Dog breeders assure us that almost any dog can be taught to learn basic behaviors, as long as you are persistent and patient in your attempts at training. Some dogs however are bred more for their ability to act as livestock shepherds, trackers, or other specific functions, and these breeds often exhibit a single-mindedness which may appear to observers as distractedness or being just plain dense.
Generally speaking, the intelligence of dogs is associated with their trainability, and certain breeds stand out in this area. The dog breeds listed below fall into a special category of pets which have demonstrated their ability to understand commands with just a few repetitions, and then obey those commands nearly 100% of the time.
While many dog owners may dispute these findings, or feel they have sufficient grounds for including their own pet in the ‘smartest’ category, these are the dog breeds which consistently take top honors as the smartest dog breeds.
- Border collie – This dog is a tireless worker which is in great demand for its intelligence and tremendous instincts, as well as its willingness to undertake almost any task presented to it.
- Poodle – This is one of the small dog breeds which are exceptionally smart and active, specializing in retrieving objects from water. They have a keen sense of smell, and were used long ago for hunting down truffles.
- German Shepherd – These dogs have been trained by military organizations and police agencies to carry out all sorts of useful activities in sniffing out crime, but in ordinary household settings, they are also very affectionate companions.
- Golden Retriever – Golden retrievers are very eager to please, and although originally bred as hunting companions, they are also ideal for guiding and assisting operations intended to rescue individuals, or to seek out persons who have become lost.
- Doberman Pinscher – Dobermans are legendary for their speed and stamina, and these characteristics have served them well as guard dogs. Police agencies and military organizations have also found them to be very useful as assistants in crime-fighting, and in combat situations.
- Papillon – It’s name (French for ‘butterfly’) refers to the butterfly-like ears that a Papillon possesses, but it is a very lively and friendly breed, known for its quick learning, and for its consistent ability to obey commands from a beloved owner.
- Labrador Retriever – While perfect for many sporting and recreational activities, Retrievers are also ideal for household life, being affectionate with all family members, and since they’re very gentle, they are even safe around very young members of the family.
- Rottweiler – A Rottweiler is a powerfully built dog breed, most content in the performance of tasks assigned to it. This dog breed has been used as a service dog, a therapy dog, and a police dog, and is a devoted companion for its owner or manager.
- Australian Cattle Dog – This is a very energetic dog which is a tireless worker when herding livestock, and it has tremendous agility and energy that make it ideal for herding.
- Shetland Sheepdog – This dog breed is basically a miniature working Collie which is extremely intelligent, and is a great livestock herder. They are affectionately known as Shelties, and make wonderful household pets if sufficiently exercised.
Dogs in general are very smart animals, far easier to train than most other animals, and this is one of the attributes that can make them such great household pets. Even though the smart dogs listed above are well known for their intelligence and trainability, they are not necessarily the best household pets.
While it will probably be easier for you to train any of the above dog breeds, there are other factors that impact their suitability as household pets, so you’ll have to find that dog which for you, best combines intelligence and adaptability to home life. If you don’t know where to start, a dog breed selector might point you in the right direction.