Dog Intelligence Rankings

Nothing like controversy right?

Everyone thinks their doggy is #1

Check out this ranking of dog intelligence based on number of times a new command is understood. Maybe this explains how Sally magically found her way back home.

Ranking is from least to greatest

Ranks 70 to 79
Lowest Degree of Working/Obedience Intelligence

Understanding of New Commands: 80 to 100 repetitions or more.

Obey First Command: 25% of the time or worse.

Rank Breed
70 Shih Tzu
71 Basset Hound
72 Mastiff
73 Pekingese
74 Bloodhound
75 Borzoi
76 Chow Chow
77 Bulldog
78 Basenji
79 Afghan Hound

Ranks 55 to 69
Fair Working/Obedience Intelligence

Understanding of New Commands: 40 to 80 repetitions.

Obey First Command: 30% of the time or better.

Rank Breed
55 Skye Terrier
56 Norfolk Terrier
Sealyham Terrier
57 Pug
58 French Bulldog
59 Brussels Griffon
60 Italian Greyhound
61 Chinese Crested
62 Dandie Dinmont Terrier
Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen
Tibetan Terrier
Japanese Chin
Lakeland Terrier
63 Old English Sheepdog
64 Great Pyrenees
65 Scottish Terrier
Saint Bernard
66 Bull Terrier
67 Chihuahua
68 Lhasa Apso
69 Bullmastiff

Ranks 40 to 54
Average Working/Obedience Intelligence

Understanding of New Commands: 25 to 40 repetitions.

Obey First Command: 50% of the time or better.

Rank Breed
40 Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier
Bedlington Terrier
Smooth Fox Terrier
41 Curly-Coated Retriever
Irish Wolfhound
42 Kuvasz
Australian Shepherd
43 Saluki
Finnish Spitz
44 Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
German Wirehaired Pointer
Black & Tan Coonhound
American Water Spaniel
45 Siberian Husky
Bichon Frise
English Toy Spaniel
46 Tibetan Spaniel
English Foxhound
American Foxhound
Wirehaired Pointing Griffon
47 West Highland White Terrier
Scottish Deerhound
48 Boxer
Great Dane
49 Dachshund
Stafforshire Bull Terrier
50 Alaskan Malamute
51 Whippet
Chinese Shar-pei
Wire Fox Terrier
52 Rhodesian Ridgeback
53 Ibizan Hound
Welsh Terrier
Irish Terrier
54 Boston Terrier

Ranks 27 to 39
Above Average Working Dogs

Understanding of New Commands: 15 to 25 repetitions.

Obey First Command: 70% of the time or better

Rank Breed
27 Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Yorkshire Terrier
28 Giant Schnauzer
29 Airedale Terrier
Bouvier Des Flandres
30 Border Terrier
31 Welsh Springer Spaniel
32 Manchester Terrier
33 Samoyed
34 Field Spaniel
Australian Terrier
American Staffordshire Terrier
Gordon Setter
Bearded Collie
35 Cairn Terrier
Kerry Blue Terrier
Irish Setter
36 Norwegian Elkhound
37 Affenpincher
Silky Terrier
Miniature Pinscher
English Setter
Pharaoh Hound
Clumber Spaniel
38 Norwich Terrier
39 Dalmatian

Ranks 11 to 26
Excellent Working Dogs

Understanding of New Commands: 5 to 15 repetitions.

Obey First Command: 85% of the time or better.

Rank Breed
11 Pembroke Welsh Corgi
12 Miniature Schnauzer
13 English Springer Spaniel
14 Belgian Tervuren
15 Schipperke
Belgian Sheepdog
16 Collie
17 German Shorthaired Pointer
18 Flat-Coated Retriever
English Cocker Spaniel
Standard Schnauzer
19 Brittany
20 Cocker Spaniel
21 Weimaraner
22 Belgian Malinois
Bernese Mountain Dog
23 Pomeranian
24 Irish Water Spaniel
25 Vizsla
26 Cardigan Welsh Corgi

Ranks 1 to 10
Brightest Dogs

Understanding of New Commands: Less than 5 repetitions.

Obey First Command: 95% of the time or better.

Rank Breed
1 Border Collie
2 Poodle
3 German Shepherd
4 Golden Retriever
5 Doberman Pinscher
6 Shetland Sheepdog
7 Labrador Retriever
8 Papillon
9 Rottweiler
10 Australian Cattle Dog

Thanks to Petrix


Dog_geek said...

Nice blog! I tend to think that these sorts of lists are really ranking which breeds are most biddable rather than most intelligent- not always the same thing. Some of the breeds at the bottom of the list are plenty smart, but really could care less about obeying commands.

Barry said...

I'm glad to see my ESS comes in so close to the top ten.

Thirteen's not bad, although I would put her in the top ten myself (but then I'm just a mite biased).

Interesting blog you got here!

Arings said...

Awesome... post!

Canine intelligence is one of the most niche topic in the dog lovers' world. And you did really a great job, with such a post. I also posted something like this before. Please check it out and let me know what you think...

Joe, I have also placed your link in my German shepherd Dog blog - Can you please give me a link of this blog in yours... if you don't mind?


Joe's Foster Dogs said...

This intelligence must be qualified by a narrow margin. It does say a lot in general, but not specifically.

Each dog specifically adapts to their own home environment and can perform feats of intelligence another dog cannot, thus the reason why most feel that THEIR dog is special...which is more than just emotion.

Like people, dog intelligence is plural, not singular. We have many intelligences and are hardwired to emphasize a few more than others.

Google, The Seven Kinds of Smart by Armstrong. There are more than seven, but it is a good basic primer on the subject. If you have kids, this is a must!


Anonymous said...

DGrave, I have had Pitt-Bulls since I was about 5 and I`m 40 now3 and think no one who butts these list together has took the time to study Pitts,I have been around poodles all my life and many more dogs but I know for a fact poodles don`t hold a candle light of intelligence to a pit-bull. Someone should really evaluate these dogs before the label them. I think they are going off of static symbols like what kinda of group of people on them the most ...

KirkFollini said...

I have a Pitt bull and I agree about the extraordinary intelligence of a Pitt Bull.

I have had a Rotweiller who was from a show dog line and 2 german shepards. I paid a lot for each of these dogs and as far as intelligence
goes, they can not hold a candle to my pitt bull terrier!!!!!

Because they are strong willed does not mean they are not inelligent!!!

Pitt bulls use psychology to get what they want!!!!!

We have reverse psychology on him!!!

Tell me what dog knows how to turn off the TV to get attention!!!!

My dog watches cartoons on TV and when he sees a cartoon dog starts barking at it????

Sometimes it absolutely understands what we are talking about. We have been talking to him
like a child since he was a pup, he's thirteen annd in great shape.

He dreams every night!!!!

I have had many dog's in my life but none was as smart as my pit bull!!!

He has gone up to baby's in the carriage and he is so loving he just gives them a lick!!@

Once three 5-6 years old kids came up to him and asked it they could pet hime.

Do you know this dog jumped up and gave each one of them a kiss on the cheek.

They laughed and could not believe it!!!!!

wkippins said...

while i understand and respect the views of the persons who have owned pit bulls, i must say i have seen what these dogs can do to drive fear in their opponants/prey
and even kill dogs, people and animals of any kind that they consider either easy prey or of some bit of a bother to them.
I don't want anyone to think i hate pit bulls, infact i am in the process of acquiring one, but as far as intelligence goes, some things they do may be mistaken to be calculated acts, but in some instances they may just be instinctive or happenstance.
how could a dog so cold be inteligent but all in all i guess i could say they use the tools they have been blessed with well.

Anonymous said...

The intelligence of a canine is directly proportional to the intelligence of its' owner(s). Note the horrendous spelling and grammatical errors in the comments of the Pit Bull owners.... 'nuff said.

Jack Smith said...

Each dog specifically adapts to their own residence surroundings and can perform feats of intelligence another dog cannot, thus the reason why most feel that THEIR dog is special...which is over emotion.Vet Clinic

Matt Dubics said...

Yes, it is all up too the owner. I have owned two pit bull's in my life and they have both been Einsteins. Plenty of time spent with both of them, and not once have I ever seen her be aggressive towards anything and I have a three year old son who tries too ride her, pulls at her, and drives her nuts sometimes, but I do not care at all what people say about them. It doesn't matter if it's a poodle or even a border collie. You tie it too a two foot chain, abuse it, starve, and treat it like trash. IT IS GOING TOO BE MEAN AND AGGRESSIVE. Just because they are massive dogs with an enormous amount of bite strength doesn't mean we should turn our heads away from them and look down upon them. People need too give them a chance and keep them out of the hands of the wrong people.

Daniel said...

The facts are in. Pits while not the dumbest dog around, are far from the smartest. As a child, I wanted a pit so bad I could taste it. My mother, a trama care nurse who had treated several pitbull attact vicims, did not let me have one. Four and one half out of every hundred pitbulls attack and cause serious injury, mame or cause death. This is in the US alone. in the last 30 years, 2175 serious attact, 229 deaths, and 1238 maimings have been caused by these dogs. Some of these dogs were owned by cruel people. Some were owned by people like those here, who defend them saying they are misunderstood. It's not until one of there children get malled or killed that they finaly wake up and admit that they were wrong. Many dogs have had cruel owners. Only one dog causes nearly twice as many deaths as all other dogs combined. Do the research. Stop passing on the information that you have heard and get the facts. most pitbull atacts are from dogs who where never known to have been abused or mistreated. You can say, "It's just because people don't know how to handle them" or "They weren't the right type of owner". The fact is, other dogs are often not handled corectly and mistreted or not with the right type of owner. But when everything does not click together perfectly, these other dogs don't kill. They usualy don't even bite. A pit's first instinct is to bite when thing don't seem to be right. Other dogs are more likely to find a different solution. If they don't fing a solution, they are not as likely to maim or kill if they do bite. I do feel great pitty for these dogs. It's not their fault. It is the fault of the ones who perpetuate the problem by spreading falsities about the breed.

Daniel said...

I would like to say that it amazes me when a statistic comes out about dogs, how all of the pit owners take those staticstics as if some one designed them specificly to incriminate their dog. This was not about pits but about the inteligence of different breeds of dogs. You don't see owners of Great Pyrinese jumping up and down arguing that there dogs are infact misunderstood and have been given a raw deal because they were ranked low. But no, leave it to the pit owners to scream and haller.

Anonymous said...

You should look at the UKC super dog list and you might reconsider your stance on pit bull type dogs intelligence consisting 2/3 of the dogs on the list are in the pit bull category.

David Allen said...

That is such a crock I have seen all kinds of dogs attack or bite. Pits are no different they don't have a mean gene in them. They are loyal protective and affectionate. My pits put up with more than any dog I know and just walk away when they are bothered

David Allen said...

Straight from the UKC United Kennel Club data on Pit Bulls

The essential characteristics of the American Pit Bull Terrier are strength, confidence, and zest for life. This breed is eager to please and brimming over with enthusiasm. APBTs make excellent family companions and have always been noted for their love of children. Because most APBTs exhibit some level of dog aggression and because of its powerful physique, the APBT requires an owner who will carefully socialize and obedience train the dog. The breed’s natural agility makes it one of the most capable canine climbers so good fencing is a must for this breed. The APBT is not the best choice for a guard dog since they are extremely friendly, even with strangers. Aggressive behavior toward humans is uncharacteristic of the breed and highly undesirable. This breed does very well in performance events because of its high level of intelligence and its willingness to work.[17]

In September 2000 a meta-analysis conducted by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was published which examined dog bite related fatalities (human death caused by dog bite injuries) over a 20 year period from 1979-1998. The study examined 238 fatalities in which the breed of dog was known. The study was surmised to covered approximately 72% of known dog bite related fatalities during that period.[18] However in the later half of the study Rottweilers accounted for more dog bite related fatalities than pit bulls. Further, in tests of over 500 dogs, the American Pit Bull Terrier ranked as the second safest breed in the test.[19]

Joe said...

This is a crock!

It is crap like this that only allow ignorant people to feel superior.

Anonymous said...

I am not surprised that the Rottweilers ranked so high. They are such majestic creatures who require an experienced dog owner. Rottweilers are very different from Pit Bulls in temperament. They are no nonsense guard dogs by nature. I owned Pit Bulls my whole life. Pit Bulls are people oriented and friendly by default, therefore don't make the best guard dogs in my experience. I do believe that the Border Collie is indeed the most intelligent dog breed - they are so beautiful and amazing it gives me chills to watch them work. I do resent that someone alluded here that Pit Bull owners are stupid - well I am an Engineer/Professor with multiple degree so I suppose your assessment is not true in all cases!

Anonymous said...

This test has nothing to do with intelligence it's a test of how obedient and stupid a dog can be. You can train a german sheppard or a rotweiler to jump from the top flor of a building, very high intelligence? No, more like the top on the most stupid dog list!:)

Anonymous said...

I think dog intelligence has only a little to do with how easily a dog can be trained.
I have a Bichon Frise, a very intelligent dog in spite of difficulty training him.
He understands a lot, easily finds associations between words and their "meanings", and remembers them for good.
The only difference is, that he just doesn't like to obey commands, he likes to be independent. That's more a breed personality issue than intelligence.

Dogwalker John said...

I love the comments posted here. Old saying, figures never lie but liars sure can figure. Frankly, I love pit bulls... that wasn't true a year ago but for the past year I've been volunteering at a local humane. 1,000 hours later and 3 bites (none from a pit) I have learned a lot with a lot more yet to learn. Pits are smart! Pits are friendly and fun loving. Any dog can bite or attack and usually they have a reason. It may not be readily apparent to us but it is there. I trust pits as much as I trust most dogs but I don't trust any dog 100%. They are, after all, dogs... Love them, train them, treat them well and you will be rewarded. Educate all the people around them and they and the dog will be safe. Fail in either area and you may someday have a problem.

Anonymous said...

My Aunt Mary's pit bull saved her life. Aunt Mary, in her mid-thirties and seemingly very healthy, had heart failure in the middle of the night. Sassy started nipping and pulling my uncle's hand until he awakened. Sassy was insistent that my uncle get up NOW and help Mary. Sassy didn't stop barking/whining/tugging until my uncle was fully conscious of the situation and called 911 while starting CPR. I'm glad to say that Mary, Sassy, and my Uncle Larry are all alive and well today. Call it what you want, but Sassy is a miracle dog, and obviously VERY intelligent. Nothing against poodles, but I wouldn't have wanted any other canine to have been at Aunt Mary's house that night--Sassy is truly a lifesaver.

Joe said...

Good to read the responses, even the "stupid" comments.

Many comments on pitts. The chart is not just about this breed, but welcome the comments. Before I get into this subject, I will add that I see dogs as I see humans regarding my argument below. I believe in the theory of Multiple Intelligences and feel the same for dogs as I try to illustrate below. In the end, a dog thrives best when like a human, feel purpose on a daily basis and can do their given "work" which we as dog owners need to provide this environment on a consistent basis. Once this is accepted, then, their is excitement and joy discovering who your dog is and how time has shaped their hardwiring allowing for many creative ways to make your loved one experience life fully! Happy dog, happy person. :)

On this or any intelligence chart, "eat the melon, spit out the seeds" basically says like any intelligence test that given a set of learned tasks, whatever they might be, the dogs who rank high simply have a stronger intelligence to perform these tasks, Border Collies ranking the highest.

Now, if a Border Collie can master a learned behavior in an hour and a Cocker Spaniel takes three hours, in the end, both dogs can perform similar tasks. Yet, the intelligence separates when a BC can perform and retain many multiple tasks at a much higher level. But keep reading!

Each breed has a 'hardwire' for their specific DNA. Sally, my little shepherd instantly started rounding up calves when she was in TN. In CA, she was THE most timid dog ever. She came alive in her environment. Is she MORE intelligent that a Beagle? In this environment, yes. But the ignorance of us "humans" is to make faulty assumptions based on this and thus "narrowing" a particular breed based on specific testing--the Beagle is "less intelligent." Flip-flop the environments, and a Beagle can perform at a much faster rate their own hardwirded tasks.

An athletic kid will seem bored and uninvolved in a library (or a disturbance) but on the playground come alive. So in this sense, the IQ tests are somewhat irrelevant because each breed has its own uniqueness. The key is: first seek to understand before being understood--allow your dog to thrive in their natural environment (and provide this).

When 101 Dalmatians came out years ago, many kids wanted a Dalmatian. Parents caved and bought their kid a dog who lived in apts or townhouses. Fast-forward six months and they got rid of the dogs? Why? This breed must thrive in a way to perform their hardwirded tasks (jobs) and cannot live in small spaces. The dogs suffers because of a lack of wisdom or common sense. They should have bought their kid a stuffed animal!

So, intelligence testing to determine a "list" will always make some feel uncomfortable. The testing needs to be particular to each breeds' hardwired DNA developed over MANY years. But, given a set of "tests" (whatever they are) a list will simply show which dog performed better, and I agree, a Border Collie is at the highest rank. In the end, who cares? If this "ranking" only empowers the dog owner, than that is shallow. The dog could care less. It only wants to be free to be who it is and the owner needs to have enough desire (intelligence) to provide this environment.

On a side note: I feel for many breeds that have been reduced to suburban living meaning the dog sits alone all day and like a fish in a tank, has to change their natural intent to accommodate (survive) day-to-day. This is where the high power breeds get into trouble. They must have a way to unleash their energy. Dogs feel most alive when they can work based on their natural hardwiring.

...just my thoughts on the subject.

Anonymous said...

Oh calm down every idiot who has a pitbull and can't stand that they're not considered on the higher end of the intelligence chain when assessed in studies that are typically used to determine the intelligence of a breed. "Oh but you don't know about pitbulls" "but pitbulls just have a bad reputation" "there's no such thing as a dumb dog, just a dumb owner".

People who own and love pitbulls are possibility the most insufferable dog breed fans. Constantly trying to defend them and they're delusional to the point where they think 'no pitbull could ever do something bad, it's just the way it's trained'...yup nothing to do with it's natural instincts to be a dominant and aggressive animal who will more often than other dogs resort to violence to accommodate its inherently vicious nature.

The sad thing is a good pitbull owner "trains" it to not be violent. How? Beating t when it does the wrong thing. Not just a light smack with a newspaper or negative reinforcement of no food for a night or no treats when they have done something bad. No, when they show their natural signs of violence the owner must literally hurt the dog to "train" it to not do that, to not be its natural self. Why is it that so many other breeds don't require this kind of "training" but pitbulls do, but pitbulls are just as peaceful as any breed its just a failure to pummel them at a young age any time they show signs of aggression or violence to prove their dominance. I've seen what happens when a pitbull is not raised by it owner properly (vicious, blood-thirsty behavior) and when dogs not known for violence are neglected by their owner's (poop in the house, won't stop barking).

Alanna R. said...

No. Just no. I'm currently training a pure bred Pitt puppy. I've had many dogs, to include a wolf hybrid. Let's put a few things to bed: I smack my dogs hindquarters lightly only when teething gets out of control. I don't beat the dog, and if you HAVE to beat a dog to curb aggression, you're likely part of the problem (in several ways, starting with why you likely bought a backyard bred trainwreck?).
I've been bitten by dogs twice in my life...both shit tzus. I've watched my hybrid get injured as a pup by two separate overly aggressive terriers, to the point that she'd avoid small dogs as an adult, ando run from JRTs. Most dog aggression stems from human stupidity, either in breeding animals that should have been never bred, buying them, or failure to correct Fluffy's shenanigans.
Ps. Humans bred all the dogs you see today from their wolf ancestors. We are responsible right down to their very existance.

Alanna R. said...

No. Just no. I'm currently training a pure bred Pitt puppy. I've had many dogs, to include a wolf hybrid. Let's put a few things to bed: I smack my dogs hindquarters lightly only when teething gets out of control. I don't beat the dog, and if you HAVE to beat a dog to curb aggression, you're likely part of the problem (in several ways, starting with why you likely bought a backyard bred trainwreck?).
I've been bitten by dogs twice in my life...both shit tzus. I've watched my hybrid get injured as a pup by two separate overly aggressive terriers, to the point that she'd avoid small dogs as an adult, ando run from JRTs. Most dog aggression stems from human stupidity, either in breeding animals that should have been never bred, buying them, or failure to correct Fluffy's shenanigans.
Ps. Humans bred all the dogs you see today from their wolf ancestors. We are responsible right down to their very existance.

Michael Costello said...

to Anonymous who posted on 3.2.16

That's the biggest load of rubbish I have ever read. Anyone who hits a dog is causing the dog to become violent, it's just plane stupid.

I have a Pitbull who is three years old. He is a kind loving dog who tolerates people and other dogs very well; even other dogs who become aggressive towards him. In the three years he has been in one fight. The other dog (of around the same size), whose owner lets it wander the streets, kept on nipping at him every time I would walk him and he would not fight back. Then one day the other dog ran out of nowhere and bit him on the face. So yes, he fought back. Did he win? Yes. Was the other dog seriously injured? No.

A few months back he walked up to a neighbors (small) dog who is always aggressive and it bit him on the nose and drew blood. My dog didn't even look at the other dog twice and just kept playing. He is happy and confident and seems to treat small dogs like toys rather than a threat.

BTW - he is also, without doubt, as smart as any dog I have ever owned, which includes an Australian Cattle Dog. He was toilet trained after one accident(hard to believe I know). He can distinguish between five different toys on command, he knows the basics like stay, sit, lie down, come here, yes, no, and many others such as go upstairs, go downstairs, go to bed (out the back in his house), got to (insert family members name), etc.

I will admit, he was hard to train due to being strong willed and wanting to dominant. We needed to be very firm with him. Every time he tried something dominant we ignored him for a while. He was also quite excitable during play, so every time he went too far we ignored him for 30 minutes and he soon got the message. He also had a tendency to wag his tail rather than act when you asked him to do something - kind of saying "yes I heard you but I'll get to it when I'm ready". When he did that, the same treatment, out the back yard alone for half an hour and he soon learned. I'll also admit he had a strong prey drive. Once again easy to get rid of - each time he started chasing another animal we would end his walk and go home. Problem solved. He will now lie there and watch birds and lizards walk up and steal his food without any concern.

Would I recommend a pit bull to any person, No. They are energetic, strong willed, and do have a strong prey drive. You need someone who has the time and patience for them. In the wrong hands they can be very dangerous, just as any medium to large dog can be.

BTW - no food is not 'negative reinforcement', it is punishment. Negative reinforcement is the removal of something negative and is a good thing. A headache tablet takes away your headache, therefore the tablet = negative reinforcement.

Anonymous said...


Anyway surveys / studies have shown cat owners are more intelligent and better educated that dog owners - which might be why cat owners don't take part in these kind of breedist arguments over their cats.

Daniel said...

As a dog lover i found this article useful thanks for sharing this article this will definitely help also check Top Ten Most Intelligent Dogs in the World this will help

Anonymous said...

Learn to spell

Anonymous said...