Smartest Small Dog Breeds

Top 21 Smartest Small Dog Breeds

When it comes to bringing a dog at home, every pet owner wishes for smart learning canines of small size. Every dog breed is unique, but if your adorable pup is intelligent as well, life becomes easier for you. 

Are you looking for a dog breed of manageable size with pure intelligence? Here we have enlisted the smartest small dog breeds for your ease.


Papillon Dog Breed

The smartest small dog, a Papillon, is named due to its butterfly-shaped ears. These dogs belong to the Spaniel breed; therefore, they are known as Dwarf Spaniels. Papillon is an adventurous breed despite the fact that they grow a maximum of 10 pounds.

These dogs are pretty intelligent and perform well in dog sports. 

In addition, Papillion’s are easy to train compared to other breeds, as they are passionate about learning things. That’s why they are amazing trick canines. They remember commands without bothering much and are happy around children. Like other dog breeds, early socialization and obedience classes benefit these Papillion’s

Shetland Sheepdog

The Shetland Sheepdog, the smartest small herding dog, is of small size. Sheltie, an active and easy-to-train dog breed, looks like a miniature Collie. These intelligent canines perform well in different dog sports, particularly in agility. Both dog and owner can get benefit from obedience classes. 

Shetland Sheepdog, a herding breed, enjoys chasing moving things, and a dog owner should be aware of it. They are often used on farms for watching intruders and guarding the flock.

Miniature Poodle

Next comes a miniature Poodle, which is intelligent and easy to train canines. They are the second most intelligent breed among 138 dog breeds. Poodles, among many other smartest small dog breeds, are the best choice for the ones who lack enough space. 

Miniature Poodles were originally truffle-hunting dogs before becoming companions. They are the best-behaved dogs that you will ever meet. 

For successful training of a Poodle, a pet owner should be consistent with their commands. These canines are excellent water retrievers and often excel in various sports, including tracking, agility, and dock diving. They are amazing search and rescue dogs as they are pretty helpful to humans.

Cocker Spaniel

Cocker Spaniel dog breed

Cocker Spaniels being people pleasers, struggle to please their owners. This breed gets its name from the bird they hunt, the woodcock. This smartest small dog helps in hunting the Eurasian and American woodcock in Europe and the United States. 

This family-friendly dog breed is also a remarkable sport canine as they are easily trainable. That’s why they excel well in dog sports in addition to hunting dogs. Puppy training classes and early socialization are helpful for Cocker Spaniels. Ensure to provide your dog with plenty of mentally stimulating opportunities to keep them active.

Cardigan Welsh Corgi

Among the smartest small dog breeds, Cardigan Welsh Corgi is a cattle-driving dog similar to Pembroke. These dogs are suitable for those who desire a large canine having a small body. Since Cardigans are physically active, they perform well in sports.

They behave well at sheepdog trials and agility training. These adorable canines can serve the purpose of farm dogs. They love to make their owners happy. Since these dogs are fast learners, they pick up a new trick after repeating 5 to 15 commands


The next one on the list of smartest small dog breeds is Schipperke. They are small, spitz-type herding dogs originating from Belgium. Schipperkes are pretty small canines having strong personalities. These dogs need dynamic surroundings to stay well-mannered. Therefore, they are excellent sports canines and are easy to train.

Toy Poodle

Another excellent option for owners who don’t have sufficient space for a large-size dog is Toy Poodle. Like their larger cousins, they have enough intelligence behind all those curls. These 10 inches tall canines have qualities similar to other poodle varieties.

You will be able to train these canines if you are consistent with their commands. They perform well in various dog sports; you can strengthen your bond with your canines by participating in these sports.

Miniature American Shepherd

Miniature American Shepherd dog breed

Among the highly trainable dog breeds, one is Miniature American Shepherd. They behave well once they learn basic obedience commands. That said early socialization and puppy training classes work best to make these well-mannered canines companions.


Havanese Dog Breed

Are you looking for a people-pleaser dog breed? Consider the Havanese Cuban canines, well-known for their intelligence and for making their owners happy. Early socialization, as well as gentle and patient training, will be helpful for these dogs.

Positive training methods can make your Havanese obedient and human-centered companions. 

Border Terrier

Border Terrier Dog Breed

Training a Border Terrier at home can be a bit challenging if you are a new pet owner. That’s because they are passionate about chasing things that move. Consistent training and early socialization can be helpful for these miniatures, rough-coated terriers.

Brussels Griffon

Among intelligent canine breeds, next comes Brussels Griffons, who love bonding with their owners. The former Belgian street dogs are easily trainable and love to keep their owners happy. Because of their people-pleasing behavior, they are pretty obedient and are easy to train.

Being the smartest small dogs, Brussels give their best in dog sports, including agility, tracking, and obedience. They enjoy solving puzzle game toys and can recall commands without any difficulty.

Bichon Frise

Bichon Frise Dog Breed

Bichon Frise do well in obedience and working intelligence; therefore, they give their best in adaptive intelligence. These white canines are extremely good at companionship and quickly understand their owner’s needs.

They are attention-seekers and are easy to train. However, remember harsh training methods won’t give you good results.

Miniature Schnauzer

The German word “schnauzer” means mustache is where these canines got their name. That said, these canines have busy upper lips and are a mixture of a schnauzer and a poodle. They get their intelligence from both of these intelligent breeds.

This smartest small dog is a versatile breed. These adorable canines show excellent performance in obedience training and quickly understand verbal and hand commands. Further, they are also excellent watchdogs.

Fox Terrier

Fox Terrier is another smart dog breed that includes curious and playful canines. Because of their intensive intelligence, they are good watch or hunting dogs. 

Since they are pretty observant, they understand better what’s happening around them. Therefore, they ensure to catch and kill any small rodents like mice and rats if they see any. 

As smart dogs need to use their brain continuously, so keep them busy through various mentally stimulating activities.

Yorkshire Terrier

Yorkshire Terrier Dog Breed

Yorkshire Terrier dog breed originated from Yorkshire, England, as their name said, in the 19th century. These small fluffy canines are highly intelligent, and shedding is not common in them.

They understand a new command in no time due to their quick learning ability. Because of their intelligence, they love socializing and bonding with their owners. 

Boston Terrier

Boston Terrier Dog Breed

Boston Terriers can quickly fit into new surroundings as they are highly adaptable. Due to their adaptive intelligence, they were bred for jobs that require decision-making, like hunting rodents in factories.

They are pretty active and need constant stimulation. Interactive treat toys and obedience training are necessary to keep them busy. Doing this will save their destructive energy for your nearly plated flower beds.

Rat Terrier

Rat Terrier Dog Breed

Another intelligent dog breed is the rat terrier. Although these dogs are stubborn canines, they are highly trainable and intelligent in adaptive and problem-solving activities.

Cairn Terrier

Cairn Terrier Dog Breed

These tiny canines, Cairn Terriers, are helpful in catching small rodents and vermin on farms. They are intelligent and good exterminators as well. Cairn Terriers gives the best performance in instinctive, working, and obedience intelligence tests.

Moreover, these tiny energy balls are also best at obedience and agility activities.


Another smartest small dog is Pomeranian, who weighs about three to seven pounds and are good companions. In addition to being cute, they are incredibly smart as well, and that’s what makes them the best choice. Besides, they show the best performance in working and obedience intelligence.

Being quick learners, Pomeranians understand words and voice commands in just five times repetitions. That said, they show an 85% success rate which is pretty high. 

Pembroke Welsh Corgi

Pembroke Welsh Corgi Dog Breed

Next on the list are Pembroke Welsh Corgis, who are agile and relatively fast. That’s why they do well as farming dogs. Earlier, they were helpful for herding livestock and camels. But now, they are useful in hunting guard fowl and vermin.

They are independent, dominant, and are easily trainable. So, don’t expect these Corgis to do tricks whenever you demand.

English Springer Spaniel

English Springer Spaniel Dog Breed

This set-faced dog breed is famous for its stamina and high intelligence. These dogs are usually preferable by sport hunters because of their high stamina, incredible speed, and ability to follow instructions correctly.

They are best at picking up a new trick with only 5 to 15 commands. Besides, they enjoy the company of children and other pets in the home.

Frequently Asked Questions

Papillion’s are the most intelligent small dogs among numerous dog breeds. That’s because of their passion for learning and, therefore, are easy to train compared to other canines. Being intelligent dogs, they show good performance in dog sports. 

Miniature or toy poodles are the easiest small dogs to train. A pet owner should be consistent with demands if he wants to teach his poodle well.

According to the Intelligence of Dogs, the Border Collie has the highest IQ and is highly trainable. However, temperament and individual intelligence can vary among canines within the breed. Because of their intelligence, they excel at tasks like controlling, gathering, and directing herds. 

Labrador Retrievers, English Springer Spaniels, Jack Russell Terriers, Cardigan Welsh Corgis, and Boxers are the most playful dogs. A boxer breed is native to Germany and bred for cattle control on farms. This breed includes medium to large canines that are pretty playful and fun-loving. 

Without a doubt, dogs are smart and loyal creatures. But when it comes to their obedience, German Shepherds, Border Collies, and Golden Retrievers are the most obedient dog breeds.

How to Measure Canine Intelligence?

Study shows that dogs have an intellectual capacity similar to a two-year-old toddler. While measuring your canine intelligence, look at these three categories:

Instinctive Intelligence

Dogs with instinctive intelligence are able to do the things that they are naturally good at. Some canines have particular purposes, like guarding, pointing, or herding. For instance, Border Collies, a smart dog breed, is famous for gathering, herding, and protecting livestock.

A pointer dog, German Shorthair Pointer, is famous for pointing small prey like birds and rabbits to their owners. They are well-known as all-purpose hunter dogs.

Adaptive Intelligence

Adaptive intelligence refers to a canine’s problem-solving ability and adaptation to surroundings. A high adaptive intelligence means dogs can learn tricks easier. Mostly, these canines understand things through their observation and keeping an eye on humans’ routines.

Working and Obedience Intelligence

Working and obedience intelligence represents a canine’s ability to pick up rules and commands from his owner.

Dogs with high working intelligence can learn up to 250 words compared to an average dog that can learn 165 words. Further, these dogs work best as service dogs. 

Final Words

To sum up, the smartest small dog breeds mentioned can ease your life in the best possible way. Along with being intelligent, they are cute as well. Although any intelligence test can’t measure your canine’s intelligence, each breed has strengths and weaknesses.

Many dog breeds perform problem-solving tasks that need lots of energy. As they are pretty smart, ensure to provide enough stimulation activities to keep them active.

So, next time you consider bringing any intelligent small dog breed to your home, choose any from the above list. And who doesn’t want adorable pets that are smart as well? Definitely, everyone. 

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