Top 10 Smartest Dog Breeds


The smartest dogs in the world tend to be amongst Australia’s favourites – we even have one of our very own in the top ten.

The brightest and most trainable dogs tend to be some of the hardest working breeds; bred to be fiercely loyal companions and brilliant hunters, herders or guard dogs. Some of the smartest breeds are used today as police dogs or in the armed forces. Others are still being put to work as reliable and intuitive work dogs.

Regardless of the original role these bright pups were bred for, they’ve all found a special place in Australian hearts and homes.

Here is our list of the smartest dog breeds in Australia, listed from 10 to 1, along with a brief description. Is your best friend on the list?


10. Australian Shepherd

The Australian Shepherd (also known as the Aussie) is loveable medium sized working dog with a huge amount of energy and drive. While this dog is known as the Aussie it actually hails from the United States where it is used as a working dog.

The Aussie has a coat that is straight to slightly wavy and they also have a naturally bobbed tail. They do tend to shed a fair bit so regular brushing is recommended especially when they shed heavily twice a year due to seasonal changes in the weather.

Male Aussie’s usually weigh between 23 and 29 kg and stand at about 50-58 cm tall. Females should weigh about 14 to 20 kg and stand at 45 – 53 cm tall. The average life span of the Aussie is 12 to 18 years.

This breed is ideal for an active family because they love plenty of exercise and most of all they love to work.


9. Rottweiler

The Rottweiler (a.k.a. “Rottie”) is a loyal, courageous and smart dog breed who is known for its unwavering devotion to its owners, whom they will defend at all costs. The American Kennel Club (AKC) refers to the Rottweiler as “a calm, confident, and courageous dog with a self-assured aloofness that does not lend itself to immediate and indiscriminate friendships.”

Rottweilers are famous for their large, muscular build, unique coat colours. Originally bred as herding dogs, today’s Rottweiler is often used as a guide dog, guard dog, police dog, and search & rescue dog.

As they are big, active dogs, the Rottweiler needs at least one walk per day. Therefore, they are suited to individuals and families who are equally as active and who have enough time to give their dog an adequate amount of exercise.

Healthy male Rottweilers weigh between 50 and 60 kg and stand at 61 – 69 cm tall. Females weigh in at about 35 – 48 kg and stand at about 56 – 63 cm tall.

The average lifespan of the Rottweiler in the USA, UK and Denmark is 8-10 years, but some have been known to live up to 16 years old.


8. Papillon

The Papillon is small, fine boned, energetic dog that is also known as the Continental toy Spaniel or Dwarf Spaniels. The Papillon has a long coat that is straight and fine and it does not have an undercoat. The most distinctive features of this small breed are its butterfly ears that are fringed with long hair.

The hair on the Papillion’s body is medium in length and feathering also covers both the rear of the fore and hind legs. This dog has a distinctive proud tail that is also feathered with hair. This confident and cheeky little package makes the perfect lap dog.

Male Papillons weigh around 4 kg to 5kgs and females weigh between 3 kg to 4kgs. Male

Papillons stand about 20 to 28cms and females 20 to 28cms.

The average lifespan of a Papillon is about 12 years.


7. Labrador

Bred originally as gun dogs, today’s Labrador is famous for its roles as assistance dogs for visually impaired and autistic people, detection & screening dogs, therapy dogs and law enforcement dogs.

Labradors vary widely, but they are generally quite large and muscular with a short, dense, water-repellent coat, a broad head, brown or hazel eyes, strong jaws, a medium muzzle, and an “otter tail” which is thick at the base and narrower at the tip. There are three main colour varieties in Golden Retrievers: black, yellow, and chocolate, and occasionally all three can be present in the same litter.

Healthy male Labradors should weigh between 29 and 36 kg and stand at about 57 – 62 cm tall. Females should weigh about 25 – 32 kg and stand at 55 – 60 cm tall.

Labradors are energetic dogs and therefore need to be taken on a long, brisk walk or jog at least once a day. They tend to gain weight quite easily, so exercise and a proper diet are especially important for the Labrador.

Life expectancy in Labradors is around 10-13 years.


6. Shetland Sheepdog

The Shetland Sheepdog is a small to medium-sized herding dog. Armed with a thick, longhaired coat, the Shetland Sheep dog comes in a variety of colours, including blue myrtle, sable and tri-colour. The breed is very enthusiastic for exercise and is known for its excitable nature. Loyal, hard-working and protective, the Shetland Sheepdog is a popular choice for the family with plenty of space for running and exploring.

Shetland Sheepdogs are both extremely intelligent and highly energetic working dogs. They require the dedication of a family that will provide continued mental and physical stimulation throughout the dog’s life. If left alone for any extended period of time, the breed tends to develop separation anxiety. A loyal, people-orientated dog, the Shetland Sheepdog needs consistent human contact.

The average Shetland Sheepdog will grow to between 33 and 41cm tall and a healthy example should weigh somewhere between 5 and 11kgs. Shetland Sheepdogs will generally live to the age of 12 or 13 years.


5. Doberman

Dobermans generally have a square, compact build and short coat which reflects their athleticism, endurance and agility.

Although they are often portrayed as aggressive dogs due to their history as working dogs, modern Dobermans have a much more even temperament, are extremely smart, loyal and trainable. Even though they remain one of the breeds more inclined towards aggression, they are usually very sociable with humans and other dogs.

Dobermans are very energetic and need to be taken on a long walk or jog every day and the human must be the leader and should always be in front of the dog.

Healthy male Dobermans usually weigh between 34 and 45 kg and stand at an average of 68 cm tall. Females weigh between 27 and 41 kg and stand at about 64 cm tall. The average lifespan of a Doberman is 10-11 years old, but some live up to around the age of 13.


4. Golden Retriever

The Golden Retriever is one of the world’s favourite dog breeds. Originally bred as gun dogs, the Golden Retriever is a smart, trainable and friendly companion. Because of their intelligence, they make great working dogs and can be seen performing a number of different roles including seeing-eye dogs, hearing dogs, hunting & detection dogs, and search and rescue dogs.

The breed has a double coat which sheds throughout the year but particularly around the change of the season. It has a thicker, water-repellent top coat and a soft undercoat to keep the dog cool in warmer months and warm in cooler months.

Healthy male Golden Retrievers weigh between 29 and 34 kg on average and stand at about 58 – 61cm tall. Females weigh in at 27 – 32 kg and stand at 55 – 57 cm tall.

The average lifespan of a Golden Retriever is around 11-12 years.


3. German Shepherd

The appearance of a German Shepherd is something of a lucky dip – its coat colour is not known until it sheds its puppy coat, but it is generally a mixture of black and gold. They’re famous for their bushy, thick tails, pointy ears and wolf-like appearance.

Healthy male German Shepherds generally weigh in at 30 – 40 kg and stand at 60 – 65 cm tall. Females are usually between 22 and 32 kg and stand at about 55 – 60 cm tall.

German Shepherds were bred for their intelligence, and are regarded as one of the smartest dog breeds. Their intelligence, obedience and trainability have led the German Shepherd to become one of the most adaptable and versatile dog breeds in the world and are often employed in military, search & rescue and police roles.

They are considered to be a very safe breed when trained well and socialised early & often, and for this reason they are a great family pet.

Their life span is usually around 9-13 years, but some have been known to reach the ripe old age of 20.


2. Poodle

The Poodle is a small and lively domesticated dog, known for its thick, tightly curled coat and enthusiastic nature. The Poodle’s original work was as a water retriever hunting dog, officially adopted by the French but believed to have originated in Germany.

Regardless of its beautiful and delicate appearance, the Poodle’s hunting background is reflected in its eager and energetic nature. They are very intelligent animals, loyal and full of energy. Poodles have a reputation for getting into mischief if they’re not stimulated with games and exercise and the breed can develop ongoing behavioural problems if not given enough human attention.

The Standard Poodle generally measure between 45 and 60cm and a healthy example should weigh between 20 to 32kgs. The average Toy Poodle will live for between 12 to 15 years.


1. Border Collie

The Border Collie is the world’s smartest and one of the most popular dog breeds. Originally developed as a herding dog because of its intelligence and obedience, the Border Collie is a medium-sized dog known for its friendly nature.

Bred as working dogs, they thrive on praise. The Border Collie is a highly energetic dog with great stamina, and consequently it needs ample exercise. This makes them a favourite of farmers who need a trusted, helpful and loyal farmhand.

Border Collies have thick, double coats which vary from smooth to rough and they come in a variety of colours with black and white being the most popular. The dog should be brushed or combed regularly to keep a gleaming, healthy coat, and it should only be bathed when necessary. Border

Collies are average shedders.

Healthy males usually weigh between 14 and 20 kg and stand around 48 – 56 cm tall. Females are usually 12-19 kg and stand at 46 – 53 cm tall.

The average lifespan of a Border Collie is about 12 years, but dogs living longer than 16 years is not that rare. In fact, the fourth longest-living dog was a Border Collie.


If you’re interested in looking at some other intelligent dog breeds, visit our complete list of smartest dog breeds available in Australia.

*Please note, any pet insurance advice provided is general only. Refer to the applicable Product Disclosure Statement for details of Bow Wow Meow Pet Insurance cover.
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