10 Smartest Animals (Slideshow)


Tools, funerals, laughter, and self-awareness — these aren’t all unique to humans! Check out 10 of the most intelligent animals on the planet.

See Also: 6 Of History’s Most Famous Cats (Slideshow)


10. Pig

Despite their reputation, pigs are thought to be the most intelligent domesticated animal on earth — perhaps even more than dogs. In fact, some studies have suggested that pigs are on par with 3-year-old children! The study in question? Pigs were taught to play simple video games with their snouts. They were able to distinguish between a scribble they had already seen and one that they hadn’t. Pigs possess an ability to focus that researchers don’t see in other animals, including chimps!

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9. Rat

Rats are quiet intelligent animals, which invariably makes them an often used animal in scientific research. They can famously learn to navigate a maze with trial and error and can be trained with positive reinforcement. However, it’s difficult to project human standards of intelligence on rats — they are adept at finding loopholes and outsmarting human test designers.


8. Rhesus Monkey

Rhesus monkeys are well-known for their intelligence — they can follow simple rules and even show aspects of self-awareness. They have complex societies where bonds last long and strong hierarchies prevail. Some scientists believe that their emotions resemble humans more closely than any animals on earth.

See Also: 8 of the World’s Rarest Mammals


7. Crow

Crows are astounding birds — they’ve been observed making using tools, engaging in sports and using bait to fish. Studies have even suggested that crows can tell humans apart based on their facial features.


6. African Grey Parrot

African Greys in captivity can not only mimic words, they can understand what those words mean. Their cognitive abilities likely place them alongside other well-known intelligent animals like chimps and dolphins. Two African Greys working together can even coordinate problem-solving tasks!

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5. Border Collie

Border Collies are generally understood to be the most intelligent dog breed. One Border Collie, Chaser, has a vocabulary of over 1,000 words! These dogs love work and companionship — the latter of which is a key aspect of their intelligence in comparison to other intelligent animals. They actually want human companionship!

Related: Top 10 Smartest Dogs


4. Orangutan

Orangutans are famous for using sophisticated tools, and, astoundingly, these tools vary geographically. What does that mean? Well, the differences between tools are the result of different cultures in the groups of orangutans. They’re also the only animal known to weigh the costs and benefits of exchanging gifts.


3. Elephant

These gentle giants are highly altruistic animals. They are known to help other species, even humans, when they are sick or injured. They also been observed self-medicating, holding burial rituals, and engaging in humorous play. They’ve even exhibited signs of self-awareness, a rarity among non-human animals.


2. Dolphin

Dolphins are social and fun-loving ocean-dwellers. They also have the ability to use tools, utilize abstract thinking and problem solving, and have been show to exhibit signs of self-awareness. They have also been observed helping fisherman catch fish (which they reap some rewards from, of course!)


1. Chimpanzees

Aside from humans, chimpanzees are perhaps the most sophisticated creatures in all of the animal kingdom. If a chimpanzee notices a beautiful landscape, he/she will appreciate it in a similar way to humans. They’ve also been observed engaging in “pretend play,” such as cradling a rock as if it were a baby. Like other intelligent animals on this list, they also use tools, have mourning rituals, and respect other non-threatening species. Other amazing facts? Chimps can understand the values of the numbers 1-9, they can laugh, use sign language with humans and are even capable of deception and manipulation.

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sandra mason
sandra masonabout a month ago

dogs aren't even smart enough to keep their own tongue in their head.

Alexander Hay-Whitton
Alexander Hay-Whittonabout a year ago

What is so useful about a rat's "quietness"?

Carol S.
Carol S.1 years ago

Animals are much smarter than we give them credit for. We are the stupid ones; ruining our own habitat!

Carrie Anne Brown

interesting article, thanks for sharing :)

Maria D'Oporto
Past Member 3 years ago


Alicia Coker
Alicia Coker3 years ago

Joe R. contrary to popular belief Afghan Hounds are not stupid,they are highly intelligent.The reason why they are hard to train is because they are very independent,not stupid.

Anand YNI
Anand Y N I3 years ago

Good compilation!

Susan A.
Susan A.3 years ago

Very nice list....I really think dolphins are at least as smart as chimps...we just don't understand their language...

Joe R.
Joe R.3 years ago

All animals are smart in their own way! (And yes, even Afghan hounds.)

Mary Beth M.
MaryBeth M.3 years ago

After watching the PBS show "Decoding Dogs", I would have to put dogs above primates and monkeys, but agree that all are intelligent. Sad when you think about the way most are treated in our world. If intelligence = power, I wonder how they all would treat us?