When choosing a canine companion, most people seem to gravitate towards the “cutest” or the “friendliest” dog. Others target special needs dogs, seniors, and dogs with behavior problems in order to provide extra care and training. But have you ever walked into the animal shelter and asked to see the “smartest” dogs? Well, we have a quick list of the most intelligent dog breeds for future reference! However, be warned – the level of aptitude may vary on an individual basis…
- Border Collie – Coming in at number 1, the Border Collie is (allegedly) the Albert Einstein of dogs! Much of this is due to its origins as a herding dog in the British Isles – along the border of Scotland and Britain – hence the name “Border” Collie. “Collie” is believed to be an old Celtic word meaning “useful,” which is quite fitting for this hard-working dog. Aside from keeping the flock in check, the Border Collie has a large capacity for memorizing commands, tricks, and locations. In addition, it is known for its problem-solving capabilities and loyalty. Check out Chase, a famous Border Collie who knows 1,022 toys by name!
- Poodle – Undoubtedly the most well-known “fluffy” dog, Poodles have a reputation of being a bit pretentious due to the high maintenance they require. Maybe they have the right to be full of themselves, due to the extreme smarts they possess! Similar to the Border Collie, Poodles were bred originally in Germany in the 15th century as working dogs, specifically for hunting birds and retrieving water. Since then, they have also been known to herd flocks of livestock, transport supplies to soldiers in battle, and even dabble in the performing arts due to their ability to learn tricks. This multi-talented pooch has been popular among dog owners for quite a while!
- German Shepherd – Another dog hailing from good old Deutschland (Germany), the German Shepherd came about in the late 19th century thanks to Captain Max von Stephanitzwho standardized the breed. The captain’s goal was to have a dog that was useful and also very intelligent due to the modernization of Germany at that particular point in time. As herding dogs began to be “outdated,” he wanted a dog that was primarily skilled in obedience and protection. This obviously worked out very well, seeing as these days they are commonly used in police K-9 units for a multitude of tasks ranging from searching for missing people, to taking down assailants in the line of duty.
- Golden Retriever – This popular and almost universally-loved dog first emerged in Scotland in 1865 when Lord Tweedmouth of Guisachan (awesome name alert) had a black, wavy-coated retriever give birth to a litter of puppies. All of them looked like the mother, except for one “golden” pup, which was then bred with a local type of water spaniel to get the resulting Golden Retriever that we know and love today. Known as a typical “family dog” for its friendliness and loyalty, it is extremely skilled at retrieving (hence the name), agility training, and general obedience. It’s no wonder they are so popular!
- Doberman Pinscher – The Germans bred a lot of smart dogs back in the day, and this is one of them. This particular breed came about when a tax collector named Karl Friedrich Louis Dobermann wanted a dog to protect him while he made his rounds. Apparently people hated tax collectors so much that they would threaten his safety and physically harm him on a daily basis. Interestingly, they are a combination of ancestry from the Great Dane, the Greyhound, the German Shorthaired Pointer, the Rottweiler, and others. Because of their guard-dog talents, Doberman Pinschers have gotten a bad reputation for being “aggressive” dogs, although they are far from it. They are protective, but they are also known nowadays for being great family dogs, extremely trainable, and for being able to problem solve on their own. Luckily they are slowly but surely breaking the stereotype that they are “mean” and “scary!”
- Shetland Sheepdog – Jeez, it seems as if almost all of the dogs on this list are from Germany or Scotland! “Shelties” are from Scotland, although Border Collies have replaced them as herding dogs due to their slightly superior intelligence. Ironically, Shetland Sheepdogs are quite uncommon in present day Shetland, from which they originated. It’s also interesting to note that the breed was not simply selectively bred from the Rough Collie to achieve a smaller sized Collie, but it is actually linked to the Icelandic Sheepdog and Spitz. Although they are a working dog, they can be kept plenty busy with playing games, learning tricks, and spreading their love to whoever they meet.
Next time you are looking for a new companion, are you going to be on the lookout for one of these brainiacs? Do you have one of these dogs and have a story about their smarts? Let us know in the comments!