Skip to main content

Main Area

Main

Ranking the 63 smartest dog breeds

  • Ranking the 63 smartest dog breeds

    Dog owners passionately defend their dog breed of choice, but is your precious poodle really smarter than a Labrador retriever?

    It's time to put those weekly dog park arguments to rest. If you’re looking for a definitive answer to the question of whether or not your pup is smarter than the average dog, then author and professor of canine psychology Stanley Coren’s 2006 book, "The Intelligence of Dogs," is an excellent reference point. It’s widely accepted among the community of canine devotees as an accurate representation of the trainability and overall intelligence of breeds recognized by the American and Canadian Kennel Clubs.

    Coren’s list of the 63 brightest dog breeds was compiled with help from the American and Canadian Kennel Clubs, as well as a survey of dog owners. At Coren’s request, obedience trial judges ranked breeds on obedience and working intelligence—categories that are based on how well a breed typically learns from humans. The analysis also ranked breeds based on adaptive intelligence, which refers to a dog's ability to problem-solve on its own. Breeds that took the shortest amount of time to learn new commands rank the highest.

    Does your loyal pup’s breed make the list? Read on to see if you’ll be bragging to the neighbors about your dog's intellectual prowess the next time you take your fur baby out for a walk. Don’t worry: Even if your dog's breed doesn't land on the list, that doesn't mean he's not a good boy—some traits simply can't be measured.

    You may also like: Least obedient dog breeds

  • #63. Dalmatian

    - Class: Above-average working dogs
    - Understanding of new commands: 15–25 repetitions
    - Obey first command: 70% of the time or better

    The only spotted dog breed on the list, dalmatians have a long history of working with horses and are often associated with firemen. The reason why these heroic pups are firehouse mascots is that they would run ahead of fire engines and horses, clearing a path for firefighters as they made their way to the scene.

  • #62. Norwich terrier

    - Class: Above-average working dogs
    - Understanding of new commands: 15–25 repetitions
    - Obey first command: 70% of the time or better

    Small and feisty, the Norwich terrier was originally bred to deal with rats. However, their energy and intelligence earned them tougher jobs—like forcing foxes out of their dens during hunts. These days, Norwich terriers are still happiest when they're given a task to complete, like entering a flyball or earthdog competition that puts their energy to use.

  • #56. Clumber spaniel (tie)

    - Class: Above-average working dogs
    - Understanding of new commands: 15–25 repetitions
    - Obey first command: 70% of the time or better

    Clumber spaniels are hunting dogs at heart, a skill that is sharpened by their ability to stealthily track prey for hunters. These pups are also known for their superb swimming skills.

  • #56. Pharaoh hound (tie)

    - Class: Above-average working dogs
    - Understanding of new commands: 15–25 repetitions
    - Obey first command: 70% of the time or better

    The national dog of Malta is the pharaoh hound. They're renowned for their rabbit-hunting abilities and tend to be happiest when they're given a chance to use their keen senses of sight, smell, and sound for something productive.

  • #56. English setter (tie)

    - Class: Above-average working dogs
    - Understanding of new commands: 15–25 repetitions
    - Obey first command: 70% of the time or better

    If you have an English setter, then you likely know these working dogs are excellent at finding prey, especially birds. They earned the named “setter” due to the way they sit and mark their quarry, but they’re also easily trained to scare birds into flight on hunts. Despite their adept hunting skills, English Setter Association refers to the pooches as gentlemen by nature.

    You may also like: Most popular dog breeds that keep it quiet

  • #56. Miniature pinscher (tie)

    - Class: Above-average working dogs
    - Understanding of new commands: 15–25 repetitions
    - Obey first command: 70% of the time or better

    Often mistakenly thought of as a miniature Doberman pinscher, “min pins” are very much their own breed. These diminutive dogs are so full of energy, they’re often called the “king of toys” due to their stately appearance. If you’re a miniature pinscher owner, take care not to let your companion become bored—without mental stimulation and exercise, their stubborn side is sure to come out.

  • #56. Silky terrier (tie)

    - Class: Above-average working dogs
    - Understanding of new commands: 15–25 repetitions
    - Obey first command: 70% of the time or better

    Silky terriers are often employed as show dogs, and not just because of their graceful looks. This breed is known for being eager to learn; as a result, they’ve been known to start picking up commands when they’re just eight weeks old. The silky terrier excels in athletic events, including herding, agility, and flyball.

  • #56. Affenpinscher (tie)

    - Class: Above-average working dogs
    - Understanding of new commands: 15–25 repetitions
    - Obey first command: 70% of the time or better

    Originally bred as working dogs, affenpinschers found favor among affluent, 18th-century women looking for companion dogs. The dogs would accompany the women wherever they went, going on long carriage rides and enduring moves with no fuss. As a result, these dogs are incredibly adaptable to changes in their environment and are born travelers.

  • #55. Norwegian elkhound

    - Class: Above-average working dogs
    - Understanding of new commands: 15–25 repetitions
    - Obey first command: 70% of the time or better

    It's believed that the Norwegian elkhounds once worked alongside Vikings during big game hunts. Thousands of years later, they remain true working animals. The Norwegian elkhound’s tracking skills are so superior they're often found on search-and-rescue teams, and their independence and attentiveness make them ideal service dogs as well.

  • #51. Irish setter (tie)

    - Class: Above-average working dogs
    - Understanding of new commands: 15–25 repetitions
    - Obey first command: 70% of the time or better

    While the Irish setter can still be found dominating in hunting competitions, these bright animals are also excellent therapy dogs. Their enthusiastic yet gentle nature means they're good with children—so much so that they've been used in reading programs to help children's confidence in reading aloud.

    You may also like: Can you answer these real 'Jeopardy!' questions about dogs?

2018 All rights reserved.