Top 10 Smartest Dog Breeds – Most Intelligent Dogs – The Pioneer Woman

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These super-smarties can do a lot more than sit up and beg.
As Ree knows—because she has a few of them!—sometimes the best dog breeds are the smartest dog breeds. Because while we all love our sweet-but-stubborn pooches (we’re looking at you, pugs), or even our cute-but-kinda-clueless canines (sorry, chow chows), it can be really nice to have a well-trained pupper. It doesn’t matter if they’re large, medium-sized or even small, smart dogs that listen to commands can be, well, just easier sometimes, especially if you have a family with young kids running around.
So whether or not you’re thinking of adding a new tail-wagger to your crew, or are simply curious about which of man’s best friends are the most intelligent, you’re going to want to read on for our list of the dog world’s brightest bulbs. While some of our entries, like border collies and labs, probably won’t be a surprise, there are a few you might not have guessed would ever make the cut. That includes papillons and Rottweilers, which we learned are total brainiacs. And then, after you’ve checked out the top ten, head over to 6 Best Dog DNA Tests to Learn All About Your Pup’s Family Tree. After all, with the right genetic test you can finally learn who Rover got his smarts from.
Pretty much universally acknowledged as the world’s smartest pooch, this energetic, athletic breed is descended from herding dogs that lived along the British borders. Known as workaholics, border collies learn not only cues and commands quickly, but entire routines. If you’re thinking of getting one of these remarkable doggos, be prepared to provide daily physical and mental workouts.
The posh poodle, which is bred in sizes from tiny tea cup to large standard, may look ridiculously floofy, but inside all that fuzz is one big brain. Highly intelligent, the dog was originally used by hunters to fetch prey from the water, and even today they are recognized as skilled swimmers. Poodles make superior companions for folks with allergies since they lose little hair and what they do shed is virtually hypoallergenic. They love to perform tricks, too.
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These pups can seem like big bruisers, but the German shepherd actually has a heart of gold thanks to a supreme sense of loyalty, an eagerness to please and an innate desire to be obedient. Along with boasting keen minds, they also are fiercely protective, which makes them ideal police, military and guard dogs. Just like long ago canine celeb Rin Tin Tin (and Ree’s pup Presley!), they pick up and recall skills easily, too, which is one reason they were the first breed trained as seeing eye dogs.
Golden retrievers are so sweet and eager to please they might seem as if they are one of the silliest dogs in the canine kingdom. In fact, goldens are incredibly intelligent, make excellent companion animals for the differently-abled, and are often employed in search-and-rescue operations. Bred in Scotland as game retrievers, these good-natured, goofy pooches are great choices for families and senior citizens.
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Sleek, strong and undeniably regal, Dobermans, much like German shepherds, can be seriously intimidating. But while their fearless nature, speed and stamina mean they are often utilized as guard dogs, they also can be quite gentle. Able to learn and retain training easily, they were bred in the late 19th century by a German tax collector (given his unpopular professional, they might well have been intended for his personal protection).
Nope, these hard-working herding dogs, which hail from the United Kingdom’s Shetland Islands, aren’t simply smaller collies—though they are cousins of that breed. Shelties, as they’ve been affectionately dubbed, are quick and nimble in mind as well as foot, even-tempered and obedient. Families with kids will do well with them, since since playing with young ones will help expend some of their awesome energy.
Another smart-as-a-whip best boy (or girl), the Labrador retriever dates back to 16th-century Newfoundland, Canada. With a water-repellent coat and highly-developed sense of smell, the breed was first used on boats to fetch harpooned fish, but that’s not what really distinguishes this lovable beastie. Labs are capable of self-training, meaning instead of waiting to be taught, it watches humans to learn desired behavior. No wonder Ree is a proud pup parent to two labs, Lucy and Duke.
RELATED: The Labrador Retriever Is Still America’s Most Popular Dog Breed After 31 Years
These tiny treasures—they top out at just 11 inches tall—are one of the world’s oldest dog breeds, with roots going back some seven centuries. That’s given papillons plenty of time to develop not only high intelligence that manifests in quick learning. but also a happy, extroverted attitude. A longtime favorite of nobility, they were named for the French word for butterfly, a reference to those winglike ears. Like the equally well-coiffed poodle, papillons love to learn and perform tricks for their humans.
With a history dating back to the Roman Empire, the robust Rottweiler has had, like the papillon, plenty of time to develop his brain matter. The breed’s powerful physique has made it a popular choice for guard dogs, but the Rottie’s devoted nature and agile mind has also led them to roles as therapy and service dogs. Make no mistake, this big beauty has plenty on the ball.
Named after the place it was bred, and the job it was bred for, this herding dog is a bright, bouncing ball of energy. A mischief-maker if he doesn’t have enough to do, the Australian cattle dog is related to the Land Down Under’s infamous dingo, although this quick-witted, organized and observant doggo makes for a fun family pet. As long as, that is, you give him something to do, like participate in agility competitions.

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