Border Collie – The most intelligent dog breed in the world

Every dog, regardless of the breed, can be intelligent in some ways, but certain dog breeds are workaholics and Einsteins of the dog planet. These furry geniuses stand out from the rest in terms of dog intelligence or dog cognition. Poodles, German Shepherds, and Australian Shepherds are some breeds known for their smartness, but the Border Collie ranks #1 as the world’s most intelligent dog breed.

Border Collie, a herding dog breed, is recognized as the most clever dog breed in the world.

This is not a claim simply made by dog enthusiasts, but canine researchers have proved this, not only in the past, but recently too.

A latest study done on dog cognition and communication has gone viral on social media platforms.

After two years of research, the experts found 6 genius Border Collies that could memorize the names of over 12 new toys only in 6 days.

Some of these genius canines learnt the names of these new toys after hearing it only four times.

Additionally, these top 6 Border Collies were enlisted in the Genius Dog Challenge which was streamed LIVE and took place in various rounds.

Some of these six talented dogs that made it to the contest’s semi-finals could remember names of up to 100 toys.

Don’t believe me? Take a look!

Video courtesy –

Amazing, right? This post is also going to leave you one hundred percent amazed and longing to know more about Border Collies. So, read on.

Today in this blog post, we will know all about the gifted canines, the Border Collies, who for a reason are considered the world’s most intelligent dog breed.

Before we dive into the details, let us know what makes a dog – a dog prodigy.

What makes a dog intelligent ?

Just like human intelligence is the intellectual capability of humans, dog intelligence is the capability of dogs to acquire information and conceptual skills.

Dogs are capable of learning human words (commands) and storing them in memory, and retrieving them in situations. This intelligence is displayed in the behaviour of a dog.

For instance, all dog owners usually teach their furry companions the basic commands like ‘sit’, ‘stay’, ‘come’, ‘down’, etc.

However, if you have two different dog breeds at home, like I do, you must have already discovered that one breed learns commands faster compared to the other.

This is because, similar to human intelligence, dog intelligence is of different types.

According to experts, there are three dimensions of intelligence in dogs:

  • Adaptive intelligence – This indicates a dog’s ability to learn problem-solving skills from its surroundings.
  • Working intelligence – This indicates the ability of a dog to understand and follow different commands.
  • Instinctive intelligence – This indicates the natural ability a dog has based on the breed. The instinctive intelligence shows what a dog is bred to do.

All of these three types of intelligence play a role in how intelligent a dog is. And, although every dog, regardless of the breed, can be intelligent in some ways, there are specific realities when it comes to your dog’s inborn qualities.

Stanley Coren, the author of a popular book ‘The Intelligence of dogs’ says, “Trainability is the key.”

The renowned psychology professor and neuropsychological researcher of the University of British Columbia studying dog intelligence, shared his assessment of 110 breeds to determine the smartest ones.

In his research, Stanley found his top ten breeds that picked up on commands in five or less repetitions and were obedient to the commands at least 95% of the time.

So, the answer to ‘what makes a dog intelligent’ can be found in these two criteria:

  1. The number of repetitions necessary for a dog breed to understand and learn a new command. As you may have guessed, the lesser repetitions the dog needs, the higher its breed is ranked.
  2. The second criteria is the rate of success of a dog obeying a known command on the first try. The higher the success rate, the more obedient the dog, and the more intelligent the dog breed.

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Border Collies Vs Average Dogs

Border Collies are workaholic dog breeds known for their energy and diligent temperament.

When it comes to obedience & work intelligence, the Border Collie is proven to be the smartest dog breed. As a matter of fact, the world’s most intelligent dog, Chaser, was a Border Collie who identify and retrieve around 1,022 toys just by names.

Border Collies are some of the best herding dogs with extremely high working intelligence and instinctive dog intelligence.

They have an innate ability to learn from the past, this makes them have a high adaptive IQ as well.

But how does this genius dog breed compare to an average intelligent dog breed?

Canine researchers suggest that the average intelligent dog can learn a new command with 25 to 40 repetitions. But Border Collies pick up commands in 5 or less repetitions.

In other words, the Border Collie is at least 5 times faster at learning new commands than an average intelligent dog.

Having said that, there’s nothing wrong with being average. In fact, some of the world’s most famous and hardworking dogs, for example, the Husky, Boston Terrier, Dachshund, Great Dane, Greyhound, Shiba Inu, Aussie and Boxer are all average intelligent dogs.

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Herding Intelligence in Border Collie

Border Collies are recognized as the leading sheepherding dog as they are hardwired to herd anything that moves.

The inborn or natural ability and skill that the breed was raised for is termed as the Instinctive Intelligence of a dog, and Border Collies have the highest instinctive intelligence in all canines.

Herding is one of the natural traits dogs have inherited form their ancestors – the wolves.

As a part of the hunting ritual, wolves in a pack will circle and drive their prey from one location to another.

The only thing that makes a Border Collie herding different from a wolf hunting is that the Border Collie has been raised to not kill or hurt its prey.

So, in reality, a Border Collie has not been bred to herd, but rather to not cause death.

In the past, all dog breeds had particular roles and tasks, be it herding, guarding, sledging, hunting, or retrieving. Dogs were specially bred for a purpose.

And when we speak of herding dogs, the Border Collie effortlessly comes to mind. After all, they’re widely considered the world’s best sheep and cattle herders.

The ability and skill of Border Collies to gather sheep and cattle, move them into formations and drive them towards a direction requires a special aptitude, that is Instinctive Intelligence.

Border Collies are able to perform this job using purely instincts. In simple words, they don’t need much human training to herd the sheep and cattle.

Border Collies were originally bred to herd sheep, but now they can herd cattle too. They are effective in the herding task because of their instinctive intelligence, alertness, strength, stamina, and work ethic.

Border Collies are known for intense stares to intimidate the members of the flock.

Even if a Border Collie has never seen a sheep or cattle in his or her life, these natural instincts will be often seen in daily life with these dogs.

It’s not unusual for Border Collies to nip at the heels of their human companions, especially in puppyhood when they’re fighting these natural instincts.

Border Collie’s Adaptive Intelligence

Adaptive intelligence is the third and final dimension of dog IQ, which refers to the ability of the dog to apply its knowledge to fit into current situations. 

This may include anything from their problem-solving ability to how they’re able to learn from previous experiences and mistakes, and also from the environment.

While almost all Border Collies have more or less the same instinctive intelligence, it’s not the same when it comes to their adaptive intelligence. This dog IQ element tends to be differ greatly among individual dogs of the same breed.

And though the adaptive intelligence varies in Border Collies, most of them are born with high adaptive intelligence.

Let’s hear a story about a Border Collie from its owner!

“Olive knows when it’s time for everything! She’s learned what it means when I pick up different objects. Like lately, face-mask means were going for a walk!

To me, the fact that Olive was able to learn the connections of objects with consequent actions is incredible. The ability to pick out the small details of human actions is nothing but adaptive intelligence at its finest.

Also read – Top 10 Indian breeds of dogs I Bet You Didn’t Know About

Is a Border Collie for you?

The Border Collie is a fabulous dog, but are they the right fit for your lifestyle?

When you planning to have a dog, it’s important that you pick one based on your lifestyle and personality. This is a very common mistake I’ve seen far too many owners make.

Never choose a dog breed because they’re intelligent. The truth is, all dog breeds, especially a Border Collie are smart enough for you and your family.

But smart doesn’t mean easy. As canine experts mentioned, Border Collies require a lot of work and constant activity because they’re so smart.

So, it’s best to consider a Border Collie only if you have the time, space and capacity to raise a healthy and happy Border Collie.

These dogs are not right for everybody because their energy levels are super high compared to other dog breeds. Hence, it really takes a dedicated and active owner to raise a Border Collie.

Border Collies are the happiest when they are kept busy and active throughout the day.

And, if you’re an experienced owner and have an active household, then these dogs will thrive with your family.


Border Collies are loving dogs with an energetic personality. They are a powerhouse of stamina and extraordinary instinct.

And, now that you’ve seen just how intelligent Border Collies are, there are some things to consider as a responsible dog owner.

It’s cool having the smartest dog breed at home, but it can come with some inconveniences. In fact, many owners have shared their experience that a smart dog like a Border Collie is not for everyone.

It’s because the more intelligent the dog, the more mental stimulation and constant activity is required. This is definitely true for the Border Collie.

Without sufficient mental stimulation to their minds and plenty of work, they may exhibit some destructive behavior, such as chewing objects in the house.

For your Border Collie, mental stimulation usually comes in the form of obedience training. Not only does mental stimulation keep them sharp, but also obedient and under control.

According to canine experts and professional dog trainers, Border Collies need at least 1 to 2 hours of physical and mental activities daily!

So, if you can patiently provide that, then by all means, adopt a Border Collie now.

Happy Training!

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