Are German Shepherds Smart? German Shepherd Intelligence Facts & Intelligence Ranking


Maybe you’re thinking about getting a new dog and you’re thinking of getting a German Shepherd.

Or, maybe you’ve got a German Shepherd and you’re wondering why the breed has a reputation for being reasonably smart.

In the following guide we’ve aimed to tell you everything you want or need to know about the German Shepherd breed intelligence and intelligence rankings when compared to other dog breeds.

There’s even an intelligence test you can take for your dog to see how they fare individually compared to what the GSD breed is suppose to be like.

This guide is a complimentary guide to our main guide on German Shepherds with over 100 interesting facts and information about the breed.

Let’s jump into it …


(NOTE: this is a general information guide only, and is not professional advice, or a substitute for professional advice. A qualified vet or animal expert is the only person qualified to give you expert advice in regards to your pet/s)

(*Friendly Disclosure – links to retailers or brands on this page may include affiliate links, and we may receive a commission when you purchase through these links)


Are German Shepherds Smart? German Shepherd Intelligence Facts & Intelligence Ranking


German Shepherd Intelligence – Breed As A Whole, & Individual Dogs

So, this section is as a bit of a head’s up.

When it comes to dog and breed intelligence, there is two types of intelligence you need to be aware of:

The general intelligence of the breed as a whole – which comes down to the general breeding origins and history of the breed

The more important one – the intelligence of your own individual dog


You might have a dog from a breed known for their intelligence and ability to solve problems quickly or master obedience, but if they have been bred to parents with temperament problems or average intelligence for example (or even cross bred but promoted as a purebred), or even if they just happen to have different genetics to a smart parent, they might be a little bit slow and for lack of a better word ‘dopey’.

So, keep that in mind when assessing the intelligence of a dog and wondering why they might not be as smart as you thought they’d be.

The breeding lines of the individual dog should be taken into consideration, as well as the breed as a whole.

Obedience and intelligence related titles of the direct parents of a puppy are a good example of an indicator the dog will be highly trainable and intelligent if that’s a priority for you.

If you want to know what a German Shepherd is capable of


German Shepherd Intelligence Ranking Compared To Other Breeds – First Studies Into Dog Intelligence

Our understanding of Canine intelligence has come a long way in the last 30 to 40 years.

There are newer books and studies out now, and the book itself has received some criticism for it’s limited view of and questionable study data for dog intelligence, but originally published in 1994 (a second edition came out in 2006), the book ‘The Intelligence of Dogs‘ intended outline the differences in intelligence between different breeds of dogs.

The book identified that there were 3 types of dog intelligence – instinctive intelligence, adaptive intelligence, and working and obedience intelligence.

The book then focused in on working and obedience intelligence – a dog’s ability to learn from humans.

Dog obedience judges were sent requests to provide results of their work with the different dog breeds in understanding new commands.


There were 10 dog breeds listed as the brightest dogs, and these breeds:

Understood new commands in fewer than 5 repetitions.

And obeyed the first command 95% of the time or better


The top 10 dog breeds were:

1. Border Collie

2. Standard Poodle

3. German Shepherd

4. Golden Retriever

5. Doberman Pinscher

6. Shetland Sheepdog

7. Labrador Retriever

8. Papillon

9. Rottweiler

10. Australian Cattle Dog


Newer Studies Into Dog Intelligence

Understanding of dog intelligence has come a long way since 1976 where we only had focus and data on short-term memory, agility, and ability to solve problems.

There has been studies and data has become available for dogs’ abilities with:



Social cognition


Problem solving

Learning by inference

And, theory of mind


You can read more on the evolution of humans’ understanding of dog intelligence here.


How Smart Are German Shepherds Compared To Humans?

A 2009 study theorised that dogs are about as intelligent as a 2 year old child.

Contributing to that theory were the facts that:

“the top 20% of dogs are capable of understanding up to 250 words and gestures”

“can count up to five and can perform simple mathematical calculations”

“can also deliberately deceive, which is something that young children only start developing later in their life”


German Shepherd Intelligence Test

If you want to get a very rough idea of how intelligent your dog is when it comes to memory and problem solving, you can do this test with your dog, tally their points, and see where they sit on the intelligence scale.

Note though that this test doesn’t cover other intelligence areas like social cognition and theory of mind for example.


Further Books & Reading On German Shepherd & General Dog Intelligence & Thinking

If you’re up for some very interesting reading, below are a selection of both an older books and some newer books on the intelligence of domesticated dogs and how their minds work.

It’s fascinating to read about how dogs view us, their world and how/why they react to certain things.

You might get a new and better appreciation and line of communication with your dog…


Latest and Best Books On Our Understanding Of Dog Intelligence:


Example Of Smart German Shepherds

Rumor The German Shepherd Winning The Westminster Dog Show Best In Show Award

Baron The German Shepherd Helping His Family Around The House


Friendly Disclaimers is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of, Inc., or its affiliates.

Additionally, participates in various other affiliate programs, and we sometimes get a commission through purchases made through our links. are not veterinarians, or animal professionals/experts. Information provided is for informational purposes only – it is not a substitute for professional or qualified advice.

The information is based on either our own thorough research, and/or own experiences, as a means of free speech.

By consuming this information, you accept that do not have client or patient relationship with you, and are not advising you to act on anything you read.

You should always consult your own veterinarian, animal expert, or health care professional and follow their advice before making decisions on all matters.

You can find our full set of disclaimers and T & C’s in the footer of this site.


Enjoy your reading, and thank you for being here 


' ); } ?>

Leave a Comment