The 11 Smartest Dog Breeds To Adopt

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You could argue that all dogs are intelligent, in their own special way, thanks to the bond they share with us humans, and their adorable desire to impress us. But experts say some dog breeds are extra smartTake poodles and golden retrievers, for instance, which are known for having a good rapport with people, without even having to try. And then there are the dogs that have been bred to be highly trainable, and stand out in that way.

It really boils down to how you want to measure intelligence. “Is it a comparison to other dogs, species, aspects, speed, precision, [or] accuracy? Oftentimes what is most important in what we commonly believe is ‘intelligence’ is motivation,” Russell Hartstein, CDBC, CPDT-KA, founder of Fun Paw Care, tells Bustle. Some dogs are motivated by their owner, and can learn to do pretty much anything when encouraged.

But there are other signs of intelligence to look for, including being alert and aware of their surroundings, making eye contact, pausing before acting, and paying attention, small animal veterinarian Laura Seabolt, tells Bustle.

With that in mind, read on below for some of the smartest dog breeds, in no particular order, as well as the unique traits that make them stand out.

1. Poodles

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“It doesn’t matter what size of poodle it is — standard, toy, klein, miniature, or teacup — they are all hyper-intelligent,” Robert Cabral, dog trainer and member of the Wag!advisory board, tells Bustle. “[Poodles are great] at retrieving and learning new commands in minutes.”

And that stylish haircut? It’s actually a sign of their sporting abilities. “This intelligent dog was originally bred in Germany for bird hunting and water retrieving,” the pet experts at Rover, tell Bustle. Shaving their hair in that “fancy” way actually helped them stay warm yet buoyant, as they dove into lakes to fetch animals. Pretty interesting, right?

2. Border Collies

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“Border Collies are a herding breed that is very sensitive to the commands of their owner,” Seabolt says. “Often, owners simply make a sound or use a single word to direct their dog.” And just like that, they know what’s up.

“They are also very intuitive, especially when it comes to working with their herding animals,” she says. Border Collies don’t need much attention or direction from their person, in order to get the job done.

But this dog breed also does well outside of herding situations, such as in obedience and agility classes, where they’re known for being one of the smartest dogs around.

3. Jack Russell Terriers

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“The Jack Russell breed are feisty and energetic pups that love to be busy,” Cabral says. “They are surprisingly fast on their feet considering their size, and are super responsive to training and voice commands.” If you meet one, you’ll know that they’ve got a lot going on.

4. Golden Retievers

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“This is one of the main breed of dogs that is used as seeing eye dogs,” Sara Ochoa, DVM, a veterinary advisor for doglab, tells Bustle. And for good reason.

“They have to be a very intelligent breed to be used for this purpose,” she says. “They can lead blind people across busy streets and around town, [and they can be] trained to fetch certain items in a person’s house, open and close doors, and help with everyday tasks.”

While other breeds can be taught these skills as well, it’s a golden retriever’s natural intelligence and desire to please that makes them up for the job.

5. Labrador Retrievers

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Labradors are also super smart, just like other retriever breeds. “Labs have been known for their intelligence for many years,” Dr. Ochoa says. “This is a common dog used for hunting, [since] they learn very quickly how to retrieve.”

Of course, they’re still incredibly smart, even when they’re not in the woods. Labs are adored for their obedience, which is yet another way to measure intelligence, as well as how loving they are with family.

6. Australian Shepherds

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As Dr. Ochoa says, Australian Shepherds are very smart and energetic dogs. They’re often spotted in agility classes where they listen and respond quickly to commands.

7. Australian Cattle Dogs

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“This is one dog breed that is very smart when it comes to herding animals,” Dr. Ocha says, which is where their intelligence truly shines.

“Most of these dogs don’t even have to be taught to herd,” she says, “they are just genetically inclined when there is a group of animals or people to herd them.”

It all goes back to what they were bred for. Some dogs are simply good at certain skills, without needing a human to tell them what to do.

8. Doberman Pinschers

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Dobermans tend to make great guard dogs since they are always on alert, Dr. Ochoa says, which is one surefire way to measure intelligence. They also learn quickly, and can be quite impressive when it comes to learning commands.

9. Papillons

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This breed is active and intelligent, Rover says, as well as companionable and highly trainable. Experts tend to agree they’re one of the smartest of the toy dog breeds out there.

10. German Shepherds

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German Shepherds are incredibly loyal dogs. “They are eager to learn and please their owner, and they have a superb ability to control their impulses,” Seabolt says.

That’s why they’re often seen in high-pressure situations, such as working alongside law enforcement. “However, they are also wonderful family pets” Seabolt says, “and very sensitive to the emotions of their human family.”

11. Bloodhounds

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While this breed may appear to be droopy and lazy, they actually “have a natural capacity to sniff out scents and track them down,” Cabral says, “and they don’t give in until they find what they’re searching for.”

Whether it’s learning commands, bonding with family, or impressing everyone with their natural instincts, experts say these dogs are some of the smartest around.

5 Common Mistakes Smart People Make

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If you believe that only stupid people make mistakes, you’re as wrong as I was. The truth is that everyone makes mistakes. Smart people admit that. Stupid people do not.

What’s more, the smartest and most successful people in history have made the most mistakes. Are those two things connected? I think so. This Albert Einstein quote says it all:

“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”


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I used to blame myself for making mistakes in life. I think that’s how our society is. As a kid, you’re punished for making mistakes in school and life. And because of that, we think it’s normal to punish each other as adults.

But why would you punish yourself or another person for making silly mistakes? Most things in life are reversible and small (I’m not talking about committing crimes or adultery here). What matters is that we learn from our mistakes.

One of the best traits one can have in life is to be forgiving. You must go easy on yourself when you screw up. Same is true for the people in our lives. Alexander Pope put it best:

“To err is human, to forgive, divine.”

And when people really cross the line—just move on. No need to make things complicated.

In life, there are lines one should not cross. If you keep yourself to a high moral standard, you’re doing the right thing. And if you make mistakes? So what? No one is perfect.

Here are 5 of those mistakes that smart people make. Remember that you don’t have to make these mistakes yourself. It’s better to learn from other people’s mistakes. They have made them, so we don’t have to.

1. Chasing money

I recently read How To Get Rich by Felix Dennis, who owned one of the biggest magazine publishers in the UK. Contrary to the title, the book actually tries to discourage you to chase money.

Many rich people will tell you the same. The funny thing is that we all know there is more to life than money. And yet, we make it our sole purpose. Dennis writes:

“People who get trapped in the tunnel vision of making money think that is all there is to life.”

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to get rich. We just have to remind ourselves that making money beyond a certain amount has little impact on our happiness. But somehow, we get tunnel vision. Again, trying to get rich is not a mistake. However, it is a mistake if you expect that it’s the answer to all your problems.

2. Ignoring sleep

When you get excited about something, you want to spend all your time on it. That’s a great feeling.

But when your excitement prevents you from having quality sleep, you want to change that. It’s one of my biggest pitfalls. I can read and work all day long—well into the night.

But even when I go to bed at 2 AM and wake up 8 hours later, I still feel tired. Somehow, it’s different when I hit the sack at 11 and wake up at 7. I feel much more energized.

For the past year, I’ve been taking my sleep more seriously. I wake up at the same time every morning. And I turn off my devices exactly one hour before I want to sleep. That means no work or heavy mental activity before bedtime. Just some light reading or journaling.

3. Being connected too much

The past decade has been great for technology. Almost everyone has a smartphone with access to the internet. Within a few years, the whole world will be connected. Even the less developed countries.

Modern technology has changed the world. These developments are great. But remember that too much of a good thing becomes bad.

That also applies to your smartphone, tablet, and laptop. Recent research shows that Generation Z (born after 1995) is distressed and anxious. The American Psychological Association even say they have “the worst mental health of any generation.”

One of the biggest reasons for their mental state? All the signs point towards their smartphones and connectedness. For years, I’ve been limiting my smartphone usage.

And inspired by Cal Newport’s new book, Digital Minimalism, I’m only getting more strict with this.

4. Not exercising enough

Life is full of obligations. Our biggest obligation is to work. Then, we have family and friends that we spend our time with. We have bills to pay. Plus, unforeseen things happen all the time. A crisis at work. A family member that gets ill.

It’s all part of life. And when these things happen, it’s easy to move exercise down on your list of priorities.

But after a while, you feel tired and weak. You run out of breath after you climb a few flights of stairs. You complain when you can’t find a parking spot in front of the store. You don’t want to walk. Your back hurts from all the sitting. Your gut grows. And you can’t look at yourself in the mirror.

Don’t let it come this far. Break a sweat at least three times a week. And go for a walk on the other days. You will stay strong and fit. Plus, you’ll feel better.

5. Being overconfident

One cognitive bias that affects smart people the most is overconfidence. When you are good at something, it’s easy to overestimate yourself.

That doesn’t happen in a cocky or brazen way. Overconfidence can happen to everyone. From many soft-spoken and gentle individuals to the most outgoing extroverts.

Researchers have established three ways that overconfidence happens:

  1. Overestimation— thinking that you are better than you are.
  2. Overplacement—exaggerated belief that you are better than others.
  3. Overprecision—excessive conviction that you know the truth.

Let’s be honest. How often do we think we can take on a challenge and later find out it was too much? Or that we can do a better job than our co-workers or competitors? And when we have conversations, how often do we think we know it better?

It’s the classic pitfall of smart people. But as you and I both know, the wisest people in history stated they knew nothing. So why are we still overconfident?

I think one of the reasons is that you stop questioning yourself after you achieve some small success. It’s very appealing to think you’re better. Maybe that’s the case. But it doesn’t matter.

The moment you start thinking you’re better, you’re already losing. When you stop questioning yourself, you stop learning. And only losers don’t learn.

Instead, rely on the things that brought you to where you are: curiosity, passion, excitement, and most importantly; hard work.

This article first appeared on Darius Foroux.