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10 of the Smartest Dogs in the World

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A friend of mine has a beautiful Dalmatian. Friendly, energetic and lovable, she was a perfect family pet… but she wasn’t the smartest pooch on the planet. See, she knew how to go through the pet door out into the garden, but she had no clue how to get back inside. It never occurred to her that the flap could swing both ways. So she would sit outside and howl until my friend would open the door.

Repeated demonstrations of the dual movement of the flap had no effect; it just did not compute. The dog breeds on this list, however, probably don’t have that problem. They’re widely considered to be among the cleverest canines in the world. Take a look and see if you agree.

1. German Shepherd

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No surprise here. German Shepherds are the world’s best police dogs, military dogs, and some have even been movie stars (remember Rin Tin Tin?). Brave, loyal, smart and strong, they’re the total package.

2. Beagle

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Also on the list of the best family-friendly dogs in the world, the Beagle has an incredible nose that lets them sniff out just about anything. Born detectives, they’re not the most trainable pets, but they are smart. And hey, nobody ever accused Snoopy of being dumb.

3. Golden Retriever

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A popular choice for assistance dogs for their easy temperament, natural intelligence and loyalty, Golden Retrievers are natural guides and also serve as great rescue dogs. Active and fun to be around, they’re wonderful family pets.  

4. Border Collie

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Border Collies are considered by many to be the geniuses of the dog world. Expert herders, laser-focused (they’re known for their intense stare), and incredibly agile to boot, they’re workaholics and excellent athletes. Just don’t expect to keep one cooped up in an apartment.

5. Poodle

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Did you know poodles were originally hunting dogs? They respond very well to training and are quick to learn tricks. So don’t let the fluffy looks and styled mane fool you! These dogs are among the smart canines around. Plus, they’re among the best dogs in the world for those who suffer allergies.

6. Belgian Malinois

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A terrific military dog, the Malinois is a natural herder, tracker and worker. Smart, trainable and protective, these dogs require an owner who knows what he or she is doing. In addition to the military, Malinois are often recruited as guard dogs and police dogs as well.

7. Papillon

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Named for their butterfly-shaped ears, papillons are small, cute and pretty smart. They’re considered the smartest of the toy dog breed, with intelligence levels comparable to the über-smart border collie. They’re alert and focused pets, and loyal and lovable: an ideal friend for he family.

8. Doberman

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Sadly, Dobermans are known more for their ferocity than their smarts, but these are considered among the most intelligent dogs in the world, as well as one of the most effective guard dogs around. They’re outstanding students known to be affectionate and obedient.

9. Bloodhound

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Don’t let the wrinkles and dopey expression fool you! Bloodhounds have the keenest of noses, and are often used for trailing (so much so that their evidence can be used in court against you!). These are loving but strong-willed dogs, and are often used on search and rescue missions.

10. Australian Cattle Dog

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You need a smart, determined and energetic dog to control unruly cows. And that’s just what the Australian Cattle Dog, or ACD, does. They’re intelligent enough to herd these much larger creatures, and while they need their independence and wide open spaces, they’re eager workers who know how to get the job done.

Did we miss your brainy dog on this list? If so, write in and let us know about it!



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