Top 5 Smartest Dogs in the World: Which One Should I Buy for Family?


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Does being included in the top smartest dogs in the world automatically equate to being a suitable companion for your family? In this article, we will talk about those dog breeds that made it on top 5 of the “smartest dogs in the world” list and see if they are considered suitable as the top smartest dogs for family as well.

Dogs, regardless of breed, have charmed and dominated 60.2 million American households in 2017 alone, and the numbers continue to go up as time passes by. Maybe you are one of these people who want to find joy and companionship in owning a dog. But you are probably asking: what is the most suitable dog breed to adopt or buy for your family?

In getting a suitable dog for your family, one of the things that you must consider is how quickly it can follow instructions, also called its trainability. That is why most owners look at the list of the smartest dogs in the world as reference.

#1: Border Collie

Born and bred in the rugged terrains of Scotland, the Border Collies are the perfect herding partners of shepherds because of its quick feet, vigilant eye, and sharp mind-three characteristics they need to fulfill their job well. Be breeding the best ones in the pack, these qualities are preserved over time, eventually making the breed the champion in the top smartest dogs in the world list.

For the workaholic and highly intelligent Border Collies, having a job is a must in order to keep their heads occupied. After all, they have been bred to work for their humans. Without a job, a Border Collie can get bored too quickly and eventually turn your home upside down.

Because of their high energy level, they need to have an extended time outdoors. Border Collies are not clingy and a couch potato dog. They prefer moving around a lot. If your family enjoys going out in nature and play sports, expect the Border Collies to catch up with you. They might even end up leaving you out of your game!

But despite their refusal to be coddled, Border Collies are very sensitive to their owner’s feelings once they get to know their humans. According to some who have this breed, Border Collies have this mysterious skill wherein they already know what you need, whether it’s a hug, additional help in the house, or just a comforting presence, even without you telling them what to do. They sure earned the top spot in the smartest dogs in the world, indeed.

Are they considered the top smartest dogs for family as well? After all, they can be easily housetrained, right? The answers actually depend on your family composition. Because of their innate ability to herd anything that they see (seriously, you can’t train them out of it no matter how much you try), they can lose patience in small children who don’t understand and follow what they do.

If you have preschool kids in your household, you might have to skip this breed or wait for your tots to grow up for a few more years. Or better yet, you can teach your child how to interact with the family dog. Just don’t leave both parties in one room unsupervised. It doesn’t matter if they are included in the smartest dogs in the world list. Just don’t.

#2: Poodle

“All beauty but no brains” is definitely not a tagline you can associate with Poodles. Don’t let their puffy curls fool you into thinking that they are only for display purposes. In truth, they are smarter than the three large breed dogs (all of which are discussed later on). They did not earn the second spot in the smartest dogs in the world list for nothing.

Poodles are the perfect balance of perkiness and elegance. They can easily join you and your family in your outdoor activities, both in land AND in water. Yes, this breed can swim. In fact, that is one of their first jobs: to hunt waterfowls in whatever situations and settings.

Despite their high energy and constant need to be occupied (lest they become destructive), they can be docile and quiet if need be. Most Poodles, particularly the Toy and Miniature ones, actually prefer the security of indoors; their size is enough to keep them active even in a small space, anyway.

Still, make no mistake-regardless if it’s a Toy, Miniature or a Standard Poodle, they would not hesitate to call your attention and fight back once they sense danger in their surroundings. Some Poodle owners even claimed that the smaller the size of the Poodle, the tougher and more aggressive they can be. Their protective nature and gentle temperament easily make them as the first choice in the top smartest dogs for family list.

Families and dog enthusiasts describe the poodle’s intelligence as almost human-like. They can remember everything you taught them. The downside is that they can quickly pick up bad habits if you fail to discipline them beforehand. To err on the safe side, find an instructor who does obedience training instead. He or she works with you in ensuring that your pet Poodle remains calm and collected wherever it goes.

#3: German Shepherd

German Shepherds are considered to be an all-around working dog. They can assist in ensuring security, retrieving important items, providing therapy for persons with disabilities and the elderly, herding livestock, and offering companionship to singles and families alike. If these list of jobs in their impressive resume are not enough to convince you that they are one of the top smartest dogs in the world, then we don’t know what will.

Their temperament can be comparable to that of an introvert. German Shepherds are aloof and reserved, only preferring the company of familiar faces; anyone else can trigger their protectiveness. Once they get to know a new person, though, their loyalty and affection towards him or her are incomparable.

Does that mean they are in the list of the top smartest dogs for family, though? It mostly depends on your schedule and activity as a family. This breed is a giant dog version of human babies; they are utterly clingy and dependent on their owners. Thus, if you go out a lot of times, your German Shepherd can get anxious and eventually become destructive and noisy, much to the annoyance of your neighbors.

Despite their toddler-like attributes, German Shepherds can be tough and aggressive once you hand them a job. Their quick barking and howling reactions can work to your advantage once an intruder steps into your home. They are also impressive when given the opportunity to be outdoors. Whether it’s camping or sports, they can easily keep up. In fact, they need the exercise.

As a pet owner, though, you can’t forget to exercise your dog’s mind as well, especially if you have someone as intelligent as the German Shepherd. Because they can rapidly pick up and memorize commands, boredom can settle in just as easily so preoccupying them with toys and activities is a must.

And did we mention that they shed a lot? Pet owners gave them the nickname “German shedder” because of it.

#4: Golden Retriever

This breed is the third most popular dog breeds in the US, and for good reason-Golden Retrievers are friendly to children and adults alike, intelligent enough to pick up commands and instructions, and strong and agile enough to be able to handle any activities you throw their way. These three qualities make them one of the top smartest dogs for family as well.

Because of their active personality and sharp mind, keeping them exercised and entertained is one of your primary jobs as their owner. This can become a problem if you have a small family or you prefer the comforts of staying indoors.

And just like German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers can suffer from separation anxiety and frustration when left alone most of the time. They stick around to their human “pack” like glue. And if that contact is not enough, they can demand constant hugs and play all the time. These baby-like qualities remain in them until they become adults (around 3-4 years old).

These attributes are also the reason why they are terrible watchdogs-they can demand attention from anyone, even from strangers. The good side of this is that they are perfectly safe for children, although their burly shape can easily knock over a toddler so you must not leave them unsupervised with your kids.

If there is nothing to occupy their minds and keep their massive bodies busy, they might end up using your couch as a giant chew toy and annoy you to death. That is why obedience training is a must for them. Luckily, because they are smart, teaching them tricks and commands is a breeze. You can even do it yourself.

As for grooming, they shed AND drool a lot, so families especially those who have small children that are highly sensitive to dander (the proteins in their skin and fluids that can trigger an allergic reaction) may need to consider another breed.

#5: Doberman Pinscher

At first glance, one can assume that a Doberman Pinscher is a huge meanie. Their small, beady eyes look like it can kill you once you gaze at them the wrong way. Their sharp, pointed teeth and firm jaw feels like it can rip your hand in seconds. And their slender, lithe frame is definitely strong and agile enough to keep up with you once you run away from their grasp.

Despite their menacing appearance, Doberman Pinschers are no bullies. In fact, they do their best to stay out of trouble, only stepping up and bare those teeth once they sense danger around them and their human packs. Their sharp minds that can process when to become friendly and when to become aggressive are astoundingly human-like, making them safe and trustworthy even around small children (although it is highly advisable that you don’t leave them unsupervised).

Doberman Pinschers are not only famous for their protective nature but also for their undying loyalty to their family. Once you treat them well, they will be there for you till death. They love to be a included in all family activities, whether it’s indoors or outdoors, therefore earning them a spot in the top smartest dogs for family like the rest of the breeds in this list.

Before doing obedience training with your dog, you must first assert your place as the alpha of the family. Otherwise, they would assume the role themselves. Without proper training, this misunderstanding can lead to destruction and aggression on their part. In the Doberman Pinschers’ minds, there are other ways to do a task (they’re that intelligent) other than the obvious. But once they understand that you are their leader, they would not hesitate to follow your rules.

Sadly, because of their vicious look, some people are not comfortable in having this breed around their area. Various news reports revealed that some places go as far as banning specific dog breeds, specifically those that are famous for attacking people.

Familiarize yourself with the rules in your area before bringing a Doberman Pinscher in your community. If needed be, assure them you will provide proper training to your pet.

Dog Ownership: The Verdict

In choosing a breed, being one of the top smartest dogs in the world is not the only factor. Before getting a family pet, you must first answer these questions:

  • Do all members of the family agree to take one in? If there is one slight moment of hesitation, it’s better not to push it. Some owners eventually leave their pets in animal shelters because they are unable to care of them anymore. And no breed is immune in this kind of treatment. Whether it’s one of the most popular or the smartest dogs in the world, they can still experience abandonment.
  • Do all members of the family agree to take responsibility for anything that the pet will do, good or bad? Dogs, no matter how independent they can be, cannot fend for themselves. You as their owners should feed, bathe, exercise, and subject them to medical attention if they need one.
  • Can the family handle the costs required to take care of a canine member? Don’t expect that you can handle having a pet if your income is insufficient in providing for your needs alone. Newsflash: they are expensive to keep.

If you answer YES to all of these questions, then feel free to pick the breed you like to have! Just remember to research thoroughly and know what type of temperament, size, and energy level your family can handle well. Being included in any list such as the smartest dogs in the world doesn’t automatically make them the right choice for your family.