From super cuddly pups to dedicated guard dogs, there’s a breed out there for every kind of person, or at least those who are dog-lovers. If you’re in the market for a dog that’s known for his intelligence, look no further. Here are 14 dogs you’ll want to look out for, as these breeds are the smartest you’ll ever own.
1. Australian cattle dog
It’s not much of a surprise that Australian cattle dogs have the brains to match their burly work ethics. They’re independent enough to know what they have to do, and not much can get in their way. As the American Kennel Club says, even the most stubborn of cows won’t deter an Australian cattle dog; they’ll just become more motivated to keep at it until the job’s done. Clearly, these dogs have the brains and the brawn.
Next: Another ranching dog who isn’t afraid of hard work
2. Australian shepherd
Similar to the Australian cattle dog, Australian shepherds are made to work the farm and need to stay active to be happy. Though they’re super independent, Aussies are also very obedient, and their loyalty toward their human is often unmatched. They’re eager to please, and their smarts sometimes mean they’re not fond of wasting their time with other, less intelligent canines.
Next: The name might scare you, but they’re great dogs.
There’s a reason bloodhounds are so good at sniffing out whatever their owner is on the hunt for. This breed is relentless on the trail. (That’s why law enforcement uses them to track down missing persons.) Their large stature — which can reach up to about 110 pounds — coupled with their irresistibly droopy ears really sets the bloodhound apart from other hunting canines. And although they respond well to training, their behavior around the house doesn’t match their behavior out on the trail, as they tend to be mushy when hanging around at home.
Next: You may recognize this breed from a canine cinema classic.
4. Border collie
Lassie is, arguably, the world’s most well-known collie to ever exist. And if you’re familiar with the film, it should come as no surprise that a collie made the list. Although Lassie was a rough collie, the breed shares many of its traits with the border collie, for obvious reasons.
Bred for herding, the border collie has a medium build but is nimble enough to claim the title of being “among the canine kingdom’s most agile, balanced, and tireless citizens.” Furthermore, the AKC says the breed is remarkably smart, with an “uncanny intelligence, athleticism, and trainability.”
Next: These little guys can appear somewhat silly, but they’re smart, too.
Don’t let a corgi’s small stature fool you — this breed is much smarter than it looks. Not only is the Pembroke Welsh corgi sweet and affectionate, but he’s alert and intelligent, too. Additionally, these guys love to stay active, so if you’re looking for a canine that can keep up with you, a corgi may be for you. Not to mention, how can you resist those stumpy little legs and adorably pointy ears?
Next: These guys can appear meaner than they are.
6. Doberman pinscher
Most people know the muscular, sturdy Doberman pinscher for his speed and endurance. What you may not have known, though, is just how witty this guy really is. According to the AKC, “The properly bred and trained Doberman has proved itself to be a friend and guardian, and his intelligence and ability to absorb and retain training have brought him into demand as a police and war dog.” Furthermore, these dogs are good with children, loyal, and alert.
Next: These dogs are guides and police companions.
7. German shepherd
Unfortunately, some associate German shepherds with a less-than-friendly temperament. But if you’ve ever known a shepherd well, you know just how loyal and loving these dogs can be. Given his esteemed resume — which includes work as a guide dog for the blind and as a trusted aid for police enforcement — it’s no surprise that many consider the German shepherd one of the smartest breeds around. These dogs are confident, courageous, and steady, and the AKC says they require “regular mental and physical exercise.”
Next: There’s no denying that this dog is an American favorite.
8. Golden retriever
There’s no question that the golden retriever is one of the most popular breeds in the country — and for good reason. They’re lovable, loyal, and downright gorgeous. And their enviable qualities don’t just stop at their good looks, either. According to the AKC, “Goldens are good at whatever they do, be it hunting, serving as guide dogs, working search-and-rescue, or being devoted companions.” A golden’s intelligence serves him well, and he’s pretty much always willing and eager to please.
Next: This dog is small, but made for working.
9. Jack Russell terrier
Small but mighty, the Jack Russell terrier is a work dog who excels in hunting and vermin control alike. Small in stature but big in heart, this breed not only loves to stay active, it needs to. The Jack Russell terrier is active, alert, and inquisitive, and according to the Jack Russell Terrier Club of America, these dogs have to be able to outwit foxes when they’re with their handlers and teams.
Next: This family favorite is more than just a pretty face.
10. Labrador retriever
Labs are smart cookies, and they’re super eager to please their humans. Because of this, they, like golden retrievers, make for excellent guide dogs and law enforcement companions. Friendly and outgoing, Labrador retrievers absolutely love spending time with their family and require lots of physical activity.
Next: This toy dog is known for his smarts and butterfly-shaped ears.
You may not often associate dogs in the toy group as being overly intelligent, but the papillon stands apart. Although he’s small, the papillon is lively, with bold, butterfly-like ears. (Papillon is actually the French word for “butterfly.”) Additionally, this breed is well-known for being happy and alert, without being aggressive.
Next: This dog is known for more than just his good looks.
Although they’re often portrayed as the canine version of their stuck-up humans, there’s much more to poodles than their proud personalities. Not only do they have beauty, but they have the brains to match. They’re active, exceptionally smart, and easily trained in obedience.
Next: This dog’s bark is often bigger than his bite.
Rottweilers have earned themselves a bit of a reputation, thanks to their intimidating stature and, of course, big bark. But these giants can sometimes be gentle, at least when they’re in the company of their humans. An inherent protector, the rottweiler is intelligent, willing to work, and a devoted companion. The rottie needs two workouts a day, and responds with a wait-and-see attitude.
Next: One more herding dog to round out the list
14. Shetland sheepdog
Herding dogs are a hearty breed, and the Shetland sheepdog is no exception. Known for their intelligence both on the farm and off, Shelties are playful and love learning new tricks. They’re easy to train, obedient, and agile, and they tend to serve as great watch dogs for their families.
Next: How does your dog’s intelligence level measure up during the training process?
Smart doesn’t always mean trainable
There are various kinds of intelligence, and just because your dog is one of the smartest breeds doesn’t necessarily mean he’s going to be a quick study. For instance, your canine may be highly intelligent on the ranch but somewhat dopey at home, especially when it comes to obedience training. “Dog intelligence, like human intelligence, comes in various forms,” WebMD says. “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.”
Read more: The 21 Easiest Dog Breeds to Own