like the Scottish sporting dogs, golden retrievers are energetic dogs that require lots of physical activity. While the amount of physical activity necessary decreases after the “puppy” phase,  this breed is not suitable for life on the couch. They were originally bred to retrieve waterfowl, so a backyard game of fetch is the perfect alternative to a pickup game of basketball. Just don’t expect your pup to let you win!


On the other side of the coin, we have the Bloodhound. Its stale reputation as a laze-about is undeserved. A bloodhound on a scent will happily follow it for hours on end. Their nose does more than meets the eye — literally. Bloodhounds enjoy long and ambling walks with plenty of trails to sniff. But beware – these detectives might not listen to commands when on the case.


Few know about the Vizsla, which is a shame as they are one of the most intelligent breeds around. Long used as gundogs by Hungarian sportsmen, vizslas are instantly recognizable by their beautiful rust-red coats. In addition, Vizslas boast big smarts and big stamina. These particular traits make them excellent companions for endurance activities like running and biking and hunting.


Our final entry, the Papillon, is one of the smallest breeds on this list. But that doesn’t mean you should expect a yippy vapid furball. Their name, French for “butterfly,” is a description of their distinct ears – not an overly delicate nature. These surprisingly hardy dogs thrive in warm and cool climates, happy in either the city or the country. Papillons are small enough to live indoors, but their active minds require lots of play. In fact, Papillons are known to hold their own at the highest levels of agility competitions.

What Makes a Dog Breed Intelligent?

By now, you’re probably wondering, what makes a dog breed intelligent in the first place? Well, the answer will really depend on who is measuring a dog’s smarts and how. Some breeds will naturally be better equipped for activities such as hunting or tracking a particular game. Does that make these breeds more intelligent? Not necessarily to some, but to others, it makes them a genius. Dog “intelligence” is a hard metric to track, but capabilities and temperament are often considered when determining how smart a canine is.

Intelligent Dogs Need Smart Care

Finally, if you are interested in an intelligent dog breed because you believe that the dogs will be smart enough to care for themselves, you’re sadly mistaken. Smart dogs are no better at being left alone in an apartment than their duller doggy friends. Being the owner of an intelligent dog in a lot of ways can often be more work, as smarter dogs will often require continuous stimulation. Please keep these special needs in mind as you search for your own dog.


Leave a comment

Explore Our Custom Pet Portraits