young boy relaxing and walking with German Shepherd in park
The 3 Smartest Dog Breeds, According To A Canine Behaviorist

by Kristina Johnson

Adding a dog to your family can bring you lots of joy, but it also comes with a ton of hard work. Training a pup is a big job, but it's one that might get a little easier if your new fur baby comes from one of the smartest dog breeds.

Colleen Demling-Riley, a canine behaviorist at Pawtopia, tells Romper via email that smart is obviously a subjective term. "We often base our judgment on the dog’s responsiveness to us instead of truly evaluating how quickly the pup is learning and making associations in the environment," she says. "Many pet parents have complained to me that they have a dumb dog because the pup won’t respond to a command unless they are offered a treat. To me, that’s a sign of intelligence. No one wants to work for free."

Demling-Riley also notes that picking a dog based on its breed isn't always a sure thing. "There is as huge variation of personalities within a breed. A family looking for a dog should also consider age, size, energy level, individual personality, and history," she says. That being said, dogs from these three particular breeds have a good chance of being smarter than the average pup.


Border Collie


The American Kennel Club (AKC) calls the border collie a "remarkably bright workaholic." This dog is always ready to put in a day's labor, which Demling-Riley says makes it one of the top herding dogs. "This breed’s intelligence can be linked to the dog’s need to quickly and accurately respond to the movement of livestock while instantly following directions from the human handler in order to move the herd," she says.

The breed's intelligence has been well documented, and it's not just limited to herding cattle or sheep. In 2011, PBS did a special on a border collie who could recognize more than 1000 objects by name.


German Shepherd


If you picture a police dog in your head, chances are you're picturing a German shepherd. It's no coincidence that this breed is so common in K-9 units — it's typically super smart and hardworking, according to Demling-Riley. "The German shepherd has been used for a variety of proposes throughout history, from herding dogs to war dogs to service dogs," she says. "Over time, this versatility developed an extremely smart breed that is eager to learn and work in partnership with a handler." Their intelligence, however, means you'll need to keep these guys busy. Vet Street noted that German shepherds need a good amount of exercise and mental stimulation, so you'll want to schedule multiple walks and engage in lots of active play.




If poodles have always struck you as kind of posh, it may be because the breed was the traditional furry friend of choice among the kings and queens of France, according to Demling-Riley. The breed has been around for centuries, and remains a highly popular choice for dog lovers. "Since they were bred mostly as a family pet, they are highly trainable, intelligent and responsive to human direction," Demling-Riley says.

Their smarts also make them a great family dog. Canna-Pet noted that poodles are often very trainable, since they're usually obedient and fast learners. They're also a good choice for people who suffer from allergies, according to AKC, because they have a non-shedding coat and don't produce much dander.

If you're looking a breed that will make training a breeze, any of these three dogs should be a safe bet.