1.Pembroke Welsh corgi Dog
Affectionate, smart, and alert, the Pembroke Welsh corgi has been the go-to dog breed of the English royals since 1933, when the then Duke of York (who’d later be crowned King George VI) brought home corgis Dookie and Jane as pets for Elizabeth and her younger sister, Margaret. It’s estimated that in her 70-year reign, Queen Elizabeth has raised more than 30 corgis.
Rated number 11 in Coren’s ranking of the smartest dog breeds, the Pembroke Welsh corgi may have appealed to the royal family because the breed is known for being highly obedient, highly skilled at tracking, and exceptionally athletic. Although its legs are short, its muscles are powerful. And with a fearless attitude, it makes a surprisingly effective watchdog. According to Dr. Hauser, this happy, short-legged dog breed is most fulfilled when there is a job to do. No herding work for your pup? Don’t be surprised if it herds family members, particularly the young humans.
Smartest short-legged dog
Height: 10 to 12 inches
Weight: Up to 30 pounds
Life expectancy: 12 to 13 years
2. Miniature schnauzer
This adorably bearded dog, which is the smallest of the three schnauzer breeds, was ranked 12th among the most intelligent dog breeds, according to the Schnauzer Collective. “These quick learners enjoy being challenged and often excel at sports where they must use their intelligence, like agility and competitive obedience,” says Steffen.
As Dr. Hauser points out, “unlike many of the other breeds in the terrier group, miniature schnauzers have a strong desire to please and the smarts to do so.” Friendly, smart, and obedient, these pups have big-dog confidence in a small-dog body. They were bred from the standard schnauzer to work on farms as a sort of four-legged pest control, sniffing out and dispatching rodents. This bearded brainiac also makes for a great city companion, thanks to its size, adaptability, and general love of children and other small animals (rats excluded, of course).
Smartest bearded dog
Height: 11 to 14 inches
Weight: 10 to 15 pounds
Life expectancy: 12 to 15 years
3. English springer spaniel
Blessed with an excellent memory and beautiful green eyes, the English springer spaniel is the 13th most intelligent dog breed on Coren’s list. Friendly, playful, and obedient, it was bred centuries ago to flush out and retrieve game birds in the British uplands. For many years as the breed was developed, the English springer spaniel was practically indistinguishable from the breeds that eventually came to be identified as the English cocker spaniel and the English field spaniel (both of which are among the 50 smartest dog breeds, according to Coren’s ranking system).
These days, though, the English springer spaniel has distinguished itself as a breed apart—one that is exceptionally bright, alert, and eager to please. If there’s a downside to the breed, it’s that it has a tendency to become so attached to its humans that it can seem quite “miserable,” as the AKC puts it, when not invited to join in the fun.
Height: 19 to 20 inches
Weight: 40 to 50 pounds
Life expectancy: 12 to 14 years
4. Belgian Tervuren
With its “intelligent nature and affinity for sports such as agility, tracking, herding, and sledding,” the Belgian Tervuren has certainly earned its place among the smartest dog breeds, according to Steffen and Dr. Hughes. Coren places it at number 14, just above the schipperke, a breed with which it shares a common heritage.
Not only does the Belgian Tervuren have the brains and executive functioning skills to have once been a valued herder on many a Belgian farm, but it is also a highly attentive companion with a strong protective instinct, incredibly loyal, and great at tricks. A relatively rare dog breed.
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