Top of Their Class: 10 Brainy Dog Breeds

Some dog breeds are known for being incredibly intelligent. They're quick to learn a trick, and if you're not careful, they just might outsmart you. (And you probably wouldn't be the first human to have that happen!)

We asked 266 veterinary professionals (including vets, techs and office managers) which breeds they deemed the brainiest. The dogs shown below topped the list. Do you think our professionals earned an "A" with their answers?

Brainiest Breeds

Shetland Sheedog dog breed

Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography

No. 8 (tied): Shetland Sheepdog

In addition to his serious smarts, the Sheltie is known for being funny, loyal and undeniably cute. His athleticism and desire to show off often make him a natural at trick training, but be mindful of the fact that this breed is also known for barking.


Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography

No. 8 (tied): Collie

Though the Collie looks like a larger version of the Sheltland Sheepdog, they're actually different breeds. Collies can be fantastic family dogs who are eager to please and a pleasure to train.

Australian Cattle Dog

Tara Gregg, Animal Photography

No. 7: Australian Cattle Dog

Also known as the Queensland Heeler or Blue Heeler, the Australian Cattle Dog is a tough herding dog known for his endurance, intelligence and independence. That combination can mean that though they are smart as a whip, they can sometimes be stubborn and a challenge to train.

Chocolate Labrador Retriever in Pond

Anna Pozzi, Animal Photography

No. 6 (tied): Labrador Retriever

The fun-loving Lab is the most popular dog in America for a reason: He's generally loving and energetic and wants to please his people, especially if motivation like a treat or beloved tennis ball is provided.

Golden Retriever

Karin Newstrom, Animal Photography

No. 6 (tied): Golden Retriever

The Golden Retriever is a cheerful and easygoing breed who's typically loyal, intelligent and stable, which is why she's often a great family — and service — dog.

Jack Russell Terrier Digging

Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography

No. 5: Jack Russell Terrier

Equally smart and active, the JRT is not the right dog for everyone, but if you have a demanding job to challenge his body and mind, you may have found your match. Just know that if he's not kept busy, that intelligence and athleticism can be used for more nefarious purposes — such as digging through the family sofa.

Australian Shepherd Smiling Outdoors

Tara Gregg, Animal Photography

No. 4: Australian Shepherd

Many Australian Shepherds are devoted and loyal to their people, always wanting to be close, even to the point of touching. Members of this breed may be smarter and more focused than some humans you know and usually do best when kept busy with dog sports or obedience commands that allow them to "help" you around the house.

Nick Ridley, Animal Photography

No. 3: German Shepherd Dog

Typically a natural protector, the GSD is not only highly intelligent, but also adaptable enough to handle nearly any task assigned to him. If this breed had opposable thumbs, he just might take over the world.

Apricot Poodle in Grass

Robin Burkett, Animal Photography

No. 2: Poodle

Don't be fooled by her good looks. The Poodle is far more than just a pretty face — she's often got an impressive mind behind that coiffed coat, not to mention a great sense of humor and endless desire to keep her family entertained.

Black and White Border Collie Closeup

Barbara O'Brien, Animal Photography

No. 1: Border Collie

The smart, intense Border Collie is a clever workaholic who values order and employment. He imposes his will upon sheep with ease — and often upon humans without much effort, too. Many are incredibly focused, which is a trait fantastic for training but considerably more problematic if they're without a job to do. Left to their own devices, they can wreak havoc.

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