Super intelligent dog breeds and their genetic traits
Dog breed smarts is a controversial topic. People love their dogs and swear by the individual intelligence of their four-legged friend. While most dogs possess amazing brain power, some have surprising intellect. The American Kennel Club—the organization that maintains breed standards—recognizes 190 distinct breeds. Dog breeds range in intelligence and abilities. Most dogs have augmented senses of smell, to the point that a majority of their brain mass is devoted to processing odors. Others have uncanny abilities to learn complex commands and can communicate with their owners and others as well.
We’ve compiled 30 of the smartest breeds according to veterinarians and trainers. They are listed here in increasing order of intelligence.
The first on our list of intelligent pooches is a hard-working, farm-bred animal. This breed is not a household name, but it does rank in the top 27 of breeds according to the American Kennel Club.
1. Bernese Mountain Dog
The Bernese Mountain Dog is a big, imposing canine. At an average adult weight of up to 100 pounds, some might think this dog is lumbering and dim-witted, but that isn’t the case at all. Like other large breeds, the Bernese Mountain Dog needs a lot of exercise. Their intelligence makes them ideal for outdoor training.
“Berners” are good for your whole crew and are especially gentle with children, but don’t be surprised if they become more attached to one particular human over any other.
Another hefty breed also developed its smarts out in the field.
2. Old English Sheepdog
Known for a body and face so full of fur that the dog looks chubby and eyeless, the Old English Sheepdog is more than just a big cuddly pup. Bred to keep flocks of herding animals at bay, the Sheepdog not only follows commands well, it executes them independently as part of its job.
With wide open spaces being their ideal stomping grounds, the Sheepdog is a natural fit in a rural setting, such as working on a farm. However, with proper training, they are perfectly comfortable with the city life.
The next dog looks quite similar to the Sheepdog, but with a less-curly coat.
3. Bearded Collie
The Bearded Collie is intellectually identical to the Sheepdog and other larger herders. This breed is known for being boisterous and charismatic. It was also the dog in the 1960s television show My Three Sons. The Bearded Collie’s intelligence can make it a challenge to train, as it is an independent thinker.
They’re tough, reliable for field work, but affectionate and great with making positive impressions on people. Bearded Collies make excellent pets for those willing to accommodate their high energy level.
While many of the breeds on this list are larger dogs with a working history, some super-smart dogs are little fellas.
4. Jack Russell Terrier
The Jack Russell Terrier has a notorious attitude. Fans of Frasier will recognize Eddie as a Jack Russell. These small and snappy dogs make good actors because they are receptive to repetitive commands. They also are surprisingly agile for their stature.
Because the preservation of this working ability is of highest importance to most registered breeders, Jack Russells tend to be extremely intelligent, athletic, fearless, and vocal dogs.
The next dog is famous for its unique regal beauty and use in contemporary art.
A German dog bred for hunting in the Black Forest, Weimaraners turn heads wherever they go. They are smart, and only sometimes stubborn. Weimaraners are fast learners and excel at retrieving and other hunting tasks. At home, they are big, gangly, lovable pooches.
Try telling one to get off the couch and you will get a blank stare—not of ignorance, but based on intelligent and respectful disagreement with your command. They’re prized for physical endurance and stamina, with a strong, instinctive prey-drive. It may tolerate cats but usually does not, tending to follow the urge to hunt instead.
Known for its loyalty and charm, the next dog is a medium-sized, family-friendly breed.
6. English Springer Spaniel
The English Springer Spaniel was once one of the most popular dogs in America. A traditional family best friend, the breed is known to have two personalities. When needed for hunting, they are spot on, precise assistants. But, when you come home after a sporting outing, they nestle in as loyal and sweet members of the family.
In the right environment, Springers can be an affectionate and easy-going dog. Their sharp mental wit make them a good hunting companions. A typical Springer Spaniel will often choose one person in the family to be most loyal to and stick to them like glue.
Another smaller-sized breed, the next dog is globally known as a loyal, and royal, companion.
7. Pembroke Welsh Corgi
The Pembroke Welsh Corgi (or “Corgi” for short) is a not so much a small dog as it is a low or short-legged breed. The Queen of England is known to have a group of these dogs following her around in her palace, and for a good reason. The Corgi is easy to train because of its innate and responsive intellect.
Besides herding, they also function as watchdogs due to their alertness and tendency to bark only as needed. Most Pembrokes will seek the attention of everyone they meet and behave well around children and other pets.
Where the Corgi lacks in lankiness, the next dog makes up the difference.
8. Irish Setter
This sleek, red-haired dog is another great hunter and hunting companion. A bird dog, it instinctively only grasps a fallen bird with just enough pressure to bring it back to the hunter. Beyond instinct, the dog has a strong mental capacity or complex obedience skills. The Irish Setter is a loyal, intelligent, and great family dog.
Irish Setters are also widely used as therapy dogs in schools and hospitals. Children will spend time reading with the dogs in a comfortable setting (the Setter will just have to use its imagination).
Some working dogs have a tough image, and the next one’s intelligence is often masked by its somewhat fearsome looks.
Rottweilers can be tough guys, but they are amazingly intelligent. Their smarts present an opportunity to tame their strength into positive activities. They are gentle, but can be fiercely protective of their families.
Rottweilers have been used as service dogs. “Stinky” the Rottweiler was one notable example; she once saved a former soldiers life, just by showing unconditional love to the man experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder. Stinky was inducted into the Purina Animal Hall of Fame in 2011 as service dog of the year, a well-deserved honor.
The next breed is known for an uncanny ability to identify hunting targets.
10. German Shorthaired Pointer
Pointers do exactly what their names suggest; they point. Not with their toes, but with an expressive forward stance and the occasionally lifted paw. The German Shorthaired Pointer is an ideal example of this intelligent spotting dog breed.
The German Shorthaired Pointer requires substantially vigorous activity and thrives with lots of exercise and running. This need for exercise, along with their natural instinct to hunt, means that thorough training is strongly urged, lest they get mischievous.
Not all intelligent dogs are hunters, though. Some are sporting animals in a literal sense. The next group of dogs lets their intelligence to pull their weight.
11. Alaskan Husky
Iconic in dogsledding, the Alaskan Husky is a cold-weather breed that knows its way around the snow. For the Alaskan Husky, intelligence means a unique, almost wolf-life pack mentality. Since they often work in groups, they have developed intelligent means of communicating and creating social order.
The North-American-bred flavor of Siberian Husky had maintained its Siberian lineage, contributing significantly to the Alaskan version. This shows evidence of crossing with European breeds to produce the arctic friend we’ve come to know.
The next dog is similar in name, looks, and intelligence, but we swear it’s a different breed entirely.
12. Siberian Husky
The Siberian Husky is much like its relative across the Bering Strait in Alaska. Like other Huskies, the Siberian’s smarts are evident in how it relates to other dogs. They are not great guard dogs because they are less dependent on humans, and therefore less protective. These dogs often prefer being outside in the cold to laying at your feet and can be human-independent.
Several Arctic dog breeds share genetic traits with the now-extinct Taymyr wolf of North Asia because of cross-breeding. These pups are all good with high latitudes – the Siberian Husky and Alaskan alike.
Another cold weather Alaskan dog, the next breed is less-geared towards pulling sleds and more adept at working hard for its family.
13. Alaskan Malamute
The Alaskan Malamute is a big, cuddly snow furball. They love children and fit in well with families. They are pack animals, so they need a leader. Once the family hierarchy is established, they will provide you with years of intelligence and loyalty.
A study using a number of genetic markers indicated that the Malamute, the Siberian Husky, and the Alaskan husky share a close genetic relationship between each other like three peas in a genetic pod of cuteness.
Some dogs are ingrained in our history. This is the case with one dog breed that is synonymous with rescuing little kids from danger on television.
Lassie was a world-famous TV show in the 1950s. Its star was a gorgeous Collie. In the show, Lassie was known to have an extremely high intellect, communicating danger to the residents and helping people out of dire situations. Although fictionalized, the TV show was not far from the truth. Collies are highly intelligent, adept at obedience training and are loyal family pets.
When at peak physical condition, they are able to play all day without tiring, even over rough terrain. Working collies show a sharp sense for the task at hand and are instinctively highly motivated. They are often intensely loyal as well.
Some hunting dogs specialize in certain prey. The net dog’s nickname is the “Duck Dog of the Mid Atlantic.”
15. Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Bred in the Chesapeake Bay region of the United States, this retriever is a waterfowl hunting dog. As a “duck dog,” the Chesapeake Bay Retriever is like your friendly companion in an old Nintendo home shooter game. The retriever uses its keen senses and high intellect to not only run after dead birds but calculate where they land after being shot. Like some other intelligent dogs, however, the Chesapeake can be a bit stubborn and will question authority if given the opportunity.
They can be quite the loud mouth when excited; some will even ‘smile’ by baring their front teeth in a peculiar grin – this is not a threat but rather a sign of joy or obedience.
Continuing our list with another herding dog, the next choice is most at home on a ranch.
16. Australian Shepherd
Although it has an oceanic country in its name, the Australian Shepherd is more closely related to California ranches, where the breed was developed. These dogs live to herd and will try to corral all sorts of smaller things, such as birds, animals, and children. They often express their intelligence stubbornly. Although the Australian Shepherd is a strong and loyal working dog, they will challenge a less-than-firm owner and will take the opportunity to become the alpha in your family relationship.
Learning new tricks and games keeps them focused and happy, which also satisfies their eagerness to learn. This breed also has great stamina and does well over a variety of terrain. It’s no wonder they are popularly used for work on the trail and on long distances.
Next up on our list of smart pups is a recognizable and lovable mountain dog.
17. Saint Bernard
We all know the Saint Bernard as a lumbering beast with a barrel of something restorative around its neck. We also cheerfully recognize the breed from the Beethoven film series, and less nostalgically as “Cujo” in the blood-curdling Stephen King story. Saint Bernards are regal dogs, less like goofy comedy pups and nothing like an aggressive horror villain. Their intelligence comes from generations of breeding as a skilled mountain dog in Switzerland.
As a quintessential example of a Gentle Giant, the Saint Bernard is chill, patient, and sweet with humans, especially children. However St. Bernards, like all very large dogs, can serve to benefit from ample training with people and fellow animals so as to prevent any possible fear or aggression.
Some confuse the next breed with Huskies, but this cold-weather dog has a much different demeanor.
18. Akita Inu
The super smart Akita is a good family dog, although they can be suspicious of others. Their distrust of strangers is a hallmark of how their minds work. Less likely to be tricked into something they do not want to do, Akitas often do their own thing. They can be trained, but generally prefer to not respond to commands that they see as unnecessary.
Helen Keller is often given credit for bringing the Akita to America after receiving two of them from the Japanese government in 1938 as gifts. By 1939 they became a breed standard, as dog shows were just starting to gain traction in the States before WWII began.
Like the Irish Setter, the next dog exhibits a regal outdoorsy mentality.
19. English Setter
The English Setter is another field dog whose intellect comes from hundreds of years of hunting and human companionship. The English setter is skilled at fox hunting and tracking, with an ability to combine superior nose skills with intelligence to work out where a fox or rabbit has run.
Most people know the next breed for two reasons. First, it is the largest of all dog breeds and can look ridiculous in person. Second, the breed is the model for Scooby Doo.
20. Great Dane
The Great Dane is more than a gigantic canine. Its brain matter is in proportion to its size, so it essentially is a dog with a human-sized noggin. They are gentle giants and can be very protective of owners. Like other super-sized dogs, they seem less inferior to human companions, often settling right in as a member of the family pack.
Despite its imposing size, the Dane is comfortable and adaptable to life in a small apartment, although a larger home is great for the freedom to roam around. The Great Dane is a very accommodating breed, known for being couch potatoes.
Great Danes are a breed for families, heralded by animal enthusiasts due to their preference for sitting and leaning on their owners, earning them the nickname of “the world’s biggest lapdog”.
The next dog is not a breed that is familiar to many people, but its intelligence is off the chart.
Like other hunting dogs, the Brittany’s intelligence and energy is often channeled into obedience competitions and field sports. They like to run around and complete tasks, much like the members of the top five smartest dog field.
Like many on this list, the Brittany was originally bred as a hunting dog and renowned for being easy to train and sweet-natured. They tend to be more sensitive to correction than other hunters, and harsh commands are usually not needed. Brittanys can get very shy if not thoroughly socialized at a young age, so there’s a lot of variation in disposition among them.
Next up is a dog that has strikingly unique features.
22. Australian Cattle Dog
Almost identical to the Australian Shepherd, the Australian Cattle Dog is related through breeding. This dog is loyal and sharp, excelling at obedience competitions all over the world. They have developed a high degree of skill in ranching, with unparalleled abilities to direct cattle back to pens after grazing. As a home pet, they like to perform jobs, so training is key. Otherwise, they can become bored and engage in destructive behavior.
Cattle dogs will appreciate a walk around the block, but they need structured activities that engage and challenge it, and consistent interaction with its owner. While individual dogs have their own quirks and personalities, as a breed the Australian Cattle Dog is well-equipped for any activity that requires athleticism, quick-thinking, or endurance.
The next little guy is one of the smartest of the toy dog breeds.
You may notice the list is light on the teacup and toy breeds. This is likely because the working and hunting dog breeds have functions and purposes that have required intelligence to develop over time. Still, the Papillon is one smart and determined little dog. They are adept at obedience training and are extremely loyal.
Because of their high energy level, they require a more extensive exercise routine, compared to their like-sized companion breeds. Papillons are known as excellent watchdogs, as they will alert their owner to suspicious activity with a symphony of calm, composed barking. And by calm and composed, we mean shrill yipping. It’s okay—we love you, Papillon.
Sometimes you want a really smart dog that’ll always get your back.
24. Doberman Pinscher
The Doberman is one of the police breeds on our list. They can be aggressive, but like all dogs, they are naturally good with people. The key is to train them for a specific purpose. If it is protection, they will do the job.
The Doberman Pinscher’s personality is known to be quite unique. There is growing body of scientific evidence that Dobermans have numerous stable mental features, such as certain personality factors used for measuring intelligence. As far back as the 1960’s, studies have shown that there are several broad behavioral traits that accurately predict behavior and are determined by the dog’s genetics.
The next dog is similar in looks to a Collie, but brings a higher level of intellect and agility.
25. Shetland Sheepdog
Often mistakenly called miniature Collies, Shetland Sheepdogs are compact, strong, and sharp canine companions. They are highly trainable and excel at obedience. Shetlands are herding dogs as the name implies, so they possess many of the traits of the Collie and other Shepherds.
The Shetland Sheepdog is a hardy but dainty breed, developed to thrive in the harsh climate conditions of its native islands. While the Sheltie is still exceptional at field work, today it’s also raised as a farm dog and family pet.
The next choice kicks off our top-five most-intelligent breeds.
26. Golden Retriever
Everyone knows the Golden Retriever. A hairy, lovable family pet that is happy to be sitting in front of the fire, swimming in a lake or sleeping at the foot of your bed, the Golden is the ultimate family companion. They are smart, lovable, and loyal, and they look to their owners for guidance. Almost more than any other dog, Goldens crave a purpose and function. They want to please you and love to be a part of the family. These are not dogs that go hang out by themselves on the porch; they will follow you dutifully though life.
The breed is a prominent mainstay for purebred dogs. The Golden Retriever is popular as a disability assistance dog, acting as guide dogs for the blind and a hearing dog for the deaf. Additionally they are trained in hunting, detection, and search and rescue. Their friendly, gentle temperament means they don’t make for an ideal guard dog, but its this personality type that has also made it the third-most popular family dog breed in the US, and eighth-most popular in Britain.
Its shorter-haired cousin shares many of the learning traits of the Golden Retriever. Also an extremely popular breed, this dog is the face of the American outdoors and man’s best friend.
27. Labrador Retriever
The Labrador Retriever’s intelligence makes it an ideal companion animal for those with special needs. Labradors are adept at communicating—both their own needs and wants—and also those of its closest human companions.
Labradors are defined in one of two ways: English or American. The differences are mostly behavioral. English Labs tend to be more apt to training, and are considered best for the average owner to keep as pets and family members. American Labs tend to be more energetic and usually better for professional owners with more experience and who can devote time to training.
Some highly-intelligent dogs are more closely associated with service. The next dog’s smarts are so renowned that the breed is put to work making life or death decisions.
28. German Shepherd
Police K9 units provide a thankless service to communities around the world. It is not by accident that the dogs in blue are almost always German Shepherds. The German Shepherd is one of the most receptive breeds to precision training. They are highly-effective at selective smell—a reason why they work in drug and explosive detection.
In fact, German Shepherds were bred specifically for their smarts, the trait that made them most famous. They are usually ranked alongside the Border Collie as some of the most intelligent breeds. It was discovered that they could execute simple tasks after just five or so repetitions and obeyed the first command given over 90% of the time.
One of the top dogs in intelligence may come as a surprise to many. This dog is often known more for its flamboyantly coiffed hairstyles than its smarts.
The standard Poodle is a tall and majestic dog. It is also extremely sharp. In intelligence testing, all Poodle sizes, including toy, miniature, and standard were tested and evaluated as one. This breed and its variations got stellar marks on memory and obedience.
Poodles have a sharp working sense that makes them highly responsive to commands. Their webbed feet make them excellent swimmers; all of the poodle’s ancestral relatives had a love of water and possessed athletic stamina, and a liquid-resistant coat that acts like a wool coat in wet conditions.
If you think the Poodle is a sharp breed, then you haven’t experienced the mental prowess of the next dog.
30. Border Collie
The Border Collie is a fast-moving, agile, and quick-minded superstar. Watch any agility training competition and you’ll always see Border Collies taking home prizes. These are the dogs that will comply with highly-specific commands, such as “go climb up that seesaw and chill out on the middle for 30 seconds.” Like many of the dogs on this list, the Border Collie developed its intellect as a farm and ranch animal. Unlike the others, Border Collies can learn long lists of verbal, sound and signal commands.
Considered extremely energetic, acrobatic and quite the athlete, they often compete with great success in sheepdog trials and other dog sports. They are often credited as the most intelligent of all domesticated dogs. Border Collies continue to put in work herding livestock throughout the world as per tradition, and rightly so.
If you like intelligent dogs, don’t forget to share this article with others and continue the conversation about which breed is the smartest.
31. Didi, Bonnie, and Clyde find illegal poachers in Kenya
At the Amboseli National Park in Kenya, the Big Life Foundation employs dogs to help catch poachers (illegal hunters). The Park is home to over 900 elephants, plus giraffes, lions, zebras, and other animals. Poachers hunt elephants to sell their ivory and the animals are vulnerable to extinction because of it.
However, dogs have proved they’re great at finding poachers. When an animal is illegally killed, the dogs come in and track the criminal all the way back to his front door. The dogs are so good at their job that their presence discourages would-be poachers from hunting in the park, because they know they’ll get caught. The dog team is sometimes called in to solve cases elsewhere, too.
32. Oddball saved little penguins from being wiped out
On Middle Island in Australia, a colony of little blue penguins were living their best lives until a bunch of foxes came along. The little penguins (yes, that’s actually their name) are only about a foot tall, making them the smallest of all penguin species. There were about 800 of them on the island, but the foxes were relentless until one year there was only a handful left.
A chicken farmer, Swampy Marsh (and yes, that’s actually his name), decided one of his Maremma chicken-guarding dogs could protect the penguins. So, he sent Oddball on over. Not a single little penguin was caught by a fox after that and the population grew to about 200. Various dogs have guarded the penguins over the years, and there was even a movie made about them!
33. Coast Guard dogs save thousands of lives in Italy
The Italian Coast Guard employs several Newfoundland dogs, who are big, fluffy lifeguards. They’re great at the job because their calm, loving temperament keeps them from panicking easily, which is really quite important in such a high-stress situation. Plus, they love water.
The dogs save around 3,000 lives a year because they’re fast and strong enough to carry a person, but they don’t just start off saving lives and jumping out of helicopters. Each dog trains for three years on the shore and in helicopters and boats. Then, once they’re on the job, they patrol the water for anyone in danger.
34. Snipe and Denzel find water leaks in the UK
United Utilities, a water company in England, hired two new members to the team this year: Snipe the cocker spaniel and Denzel the springer spaniel. Their job is to sniff out leaky pipes, which are often underground and hard to find, but quite wasteful.
The two dogs work by sniffing for the faint trace of chlorine, which is used in very small quantities to disinfect water. First, the company uses satellite images to find a general search area, then they send in the dogs to pinpoint the leak. Denzel is highly motivated to find chlorine, because that’s how he gets his toy.
35. Friar Mustache is a monk in Bolivia
The St. Francis Monastery in Cochabamba, Bolivia adopted a cute little stray dog and named him Friar Bigotón (aka Friar Mustache in Spanish). St. Francis is actually the patron of animals, so it makes perfect sense that they would adopt their own little dog to help with any monkly duties.
The monks say Friar Mustache preaches to the fish and takes his job as a monk very seriously. But when he’s not doing hard work, he has tons of fun playing and running, too. He has a happy home with people who love him, which is all any dog needs.
36. Uuno works with video game developers
The game developers Remedy Entertainment employed a dog earlier this year, Uuno the Staffordshire Bull Terrier whose owner is their Junior Cinematographer. They outfitted him with motion capture equipment, to experiment with different kinds of motion tests and see if they could get any useful data.
Since Uuno is playful and a fast learner, they recorded him walking and doing tricks, like rolling over. But while Remedy hasn’t planned a video game for him yet, they might in the future. But first, they would need to make an actual motion capture suit for him that he’s comfortable in, to get natural movement data. Other video game developers are doing the same, like those making “The Last of Us Part II”.
37. The Vancouver police dogs fight crime, model for photos, and raise money for charity
Every year, the Vancouver Police Department makes a delightful police dog calendar to raise money for charity. For 2019, the charities are the B.C. Cancer Foundation and the B.C. Children’s Hospital Foundation. In the photos, the dogs are very serious on the job. Like this dog and his partner are doing the typical good boy, bad cop routine.
Luckily, this job lets the dogs put their many skills to use: catching bad guys and looking great doing it. In one picture, a German shepherd sports a pair of aviator sunglasses and sticks his head out the window of a police car. But he’s too cool to have his tongue lolling out.
38. Bazz the Beekeeper sniffs out disease to protect honeybees
The American foulbrood disease threatens honeybees across the world, as it’s a deadly disease that can infect a whole bee colony. It can spread from one hive to another when beekeepers use the same equipment between hives. But luckily, beekeeper Josh Kennet in Australia came up with a sweet solution to the problem.
He trained his dog, Bazz the black Labrador, to sniff out the bee disease. But to keep him from getting stung, Kennet made him a custom beekeeper suit. Together, the beekeeper duo can find infected hives and quarantine them to keep the disease from spreading any further.
39. Navy Seal dogs jump out of flying machines
The U.S. Navy SEALs employ quite a lot of dogs, many of which are Belgian Malinois. They’re similar to German shepherds, but smaller and lighter, which is great for parachuting. Yes, you read that right, these dogs jump out of airplanes with the Navy SEALs. They’re usually strapped to their handler, which is why the lower weight comes in handy.
Navy SEAL dogs are trained to detect explosives and find hiding hostile humans. They’re also faster than people, so they can chase down anyone who’s trying to run away. Some of them are outfitted with some pretty intense gear, like Cairo who wore “doggles” (dog goggles) that gave him night and infrared vision. How much of the infrared imaging he understood, we’ll probably never know.
40. Henry and his crew rescue people trapped in avalanches
The Vail Avalanche Rescue dogs are trained at Vail Mountain, Colorado to find people buried under snow or trapped in a storm. To the dogs, it’s a game. They’ve been trained to find toys and things under the snow, with increasing difficulty. They’ve ridden chairlifts and jumped out of helicopters. Their noses are just that useful in search and rescue missions.
A trained avalanche dog can search two and a half acres in a quarter of the time it takes 20 people to search the same area. They sniff out human scent and stick their head in the snow when they find it, following the strength of the smell. One dog in Switzerland even found someone buried 40 feet deep.
41. Dogs find and protect threatened bird species in New Zealand
For decades, dogs have been helping save New Zealand’s many native bird species, like the kiwi. The birds are in danger because of invasive predators, like rats and stoats, so dogs are trained to find either the pest predators or the protected species to help conservation efforts.
New Zealand cleared about 100 islands of predators, but mammals can still invade via boats and other vehicles, so dogs search them for the pests. Other dogs find threatened species, so people can tag them, monitor them, or move them to an island sanctuary. To protect the threatened birds, the dogs wear muzzles. After all, many of these dogs were bred to hunt birds, not protect them.
42. These dogs wore costumes to play alien hounds in a Star Wars movie
Blackie and Boyce the Dobermans and Saxon and Elsa the Northern Inuits played the “Corellian hounds” in Solo: A Star Wars Story. They wore full body costumes, with just their paws exposed, that made them look like horrifying alien creatures. The costumes took six months to design and make because they needed to be comfortable and allow movement.
In the movie, the dogs race after Han Solo, the title character, much like a couple of police dogs after a suspect. Saxon and Elsa also played Dire Wolves in “Game of Thrones,” so this wasn’t their first acting gig. Saxon played Arya Stark’s wolf Nymeria, but clearly, his acting career was only just starting.
43. Ginger is a seeing eye dog for her pal Kimchi, a blind spaniel
Sure, most people have heard of seeing eye dogs, but they’re usually for humans, not other dogs. Well, when Ginger’s family decided to adopt a new dog, they didn’t know what they were getting into. They brought Ginger to the shelter to meet the other dogs and give her approval. The only one she liked was Kimchi, a blind Cavalier King Charles spaniel, so her family adopted him.
Now, whenever the two dogs go out, Ginger the golden retriever guides her friend Kimchi. He gets nervous around unfamiliar stairs, so Ginger helps him down them. The two also provide emotional support to people at hospitals, schools, and companies.
44. Sombra the police dog is so good at her job that she has a bounty on her
The six-year-old German shepherd has made a name for herself in Colombia, where she works with the Colombian National Police at airports to find illegal narcotics. She’s gotten more than 200 people arrested and found about nine tons of illicit materials.
But Sombra’s drawn negative attention as well as positive: criminals have put out a bounty on her head, somewhere between $7,000 and $70,000. Sombra, which means “Shadow” in English, must have messed with their profits enough to be a real nuisance. The police are increasing security around her in response to the threat and she’s been moved to a different airport.
45. Dogs can find rare and expensive truffles
While pigs were once the favorite for finding truffles (valuable fungi that grow underground, similar to mushrooms) dogs are now much more widely used. Truffles can sell for $1200 a pound, although most are smaller than that. So dogs use their spectacular noses to sniff out these tasty human treats.
Compared to pigs, dogs are easier to train, they have more stamina, and they’re less likely to eat the very valuable truffle when they find it. This is truly a benefit, since truffle hunters sometimes had to wrestle the fungi out of their pig’s mouth. So think about all that pig slobber the next time you’re about to order truffle off a menu, and be thankful a dog probably found it.
46. Dogs listen to children practicing their reading skills
Your local library may have a dog or two hanging around, but they’re not there to check out Air Bud on DVD. The dogs are actually volunteering for children who have trouble reading and need extra practice, because they are very patient listeners. Dogs are great for this because they don’t judge the kids, like their peers might.
For the kids, it builds their self-esteem. The dogs, meanwhile, get a few pats and a good story. Plus, reading to dogs makes kids more excited about reading, which is great for them and their performance in school. The dogs are often certified therapy dogs that volunteer with their owners.
47. Police dogs can even write up reports about the bad things they find
People have put dogs’ great noses to use by employing them to find dangerous or illegal substances like explosive or narcotics, as Sombra does in Bolivia. But dogs are not hired based on whether or not they can write up a thorough report of what they did, because it would probably just look like this one.
Many of these dogs work at airports, making sure we can all fly safely, and some are even reducing security wait times. To find explosives, they sniff out chemical vapors. Trained dogs learn a variety of different suspicious odors that might be used for nefarious reasons, so they can find the widest range of dangerous materials. To them it’s fun, to us it’s a life saver.
48. Uggie achieved his acting dreams in Hollywood
Uggie was a Jack Russell terrier who starred in “The Artist” and “Water for Elephants.” He was rescued and raised as an actor by animal trainer Omar von Muller. Uggie started in commercials but moved on up when he landed the role “The Dog” in “The Artist,” in which he played the main character’s sidekick.
“The Artist” won five Academy Awards in 2012 and Uggie won the Palm Dog award at the Cannes Film Festival for the movie. He was the first dog to leave his paw prints in cement on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, where many other stars have left their own imprints.
49. Jax licks stamps in Scotland
While most dogs are hired for their noses, Jax was hired for another thing dogs are great at: licking. On the Island of Skye in Scotland, postmaster Ray Chandler brought his dog Jax into work to do a job he’s quite qualified for. Jax is the Official Stamp Licker for the village of Portree.
Anyone who doesn’t want to lick their own stamps can just ask him to do it, but sometimes Jax is so enthusiastic that he accidentally eats the stamp instead of just licking it. So, take the help at your own risk, because they aren’t selling stamp insurance.
50. People are training dogs to sniff out stolen or lost artifacts
A new group of dogs, the K-9 Artifact Finders, are being trained to find historically and culturally significant antiquities. Artifacts are sometimes stolen from museums or looted from archaeological sites and then smuggled globally. Well, Red Arch Cultural Heritage Law & Policy Research aims to protect artifacts and is testing out a new method: dogs.
Right now, they’re searching for scents associated with illegally owned artifacts and training the dogs to find pottery. The program is in the early stages, but they’re hoping the dogs will work at airports to find smuggled artifacts from places like Iraq and Syria, where terrorist organizations make money from the trafficking.
51. Service dogs can help their owners do laundry
While I doubt we’ll have dogs running the local laundromat any time soon (or ever) they can be quite helpful in certain households. People with service dogs can be disabled in a variety of different ways and they may be unable to do their own laundry. Well, to help them out, the company JTM Service made the first dog-operated washing machine.
It’s called the “Woof to Wash” and it starts washing after hearing a dog’s bark. The dog opens it by pulling on a rope knot or pushing a paw-operated button. Then, the dog uses its mouth to load the machine. But once the dog takes out the clean laundry, it probably just has to put it all back in to wash off the dog slobber.
52. Pella the therapy dog helps victims testify in court
Pella is a trained therapy dog who’s been in many courtrooms. She often works with children, helping to ease their anxiety so they can testify in criminal cases. It can be extremely uncomfortable and stressful to talk about traumatizing events in front of a whole audience, so the dogs can make it easier.
There are about 155 courthouse dogs in the U.S. now, who sit in the witness box or do their comforting in the hallway. Some judges and defense lawyers worry that dogs in the witness box will sway the jury, making them more likely to believe the witness, but that hasn’t been proven.
53. Amelia Earheart looked for lost people in a California wildfire
Plenty of dogs are used in natural disasters, to search for people. Amelia “Mia” Earheart took a trip to Northern California recently, to help in the search for lost people at the wildfire site in Paradise, California. She’s trained to find cadavers, so with hundreds of people missing her skills were highly needed. Mia was one of several cadaver dogs sent to the site.
There were a lot of scents for the dogs to work through, so the searching was hard. Many of the dogs and their handlers were volunteers, coming from several hours away to help the efforts. The dogs found 67 people in the fire’s aftermath and the list of missing people dropped from over a thousand to less than 30.
54. Duke the Mayor of Cormorant, Minnesota
Duke the fluffy white Great Pyrenees won the mayoral election three times in a row of a town that has just over a thousand people. In the latest election, every vote was for him, except one for his girlfriend Lassie. Duke lives both in town and on a farm, so he appeals to everyone.
Duke is on a few highway billboards promoting their town and he regularly hangs out at the local pub. Other towns in the U.S. have elected dogs as mayors, including Sunol, California, Eastsound, Washington, and Rabbit Hash, Kentucky. As for why the people of Rabbit Hash didn’t elect a rabbit as mayor, we may never know.
55. Kirsch the service dog earned a Master’s degree while working full time
It’s not every day you meet a dog more educated than most people, but some dogs have been through extensive schooling. Kirsch the Golden Retriever accompanied his owner Carlos Mora to every class during Mora’s time at Johns Hopkins University. Mora got a Masters of Science in Counseling and Kirsch got an honorary degree as well.
Kirsch even got to wear his own cap and gown, as any graduate would. Other service dogs have graduated with their people before, from colleges and high schools. Kirsch was lucky that his full-time job required him to go to school, because he didn’t even have to pay for his degree!
56. Dogs make great ball and bat boys for tennis and baseball
Some sports are taking advantage of what dogs love to do. At a Venus Williams tennis match, dogs put one of their most finely honed skills to use: ball fetching. After a player scored a point, one of the very good boys ran out onto the court and grabbed the ball, taking it back to the sidelines.
At some baseball games, dogs are employed to grab bats after the batter has run to first base. Bats look quite a lot like sticks, so it’s just another fun game of fetch for the dog. Jake the Golden Retriever even delivers water to some of the players.
57. Service dogs can do little tasks that the disabled may struggle with
While a service dog is often hired to lead a blind person around or alert a deaf person when necessary, they can do more than that. For people with any kind of disability, they can provide help by bringing their owner medication, mail, or even a drink from the fridge.
If a wheelchair is rolling away, the dog can grab it and bring it back. They can even pull someone in a wheelchair who might have weak arms, as long as the dog is big enough. Plus, dogs can press the elevator button as long as you’re fine with possibly stopping on a few more floors. Service dogs are like little furry assistants that you pay with love and snuggles.
58. Colt protects his owner’s head during her seizures
Colt’s owner trained military dogs for years, but after she experienced a traumatic brain injury, she trained her own service dog. Whenever she has a seizure, Colt puts his body between her head and the floor to protect her from injury. She says he can also warn her of an oncoming seizure. Although this dog skill hasn’t exactly been proven by science, it may well be an inherent instinct present in some dogs.
Some people say their dogs anticipate their seizures, but it seems this might be something that can’t be trained. It’s possible that a dog is either born with the ability or not. But in some cases, these seizure-anticipating dogs haven’t been proven reliable. It hasn’t been studied all that much, so hopefully, we’ll have a better answer in the future as to whether or not dogs can actually predict seizures.
59. Dogs detect low blood sugar levels in their diabetic owners
Some people with diabetes (especially kids) have service dogs to alert them when their blood sugar is low, which can be life-saving in the middle of the night, but how do they do it? Well, one study found that type one diabetics have more isoprene (an organic compound) in their breath when their blood sugar drops, so it’s possible that the dogs are smelling that.
However, compared to other methods of detecting blood sugar, like a continuous glucose monitor device, dogs can be slower to alert. Plus, dogs can give plenty of false alarms, because they might be sensing other changes in blood sugar. But when it comes to having a chronic disease, a dog is also great emotional support.
60. Dogs can detect cancer, so maybe they’ll have jobs doing that in the future
People have told stories about how their dogs have sniffed out their cancer before any human knew it was there, but there are no jobs for these dogs. Yet. A small study found that dogs can identify cancer with about 90% accuracy, which is better than some lab tests can do. Right now, scientists are putting on a larger scale experiment to see how well dogs can really smell cancer.
They’ve seen that dogs can distinguish between cancer patient urine and cancer free urine. How do they do this? It’s not entirely clear, but scientists think cancer might give off volatile organic compounds that dogs can smell. If they’re really that good at it, maybe dogs will become a more integral part of the cancer field some day.