Why Are Border Collies So Smart? The Smartest Dog Breed?

Why Are Border Collies So Smart? The Smartest Dog Breed?

Last updated on March 20th, 2023 at 04:24 pm

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Why Are Border Collies So Smart? The Smartest Dog Breed?

When it comes to dog intelligence, border collies are near the top of the list. They’re one of the smartest dog breeds out there, and their working dog roots make them some of the most attentive canines around. Due to their herding instincts, border collies excel at tricks, commands, and problem-solving. As a result, this breed is perfect for owners who want a companion as well as a coworker. But, how did they get so smart? What makes them smarter than other breeds?

Let’s take a look at border collies and their minds. 

Background About Border Collies

Before we dive in, let’s take a step into the past and talk about, where these dogs came from.

Border collies are herders and sheepdogs. They are a hybrid of two herding dogs a roman herding breed and a Viking Spitz-variety herding breed who were bred to work sheep. From them came the border collie. The breed originated in the lowland and border counties of England and Scotland and some say it dates back to the 1700s.

Originally bred for herding, border collies are one of the most intelligent dog breeds to have been standardized by the American Kennel Club. The border collie is a medium-sized dog that has a moderate amount of fur and a long tail. They can be black, red, or brown, and their eyes are commonly brown or black. However, this breed is best known for its high level of intelligence.

What Makes Border Collies So Smart?

A dog’s intelligence level depends on many factors. Check out this post about a dog’s IQ and Intelligence to learn more. 

According to WebMD border collies are the smartest dog breed of all time. But what makes them so special?

Border collies’ are workaholics it’s said that their high level of intelligence arrives from their natural herding instinct. Dogs have moved beyond their wild roots and now primarily live as companion animals. But many of the dog breeds standard today are still bred with the instincts of their ancestors. Border collies are among the dogs that most closely resemble their herding forebears. From agility to herding to basic instincts this dog gets it from its ancestors and unlike other dogs, it hasn’t changed. 

Most people who own border collies are familiar with their herding instincts. These dogs are recognized by their long-stride gait, high jumping ability, and intense stares. Border collies got these instincts from herding livestock like sheep, cattle, and even other dogs. 

They kept their smartness!

Check out this video of a border collie showing off his intelligence:

The Border Collie’s “Herding Intelligence”

Herding instincts, which border collies have, made them excellent for livestock management. Throughout the 1800s and 1900s border collies were used as herding dogs simply due to their intelligence, unlike other dogs.

Herding intelligence, on the other hand, is much less about instinct and more about training and experience. In the early 2000s, some researchers noticed that herding dogs scored high on standard intelligence tests. This was surprising to many because these dogs are known for their herding instincts rather than their capacity for academic achievement.

The researchers suspected that the dogs’ high scores on the intelligence testing were related to their herding instincts. How exactly were border collies scoring so highly on intelligence tests? The researchers suspected that the dogs’ herding instinct made them smarter in general. The researchers put together a study using border collies and Belgian Sheepdogs. They tested the dogs on their herding instincts, training, and general intelligence.

Let’s go back to the study, we were discussing above. The results were fascinating. Border collies scored the highest in their herding instinct, followed by their general intelligence, and then their herding training. The Belgian Sheepdogs, on the other hand, were most adept at general intelligence followed by herding training. The researchers’ theory was confirmed: border collies’ high scores in general intelligence were related to their herding instincts. The border collie’s high scores in herding intelligence confirmed the breed’s reputation as a livestock-management.

How Smart Are Border Collies?

A fantastic question, which unfortunately is hard to answer simply.

This dogs intelligence came from their past and herding abilities! Border Collies are named the smartest dog breed currently known to man. They pass average dogs by a handful. As talked about above these dogs are workaholics. They show their intelligence by working and love to do it! They are capable of learning a remarkable number of words and commands, and they are happiest when they are put to work every day.

Why Are Border Collies So Smart? The Smartest Dog Breed?

How Smart Are Border Collies Compared To Humans?

Every dog is different when it comes to their agility, intelligence, instincts, and so on. When comparing Border Collies to humans studies have shown that they show intelligence close to a 3-year-old child. Mathe skills were compared to a 4-year-old. That’s extraordinary!

Emotionally, Border Collies are compared to adults. These dogs show emotions and are great at manipulation.

Border Collie traits that make them smart

Are there specific traits that make Border Collies smart?

Again the main trait is their herding instinct. Border collies are natural-born herders, which is why they excel at training and other activities that involve moving animals. Border collie traits that make them smart include their willingness to please and their enthusiasm for all kinds of games.

Besides their herding ancestors which we talked about above. Border Collies have a high curiosity. Border collies love learning new things, and will go out of their way to explore the world around them. This curiosity makes them excellent for puzzle toys, clicker training, and other fun activities that will keep their brains active.

Border Collies have many traits but these two seem to dominate them all. 

How to Stimulate a Border Collie’s Mind

Border collies must be stimulated both physically and mentally. It’s possible to increase a dog’s intelligence. We talk more about that in this article.

Anyways, back to the question. Border Collies are incredibly active dogs and need daily walks and playtime to wear out their energy. When it comes to stimulation you can do it both physically and mentally.

Physically, Collies need at least an hour of exercise daily and can be exercised in almost any weather. Border collies also need plenty of mental stimulation. They excel at games that test their problem-solving abilities, such as fetch and puzzles. Dogs are also excellent for clicker training, which is a great way to exercise a dog’s brain.

Using these different methods can help your dog get the best out of their abilities.

Why Are Border Collies So Smart? The Smartest Dog Breed?

Conclusion – Border Collies and Their Intelligence 

There is no doubt that border collies are one of the smartest dog breeds out there.

They have been breeding, training, and working with various species of livestock since they were first bred back in the 1800s. As they were initially bred as herding dogs. Border collies are also one of the most energetic breeds, so if you own one, you’ll need to make sure that you give them a sufficient amount of exercise each day. If you’re looking for a dog that will excel at both herding and your home, the border collie is a perfect choice. Their high intelligence level and herding instinct make them great for livestock work and household activities like puzzle toys and clicker training. They are the smartest dog breed around!

I hope you enjoyed this article and learned from it, feel free to learn more about Border Collies on Barkmind.


Akc – https://www.akc.org/

Smartest dogs – https://pets.webmd.com/dogs/features/how-smart-is-your-dog


Check Out This Video Of “Britain’s Smartest Dog” before you leave. Yes, it’s a Border Collie as you might have guessed. 

About The Author

I'm a content writer and researcher. But bottom line, I loveee animals. I had my first animal which was a guinea pig at age 8. Later had a bunny, dog and a lot, a lot of fish. Writing about what I know about pets will allow me to share my knowledge and love for them with everyone else. Dealing with dogs my entire life, I know a lot.

PetFriendly Monthly Pet Care Box
Get 50% off + FREE Shipping on your first box!

Similar Posts