What do you think of when you hear the words ‘intelligent dog?’ A cute canine barking the alphabet or acting out the works of Shakespeare on a TV show? Not so. Canine intelligence comes in various forms, from doing tricks and agility courses to rounding up livestock, sniffing out drugs and even saving lives.
As psychologist Stanley Coren has shown in behavioural studies, there are different types of canine intelligence including adaptive, working, and instinctive intelligence – most pooches will put their paw up to having at least one of these, though some breeds are genetically predisposed to have one dominant type. If you think you've got the smartest dog on the block, read on and see if your clever clogs canine is in our official top ten!
The Border Collie is known for being one of the most intelligent canines around, topping the list of dogs that take under five seconds to learn a new command and following it for 95% of the time. Perfect for farm work as they can use their excellent herding eye to stare down and herd livestock, they also excel at agility and sheepdog trials.
Human job equivalent - Primary school teacher
Most people don’t realise it, but the fluffy poodle is highly intelligent, making a great working dog. Originally bred for retrieving in France, they can be easily trained to track, hunt and retrieve. Like many working dogs, not all Poodles are happy without much to do, so it's important to make sure that they are allowed to reach their full potential with exercise and mental stimulation.
Human job equivalent - Bounty hunter
These drooling monsters can be notoriously challenging to train and often rank low in working intelligence, but the one thing they know how to do perfectly is track a scent. Their stocky legs carry them over miles of tricky terrain, but the determined Bloodhound won’t give up until he has found the human he is looking for, whether it be a lost child or a criminal - so much so that testimony of a Bloodhound’s results is admissible in court!
Human job equivalent - Detective
Australian Cattle Dog
This herding dog is a great help driving cattle over long distances across rough terrain – full of energy, they are happiest when they have a job to do. Genetically a mix of Collies exported to Australia from Scotland, Dingos, and a few other breeds thrown in along the way, they also make excellent guard dogs – unfortunately they think they are invincible so they often get themselves in trouble!
Human job equivalent - Stunt man
The German Shepherd is one of the top working breeds, often used for army and police work. Obedient and loyal, they are full of energy and are also known for excelling at canine sports such as agility and flyball. Highly adaptable and suited to just about any job, they have even been used as doggy grooms on farms and ranches, helping to herd horses back into stables after a hack out.
Human job equivalent - Police officer
Known as guard dogs, and good ones at that, these fearless hounds have the ability to take instruction so well that they are hugely in demand as police and military dogs. Easily able to outsmart many humans, this courageous breed can anticipate danger and threats, making great protection dogs.
Human job equivalent - Bodyguard
Golden Retriever and Labrador Retriever
These loving family dogs are not only good at rolling around getting their tummy tickled. When used as sporting dogs, the Retriever takes great pride in its work. They also make wonderful assistance dogs and are essential in the search and rescue field where their devoted approach saves many lives. The Labrador Retriever's sensitivity and kind nature also makes it a much-loved assistance dog.
Human job equivalent - Mountain rescue guide
Fluffy by name but not by nature, these smart pooches are great at herding, agility and obedience trials. They love to learn new tricks and excel at herding trials and agility as well as being great therapy dogs. Their mistrust of strangers can make them excellent guard dogs - they won’t hesitate to bark at them to let them know it!
Human job equivalent - Magician
This ferocious-looking dog can be an absolute baby when you get to know it. Confident and loyal, Rotties live to work and are never happier than when they are busy doing something. Used widely as police dogs, they also make great service and therapy dogs.
Human job equivalent - Nightclub bouncer
They may look as though they should be sitting on your lap at the hairdressers, but these little warriors are excellent in the agility trial field. Their diminutive stature doesn’t mean they are just lap dogs - they can learn tricks quicker than any human!
Human job equivalent - Yoga instructor
If you want to boost your canine's intelligence, why not have a look at our 5 easy dog training tricks and see whether they have hidden talents?