We Now Have the Answer to What Is the Smartest Dog Breed

Adorable Belgian Malinois Dog Breed Is the Most Intelligent Dog Breed

The Belgian Malinois is a deeply intelligent medium-sized herding dog. (Photo: MAESTRO15/Depositphotos)

Canine intelligence is a fascinating topic of study. Prestigious Yale University even has a Canine Cognition Center dedicated to applying rigorous psychological research to pooch decision-making. Such abilities and inherent intuitions have developed over thousands of years of domestication as human's best friend. But which breed is the smartest of them all? A new study published in Scientific Reports crowns the Belgian Malinois as the most intelligent of breeds based on its cumulative performance on a battery of cognitive tests.

The researchers put 1,002 participating dogs through the smartDOG cognition test. The test examines problem-solving proficiency, strategy, memory, logical reasoning, and impulse control. It also scores the ability to read human gestures and to copy human behavior. Each breed was scored out of 39 points. The Belgian Malinois—a mid-sized herding breed from Belgian, and a sub-variety of the Belgian shepherd—clinched the top spot with an impressive 35 points.

The breed passed the V-detour task, a problem-solving set-up, with flying colors, and it also proved adept at interpreting human gestures. It was not great, however, at the cylinder test. In this test, a dog learns to get a treat out of the end of a cylinder that it cannot see through. When it is replaced by a clear cylinder, a “smart” dog remembers and goes through the end. The Malinois, however, like the German Shepard, went through the side. These herding breeds may be too “reactive” due to generations of breeding for their job.

Border collies came in second overall, true to their clever reputation. Other breeds had strengths and weaknesses in different categories. The Finnish Lapphund did poorly in a human-directed task despite its herding genetics. This indicates the functions of working and herding breeds may not correlate to their performances on the tests. “Most breeds had their own strengths and weaknesses,” study author Dr. Saara Junttila, a researcher at the University of Helsinki, explained. “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 in almost all tests.”

For a fun dog IQ test you can try at home, try these tasks from the pet experts at Hill's.

The Belgian Malinois proved to be the smartest breed in a study that put over a thousand dogs of different breeds through cognitive tests.

Adorable Belgian Malinois Dog Breed Is the Most Intelligent Dog Breed

The Belgian Malinois is very agile. (Photo: CYNOCLUB/Depositphotos)

The border collie came in second, while labradors proved poor at spatial reasoning.

Adorable Belgian Malinois Dog Breed Is the Most Intelligent Dog Breed

A Belgian Malinois, the smartest breed. (Photo: LOSHADKAMASMASHA.YANDEX.RU/Depositphotos)

However, the herding Malinois still did poorly in some tasks, especially those around inhibition control.

Adorable Belgian Malinois Dog Breed Is the Most Intelligent Dog Breed

Puppies of the breed at play. (Photo: OOV/Depositphotos)

h/t: [IFL Science]

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Madeleine Muzdakis

Madeleine Muzdakis is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met and a historian of early modern Britain & the Atlantic world. She holds a BA in History and Mathematics from Brown University and an MA in European & Russian Studies from Yale University. Madeleine has worked in archives and museums for years with a particular focus on photography and arts education. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys hiking, film photography, and studying law while cuddling with her cat Georgia.
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