Smartest Small Dog Breeds

Let’s talk about the 13 smartest small dogs – because when it comes to intelligence, big dogs often get all of the credit.

But in reality, there are many small dog breeds (weight ranging from 2-22 lbs) that are extremely intelligent too.

Today we’re going to discuss the 13 smartest small dog breeds, as well as what makes them so smart.

Cairn Terrier

Smartest Small Dog Breeds

Best known for their role as Dorothy’s friendly companion in the Wizard of Oz, the Cairn Terrier was initially bred on Scottish farms, again to chase away rats and other vermin.

True to the Terrier name, this breed is loving and loyal, but also extremely active and energetic. They require a great deal of activity and playtime to stay content and happy.

If you’re looking for a small lap dog, the Cairn Terrier probably isn’t the best choice for you.

Though they make excellent family pets, this breed would much prefer to run around the yard and dig holes in the ground than they would laze around on the couch and watch television.

With that being said, if you are looking for a cheerful breed that can always put a smile on your face, the Cairn Terrier is a good go-to.

As they have landed on this list, you’ve probably already assumed that they are extremely intelligent.

But why are they considered so intelligent?

It’s not necessarily their ability to learn tricks that lands the Cairn Terrier on the most intelligent list, but their willingness, eagerness, and obedience to learn them.

With fun and consistent training, the Cairn Terrier will always happily be an active participant in their learning.

Miniature Schnauzer

Smartest Small Dog Breeds

Like many of the other small dog breeds on this list, the Miniature Schnauzer was originally bred to fend away mice, rats, and other vermin.

They were originally bred in Germany but became very popular in America after World War II. The breed is most commonly known for their “schnauzer”, or mustache.

Because they are a Terrier breed, the Miniature Schnauzer has plenty of energy and loves to run around the yard and house.

They are also very alert and won’t hesitate to let you know if there is an intruder around the home.

In terms of intelligence, the Miniature Schnauzer ranks number 12 on a list of all intelligent dog breeds, both large and small.

But what makes them so smart?

This breed can learn a new trick within just 5-15 repetitions, meaning it takes no time at all to train them.

And with quick learning like that, you can teach the Miniature Schnauzer all of the regular tricks, and some unique or more impressive ones too.

1 Schipperke

Smartest Small Dog Breeds

Originating from Belgium, the Schipperke is a small Spitz-type dog. Given the nickname “Little Black Devil”, this breed lives up to the name.

Though they are loyal and loving, the Schipperke is also curious, mischievous, and feisty. They are often defined as a small dog with a big personality.

In history, the breed was used for guarding boats that lined the canals.

Today they are more of a family companion, but they guard the home much like the once guarded canals.

More than anything, however, the Schipperke just wants to be part of the family.

What makes this breed so intelligent?

The Schipperke is a breed that not only learns very quickly, but also that is designed to work.

In addition to guarding jobs, the Schipperke is also frequently trained to be a hearing loss companion, a search and rescue dog, and a drug-sniffing dog.

They also do excellent in obedience and agility training, along with other dog sports.


What is the most trainable small dog?

#1 – Poodle

While the Standard Poodle is one of the smartest large dog breeds, the Miniature and Toy Poodle are some of the smartest small dog breeds.

What is the smartest small dog that doesn’t shed?

Small Dogs Who Are Easy To Train
  • Manchester Terrier. …
  • Miniature Schnauzer. …
  • Norfolk Terrier. …
  • Papillon. …
  • Poodle (Toy & Miniature) …
  • Schnoodle (Toy & Miniature) …
  • Silky Terrier. …
  • Tibetan Spaniel. Small but active and alert, the Tibetan Spaniel dog breed hails from mountainous Tibet, where he served as a companion and watchdog.