We've all heard about the varying degrees of canine intelligence, but it's true that some breeds are more naturally gifted than others. Stanley Coren's dog intelligence ranking demonstrates this.

Stanley Coren

Stanley Coren is a psychology professor and neuropsychological researcher highly acclaimed for his research and understanding of canine behaviour and the human-canine bond.

In 1994, Professor Coren published his book The Intelligence of Dogs, which became his most famous piece of research. Republished in 2006, the book ranks over 100 different dog breeds according to their intelligence.

It's important to remember that, just like all children, every dog is unique and intelligence will vary from animal to animal. However, Professor Coren's research determined that the obedience intelligence in dogs, that is the ability with which they can be trained, does indeed vary.

This variance tends to align with the types of dogs breeders set out to create. For example, working, herding, guarding, hunting, and sporting dogs all require different levels of intelligence and training.

Research method

According to Professor Coren, 51% of a dog's intelligence stems from its genes while 49% is based on environmental circumstances.

Included in the 2006 republication of The Intelligence of Dogs are three types of canine intelligence: instinctive, adaptive, and working and obedience. Together, they evaluate the animal's problem solving capabilities, obedience, memory, social training and powers of observation.

The latter of the three categories, namely working and obedience intelligence, was, and is still today, the most widely discussed when considering canine intelligence. After all, it relates to a dog's ability to learn from humans, therefore would naturally be used by us as a point of reference.

Below you will find Professor Coren's dog intelligence ranking from the republished edition of his work in which 131 breeds are ranked.

Stanley Coren's dog intelligence ranking

Brightest dogs

Understanding of New Commands: Less than 5 repetitions.

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

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

Excellent working dogs

Understanding of New Commands: 5 to 15 repetitions.

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

11. Pembroke Welsh Corgi

12. Miniature Schnauzer

13. English Springer Spaniel

14. Belgian Shepherd Dog (Tervuren)

15. Schipperke, Belgian Sheepdog

16. Collie, Keeshond

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

Above average working dogs

Understanding of New Commands: 15 to 25 repetitions.

Obey First Command: 70% of the time or better.

27. Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Puli, Yorkshire Terrier

28. Giant Schnauzer

29. Airedale Terrier, Bouvier des Flandres

30. Border Terrier, Briard

31. Welsh Springer Spaniel

32. Manchester Terrier

33. Samoyed

34. Field Spaniel, Newfoundland, Australian Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Gordon Setter, Bearded Collie

35. Cairn Terrier, Kerry Blue Terrier, Irish Setter

36. Norwegian Elkhound

37. Affenpinscher, Australian Silky Terrier, Miniature Pinscher, English Setter, Pharaoh Hound, Clumber Spaniel

38. Norwich Terrier

39. Dalmatian

Average working and obedience intelligence

Understanding of New Commands: 25 to 40 repetitions.

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

40. Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier, Bedlington Terrier, Fox Terrier (Smooth)

41. Curly Coated Retriever, Irish Wolfhound

42. Kuvasz, Australian Shepherd

43. Saluki, Finnish Spitz, Pointer

44. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, German Wirehaired Pointer, Black and Tan Coonhound, American Water Spaniel

45. Siberian Husky, Bichon Frise, King Charles Spaniel

46. Tibetan Spaniel, English Foxhound, Otterhound, American Foxhound, Greyhound, Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

47. West Highland White Terrier, Scottish Deerhound

48. Boxer, Great Dane

49. Dachshund, Staffordshire 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, Akita

Fair working and obedience intelligence

Understanding of New Commands: 40 to 80 repetitions.

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

55. Skye Terrier

56. Norfolk Terrier, Sealyham Terrier

57. Pug

58. French Bulldog

59. Griffon Bruxellois, Maltese

60. Italian Greyhound

61. Chinese Crested

62. Dandie Dinmont Terrier, Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen, 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

Lowest degree of working and obedience intelligence

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

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

70. Shih Tzu

71. Basset Hound

72. Mastiff, Beagle

73. Pekingese

74. Bloodhound

75. Borzoi

76. Chow Chow

77. Bulldog

78. Basenji

79. Afghan Hound

Keep up to date with Professor Coren's latest news on Twitter.

Source: The Intelligence of Dogs by Stanley Coren

How does your dog stack up?

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