Many dog trainers are reporting that, in recent years in the their work, the number of intelligent dogs they’re coming across has been on the increase.
So what makes a dog smart? That he can learn to obey commands quickly? Has great instincts? Has the ability to carry out complicated tasks? Some people say that having a smart dog is like having a smart kid - he's always into something and gets bored easily!
In any event, here’s our list of 54 dogs we think would score straight A’s in school….
1. Golden Retriever
Adaptable to all kinds of lifestyles, this lovely dog’s expression tells you everything you need to know - He is kind, trustworthy, cheerful, and forgiving. The Golden Retriever is also very smart
First bred in Scotland, between a lone yellow pup retriever and a local water spaniel, he’s fantastic at retrieving and agility tests and is used a great deal as a service dog. Steady-tempered and always responsible, you’ll never tired of being around him.
2. Labrador Retriever
This dog was first bred by fishermen in the early 1800’s, in Newfoundland, Canada.
Trained to retrieve fishing nets, this is a dog that loves to swim, has great stamina and can leap dramatically into water. Since the breeders couldn’t call him Newfoundland (that name was taken), they named him after the sea in which they worked!
Labradors are strong swimmers with webbed feet and an otter-like tail that can act like a rudder in the water - making them a favorite for canine water rescue.
3. German Shepherd
This is the world's leading police, guard, and military dog. He’s also a loving family companion and herder.
One of the most capable and trainable breeds of dog, he is smart and likes mental exercise (advanced obedience classes, agility, tracking etc.)
Direct, fearless and self-confident, he’ll always be willing to learn and work and can be a magnificent companion.
Used by Romans to pull carts and guard their homes, the Rottweiler is a powerful and robust dog, always most happy when you give him a job.
He is often used by police, in herding, and in service. His intelligence also means he can also be used for animal therapy (with troubled children).
Obedient and devoted, his nature is docile but he will always defend his family and friends bravely.
5. Australian Cattle Dog
This beautiful dog is a unique crossbreed of the Blue Merle Shepherd, imported from England, and the native Australian dingo.
Intelligent and energetic, he’ll be happiest doing a job like herding. The Australian Cattle dog thrives in active homes, and likes sports such as agility and rally obedience.
Clever and hard-headed, this is a versatile dog that can do many things in the right hands. Just be firm with him!
6. Doberman Pinscher
Smart, stern and imposing, the Doberman is an excellent guard dog and ready to deter the most cunning burglar.
However, he’s also very active so if you’re out of the house all day, he’ll quite possibly ruin your sofa, make a mess of your kitchen and destroy your china collection! Nevertheless, he’s also emotionally sensitive to stress and loud voices.
The Doberman thrives on exercise and challenging things to do.
Throughout history, the poodle was used by hunters to retrieve fowl and sniff out truffles. Over time, however, its intelligence became obvious and soon the French were training poodles to perform in their circuses.
The poodle is a cheerful breed, and does well with calm and confident owners. It is also very sociable. Considered by many to be one of the world’s most intelligent dogs, it is vital to keep him stimulated so he doesn’t develop behavioral problems.
The poodle particularly enjoys retrieving, agility work, and learning new tricks.
The name “Papillon” is French for "butterfly" and this breed gets his name from his butterfly-shaped ears.
The Papillon is super smart and learns very quickly. In fact, in surveys he often shares joint first place with the poodle when it comes to intelligence.
Bright and easily trained, he’s an energetic little dog who always does well in competitions. A top-rate tiny canine!
9. Shetland Sheepdog
With its sweet temperament, the Shetland Sheepdog is peaceful around other animals, as well as smart and sensitive.
This is a dog that needs constant mental stimulation - If left in the garden he will suffer, but if kept active with agility tests and advanced obedience, he will shine.
Always attentive, the Shetland Sheepdog is also loyal and funny and loves to show off. And with his keen intelligence, he’ll learn many tricks in no time at all.
10. English Springer Spaniel
The English Springer Spaniel loves running around and needs plenty of exercise each day. Without it, he’ll become boisterous and chaotic, knocking over his water bowl and tracking mud through your house.
An energetic and lively dog, he has a fair bit of intelligence and is not too difficult to train either. Whilst originally bred as a hunter, today he’s one of the world’s top show dogs. He can also run incredibly fast and retrieve almost anything.
11. Miniature Schnauzer
The Miniature Schnauzer makes for a good watchdog, being alert (and sometimes even suspicious).
It's an adaptable breed, who responds very well to obedience training (winning a lot of awards in this field). And with his bushy beards and eyebrows, he has a charming almost human-like expression.
Bred to work as a farm dog or ratter, the Miniature Schnauzer is fearless but rarely aggressive. And as well as being smart, he also gets along very well with kids and other animals.
12. Pembroke Welsh Corgi
This is an attentive breed who learns quickly and responds well to obedience training.
Known for his intelligence and quick will, he is a steady and dependable dog with a pleasant temperament. The Pembroke Welsh Corgi is great at herding, obedience, agility and chasing balls (he’s got plenty of speed) and loves to go to work.
With his foxy face, he’s truly a “big dog in a small body".
Independent, inquisitive and friendly, the Bloodhound is large and heavy. Back in the 3rd century, Emperor Claudius Aelianus described him as a dog that had no rival when it came to his powers of scent and ability to stay on a trail.
Today, the Bloodhound has still got a great nose and with his wrinkled face, loose-hanging skin and deep-set eyes is hard not to like!
His body is powerful and his strong legs let him follow trains over miles of punishing terrain. Give him plenty of exercise and he’ll quickly learn tracking and agility.
The Vizsla is a pointer breed, and bred as a hunting companion. The Vizsla is a natural hunter, and is incredibly intelligent, making it particularly easy to train. They’re bred to be able to work in a number of terrains, including water. Their temperament is docile and friendly, and they make incredible companion animals.
Although they have a high energy, the Vizsla is gentle in it’s mannerisms. They require a lot of mental stimulation during their formative years, but that craving for stimulation is what makes them so intelligent and their trainability so high. They form strong bonds with their owners and families, and with the right kind of socialization, make great pets for children to be around as well.
15. Irish Water Spaniel
The Irish Water Spaniel is both one of the oldest breeds of Spaniel, but it is also one of the largest. These dogs make incredible companions, as they’re often energetic, attentive and willing to learn. They were originally bred as hunting companions and were used to fetch and bring back game to their handlers, which makes them easy to train.
Their high intelligence makes them very curious and eager to learn. They are particularly creative dogs, and will often find new and inventive ways to achieve the task that is asked of them if there is something that stops them from doing so. With such a calm temperament and high intelligence, the Irish Water Spaniel makes a great family pet, and can cohabitate will with both other animals and children.
Don’t let the size of the Pomeranian and it’s pop-culture popularity as the ditzy blonde dog fool you. The Pomeranian is one of the more intelligent breeds of dogs. It was a popular dog among royalty back in the 18th century, and it still retains its very regal breeding.
Pomeranian’s are friendly and playful dogs, which make them perfect for a family environment. Although they’re small, they’re also very energetic, and react positively to new stimulus.
They are easy to train when using positive reinforcement, although they do tend to crave being the center of attention, which can cause problems when training the dog to be left alone for periods of time.
The Malinois is a breed of working dog that is often used in security situations, since their keen sense of smell and high intelligence makes them capable of detecting explosives and narcotics. They’re also capable of tracking humans for both law enforcement and search and rescue.
They’re incredibly active and intelligent dogs, and they’ve been bred to be incredibly hard working, which makes the task of training them easier than other dogs. Their high energy and intelligence also makes them great dogs for training courses and agility competitions.
These are good sources of energy outlet for the Malinois, as not enough mental stimulation can cause them to develop neurotic disorders. Overall, they’re a friendly and playful breed and make great family pets.
18. Bernese Mountain Dog
The Bernese Mountain Dog has long been bred for the express purpose of being a farm dog, which means that they were used to herd and keep livestock safe without the supervision or express commands from their masters.
This type of breeding has ensured that the Bernese Mountain Dog is self-sufficient, confident and intelligent. They’re also incredibly affectionate and docile despite their often intimidating size.
The Bernese Mountain Dog is built sturdy, and were also bred for pulling small carts, an activity that this breed of dog seems to thoroughly enjoy. Their intelligence makes training this dog a breed, and they can be trained to pull small children in wagons.
The Weimaraner was originally bred for being a hunting dog, with their prey usually focusing on large game, as well as smaller game such as foxes and rabbits and fowl. Their intelligence makes them incredible companion dogs, as well as amazing hunting companions.
They’re energetic and have prized stamina, as well as a very prey-driven instinct. These types of dogs, if not used for hunting, are easy to entertain with games and training and a lot of exercise.
They do require more training than other breeds, since they have been bred so long for hunting that if they do not get the proper stimulation, they can be overly energetic and not in control of their behavior. That being say, they form strong bonds with the families and owners, and make great companions.
20. Cocker Spaniel
The Cocker Spaniel is yet another former hunting breed. The Cocker Spaniel comes in two distinct breeds, which are the American and the English Cocker Spaniel.
Although there are many physical differences, the temperament in both breeds remains pretty consistent, since the only difference in breeding was specializing in it’s hunting prey.
The Cocker Spaniel remains incredibly intelligent and energetic. They make good companion and show dogs, as they have a high trainability left over from their original breeding purpose.
The Brittany is primarily a hunting dog, particularly a gun dog, trained and bred to be calm around the sounds of guns. They’re bred to be calm and mild-mannered, and make great companion animals. They’re particularly sensitive to correction, and so this makes training a Brittany an easier task than other dogs.
They become quickly attached to their owners, and tend to be quick learners as well. They’re energetic dogs that require a lot of exercise and mental stimulation to keep them happy. Brittanys as a breed are eager to please, which also allows them to excel in training.
They’re good around other animals and small children as long as they’re socialized properly - if not, a Brittany can tend to be rather shy and anxious.
22. German Shorthaired Pointer
Bred in the 19th Century Germany for hunting, the German Shorthaired Pointer is characterized in temperament by both it’s intelligence and its willingness to cooperate with it’s trainer. They’re a dog that is easy to train, leftover from the original purpose of being a hunting dog.
They’re an energetic breed, and they’re also friendly and enthusiastic. They love to participate in training, and require a lot of mental activity to keep them satisfied. That being said, they also make amazing companion animals, especially for families with children.
Keeshonds are an intelligent breed of dog that strive on both work and obedience. They’re quite affectionate dogs, and are good for beginner trainers. They’re quite independent, which means that they are capable of picking up training and lessons without the use of heavy-handed methods and respond well to a more gentle type of correction.
They’re playful and tend to be incredibly quick learners, which means they can pick things up from other dogs in the household without having been specifically taught by their handlers. They make great family dogs and have a calm and affectionate temperament that’s perfect for households with children.
24. Border Collie
Many dog trainers consider the Border Collie to be the smartest dog on the planet, which is no surprise.
This is a dog that can learn all kinds of tricks in no time at all, run complicated agility courses and quickly herd sheep into pens. Fascinating to watch, and wonderful to keep as a pet, the biggest problem is keeping him constantly and actively engaged.
The Border Collie is so smart that he’ll always notice even the smallest difference in commands - so if you intend to have him as a pet, you’ll need to be extremely committed.
25. Belgian Tervuren
The Belgian Tervuren was originally bred as a working dog, which means herding and independent work that required them to be able make decisions without their handler’s express instructions.
The Tervuren is a highly intelligent dog that requires a good amount of mental stimulation to keep them happy. They excel at herding, agility training, tracking and even obedience training.
Their high intelligence makes them easy to train and work with.
26. Schipperke Belgian Sheepdog
Though this breed has contention on whether it’s a spitz or a miniature sheepdog, in Belgium, they’re given the title of small sheepdog.
Their breeding purpose is to herd livestock, and this leaves us with a highly intelligent and capable dog. They’re incredibly headstrong and can be a touch mischievous, as their high intelligence makes them curious and a bit naughty.
They’re incredibly smart and independent that they have a tendency to disobey their owners, and instead following their own course of action.
27. Belgian Malinois
The Belgian Malinois’ intelligent is highly valued, and while they were originally bred as a working farm dog, the Malinois is now used to detect orders and explosives, narcotics and even humans.
They’re a highly active dog, and their intelligence means that they’ll excel in obedience training and need plenty of mental stimulation to keep them happy.
If they’re not provided with enough stimulation, the Malinois can develop neurotic behaviors and behavioral disorders.
As a sporting dog, the Vizsla was bred with a high capacity for intelligence. As a hunting dog, the Vizsla has an outstanding trainability. They’re not particularly independent, which means that they will follow directions very well.
They’re very sensitive dogs and take correction well, which means that during training, these dogs will need to be handled with soft corrections rather than harsh commands or physical corrections.
They’re a kind of dog that genuinely wants to please, and will do it’s very best to get it right.
29. Cardigan Welsh Corgi
The Cardigan Welsh Corgi is one of two breeds of Welsh Corgis, though it’s much less well known that it’s iconic cousin, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi.
However, the Cardigan is a highly intelligent breed, having been originally used as a herding dog for sheep and cattle. They dog well with a lot of mental stimulation, as their high intelligence can often make them restless and act out.
They excel in obedience training and are also well trained as guard dogs.
30. Yorkshire Terrier
The Yorkshire Terrier was originally designed as a rat catcher in the 19th century, though nowadays they’re more well known as house pets and lapdogs.
However, they’re not your typical lapdog. They’re known to be intelligent and mentally sound, as well as emotionally secure, rather than clingy and needy as lapdogs tend to be.
Their original breeding purpose had them working without trainers or handlers, and so this makes them easier to train, as they already have a natural drive and intelligence.
31. Giant Schnauzer
Developed in the 17th century in Germany, the Giant Schnauzer is a working dog, and was bred to help guard the farm as well as drive cattle to the markets.
This breeding makes them both intelligent and independent, allowing them to take the best course of action without instructions from their handler after assessing a situation.
Though this high intelligence means that the Giant Schnauzer can often become easily bored, however they’re also easily trained.
Originating from Newfoundland in Canada, the Newfoundland dog was bred as a working dog to assist fishermen. They’re known for both their grand size as well as their high intelligence.
They’re known as “gentle giants” because of their calm and docile nature. Their lack of aggression, couples with their intelligence, makes for a high trainability among Newfoundlands.
They’re ideal candidates for therapy dogs as well as dogs that are going to be around small children.
33. Irish Setter
The Irish Setter is a gundog, bred for sporting. This breeding makes them easy to train, though their intelligence means that they’re happiest when they have a job to do or an activity to complete.
The Irish Setter requires a lot of mental stimulation to keep it happy, and they’re not the type of dog that can be left alone for long periods of time. The Irish Setter will respond well to positive training methods.
34. Norwegian Elkhound
The Norwegian Elkhound is a spitz breed, as well as the national dog of Norway. They have long been bred as hunters, guardians, and herders.
They’re bred and build for hunting large game, such as wolves, moose and bears. They’re a pack animal, and form close bonds with their humans and families.
Their breeding makes the Elkhound an intelligent and independent dog, and they’re considered above average in obedience intelligence.
The Dalmatian has made its claim to fame in popular culture as a firehouse dog, and that reputation is well earned.
The Dalmatian was originally bred and used as a carriage dog due to its natural fearlessness when it came to running alongside and underneath the horses.
Though nowadays the Dalmatian’s intelligence means that it’s well suited for competitions as well as obedience training.
36. Curly-Coated Retriever
Also known as simply the ‘Curly’, the Curly-Coated Retriever was bred in England as a dog used in waterfowl hunting. Their current temperament still reflects their gundog breeding.
Their extreme intelligence means that handlers will have to be creative when training them, as the Curly can become bored with repetitive training and will often decide that they’re done with the training sessions as soon as they get bored.
These dogs are considered above average intelligence for a working breed.
37. Irish Wolfhound
The Irish Wolfhound is a sighthound originating from Ireland, with the original purpose of hunting wolves as well as guarding livestock and property.
The Irish Wolfhound is well known for being both reserved and intelligent. They are introverted dogs with varying kinds of personalities, but in general, the Irish Wolfhound is a kind breed that doesn’t tend to show aggression.
Their independence and intelligence make them easy to train, and their devotion to their families mean that they make good guard dogs.
38. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was originally bred as a lapdog, though these days they are well known for a variety of different uses. Their intelligence and their eagerness to please makes them perfect candidates for training, and especially for therapy dog usage.
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel also performs well in obedience and agility due to their high trainability. This dog is much more than just a lap dog, and their intelligence means that they’ll need a good amount of mental stimulation.
The Boxer is classed as a working breed, though their sweet and loyal nature makes for a perfect family pet. They’re highly intelligent, as well as known for being headstrong and stubborn.
Their intelligence means that a Boxer won’t respond to corrections in training, but rather will perform better with positive reinforcement.
They’re prone to behavioral issues when bored, so it’s important that a Boxer have a good amount of physical and mental stimulation to keep them happy.
40. Afghan Hound
This silky, flowing fur of the Afghan Hound makes it one of the most recognizable dog breeds. It often looks like a model, with it’s long fur and thin frame. Despite this particular breed of dog’s beauty, they’re much more stubborn than most people realize.
Because of their high intelligence, it makes them unwilling to do repetitive training. Their stubbornness may be mistaken for an inability to understand the command. However, they simply have a reputation for being quite stubborn, and they like to do what they want. They understand the command, they just chose not to follow!
The Basenji is a quiet dog, so much so that it’s been given the nickname “the barkless dog”. Unlike most breeds of dog, the Basenji is a rather quiet dog who doesn’t take to barking much to express its feelings.
Rather, the Basenji will take the yodeling when it wants you to know how it’s feeling. Other than having such a strange communication method, the Basenji is also known for it’s high intelligence, due to being bred as a hunting dog.
The Bulldog is quite easy to deceive in looks. It doesn’t look like a dog that would be packing a lot of intelligence. Along with its docile nature and it’s laid back, laziness, the Bulldog is often mistaken for a slow-witted pup. Quite the contrary, however.
The Bulldog is incredibly intelligent - they’re just also independent, stubborn and, above all, quite lazy. They’ll learn the command or the trick … they just won’t do it. After all, they find lounging around much more productive than following a command.
43. Chow Chow
The Chow Chow is another dog that can be deceiving when it comes to intelligence. Because of their stubbornness, the Chow Chow tested poorly on obeying commands, having to be asked 80 times out of 100 attempts to perform a task.
However, Chow Chows are incredible problem solvers. While they may not be up for following orders, they’ll definitely be able to solve a puzzle of a treat is involved. It’s their high intelligence that makes them so stubborn and resistant to obeying commands in the first place.
44. Russian Wolfhound
Also known as the Borzoi, the Russian Wolfhound is an ethereal creature that it's often likened to a goblin, or a “strange looking horse”. And boy, are they strange looking. But despite all of it’s weird looks, the Russian Wolfhound is one intelligent dog.
Like many hounds, the Borzoi tend to be extremely stubborn. Due to its intelligence, the Borzoi likes to follow it’s own path. While the Russian Wolfhound ultimately understands what’s being asked of it, it simply chooses not to act.
This tiny dog was originally bred for royalty. Part of the toy-breed, many people mistake a small dog’s size with a lack of intelligence - maybe due to the misconception that a smaller brain must mean smaller capacity for thought.
On the contrary, the Pekingese is an incredibly strong-willed and independent dog, preferring to be pampered rather than be trained. They’re hard to teach commands due to their stubborn nature.
The Beagle is often more interested in following it’s nose than following commands. Again, most people mistake a lack of listening with a lack of intelligence. However, when you’re able to get through to the Beagle, they’re highly intelligent and loyal creatures.
They’re a breed of dog that gets along really well with both small children and other animals, such as cats. Despite their stubborn nature, they’re pretty docile and loving.
The Chihuahua is often mistaken for unintelligent due to their portrayal in popular media, always in the purse of a ditzy blond. On the contrary, a Chihuahua is capable of learning quite a fair few commands.
The issue, though, is their ability to retain that information. If you’re going to train a Chihuahua, you’re going to want to make sure you training sessions stay consistent, so they don’t blow you off when you’re trying to impress someone with one of their tricks.
A bug-eyed Pug may look silly and stupid, but that’s about it. Despite their looks, the Pug is one of the most intelligent breeds of dog. They like to push boundaries when it comes to seeing what they can get away with.
They learn quickly, and will obey your commands as long as you don’t let them get away with pushing boundaries. They know what to do, they just like to see what you’ll let them get away with.
Now, here’s a dog that isn’t quite as stubborn as the rest. Not only is the Maltese a very regal and royal looking dog but they’re also easier to train than other dogs with the same intelligence. The Maltese is extremely intelligent, but instead of deciding to do their own thing, they love to prove it.
These dogs are people pleasers, and incredibly loyal. When trying to train a Maltese to follow commands, you’ll find that they’re one of the easiest breeds to train because they like to make their humans happy.
50. Tibetan Mastiff
Like most breeds of dogs that were bred to be independent guardians, the Tibetan Mastiff is incredibly independent. Though they’re also loyal, their independence makes them a bit stubborn, despite their intelligence.
They were bred to be quite smart, so they could make snap decisions during their time as guard dogs and working dogs. So, they probably think they know better than you.
51. Italian Greyhound
The Italian Greyhound is another intelligent dog that loves to show off about it. These speedy dogs are both fast runners and fast thinkers. They need to be potty-trained right away when they’re puppies or they may struggle with being house broken, but otherwise the Italian Greyhound does amazing with both obedience training and rally. They’re extremely clever, and love to show it.
The Samoyed always look like they’re smiling, and are always talking. These dogs love to communicate with all kinds of sounds. Not only that, but they’re also one of the most intelligent breeds of dog, and aren’t particularly stubborn or difficult to train.
They know what they like and they don’t have a problem with letting you know, especially if they can do so vocally. They’re sweet and gentle dogs, so they do well with families that have children.
Like most athletic dogs, the Whippet is a people pleaser. They’re highly active and intelligent, and they like putting their smarts to the test. Also like most athletic breeds, the Whippet needs lots of mental stimulation.
This is why the Whippet does well in obedience training, as well as agility, lure coursing and fly ball. While they’re pretty tempted to hunt small prey like other small pets in the house, they do great with children and are a loving and affectionate breed.
You won’t find a trace of stubborn behavior in the Havenese. These dogs are real people pleasers, which means that they’re particularly easy to train when it comes down to it.
The Havanese is incredibly intelligent and quick witted. That, combined with the Havenese natural desire to make their humans happy, means that they make great dogs that follow and learn commands very easily and quickly.