Intelligent Dogs for Service and Companionship

Many of the dog breeds deemed as the smartest dogs in the world reflect working breeds. Some herd, some conduct search and rescue, others hunt and still others guard. All, however, provide companionship.

According to author and neuropsychologist Stanley Coren, PhD, in his book “The Intelligence of Dogs”, the top 10 smartest dogs are, from 1 to 10: Border Collie, Poodle, German Shepherd Dog, Golden Retriever, Doberman, Shetland Sheepdog, Labrador Retriever, Papillion, Rottweiler, and Australian Cattle Dog.

Dr. Coren focuses on trainability as a marker of canine intelligence. In his study, he looked at 110 breeds that were assessed by more than 200 professional dog obedience judged who scored these breeds based on working and obedience tests. The top dog breeds learned commands in less than five repeitions and obeyed those commands 95 percent of the time or better.

Border Collies  
Border Collies are prized for their natural heritage of sheep herding. These extremely intelligent dogs need activity, like the job of herding, and perform very well in agility, herding and obedience trials. This breed is not recommended for apartment living and becomes bored easily, which can cause great destruction of home and property. Therefore, if you’re considering a border collie, make sure the dog will have lots of exercise and activity as well as space to run and play.

Poodles are also very smart dogs that excel in obedience and conformation events. This breed, though now mostly used as a companion animal, was originally bred for water retrieval. Some reports indicate the miniature variety was used for truffle hunting.

German Shepherd Dogs
German Shepherd Dogs are the world’s leading police, guard and military dogs. Considered fearless yet approachable, these dogs have also been used for search and rescue and as seeing eye dogs for blind people.

Golden Retrievergolden-retriever
Golden Retrievers are one of the more popular family pets. These intelligent, eagar-to-please canines were originally used for hunting game birds. Some still serve this purpose, while many others are used as assistance dogs, helping blind and other disabled people, as well as for search and rescue work.

Doberman Pinschers
Squarely built, muscular and courageous, Doberman Pinschers are often used as guard dogs. They have also been used as military and police dogs. Known for their stamina and speed, Dobermans perform well in flyball and agility events.

Shetland Sheepdogs
Smaller in stature than many of the other smartest dogs on the list, Shetland Sheepdogs are also eager workers as well as good companion animals. Similar to a collie but smaller, these intelligent little dogs were originally used as herding dogs. Today, they are seen and excel in agility, herding and obedience events.

Labrador Retriever
The most popular family dog in the world, the Labrador Retriever is known for its gentle demeanor as well as intelligence. It often conducts its original purpose: that of a waterfowl retriever, following its hunter master not only to lakes and ponds, but also to the field where the Lab can hunt and retrieve game birds.

Number 8 on the list of smartest dogs is the lively dimunitive Papillon. It’s butterfly-like ears are one of this dog’s distinguishing features. Originally bred as a companion for the genteel, this elegant-looking little dog can also serve as a good watchdog for it’s likely to bark at strangers. The smart, alert Papillon can do well in agility and conformation events.

Opposite in stature of the little Papillon, the robust Rottweiler has been used for guarding as well as police work. However, this powerful dog also works as a service dog, helping the disabled, and as a therapy dog, visiting hospitals. This is another intelligent dog that does best when doing a job.

Australian Cattle Dogsaustralian cattle dog
Like its herding cousin the Border Collie, the Australian Cattle Dog is an intelligent, energetic canine that needs activity and work to keep from becoming bored and possibly destructive. This breed excels in agility, obedience and herding events.

The top 10 smartest dogs in the world, according to Dr. Coren, are dogs that respond well to training and that, for the most part, like to work, or at least enjoy being active. They range from small sizes, such as the Papillon and Shetland Sheepdog, to powerfully, such as the Rottweiler and German Shepherd Dog. All of these dogs have something else in common besides their intelligence: they also serve as devoted family pets. Smart dogs!

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