I have owned or trained dozens of dogs in my lifetime, so comparisons among pooches of different breeds are inevitable. Which is the most cuddly? Which is the most fun to take out for a run? Which one loves treats the most? Which loves a good car drive? AKC recently attempted to simplify another comparator—which dog breeds are the most brainy?
They compiled a list of the 10 smartest dog breeds, based on characteristics such as general intelligence and willingness & ability to perform different tasks. Here is the list, with our assessment of each breed:
When the cowboys and ranchers of the Wild West began developing Australian Shepherds in the 1800’s, who would have thought the breed would grow to become one of the most versatile and trainable around? These high-energy dogs excel at obedience & agility training, and have successfully worked in fields such as guide, therapy, detection, disaster, and rescue.
Originally bred to gently retrieve waterfowl during hunting parties, the Golden Retriever has grown to become arguably the most versatile breed in the world today. They perform many lines of work including search and rescue, hunting, detection, and guide dog duties. Did you know that a Golden Retriever, Augie (pictured above), even holds the world record for most tennis balls held in the mouth?
Siberian Huskies, known for their cold weather acclimation, happen to also be one of the most intelligent breeds around. They were critical in helping to settle Alaska during the Nome Gold Rush, and even saw work on U.S. Navy expeditions to both the North Pole and Antarctica!
This distant cousin of the more-common German Shepherd is truly a jack-of-all-trades. Malinois have been used in police and military work, search and rescue, tracking, and odor detection. U.S. Navy SEALs even used a Malinois in the military operation that targeted Osama bin Laden.
As if being a giant teddy bear isn’t enough to melt hearts, Newfoundlands go the extra mile and add supreme intelligence to their list of top-dog qualities. Newfies have even learned to swim a modified dog paddle, helping them become the world’s best water rescue and lifesaving breed!
According to AKC registration statistics, Labs are the #1 most popular dog breed in the US, and for good reason: a great family dog with a high IQ? Sounds like a no-brainer! These dogs have filled many roles beyond their original task of waterfowl retriever. They often are used as assistance dogs for the blind and impaired.
One of the smaller breeds on the list, the Beagle is an excellent companion breed that has also done double duty as a bed-bug detector for exterminators and business owners in recent years. We think Snoopy would be proud.
Did you know that a Bloodhound’s tracking abilities are so top-notch that their findings have even been deemed permissible as evidence in court? Impressive. Apparently the nose really does know after all!
Known for their loyalty and dependability, there’s a reason this breed is a popular choice for police and military work. It might be just our imagination, but our Duke was looking just a tad smug when we told him his breed came in second.
According to the AKC, Border Collies take the prize as the #1 smarty-paws dog breed. Border collies are unparalleled when it comes to their desire to work hard, and they are perennial agility champions. Our Addie always wants to “herd”—she even tries to herd her big brother!