Have you ever wondered which breed of dog is the most intelligent? Well, a recent study conducted by scientists assessed 1,000 dogs from 13 different breeds and the results might surprise you. The top honors go to the Belgian Malinois, with 35 points out of 39.

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The top honors go to the Belgian Malinois, with 35 points out of 39.
The top honors go to the Belgian Malinois, with 35 points out of 39.

The scientists put the pups through a series of cognitive and behavioral tasks to determine their intelligence. For example, they tested their ability to read human gestures and if they could navigate around a transparent V-shaped fence to reach a food reward. They also looked at how independent the dogs were and how quickly they came to a human for help when given an unsolvable task.

Not only did the Malinois excel in most of the cognitive tasks, but they also stood out as one of the most trainable breeds, which makes sense since they are often used as police or guard dogs. The Border Collie came in second place with 26 points, while the Hovawart, a German breed, took third place with 25 points.

The Belgian Malinois stood out as one of the most trainable breeds
The Belgian Malinois stood out as one of the most trainable breeds

It’s worth noting that different breeds had different strengths and weaknesses. For example, the Labrador Retriever was great at reading human gestures but not as skilled at solving spatial problems. Whereas the Shetland Sheepdog had more balanced scores across all the tests.

Belgian Malinois are often used as police or guard dogs
Belgian Malinois are often used as police or guard dogs

The study also only included dogs that were between 1 and 8 years old and were interested in working for food and not overly aggressive towards people. So, now you know the smartest breed of dog according to science is the Belgian Malinois. Though of course, every dog is an individual and special in its own way, regardless of breed.

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Of course the big drawback of this study was that only 13 breeds were included, an no small breeds were included at all. To me one of the glaring omission is the Poodle, known for its intelligence.

Breeds involved in this experiment

  • Belgian malinois
  • Australian kelpie
  • Labrador retriever
  • Border collie
  • Golden retriever
  • Hovawart
  • Spanish water dog
  • Shetland sheepdog
  • English cocker spaniel
  • Australian shepherd
  • Mixed breed
  • German shepherd
  • Finnish lapphund 

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