If you’re looking for a dog that follows cues and thrives in training, a smart breed is a great choice. These dogs excel at herding, hunting, obedience and military work. A noteworthy contender in this category is the Bernese Aussie mix, combining the intelligence and versatility of the Bernese Mountain Dog with the agility of the Australian Shepherd.

Neuropsychologist Stanley Coren ranked over 100 dog breeds by their intelligence and ability to obey a command. The following breeds took the top spots:

1. Labrador Retriever

In many ways, dogs are humans’ best friends. They’ve served as field guides, war buddies, police dogs and even stars of the big screen. According to canine researcher Stanley Coren, Labrador retrievers are among the smartest breeds in obedience, with the ability to pick up on a new command after only five repetitions.

Labs also excel in activities like agility training, which requires a high level of management and obedience. This type of intelligence is called instinctive and refers to a dog’s aptitude for tasks that it was raised for. For example, the fact that Labrador retrievers were bred to retrieve nets and other items from water makes them innately good at fetching games.

Labrador retrievers have a high level of adaptive intelligence as well, meaning that they are quick to learn things and can independently solve problems. This is why they’re so popular as family pets. They’re active, eager to train and have a positive temperament that contributes to their natural intelligence.

2. Bulldog

Instinctive intelligence, working intelligence, and adaptive intelligence are all important factors to consider when assessing a dog’s overall intelligence. Brain size can also impact a dog’s intelligence, but it may not always be the case. Dogs with smaller brains can often excel in certain tasks, whereas others may struggle. For example, a stubborn Bulldog might perform poorly on obedience tests because they don’t take commands very seriously.

However, despite their low scores in obedience trials, Bulldogs are still very intelligent dogs. Their instinctive intelligence, honed during years of participating in the sport of bull baiting, gives them a keen sense of survival and how to read an attack from a raging bull. In addition, their innate problem-solving abilities allow them to learn from past mistakes and experiences. On the other hand, they require an extensive amount of repetition to obey a new command. They rank in the bottom tier of dog breeds according to Coren’s intelligence tests, just behind the Chow Chow and Basenji.

3. Beagle

Beagles are quick learners and have an impressive sense of smell. They are innately skilled at tracking down scents and can follow them for miles. They are known for their amiable natures, and they bond well with children and other pets. Early socialization and positive reinforcement can further hone their intelligence. However, their independence can make them stubborn at times.

Beagles have high adaptive intelligence, which means they are capable of thinking for themselves. This is why they are such great sniffers, TSA dogs, and health inspection dogs!

While obedience and work ethic are excellent indicators of a dog’s intelligence, they do not reflect the full range of a dog’s intelligence. According to Stanley Coren, there are two other types of intelligence in dogs: olfactory and adaptive. To test your Beagle’s olfactory intelligence, put him or her to the test by hiding treats under a towel and then timing how long it takes for the Beagle to free itself.

4. Rottweiler

There’s a myth that Rottweilers are dumb dogs, but the powerful pups actually rank among the smartest breeds. They’re great obedience competitors and make fantastic police dogs, but Coren says they’re also “extraordinarily affectionate and loyal” everyday companions.

They’re incredibly obedient, too: When tested, they can follow commands in under five repetitions, while the average dog takes 10 or more. That’s why they’re able to quickly pick up on new situations and assess whether they’re dangerous or not.

Rottie’s instinctive intelligence helps them protect their family members and property, which they do with deep loyalty. They also love forming relationships with humans and other animals, but need to be taught not to approach strangers. Fortunately, they have high adaptive intelligence, so can learn from other pets and humans, even if they don’t have any formal training. They’re so organized, they’ll even put their toys back after using them. This means they’re a great choice for families with children.

5. Golden Retriever

The Golden Retriever is a beloved family pet but they’re also a very intelligent breed. They’re obedient and learn new commands quickly. They enjoy daily exercise that stimulates both their mind and body. This includes activities like long walks, bike rides, and chasing after tennis balls or Frisbees.

These obedient dogs rank high on Coren’s intelligence scale and they’re often used as service dogs, therapy dogs, and sniffer dogs for bombs, drugs, and people. They’re also excellent search and rescue dogs.

Their natural hunting instincts make these dogs sharp without necessarily needing training from humans. This makes them a popular choice for armed forces and police units that use them to detect bombs and dangerous narcotics in busy, vulnerable areas.

6. German Shepherd

Affectionately known as German Shepherds, these large dogs are highly intelligent and easy to train. They have an unmatched sense of loyalty and are a great choice for police and military work, as well as for herding, obedience competitions and service dogs.

The hound breeds often make top 10 lists of smartest dogs, but the basset hound was surprisingly low on this list. That’s because hounds were bred to think for themselves while trailing game, not to follow commands. The good news is that they are quick learners, and they love to be engaged in obedience training.

Coren’s rankings of smartest dog breeds are based on their instinctive intelligence, as well as their ability to learn and respond to commands. But it’s important to remember that a dog’s intelligence is just one part of the equation when it comes to making a happy and well-adjusted pet. Whether they’re working or not, all dogs require copious amounts of exercise and mental stimulation to be at their best.

7. Poodle

Despite their pampered image, these dogs are highly intelligent and love to please. They learn quickly, and their intelligence helps them to adapt to new situations and commands. Poodles are good for first-time dog owners because they can follow commands almost instantly. They often hear their human’s voice and will pick up on their tone of voice, which makes them easier to train.

They were bred to be water retrievers, but their ability to respond to signals from a distance earned them a place in the circus and other events where they entertained audiences. Their smarts also helped them to excel in obedience and agility sports.

The poodle is a loyal companion, and it gets along well with children. It can be standoffish around strangers at first, but it will warm up to people it knows. This breed can be sensitive to emotions, so it is important for it to have plenty of socialization from an early age.

8. Boxer

Boxers are highly intelligent dogs with a keen sense of play and curiosity. They’re also very active and energetic, and they thrive on getting daily exercise. These dogs are adaptable, and they can live comfortably in an apartment or a house with a large yard.

These dogs love children and tend to be patient and gentle with them. However, they should be supervised with young children because of their powerful size and energy.

They’re generally friendly with other household pets, including cats, but they may be less willing to socialize with other dogs. In general, these dogs do well in most types of environments, but they are sensitive to high temperatures and humidity.

A number of health conditions can affect Boxers, including degenerative myelopathy, heart disease and thyroid disease. They’re also prone to cancer, particularly lymphosarcoma (a type of white blood cell cancer). White Boxers are especially prone to skin cancer and should have extra sun protection.

9. English Springer Spaniel

As the name implies, these dogs were bred to herd sheep. Their agility, stealth and confidence make them fearless and effective protectors, but they are also gentle and devoted family pets who love being with their people.

They may be a bit of a brat, but the English Springer Spaniel is a very smart breed. They are quick to learn and excel with positive reinforcement training. Their intelligence and herding instincts mean they need plenty of exercise and mental stimulation or may get bored easily.

They’re known for their obedience and agility skills, but papillons also excel in the mini versions of almost every dog sport. This little dog packs a big brain into its small body, ranking No. 15 in Coren’s intelligence survey. You’ll often see these adorably big-eared pups competing in herding and agility competitions, but they make excellent family dogs as well.