Posted by: jility | September 29, 2014

Mirror Mirror on the Wall, Who’s the Smartest of Them All?

Most of my life I have wanted to know which was the smartest canine breed of all. Some say Poodles are the brightest, while others say the Border Collie. Well for almost fifteen years I have had standard Poodles and Border Collies for almost nine years now. I have had six standard Poodles and three Border Collies. We spend 24/7 with our dogs and know them inside and out so I feel quite competent to write on the subject of which one is more intelligent.

I happen to be biased when it comes to my Poodles. I adore them. I have no desire at all to run a Border Collie in agility. They are fun to train, but I will leave the handling to the fleeter of foot. My Poodles are just right for me and they are more of a challenge to train. I like a challenge.

In humans, we measure intelligence by one’s IQ.

Now, in my “research” for this blog (a couple of Google searches), I came across this telling page.

Check out how far down the US stands on the average intelligence list of countries! YIKES!!!!! Not so sure I really want anything that is made in America!

But I digress.

There is also an intelligence list for dogs. Here is one I found that bases the intelligence of dogs on how long it takes for them to learn a cue and do they do the task after one cue. In MY mind, that measures the intelligence of the trainer, NOT THE DOG! What a dumb ass test of intelligence! Of course the Afghan (which is last) would score low! How many great trainers would choose the Afghan for high level performance work?

Here is the list.

I have owned many of the breeds on the list, including Afghans, and I can tell you that Afghans are extremely intelligent! They are just not very trainable so it takes a good trainer to get through to them.

Up until last week, I would have told you, HANDS DOWN, that the Border collie was FAR more intelligent than the Poodle. I have always said that the Poodles are kindergarten and the BCs have PHDs. So what happened to change my mind?

Below is an overhead of the IQ test our dogs faced last week, which shall be referred to as “Exhibit A.”


Exhibit A

Exhibit A


Normally, to get to the house yard, we walk out through the small gate in our GW yard (see Exhibit A) and into the house yard through the gate marked as such on Exhibit A. However, on this particular day, for some reason I can longer recall (chemo brain – that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!), we chose to exit our GW yard through the big gates (see exhibit A).

We walked out through the big gates and all four of the Poodles soon followed. The Border Collies, however, ran down to the small gate because that is normally how we go from the GW yard to the house yard. The dogs love running in the house yard more than the orchard for some reason, so we take them with us to feed the koi. We feed, they run. Sometimes they “accidentally” fall in the pond.

Back to the story:

The Poodles walked/ran with us (WE didn’t run but the Poodles did) to the house yard. They were exhibiting full blown IPE (Irrational Poodle Exuberance)! The Border Collies were beside themselves. All three of them ran frantically up and down the fence between the small gate and the big gates, trying desperately to find a way out. They never thought to go up and around the gate. Now, remember that one of the big gates was open about three feet, but the Border Collies couldn’t figure it out.

I walked back up and told them to go up and around the gate to get to us. They looked at me like I had three heads. Meanwhile, the Poodles kept running back up from the house gates and through the big gate to show the BCs how to get out. The BCs looked bewildered. They had only one thing on their mind: They normally go out the small gate so that must be where they have to go to get out! No matter how many times those brilliant Poodles tried to show them how to get out of the yard, the BCs just couldn’t do it. It had always been one way and now we had changed the rules. The poodles had no trouble at all adapting, but the BCs were bewildered. I thought for sure Crushie would be smart enough to figure it out, but NOOOOOOOO!

It reminded me of that old joke about Scandinavian American who said, “It took me twenty years how to say Jelly and now they call it yam.”


Shameful Dunces

Shameful Dunces

Helen Grinnell King


  1. Poodles know how to work the system. They understand the difference between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law. I met a woman with a toy poodle. Her husband did not want the dog or like the dog. He did not want the poodle upstairs let alone in the bedroom & on the bed. The poodle got it. The poodle was invisible to the man as long as he was home but the minute he left the house….. I think this poodle saved her mistress from a pretty harsh life. I think poodles are the most adaptable breed and I love them for it.

  2. I have Shelties and a Standard Poodle. My vote would be on the Poodle. The Shelties are smart, reactive, learn quickly and will repeat behaviors over and over. The poodle does behavior a few times and that’s enough, she doesn’t have the desire to repeat the same thing 25 times, yet she is my UDX dog. The Shelties love people, the poodle understands people and will train them to pet her head all day without them even knowing it. The poodle checks on the birds and cat every morning, the Shelties don’t know we have birds. The poodle will come and get me if someone is sick or something needs my attention. The Shelties do agility because they love to run and have fun, the poodle does agility because she likes to see me have fun. It’s a completely different game.

    • What a wonderful comment! You really hit the nail on the head!

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