If you've ever had a dog find their way into a bag of food or over a fence, you already know they're ranked among the most intelligent species of animals — right up there with chimpanzees, elephants and dolphins. But as any dog owner will tell you, some are definitely smarter than others — and a lot of that may come down to breed.
If having a smart dog is important to you and you're willing to keep them mentally engaged, here are the breeds most willing to put in a hard day of thinking.
Yes, the Australian cattle dog from Down Under. A working dog that is traditionally occupied with controlling and herding cattle, its qualities are exceptional intelligence, alertness, resourcefulness and a fiercely protective loyalty over its property and people. They are agile, strong, active dogs, both physically and mentally, which revel in new experiences. The flip side is that they bore easily and will unintentionally find trouble while looking for activities to occupy themselves with. The cattle dog is very organized; many are known for putting their own toys away after playing.
At 19-inches tall and 30 to 60 pounds, they aren't huge dogs, but they're not the best choice unless you have plenty of wide-open spaces.
A version of this article was originally published in January 2009.
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