Here Are The 'Smartest' Dog Breeds, According To A Psychologist

Who's the smartest? Shutterstock

There's no easy way to rate dog intelligence.

As the psychologist Stanley Coren wrote in the '90s, there's adaptive intelligence (i.e., figuring stuff out), working intelligence (i.e., following orders), and instinctive intelligence (i.e., innate talent) — not to mention spatial intelligence, kinesthetic intelligence, interpersonal intelligence, and more.

As the animal behaviorist Frans de Waal has argued, humans tend to judge animal intelligence in limited and unfair terms and often bungle the experiment.

While labs at Yale and Duke, and around the world, are studying this question, for now we have data on at least one metric: working intelligence.

In his book "The Intelligence of Dogs," Coren featured the results of a lengthy survey of 199 dog-obedience judges. The responses, he said, were remarkably consistent. However, he noted that many judges said that there are exceptions in every breed and that a lot comes down to training.

Here's what he found:

TOP TIER — the brightest working dogs, who tend to learn a new command in less than five seconds and obey at least 95% of the time.

1. Border collie
2. Poodle
3. German shepherd
4. Golden retriever
5. Doberman pinscher

border collie obedience

A border collie shows how it's done. Dan Kitwood

6. Shetland sheepdog
7. Labrador retriever
8. Papillon
9. Rottweiler
10. Australian cattle dog

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