The 10 Wisest Dog Breeds That Would Easily Pass Any IQ Test

While all dogs make excellent best friends, some are, shall we say, more adorably clueless than others. However, certain dog breeds stand out from the crowd when it comes to working intelligence (i.e. following commands). In his book The Intelligence of Dogs, psychologist Stanley Coren named these breeds as the most intelligent after polling nearly 200 dog-obedience judges. The book, which was first published in 1994 and was updated in 2006, is still considered a landmark piece of literature on the subject.

And, if you’re curious, we’ve answered some frequently asked questions about dogs’ IQs that might blow your mind. Have you ever wondered whether large dog breeds are smarter than small dog breeds? Or, for that matter, how do you determine a dog’s IQ in the first place? All of this is important to understand when ranking the most intelligent dogs. And keep in mind that intelligence isn’t everything. We’ve also ranked the best dogs for families, the best apartment dogs, and the healthiest dogs. It all boils down to which breed is best suited to your family and needs.

What qualifies a dog as “smart?”

Coren assessed breed intelligence based on instincts, obedience, and adaptability. But, according to Sarah Hodgson, a pet behavior specialist, it’s all relative. “Some are socially and emotionally dependent on people, so they are much easier to train and far more receptive to our vision of what they should do,” she explains. “However, they lack intuitive intelligence.”

A hound is an example because, while they are not receptive, they have superior senses of sight and smell. Similarly, terriers may not respond well to commands, but they have excellent hearing.

Is it possible for dogs to have an IQ?

No, not exactly. As Hodgson explained, “IQ” is highly dependent on the quality under consideration. You can have your dog take an IQ test created by Coren based on his analyses in his book. For example, if your dog can learn a new command in less than five repetitions, he qualifies as an Einstein of puppies.

Is it true that larger dogs are smarter than smaller dogs?

It hasn’t been proven, but research suggests that larger dogs may be smarter. If you look at this list, you’ll notice that the papillon is the only tiny pup. Coren recently addressed this issue in a post for Psychology Today titled “Are Big Dogs Smarter Than Small Dogs?”

Coren shared findings from a study conducted earlier this year “Data was collected from 1,888 dogs, and the results were unequivocal. There was a clear trend indicating that larger dogs could recall information more accurately over a longer period of time than their smaller counterparts.”

However, keep in mind that some companion dogs were bred to have specific characteristics, such as being calm and non-confrontational. Hodgson adds that many small breeds are descended from larger breeds and thus share similar drives, instincts, and, yes, intelligence.

Let’s talk about our best friends now. According to Coren, these are the smartest dog breeds. Do you want to add a new pup to your pack? Take a look at these unusual dog names.

Border Collie

These herders are the best dogs in the world, according to Stanley Coren. Most can learn a new command in less than five repetitions and follow it at least 95% of the time.


It used to be that you could get cockapoo, whoodles, and goldendoodles, but now you can get a lot more than that. Breeders love poodles for more than their hypoallergenic qualities. Also, the curly-coated cuties took second place in Coren’s survey when it came to working smarts.

German Shepherd

There is no surprise that German Shepherds can be police dogs, seeing eye dogs, medical helper dogs, and therapy dogs. This breed comes with a lot of obedience, so it’s not surprising.

Golden Retriever

That’s true. In this survey, one of the country’s most popular pets also got all A’s, which is a good thing. While the Golden Retriever is a breed that was originally used for hunting, the dogs also like to act like goofballs from time to time, too.

Doberman Pinscher

During the late 1800s, a German tax collector named Louis Doberman was looking for a dog that could be both a guard dog and a friend. Dobermans were born then. These fearless protectors can hold their own and hang out with kids.

Shetland Sheepdog

Collies are bigger than these cute fluffballs, but they still do well in herding, agility, and obedience competitions, no matter how small they are. They also tend to bark and chase, but their love for hugs and snuggles will make any bad feelings go away.

Labrador Retriever

Labs are always happy to help, whether they’re used as guide dogs, sniff out drugs, or just play with their families. For the last 27 years in a row, they have been the most popular breed in the United States.


Papaillons aren’t your typical lap dogs. They are the first toy breed to make it into the top 10. People who run agility competitions with dogs say that the 5-pound wonders are often the winners. Their name, which means “butterfly” in French, refers to their long, pointed ears.


Rottweilers may have come from dogs that worked as herders in Ancient Rome. They have a tough, reliable temperament, too. An enthusiastic Rottweiler owner will make sure their dog is well-trained and exercised. They will get a loyal and loving friend in return.

Australian Cattle Dog

Make sure to get your hands on the Australian Cattle Dog, even though it’s not a popular breed with AKC. This smart dog will make you happy. The high-energy herders are alert, curious, and friendly. They do best when they have a job to do.

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