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Healthy Dogs

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How Smart Is Your Dog?

Find out where yours ranks among the10 brightest breeds -- and whether smarter dogs make better pets.

Top Dogs continued...

4. Golden Retriever: Intelligent and eager to please. Bred as a hunting companion; ideal as a guide and as assistance with search-and-rescue operations.

5. Doberman Pinscher: Known for its stamina and speed. Bred to be a guardian and in demand as a police and war dog.

6. Shetland Sheepdog: The "Sheltie" is essentially a miniature working Collie. A rough-coated, longhaired working breed that is keenly intelligent. Excels in herding.

7. Labrador Retriever: An ideal sporting and family dog. Gentle and intelligent.

8. Papillon: A happy, alert breed that isn't shy or aggressive. Known as Dwarf Spaniels in the 16th and 17th centuries, they reach 8-11 inches high.

9. Rottweiler: Robust and powerful, the breed is happiest with a job. Suitable as a police dog, herder, service dog, therapy dog, obedience competitor, and devoted companion.

10. Australian Cattle Dog: Happiest doing a job like herding, obedience, or agility. Energetic and intelligent.

Do Smart Dogs Make Better Pets?

You might think a smart dog will do what you want it to do. Not necessarily.

"Smart doesn't mean easy," Coren says.

"A Doberman is going to get bored and destroy your sofa and vase collection if you're out of the house for 8 to 10 hours a day, while an English bulldog may take 8 hours to figure out you're gone," Coren says. "You'll come home and he'll greet you and your pottery is still on the shelf."

A border collie is bred to work all day, so if it doesn't have an opportunity to work or exercise, it will be miserable, says Chris Redenbach, an Atlanta-based dog trainer who runs The Balanced Dog training program. "Typically, it'll come out in other areas, like destructiveness, running away, nipping at kids."

Having a smart dog "is like having a very smart kid," Redenbach says. "They're always into something and will get into trouble if they're bored.

Coren says his beloved beagle, a breed that scored low in obedience tests, is perfect around Coren's nine grandchildren because he doesn't seem to mind -- or remember -- them pulling on his ears.

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