Australian Shepherds have got it all—beauty, personality, and brains. According to the American Kennel Club, the Australian Shepherd is a highly intelligent breed. Australian Shepherds come from a line of herding dogs and have been working on ranches and farms since the 19th century, and, as such, have adapted well to following commands and learning new tricks. In this post, we’ll explore how intelligent and trainable Australian Shepherds are.
Are Australian Shepherds Smarter Than Most Breeds?
If we’re talking generally, Australian Shepherds are pretty sharp—sharp enough to appear on the American Kennel Club’s website under “smartest breeds of dog”. Despite the generalization that Australian Shepherds are highly intelligent, however, it’s hard to assess intelligence on an individual basis as every dog is unique.
In addition, there are several dog breeds considered to be highly intelligent that beat out the Australian Shepherd in several lists ranking breed intelligence. The Border Collie, Poodle, and German Shepherd consistently top rankings as the three smartest dog breeds.
Dr. Stanley Coren, a canine psychologist, placed Australian Shepherds in 42nd place on his list of most intelligent dogs. The Kuvasz was listed alongside the Australian Shepherd at number 42.
Which Dog Breeds Are the Smartest?
According to Dr. Coren’s ranking, the top 10 smartest dog breeds are as follows:
- Border Collie
- German Shepherd
- Golden Retriever
- Doberman Pinscher
- Shetland Sheepdog
- Labrador Retriever
- Australian Cattle Dog
Which Dog Breeds Are the Least Intelligent?
Dr. Coren’s ranking places these dogs at the bottom of the list. Just remember to bear in mind, however, that just because a breed is at the bottom of the list doesn’t make them stupid—these breeds may simply not be the most effective working dogs but are intelligent in other ways.
For example, Afghan Hounds, which are right at the bottom of Cohen’s intelligence ranking, are sighthounds, which means they’re capable of hunting by sight. They’re also a bit rebellious when it comes to obedience training and is known for being somewhat aloof, which may have contributed to their reputation for being unintelligent.
This list begins with the “least intelligent” breed according to Coren’s ranking.
- Afghan Hound
- Chow Chow
- Mastiff & Beagle
- Basset Hound
- Shih Tzu
Are Australian Shepherds Hard to Train?
Australian Shepherds are highly trainable dogs. Their history as herding dogs and watchdogs makes them alert, energetic, and, above all, eager to please. They also have an insatiable desire to be active and kept busy much of the time, so training is a great way to get Australian Shepherds to use that fine brain they have to learn new skills and tricks.
If not mentally and physically stimulated enough, Australian Shepherds can grow to be destructive, so setting boundaries and exercising them regularly is crucial to your Aussie’s wellbeing—and that of your couch.
What Should I Train My Australian Shepherd to Do?
The core skills that Australian Shepherds need to learn—ideally from as early as possible—are as follows:
When it comes to canine intelligence, we can only make generalizations. Dogs were bred for different purposes—working, hunting, guardianship, companionship, etc.—so, naturally, each breed has strengths and weaknesses in different areas. When it comes to Australian Shepherds, they’re considered to be a highly intelligent breed due to their alertness, willingness to please, and how well they respond to training.
See also: Toy Australian Shepherd
Featured Image Credit: Petra Heike Laicher, Pixabay