What Makes The Border Collie The Smartest Dog In The World?

smartest dog

The Border Collie is hands down the smartest dog in the world. Ever wondered how your dog is capable of understanding any commands? Apparently, any dog’s capability to understand and learn commands or do an activity has a lot to do with what is called “dog intelligence”.

Like us humans, our dogs are also intelligent, and sometimes they even outdo us with their smartness. So, when the dog intelligence was measured in all breeds, the Border Collie turned out to be the smartest of all.

In this article, we present to you the reasons and facts that make Border Collie the smartest dog in the world. What makes him intelligent than the rest is pretty intriguing and fun to know.

This article has a three-fold benefit, one – Border Collies are the best and you can know everything fun about them here, two – It will help you understand your Collie better, three – after reading this you can decide whether the Border Collie is the right dog for you or not.

So, let us attempt to understand this intelligent dog’s smartness and understand what makes him best from the rest.

What Is Dog Intelligence or Dog IQ?

Border Collie Intelligence

Dog intelligence (Dog IQ) is the measuring medium of a dog’s capability to store memory, acquire or retrieve a memory, and further compare, combine and use that memory in daily tasks.

Dog intelligence has three dimensions:

  • Instinctive Intelligence
  • Adaptive Intelligence
  • Working Intelligence and Obedience

Instinctive Intelligence is based on a dog’s natural or inborn ability to understand things the way they are. Like, the Bloodhound is excellent at tracking and following scent while the Jack Russel Terrier is great at hunting. These abilities are natural to these dogs and are considered as their instinctive intelligence.

Adaptive Intelligence on the other hand depends on a dog’s ability to solve problems or perform complex tasks. A dog’s adaptive intelligence determines his/her capability to learn things on their own. Adaptive intelligence also helps a dog to determine their previous mistakes and to learn from those mistakes.

Working intelligence and Obedience of a dog refer to a dog’s working abilities and most importantly how obedient a dog is at obeying commands. Working intelligence can be considered a dog’s ability to apply both of its instinctive and adaptive intelligence to complete a task. All the three dimensions of dog intelligence together make the collie the smartest dog in the world.

About The Border Collie

About border collie

The smartest dog in the world is a medium-sized working and herding dog. Known specifically for their intelligence these are super energetic, athletic, and task-oriented dogs.

Sometimes, these dogs are so energetic that is feels almost supernatural. Their energy and aura are vibrant and they can fill your life with all shades of happiness. The quick-witted Collie is also very sporty and loves all sports that require the maximum energy and intelligence.

Their English-Scottish background makes them exotically inclined towards their roots. Herding and working dog qualities are in their blood and they are the best at any task they take over.

The medium-sized Border Collie has moderately coated fur that sheds a lot. Their double coat is often curled and can be smooth or rough. The Collies have distinct colors but a white and black coated Border Collie is more common.

With a variety of colors, the Collies also have the physical qualities of having two different colored eyes. Their ears to are of various kinds, they can either be fully-erect or semi-erect and fully dropped as well.

The Border Collie has a very charming personality but their temperament can be tricky. These dogs are not just great working or herding dogs but they are great as domestic pets too.

It is the smartest dog in the world and its smartness and stamina don’t allow these dogs to sit idle. If left unattended or without a task at any point, you might awaken the monster in them.

The Border Collie poses a striking similarity with the Australian Shepherd dog. People get confused between a Border Collie and the Australian Shepherd all the time. But the brains of Aussies are not like that of the smartest dog in the world which makes the collie more distinct from the Australian Shepherd.

Apart from how beautiful the Border Collie is these are also the smarty-pants. Quick at everything, this breed is also highly trainable and very intelligent. They have a strong memory and their memory recollecting abilities are also on point.

In a nutshell, a Border Collie is like that one kid in school who is an all-rounder with quite some over-confidence in everything they do. Collies are many personalities living in one, always energetic, alert and ready, hardworking, and very smart.

History of Border Collie

Border collie history

Coming from the Northumberland county the Border Collie was once known as the Scotch Sheep Dog. Earlier, a particular dog breed was bred by the Viking dogs as herding dogs across the borders of Scotland and England.

Probably this is the reason why the first name of this canine is termed as ‘Border’.

The word ‘Collie’ is believed to originate from the Scottish dialect that means sheepdogs. This particular dog breed was often seen herding livestock, especially sheep that too in the right direction. This gained the breed the title of being the “master craftsman at work”.

Old Hemp, the Border Collie, is the one from whom this breed starting gaining attention. Hemp was born in Northumberland itself and he was a very quiet yet powerful dog. This dog was so powerful and smart that the sheep used to respond to him very easily.

His style became famous as the Hemp’s style and later become the Border Collie style. In his lifetime, Hemp sired almost 200 Border Collie puppies. Even today’s Collies have a trace of Hemp’s ancestral line and intelligence.

The working style and powerful personality of the Old Hemp are most probably why this dog breed is the smartest dog in the world. It’s all in the genes.

What Makes The Border Collie The Smartest Dog In The World?

Various factors make the Border Collie the smartest dog in the world. This is a working and herding breed which makes it easier to understand their active and energetic traits.

But there is more to these dogs beyond the working skills that make them the smartest.

1. Herding History

border collie herding

Herding is a part and parcel of the life of a Border Collie. They were bred to help humans and be working dogs but the breed evolved to function as great herders.

They were the leaders who lead the flock of sheep as instructed by its owner. From here, the collies developed some exceptional command obedience and their accuracy at tasks.

Till today these dogs are great at understanding and obeying commands faster than the other dogs. Doesn’t it make it easier to understand why this the smartest dog in world?

2. Incredible Trainability

Border collie playinf

Only the smartest dog in the world can be so highly trainable and absolutely intelligent. If their training is started at an early age, they are later capable of excelling in all physical activities and canine sports.

Border Collies are super-quick learners. When you start training them you will realize that once you start teaching them a command they won’t stop until its fully learned.

Their incredible trainability makes it super easy to train these smart canines. A Border Collie is so smart that it is actually fun to teach them some complex commands. They can just do it all.

3. Responsive and Quick at Picking Commands

border collie training

A Border Collie is quick and highly responsive to commands. This smart breed has the potential to understand and learn a new command in just 5 secs (sometimes more).

A collie can also learn whistle commands and that too very quickly. Their responsiveness to commands can also be hectic at times, for the trainer. They can react to a new command even when you have said it just once.

So, if you repeat a command several times, they may require you to say it several times, every time, before they actually respond to it. So, just saying it once should work for them. They are just quick like that.

4. Search and Rescue Dogs

border collie search and rescue dog

When a dog is so smart and an absolute genius their capability to search and rescue missing people cannot be doubted. These are such good doggos that they have all the skills a dog could possibly have.

Their speed and agility are unmatched and to top it all they are also eager to learn new things. Search and rescue tasks are where many collies are used. Their sense of smell plus their ability to track a scent is amazing.

However, they need to be trained to be the best at searching and rescuing people. Their training procedure is also something these dogs can successfully achieve and understand.

5. Sniffing Skills

border collie sniffing skills

If a dog searches and rescues people than it can also sniff out explosives and track them. The Border Collie does have all the sniffing skills, quick-learning abilities.

But what makes him the smartest is the fact that it can use all his natural qualities and use them logically to perform tasks.

Collies are so brilliant at applying their skills that it can amaze you every single time with their intelligence. This easily enhances its sniffer dog abilities to successfully detect bombs and explosive or illegal substances.

6. The Stare

border collie staring

As the smartest dog is a herder by nature their eyes do most of the work for them. This smart dog has some weird and super-powerful gaze that intimidates the flock they lead.

Their stare which is also called ‘give the eye’ was the actual intention of breeding these dogs.

Have you heard of a dog’s stare that is actually capable of controlling a whole flock? That’s how highly talented and effortlessly powerful Border Collies are. Only a dog who is the smartest in the whole world can have this stare.

7. Can Predict Owner’s Desire

Border collie

When we say this is the smartest dog in the whole world, we mean literally the smartest. These dogs are super smart. So smart that once they are familiar with you, they can predict your next command without you having to say it.

Their owners or masters are highly observed by them and they can always tell when their owner will command what. Such is this dog, there is practically nothing on this Earth that this dog doesn’t understand or respond to.

We, humans, are also pretty predictable about other humans but a dog doing the same is quite a sight to watch and experience.

8. Excellent at Dog Sports

border collie dogs sports

How can a dog so smart and agile not excel at sports? Border Collies can herd, work in the field, search and rescue, sniff, and also excel at canine sports.

Collies are highly intelligent and incredibly trainable. However, for them to excel at anything sure requires training but once trained these are the best dogs at any task.

In canine sports, the Border collies majorly excel at sports that involve obedience and agility. Other sports they excel at are running, flyball, flying disc, tracking, and mental math puzzles as well.

The Border Collie Facts


Stating the obvious here but even the book The Intelligence Of Dogs ranks them first and calls Border Collie the smartest dog in the world.


Collies need a lot of exercise and mental stimulation as well. All working dogs or herding dogs require tons of exercise but a collie might need more than normal exercising.


Born to be a leader and lead the herd and control them was the intention behind breeding these dogs. They are not attackers but instead control the herd.


Always active, alert, and alarmed makes them the best watchdogs or say the smartest watchdogs.


The Aussies and the Collies are actually pretty similar in looks which can make almost anyone confuse one for the other.


This one thing about Collies is completely similar to Aussies. Both these dogs can have different colored eyes.


The Border Collie has some very unique coat colors. The merle patterns of many mix colors and the spotted coat are some very unique coats they have.


Not just smart but once a Collie fits into your family you are bound to be astonished by their faithfulness and obedience.

The Border Collie vs. Other Dogs

Border collie with other dogs

Stanley Coren, the canine psychologist conducted a test between dogs to measure their IQ. With 199 obedience trial judges and many members from the American Kennel Club and the Canadian Club, the IQ of dogs was put to test.

In this competition thing, a dog’s capability to understand a command based on the number of repetitions required to learn it and its obeying capabilities were the IQ measuring criteria.

After testing hundreds of breeds, only 138 dog breeds made the final cut and won themselves a place in the smartest dog list . Of course, the Border Collie made it to the list.

When a Border Collie’s intelligence was put to test, Border Collies turned out as the best and number one performers. Their intelligence was such that eventually, they won the title of “the smartest dog breeds in the world.”

The other average intelligent dog breeds were able to learn new commands in a maximum of 25 to 40 repetitions. Whereas, a Border Collie performed and showed a 5 times faster speed in learning new commands than other dogs.

Other dogs obeying commands in the first call (obedience test) had a 50% success rate in overall dog breeds. But the Border Collies were capable of obeying new commands at the very first attempt was double the average success rate of other dogs.

This did not make the other dog breeds bad or less intelligent but it definitely made the Border Collie the smartest dog. As Border Collie was titled the smartest dog breeds in the world, only 9 others came close to this smartest dog and still hold a place in the smartest dog top 10 list.

The other 9 dog breeds in the smartest dog top 10 list were the Poodle, German Shepherd, Golden Retriever, Doberman Pinscher, Shetland Sheepdog, Labrador retriever, Papillon, Rottweiler, and the Australian Cattle Dog.

In the end, after all the intelligence testing, Stanley Coren ranked the Border Collie as the smartest dog breeds in the world.

Qualities That Make The Border Collies The Smartest Dog Breeds In The World

Border collie smartest dog breed

While measuring a dog’s intelligence quotient, the canine psychologist also pointed out that dog intelligence cannot be based only on its working intelligence and obedience.

Instinctive and Adaptive intelligence is also important in dog IQ measuring. The Border Collies are herders by nature and purpose. Herding skills are the Instinctive intelligence of the Border Collies.

Their instinctive intelligence is required in sheep herding. Even if today they are more used as domestic pets than herding dogs, it is still what makes them the smartest dog breeds.

Today, even though a Border Collie is not used as a herding dog but they have it in them as an ancestral quality. This gives them the instinctive smartness in any other task they perform.

As herders these dogs were great at making sheep to round up or move into formations and make them walk in a particular direction. Their flock leading skills even if they have never dealt with a sheep or have seen one gives them all their instinctive smartness.

It is more importantly the Adaptive intelligence of the Border Collie that makes them the smartest dogs. Their instinctive intelligence is the same for almost all Border Collies.

But their Adaptive Intelligence which is basically and collectively what we refer to as Dog IQ can differ from collie-to-collie. A Border Collie is so adaptive and quick to learn that it is almost unbelievable. For a dog, the Border Collie has some seriously great levels of intellect. 

So, the Border Collies intelligence is not limited to obedience, working, and instinctive intelligence but extends to its adaptive intelligence. Even so, their adaptive intelligence can vary a lot, many Border Collies are born with exceptional adaptive intelligence.

When trained, a Border Collie can even understand your simplest to most complex physical actions as well. Almost all dogs are responsive to verbal commands but these smarties can also understand your mime actions.

It is possible because these dogs are great at picking cues and also capable to apply and understand its meaning on their own. These intelligence qualities make the Border Collie smart enough for us humans to never doubt their intelligence ever. After all this the smartest and the most intelligent dog so you cannot really doubt them.

Signs That Border Collies Are The Smartest

border collie smartness signs

Border Collie is the most intelligent dog but how do you know if a Border Collie is really intelligent?

If you already own a Collie you pretty much already know what makes a Border Collie the most intelligent dog. But for those who don’t know here are the behavioral signs that show why the Border Collie is the smartest dog.

  • For instance, if you throw a ball towards a Border Collie puppy but the ball rolls out and away from the reach of the puppy, a Border Collie puppy will look for ways and get that ball anyhow.
  • If you put a new toy on the floor, let a Collie watch it and the cover the toy a Border Collie will search and sniff all around and even look under to find the toy. If you own a collie you can get him/her some really smart toys.
  • These dogs also have great memory they can remember the people they met even for a short while. If a collie recognizes you even though you’ve met him/her just once, don’t be surprised that’s just how great their memory is.
  • A Border Collie can also respond and understand command in just one attempt. However, this adaptiveness depends on dog-to-dog but generally, a Collie will surely obey your command on the first go.
  • Even whistle training these pooches is fun and useful. They are very responsive to whistle commands and collie responding to a whistle is quite a sight to watch.
  • A collie also knows its human so well that it can pick cues and even predict your next move before you commanding them to do so.

Border Collies are born as the most intelligent dog breed but bringing out their intelligence needs efforts and practice. Consistency and practice together help them to fully develop and use their intelligence.

The best thing about the Border Collie is that it doesn’t matter if your dog is highly intelligent a trick or two is fine for the dog. But if you have a collie or want to get one it is going to bring in funny and brainy stuff.

If you want a collie that can participate in sports and win accolades then training, practice and consistency only will bring out the genius residing in them.

Meet Some Of the Smartest Border Collies

1. Chaser – The World’s Smartest Dog

Chaser, a female Border Collie, was recorded by the Guinness Book of Records as the “Smartest Dog in the World.” What made Chaser the smartest dog in the world, one might wonder.

Apparently, this dog was termed as the smartest dog in the world because she knew 1000-1022 words, proper nouns to be precise. Not just proper nouns but she also knew many more words. No wonder she was the smartest dog in the world.

Chaser was so smart that she had realized and understood completely that when her owner Dr. Pilley would say “this is”, shr knew that he will name something more after that. 

Chaser lived for 15 long years and amazed the world every single time until she passed away on June 17, 2018.

2. Brac – The Balancing Dog

Dogs and balancing are two different things altogether. Usually, dogs are not that good at balancing and focusing. But that is not the case with Brac, the Border Collie.

Brac has incredible balancing skills. Brac’s owner Sally Turner taught him to balance and hold things on his head. Brac can balance so many things on his head. From oranges to bacon and sausages or 3 eggs on different spoons, Brac can do it all.

The balancing experiment which started as a joke turned out into some serious balancing skills. Sally trained Brac so well that he could also hold a glass of wine on his head. 

3. Zoe – The Multitalented Collie

Zoe, the Border Collie, is one dog that can do so many tricks and tasks that you will forget the count. Such obedient and intelligent is this dog that words cannot be enough to describe her talent. Below, you can watch Zoe’s talent for yourself.


4. Ted – The dog who sniffed Cancer

Yes, you read that absolutely correct. Ted, a Border Collie, proved the well-known fact that dogs can smell cancer. Ted’s owner Josie Conlan, had developed breast cancer and had a lump (tumor) in her breast.

Josie, who suffered from a condition that developed lumps in her body was unaware of existing cancer. Soon, Ted started to sniff the lump and cry which alarmed her go get it checked and thus, saved her life. 

How Is Life With The Smartest Dog Breed In The World

Smartest Dog Breed In The World

If you are thinking to bring a collie home you should know how life actually is with the smartest dog breeds. Life with Border Collies can be physically draining but emotionally rejuvenating.

Before getting a collie, you should understand that these were initially bred for working and herding purposes. This makes them the most intelligent dog breed as their work requires intelligence.

Working dogs and especially this most intelligent dog breed, needs a lot of exercises and free space to run and play.

But a Border Collie needs a lot more of all of the above. If you decide to live with a collie you should also know that these are not just the smartest dogs but also super active dogs.

You have to take care of grooming the Border Collie which is important to maintain good coat health. If good care is not taken, they can develop a lot of diseases and fall sick.

You will have to train them and start training from an early age. If not trained properly at their young age they can become very disobedient. No dog parent would ever want a disobedient dog around.

A collie also changes your life for good. Their never-ending energy and stamina will keep you up and you will end up having your workout routine. These are happy and energetic dogs and they fill your life with the same energy.

When you give them tasks or games to play you will never have a dull moment in your life. Also, a busy collie is really fun to watch as its attempt to get things done can be a lot funny and amazing.

When you start living with a Border Collie you will realize that this is the best dog as a companion, adventure-partner, and the most intelligent pet you will ever have.

Drawbacks Of Having The World’s Smartest Dog

The World’s Smartest Dog

They can even overdo you with their smartness and get away with a lot of things. The collies are intelligent, active, fun-loving, and extremely goal-oriented. You will constantly have to keep them busy.

A jobless or task-less Border Collie can be very aggressive and hyper all the time. Giving them tasks to do keeps their mind busy and is also good as mental stimulation exercises.

Life with Border Collies can be very hectic and tiring for the owners as they need a lot of exercises and they need it almost all the time. They are always up for tasks and challenges. These are not just ‘Fetch-game’ dogs, they need more and more all the time.

You as a collie dog parent have more jobs to do than the dog itself but the best thing to do is keep your Border Collie busy and everything else is just great about these dogs.

When it comes to exercising them, this is the only thing that can tire you especially if you are not an active person. These dogs will never join you to be a couch potato and will keep you up on your toes.

These absolutely not the dogs for busy people or the people living in apartments. There are not many drawbacks of living with Border Collies if you can totally match their energy and stamina.

The serious drawbacks of having a collie are for lazy people and people with sedentary lifestyles. In situations like these, you should always avoid getting Border Collie.

Border Collies can also become clingy dogs or they can easily be called as Velcro dogs. So, whenever you have to go somewhere without your furry buddy, it can be a tough situation to trick them and flee. These dogs are not just smart they are also over smart.

One more drawback of having one of these dogs is that you will more often run out of ideas to keep them busy or moving.

Is The Border Collie Right For Me?

border collie as pet

So far, you must have understood if the smartest dog in the world is the right dog for you or your family. You should never get a collie just because this breed is the smartest dog breeds in the world. Their smartness comes with immense efforts and maintenance.

Border Collies are right for you if you have what it takes to pet a dog as active and smart as a collie. This dog is the most intelligent dog only when their humans bring out the smartness in them. Their intelligence is not a wait and watch thing that will one day suddenly show up.

If you have an active lifestyle and can match the dog’s energy then you can go and get one home. Before bringing these dogs home you also need to make sure where they came from and know the particular dog’s history.

This will help you better understand these dogs and give them the best they can have. Always check with your lifestyle habits and only then bring home the smartest dog there ever was. If you are thinking to bring a Broder Collie home, a through lifestyle check and the level of attention and efforts these dogs need should be considered.

Hello Readers,

These are the facts that make the Border Collie the smartest dog breeds in the world. Hope you liked this article and it helped you know and understand what makes this breed the smartest of all.

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