Service Dog Registration Of America

7 Smartest Dog Breeds in 2022

black and white border collie

Our canine companions are so much more than just a friendly wagging tail that greets us as we walk through the front door. 

While it would be a stretch to say that all dogs have outstanding intellect, several breeds are pretty remarkable in their abilities. These intelligent creatures can do everything from herding animals to detecting explosives and narcotics and searching for survivors after natural disasters. 

Anybody who has owned a dog will know that their intelligence goes much further than simply their extraordinary sense of smell. They also can remember a vast array of commands, detect different tones, and even pick up on human emotions and act accordingly. These capacities make some dog breeds not only bright but highly in-tune in ways we don’t yet fully comprehend. 

Here are seven of the most intelligent dog breeds and what makes them so different.      

1. Border Collies

Watching a border collie at work is a sight to behold. The speed and mental capacity as they work in tandem with a farmer to round up a group of sheep make for some of the most impressive canine displays you’re ever likely to see. It’s no surprise they are considered the smartest breed around. 

First bred in the United Kingdom as a cross between Roman herding dogs and Viking spitzes, border collies have long become the farming dog of choice in even the most demanding environments.   

2. German Shepherds

A full-grown German shepherd can be a fearsome proposition. With males growing to between 30 and 40 kg, they are one breed you would certainly think twice about before messing with them. 

Yet behind that tough exterior lies one of the most loyal and intelligent breeds. German shepherds perform a whole host of specialized jobs, including search and rescue, mine and narcotic detection, and even navigation on the battlefield. 

Rugged, dependable, and highly intelligent, German shepherds require plenty of exercise to run off that mountainous energy but are also among the smartest canines in the world.       

3. Golden Retriever 

Golden retrievers and golden labradors are often lumped together because of their similar appearance, but the two come with some striking differences. 

Labradors are more popular because of their playfulness. On the other hand, golden retrievers come with a superior intellect while still caring and wonderfully friendly, making them perfect guide dogs and excellent for rehabilitation purposes. 

One reason for this is their high adaptive IQ. It makes them excellent readers of human emotions and great canine communicators.     

4. Doberman Pinscher 

Another breed on our list that comes with a formidable reputation is the Doberman Pinscher, a dog that has long been one of the most popular choices for protection and guarding services. And let’s be honest, you can see why. 

But this is no out-of-control brute. Dobermans come with an outstanding intellect that enables them to learn and remember commands quickly and easily, making them perfect for police and military duties and close-protection purposes.  

5. Papillon

And now for something very different. The tiny and entirely adorable Papillion may not immediately strike you as a highly intelligent dog capable of putting in some serious mileage, but as the saying goes, never judge a book by its cover. 

First bred in Europe in the 12th Century, it is one of the oldest breeds, first known as the dwarf spaniel, and then the toy spaniel. The tiny Papillion has a reputation as the most intelligent of the ‘toy breeds.’ 

Unlike other small dogs, they rarely suffer from anxiety or shyness and are highly responsive and obedient. This is one small package that pulls a hefty intellectual punch.        

6. Australian Cattle Dog

You have to have plenty upstairs to survive the harsh climate of the Australian outback. The Australian cattle dog is the not-so-distant cousin of the dingo, a wild dog that still roams Australia today. 

In the 19th Century, an enterprising farmer successfully crossbred tamed dingoes with dogs typically used by ranchers at the time, and the Australian cattle dog was born. 

This breed is entirely unsuitable for small apartment or house living as they come with almost insatiable energy, much better suited to the wilderness of the outback. 

Highly intelligent, loyal, and yet fiercely independent at the same time, Australian cattle dogs have long been the go-to choice for farmers down under.     

7. Poodles      

The infinitely cute poodle is another breed that might not immediately strike you as having above-average intelligence. But once again, looks can be deceiving. 

They may be all charming and dainty on the outside, but poodles are also some of the most intelligent dogs. According to canine psychologist and Ph.D. Stanley Coren, poodles are the second smartest breed after border collies. They beat every other name on this list when ranked for instinct, adaptiveness, obedience, and work ethic. 

When regularly trained, poodles can remember up to 300 or more different words and have some of the highest levels of emotional intelligence. They are also deeply in tune with vocal tones, hand gestures, and body language.     


No breed of dog is entirely alike, and even those deemed to possess an above-average intellect come with a variety of differences. Some are more suitable as companions, such as poodles, Papillons, and golden retrievers. In contrast, breeds like Dobermans and German shepherds are probably the ones you want in your corner. 

If you’re looking for a dependable working sidekick, willing to do the hard graft under challenging circumstances, you can’t go wrong with a border collie or an Australian cattle dog. But while they may differ in size, temperament, and ultimate purpose, these are unquestionably the smartest and most emotionally intelligent dogs today. 

Many of these breeds also make for excellent service dogs. For more on animals and registering your intelligent dog as a trained service dog, visit Service Dog Registration of America.