The Smartest Dog Breeds List

There’s no easy way to rate dog intelligence. But, we have developed a smartest dog breeds list based on what scientists have discovered thus far.

Types of Intelligence in Dogs

As the psychologist Stanley Coren wrote in the ’90s, there’s adaptive intelligence (i.e., figuring stuff out), working intelligence (i.e., following orders), and instinctive intelligence (i.e., innate talent) — not to mention spatial intelligence, kinesthetic intelligence, interpersonal intelligence, and more.

As the animal behaviorist Frans de Waal has argued, humans tend to judge animal intelligence in limited and unfair terms and often bungle the experiment.

While labs at Yale and Duke, and around the world, are studying this question, for now we have data on at least one metric: working intelligence.

Smartest Dog Breeds List

In his book “The Intelligence of Dogs,” Coren featured the results of a lengthy survey of 199 dog-obedience judges. The responses, he said, were remarkably consistent. However, he noted that many judges said that there are exceptions in every breed and that a lot comes down to training.

Here’s what he found:


border collie breed
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The brightest working dogs, who tend to learn a new command in less than five seconds and obey at least 95% of the time.


breed pembroke welsh corgi
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Excellent working dogs, who tend to learn a new command in five to 15 exposures and obey at least 85% of the time.


Above-average working dogs, who tend to learn a new trick in 15 to 25 repetitions and obey at least 70% of the time.

yorkie bichon
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  • Chesapeake Bay retriever
  • Puli
  • Yorkshire Terrier
  • Giant Schnauzer
  • Portuguese Water Dog
  • Airedale
  • Bouvier des Flandres
  • Border terrier
  • Briard
  • Welsh Springer Spaniel
  • Manchester Terrier
  • Samoyed
  • Field spaniel
  • Newfoundland
  • Australian terrier
  • American Staffordshire terrier
  • Gordon setter
  • Bearded collie
  • American Eskimo dog
  • Cairn terrier
  • Kerry blue terrier
  • Irish setter
  • Norwegian elkhound
  • Affenpinscher
  • Silky terrier
  • Miniature pinscher
  • English setter
  • Pharaoh hound
  • Clumber spaniel
  • Norwich terrier
  • Dalmatian


Average working dogs, who tend to learn a new trick in 25 to 40 repetitions and obey at least 50% of the time.

siberian husky smartest dog breeds
Photo by Albina ChamonixDeus on
  • Soft-coated wheaten terrier
  • Bedlington terrier
  • Smooth-haired fox terrier
  • Curly-coated retriever
  • Irish wolfhound
  • Kuvasz
  • Australian shepherd
  • Saluki
  • Finnish Spitz
  • Pointer
  • Cavalier King Charles spaniel
  • German wirehaired pointer
  • Black-and-tan coonhound
  • Siberian husky
  • Bichon Frise
  • Tibetan spaniel
  • English foxhound
  • Greyhound
  • Parson Russel terrier
  • Wirehaired pointing griffon
  • West Highland white terrier
  • Havanese
  • Scottish deerhound
  • Boxer
  • Great Dane
  • Dachshund
  • Staffordshire bull terrier
  • Shiba Inu
  • Malamute
  • Whippet
  • Chinese Shar-Pei


Fair working dogs, who tend to learn a new trick in 40 to 80 repetitions and respond about 40% of the time.

chihuahua smartest breeds
Photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh on
  • Skye terrier
  • Norfolk terrier
  • Sealyham terrier
  • Pug
  • French bulldog
  • Brussels griffon
  • Maltese terrier
  • Italian greyhound
  • Chinese crested
  • Dandie Dinmont terrier
  • Vendeen
  • Tibetan terrier
  • Old English sheepdog
  • Great Pyrenees
  • Chihuahua
  • Lhasa apso
  • Bullmastiff


These dogs tend to learn a new trick in 40 to 80 repetitions and respond about 30% of the time.

chow chow breed
  • Shih Tzu
  • Basset hound
  • Beagle
  • Pekingese
  • Borzoi
  • Chow chow
  • Bulldog
  • Basenji
  • Afghan hound

Smartest Dog Breeds

The smartest dog breeds are those that can easily learn new tricks and obey commands. The most intelligent dogs have a high working intelligence, but they also need to have a good amount of emotional intelligence. The smartest dog breeds are a combination of physical and mental traits that have been tested by scientists.

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