Scientists Claim They’ve Found The World’s Smartest Dog Breed

We’ve all seen the videos of those brilliant working dogs, right? The Border Collies herding farm animals on a single command, the German Shepherds assisting law enforcement, the cadaver dogs helping locate missing people on a mountain…

Well, if you figured one of those types of dogs would top the list of smartest breeds, it would be a good guess.

Wrong, but good.

Image Credit: Nature

That honor goes to the Belgian Malinois, though all of the 16 tested breeds had their strengths and weaknesses.

The researchers but around 1,000 dogs between the ages of 1 and 8 through the smartDOG cognition test. The test seeks to measure a dog’s capacity for problem-solving ability and strategy, impulse control, ability to read human gestures, ability to copy human behavior, memory, and logical reasoning.

Author Saara Junttila, a PhD researcher from the University of Helsinki, talked about their results with The Telegraph.

“Most breeds had their own strengths and weaknesses. For example, the Labrador Retriever was very good at reading human gestures, but not so good at spatial problem-solving ability. Some breeds, such as the Shetland Sheepdog, scored quite evenly on almost all tests.”

The Belgian Malinois is popular among those in security, and their excellence at performing cognition tasks likely plays into why they’re so well-suited for that sort of work.

Image Credit: iStock

The dog tested well in conditions that relied on the dog interpreting human gestures, and is a great problem-solver as well.

They’re not perfect, though. Both the Malinois and the German Shepherd were fooled by a test that asks them to retrieve a treat from inside an opaque cylinder before being asked to retrieve a treat from inside a see-through cynlinder.

Dogs that pass know they still have to open the cylinder even when they can see the treat from the outside.

Then again, security dogs require high responsiveness so their low inhibitory control might play in their favor while working.

Image Credit: Nature

The scientists involved in the study believe that some positive breed traits are handed down from generation to generation, though this did not apply to all dogs.

If you’re looking to get a dog, whether for a companion or to do a job,  make sure you do all of your research ahead of time so you know exactly what you’re getting into.

That said, if intelligence tops your list of desires in a canine companion, this is a good place to start!