Curious to know which is the smartest dog breed? You’re in the right place! Fair warning, though, the answer probably isn’t what you’re expecting. Learn what research says about it, then discover some of the most clever canines based on “intelligence” criteria.
What Is the Smartest Dog Breed?
NONE! Surprising, isn’t it? The truth of the matter is that there isn’t one single dog breed that you can say is the smartest among all of them. Like people, dogs themselves are so diverse. Just like there isn’t one single race or nationality that is considered to be the smartest on the planet, the same can be said about our canine companions.
Getting Stuck in Stereotypes
Humans often underestimate just how smart dogs can be. Recent studies show that dogs are capable of recognizing up to 150 words even without any special training. What’s even more intriguing is that – again, without special training- dogs are more than capable of intentionally “deceiving” or tricking humans into giving them treats. When assessed, scientists have noted that most dogs actually have intelligence that is equal to that of a two-year-old human being.
Maybe it’s because humans have been conditioned to think that certain breeds exhibit a particular type of behavior so we tend to think that intelligence is characteristic of just one particular breed.
Research published in the journal Science though has shown that genetics may play a huge role in how dogs behave. Environment can greatly influence behavior, not to mention the fact that behavior is molded through years of trying to adapt.
An expert canine geneticist at the U.S. National Human Genome Research Institute, Elaine Ostrander, in an interview for the journal Science has said, “No breed owns any particular trait.”
Just What Exactly Defines Intelligence?
There are many ways to define intelligence in a dog. In fact, a dog’s intelligence can be classified into three types: adaptive intelligence, working intelligence, and instinctive intelligence.
A dog’s level of intelligence can assist him in problem-solving (adaptive intelligence), help him follow commands (working intelligence, or just make use of his natural abilities (instinctive intelligence).
These different types of intelligence can be found in the different breeds and these are assessed on an individual basis.
Easier to Train
Perhaps, if only to add nuance to the noun “intelligence”, it would be easier to say which dogs are the ones that are the most trainable in terms of breed.
Humans tend to equate intelligence with trainability but as mentioned above, this necessarily isn’t the case.
Some dogs are just able to concentrate more on the task at hand compared to others.
Training methods may also affect how slow or fast a dog will learn some kind of skill. These variables will factor in how quickly a dog can be trained.
Nonetheless, there are dogs whose working intelligence is better than others with some breeds showing more aptitude when it comes to this type of intelligence.
1. The Border Collie
Many trainers do say that among all dog breeds, the Border Collie is the easiest to train. These dogs can concentrate quite well and they are willing to do anything that is asked of them. Some go so far as to call them “workaholics.”
Border Collies are quite friendly and their willingness to interact with those around them even adds to their trainability making them quite easy to handle. All of this combined may account for why they’re considered THE smartest dog breed on the planet. But wait…the Poodle has something to say about that!
2. The Poodle
Along with their trademark thick and luxe coats, poodles are well known for their clever tricks that have made them quite endearing to a number of people.
They also have this innate instinct to please those around them. This probably explains their eagerness to learn and follow instructions that their people give them. It’s also what makes them some of the best service dogs.
3. German Shepherd Dog
German Shepherds have always been the favorite of police forces around the world. Aside from the fact that these dogs are highly trainable, they also can be quite skillful and are known to be a powerful breed as well.
Given this mix of traits, it isn’t any wonder why German Shepherds have always been proven to be one of the most reliable breeds in law enforcement.
4. Golden Retrievers
Fun and friendly and easy to train. Despite their silliness, golden retrievers can actually follow instructions quite easily given.
Their kind nature and willingness to please add to their trainability making them ideal household pets.
5. Doberman Pinscher
Doberman pinschers easily learn commands making them another one of those breeds that qualify as highly trainable. Even better is their ability to remember the commands that are taught to them.
Doberman pinschers though do have an attitude and they can be quite stubborn when they want them to be. This puts them down a notch when it comes to trainability.
Again, while these may be considered the “smartest dog breeds,” it would be far more accurate to say that they’re the most trainable breeds, or perhaps the most eager to please. That doesn’t mean they’re not highly intelligent, but it also doesn’t mean that other breeds are “dumber” than them, either.
Age Plays a Role in Trainability
One thing to greatly consider when it comes to trainability regardless of dog breed is a dog’s age.
While training a dog does provide lifelong benefits, it was shown in a study published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience that a dog’s attention span shortens as a dog ages. This shortened attention span may add some difficulty when training older dogs. This isn’t particular to any specific breed but rather is applicable to any dog breed.
It really can be quite difficult to say which dog breed is considered to be the smartest and the brightest. There are many variables and factors that can contribute to a dog’s intelligence. There are many kinds of intelligence as well so there isn’t any set standard that can easily apply when assessing intelligence in canines.
There are those though that are more trainable not necessarily because of their intelligence, but rather because of their personalities and traits.
Regardless of intelligence level though, dogs will always bond with those who care for them. That is probably true for any creature – intelligent or otherwise.
What do you think is the smartest dog breed? Share your thoughts below!