Skip to content

Healthy Dogs

Font Size
A
A
A

How Smart Is Your Dog?

Find out where yours ranks among the10 brightest breeds -- and whether smarter dogs make better pets.
By
WebMD Pet Health Feature

You might think your beagle is the smartest canine on the block, but he's got the dubious honor of being among the least trainable of dog breeds. The snarling Doberman next door? He's a quick study.

Dog intelligence, like human intelligence, comes in various forms. And although the best in any breed can be nurtured by owners willing to put in the time and effort, there are fixed realities when it comes to your animal's inherent qualities.

Recommended Related to Dogs

Treating Behavior Problems in Dogs

Over the last two decades, the role of the domestic dog has undergone significant change. Dogs who used to live in a house with family members around all day, every day-and who had a big backyard in which to play and chase rabbits-may find themselves in an empty house 8 to 10 hours a day and being taken on a leash to a place to eliminate. Some dogs have a difficult time adjusting to this lifestyle, and many behavior problems occur because dogs are on their own and entertaining themselves inside...

Read the Treating Behavior Problems in Dogs article > >

If it's bred to hunt, herd, or retrieve, the dog is more likely to be quick on its feet, eager to work, to move, and to please you. It will learn faster. If it's bred to be a livestock guard dog or a scent hound, it may seem distracted and just a bit dense.

Yet, even if some breeds are more nimble, trainers say any dog can learn the basics like sitting and staying. It just might take them longer to catch on.

The key is knowing what your pooch is built for and how to motivate him.

But keep in mind that the smartest dogs often don't make the best pets. Your job is to find a breed that suits your lifestyle and to focus on bringing out the best in your dog.

Top Dogs

In his bestselling book, The Intelligence of Dogs, neuropsychologist Stanley Coren, PhD, focuses on trainability as a marker of intelligence.

The University of British Columbia psychology professor relied on the assessments of 110 breeds by more than 200 professional dog obedience judges who scored breeds based on working/obedience tests.

The top dogs absorbed commands in less than five repetitions and obeyed them 95% of the time or better. Here's the list along with a breed description by the American Kennel Club:

1. Border Collie: A workaholic, this breed is the world's premier sheep herder, prized for its intelligence, extraordinary instinct, and working ability.

2. Poodle: Exceptionally smart and active. Bred to retrieve things from the water. The miniature variety may have been used for truffle hunting.

3. German Shepherd: The world's leading police, guard, and military dog -- and a loving family companion and herder.

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

bulldog in party hat
Breeds with longevity
Doberman Pinscher Clipped Ears
The facts about ear cropping and tail docking.
 
dog with duck in mouth
Which are considered smartest?
boxer dog
What are their health issues?
 
Pit bull looking up
Article
Pets: Is My Dog Normal
Slideshow
 
Dog scratching behind ear
Slideshow
dog catching frisbee
Slideshow
 

Love your pets, hate your allergies?

Get tips for relief.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Dog Breed RMQ
Quiz
Lady owner feeding dog
Slideshow
 
pooldle
Slideshow
bulldog in party hat
Slideshow
 

Special Sections