Table of Contents
Dogs aren’t made equal, especially in the intelligence department. As much as each one differs in temperament, they will also vary in their trainability and overall intelligence level. In addition, almost all aspiring dog owners are looking for a smart canine that they can own. Besides, who doesn’t want a doggo that can learn tricks? So for this post, we listed 12 of the smartest large dog breeds that you can consider.
NOTE: Contrary to some myths, small breeds aren’t always dumb and large breeds aren’t always smart. Just because they have varying brain size doesn’t mean that one is smarter than the other based on body size alone.
What makes a dog smart?
Most dogs are considered smart if they are easy to teach and if they can perform certain tasks. Usually, dog owners judge the intelligence level of a canine based on how fast they can pick a certain command or how fast they can identify objects.
However, a “smart dog” means differently to each person. Some consider their pet smart if it can behave well. Meanwhile, others consider emotional attunement as a basis for a canine’s intelligence.
Usually, experts categorize certain breeds as intelligent if they are willing to learn human-like stuff. Also, they should perform specific tasks consistently and in long periods.
This is the same reason why there are certain breeds chosen to be service dogs. Unlike other canines, these doggos are smarter and guaranteed to perform the tasks they are trained for properly.
12 Smartest large dog breeds
1. Border Collie
Large and smart? Nothing beats Border Collies in these categories. This breed is considered as the smartest dog in the world. In fact, they can remember up to 1,000 objects, making them unbeatable for various service and working dog tasks.
In addition, Border Collies are friendly and affectionate. However, they need a firm master to grow as disciplined canines. As a herding dog, Border Collies are willful and may try to go their own way if you don’t show them who the boss is.
Moreover, Border Collies are intensely focused and bears an intense level of energy. With this nature, you should have a backyard if you plan to own this breed.
Also, you need to keep a Border Collie busy, or they will chew your house down. In addition, socialization is paramount to hamper this breed’s aggressive tendencies.
2. Belgian Malinois
Known as one of the quintessential working dogs, the Belgian Malinois breed is commonly owned as a companion, herding, and protection dog.
This breed loves mental and physical challenges, something that’s not surprising due to their intense energy level. However, you should note that Malinois dogs are always suspicious of strangers and they can become aggressive around other dogs.
Nevertheless, this dog is vigilant and attentive when their owner is around. If you are to bring a Malinois dog in a public place, always put them on a leash. Their hunting instincts will kick in once they see a squirrel or any speeding object.
If raised well, Belgian Malinois can be affectionate to kids. They’re also a great choice as a family pet since they shed a little and drool rarely.
3. Golden Retriever
Who won’t fall in love with the charming Golden Retriever? Considered as the sweethearts of the dog kingdom, Goldies aren’t just friendly and amazing companion; they are also one of the smartest large dog breeds.
They are attentive but cuddly, large but often act as a lapdog. Golden Retrievers are friendly to everyone, even to strangers and other canines. Although they tend to shed and drool a lot, the mess is worth it due to their loyalty and lovable disposition.
Moreover, Goldies are a joy to train since they don’t have a strong prey drive or tendency to vocalize. They also prefer staying by their master’s side, so wanderlust is rarely an issue.
As a family dog, Golden Retrievers shouldn’t be left in the yard alone. Also, they prefer staying indoors if not playing in the yard.
4. German Shepherd
German Shepherd is one of the quintessential police dogs for one reason: it’s brilliant. They are loyal, fearless, gentle, and confident furry friends who will love your family wholeheartedly.
As a working dog, German Shepherds love staying busy. If you are to own this breed, you should give it a task at home, or it will divert its attention on your possessions.
Also, this dog is an athletic breed, so they should never be leashed for long. These doggos need a yard they can roam in and protect.
Although German Shepherd dogs tend to have a bold personality, they can be affectionate to kids if domesticated well. Normally, they are suspicious of strangers, but enough socialization will make them as friendly as a Labrador Retriever.
Take note that German Shepherd dogs shed a lot. Also, they love howling and barking, especially if left alone for long hours.
Poodles aren’t just a status breed for the elite. Over the years, they have started taking over as service dogs, further proving that they can do more than look posh.
Standard Poodles are affectionate just like the miniature and toy versions. Initially, they were bred as retriever dogs, which prove how smart they are.
Aside from that, they barely shed even if they have a thick coat. This is the reason why Poodles are the leading options of dog owners who have allergies and sensitivities.
Take note that Poodle dogs need daily exercise and playtime to stay happy. Also, they hate being left alone for long.
You also need to socialize a Poodle properly to prevent any anxious and aggressive behavior. In addition, their coat should be brushed regularly to prevent matting.
6. Doberman Pinscher
Doberman Pinschers are stereotyped as vicious and aggressive due to their intimidating looks. However, this breed is also one of the smartest.
They were bred and trained to be guard dogs, which is very evident to their tapered and alert ears. With proper breeding and training, these dogs can be disciplined companions. In fact, these dogs are shy around strangers.
Again, like German Shepherds, Dobermans are athletic dogs that need a yard to romp into. Also, you have to keep them busy with mind-stimulating games so they won’t vent their energy to your sofa.
Take note that this breed isn’t ideal for households with babies and toddlers. Also, they need an experienced handler to become a well-rounded canine.
Moreover, Doberman Pinschers rarely thrive in a multi-dog household. They will become aggressive around other canines.
7. Labrador Retriever
Next to Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers are gentle and lovable canines. They are the famous dog breed in the U.S. and for a good reason. They are energetic, super friendly, and great companions, especially for small kids.
Labs love being with people, even if it means letting a stranger enter the house. Still, they are easy to train and will become unrivaled furry buddies to anyone who will own them.
Even if they are a popular family pet, Labs don’t always fit every household. If you want to own this breed, you should be willing to give them enough exercise and mental stimulation. They will mouth things once they run out of things to do.
Overall, there’s nothing to hate about Labs. They are very tolerable of pinchy kids plus they love cuddling with their owners. That’s what makes them smartest large dog breeds.
8. Belgian Tervuren
If you’re not familiar with various dog breeds, it’s easy to mistake Belgian Tervurens with German Shepherds. Still, these two breeds are both intelligent and amazing pets. Also, Belgian Tervurens are athletic dogs, so they always want to be on the move.
Belgian Tervurens are herding dogs so they need ample exercise to thrive as a household pet. You can channel their energy to training as they are a very smart breed. Still, they need a firm hand as this breed loves wandering and playing around.
If raised properly, Belgian Tervurens will be focused and alert dogs. They also make great guard dogs, thanks to their aloofness with strangers.
As a sheepdog, you have to understand that this breed will shed profusely. But if you can deal with this added maintenance, Belgian Tervuren dogs will be perfect for you.
9. Shetland Sheepdog
Known for its regal and flowy coat, Shetland Sheepdogs won the hearts of many dog owners due to their unrivaled intelligence. It’s an agile herding dog that’s popular for their easy-to-train disposition.
Although they are large dogs, they are very attuned to the emotions of their owners. Also, they are very affectionate to children and they don’t mind living with other dogs.
Shelties are notorious for their shedding, but it’s only a small issue. This breed doesn’t howl or mouth things. Also, they have a low prey drive and they rather stay near their owners than to explore the neighborhood alone.
Moreover, Shelties are playful, but their intensity is manageable. When around strangers, they are reserved and watchful, which makes them a great candidate for a watchdog.
Take note, though, that Shelties aren’t fit for apartment living as they always want to roam around. Also, they need a knowledgeable owner that can arrest any of their negative tendencies.
At the sound of this dog’s breed name, many people will flinch. Rottweilers are stereotyped to be aggressive and dangerous, which is why many shy away from owning this breed.
Unlike other BSL-banned dogs, Rottweilers were bred as cart pullers. Also, they were the first police dogs trained to sniff bombs and contrabands.
As a family pet, Rottweilers will be loyal companions and guard dogs. They are affectionate to their masters and kids if trained well.
Moreover, Rottweilers are powerful dogs that need an experienced owner. Even if they tend to be ferocious when defending their families, Rottweilers are smart enough to be great dogs when trained.
This breed is intelligent, but you have to invest time and energy on their training. Rottweilers are dogs with a strong prey drive and intense energy level.
11. Belgian Sheepdog
As a herding dog, Belgian Sheepdogs are energetic and alert canines. They also served as police dogs, but they have long been retired from the job.
This breed shares the intelligence of most sheepdogs as well as their flowy coat that sheds intensely. But unlike Shelties, Belgian Sheepdogs love exploring their surroundings, even if it means escaping your watch.
Belgian Sheepdogs are also known as Groenendael in Europe. These smartest large dog breeds thrive in the care of owners who have the same active lifestyles as them.
If domesticated properly, Belgian Sheepdogs are great companions to kids. In fact, they can be more affectionate to toddlers than their adult masters.
Moreover, Belgian Sheepdogs love to play and they have high levels of energy. Still, their intensity is more manageable than other large breeds.
The dogs with the strongest sense of smell – Bloodhounds are definitely one of the smartest large dog breeds. They may look sad due to the skin folds on their face, but this breed is strong and always keen to follow a scent.
Bloodhounds are widely used for sniffing contrabands and to find lost or hiding individuals. Once they get hooked to the scent, they will not stop until they follow its trail.
When they are not on duty, these large dogs are docile and affectionate. They are so lovable that they don’t mind being with strangers, other canines, and the pesky habit of small kids.
However, they are not for newbie owners. This dog is smart, but they need an owner that can be on top of their sniffing obsession and their tendency to mouth things.
These smartest large dog breeds are ideal family pets. With proper training and socialization, these canines will thrive on your care. Just take note that each of them will require a specific type of owner.
Smart dogs are the best pets. Still, you have to do your part in raising a well-rounded furry buddy.
What do you think of these breeds? Do you own one? Let us know below!