List of Smartest Animals in the World | Most Intelligent Animals

Last Updated on November 2, 2023

Sometimes we don’t give enough credit to animals‘ intelligence. Many animals around the globe experience human-like emotion, understand human commands, have learned complex communication skills, and are very social. It’s no wonder we’re fascinated by them! The smartest animals on the planet range from African wildlife to sea creatures to household pets. The great thing about interacting with these animals is not only the wonder they invoke, but the bonds we can form with them. Lots of animals have a high IQ, but these are some of the most prominent. Here’s a list of some brainy animals.

Smartest Animals

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List of the Smartest Animals

  • Chimpanzees
  • Dolphins
  • Whales
  • Elephants
  • Ravens and crows
  • Parrots
  • Dogs
  • Pigs
  • Octopuses
  • Squirrels
  • Cats
  • Horses
  • Sea lions
  • Raccoons
  • Goats
  • Otters

*Many more animals are intelligent in their own way, but these have the highest rates of empathy, instinct, and communication skills!

Smart Animals & Facts


  • Chimps are very social animals. They tend to have a “best friend” in which the two enjoy grooming each other. Female chimps look out for other females’ babies.
  • They are excellent at using tools. The structure of their hands help with motor skills, but they are also intelligent enough to be resourceful when making tools.
  • Chimps are the animals most closely related to humans. They share 95% of our DNA.


  • Bottlenose dolphins are the smartest and most delightful creatures in the sea. Swimming with dolphins is a popular activity. Dolphins take notice of humans and are sometimes just as fascinated with us as we are with them.
  • Dolphins use unique whistles to communicate with one another. They’re able to let other dolphins know their exact location and condition just by whistling!
  • A dolphin’s brain has unique neurons that are also found in the brains of humans and chimpanzees. These neurons enhance social and emotional behaviors.


  • The octopus has amazing adaptability. They camouflage themselves to express anger, lie in wait to catch prey, or to blend in when predators are near.
  • Octopi are also good at solving food puzzles! In captivity, they have learned to unscrew the lids of jars to reach food.
  • They can squeeze into just about any small space due to their flexible, squishy bodies. They do this when they need to hide from predators or lay eggs.


  • One African grey parrot was known to have the IQ of a 5-year-old. They can quickly learn to use tools to grind cockle shells, providing them with a nutritious snack.
  • Parrots unfortunately aren’t smart enough to know what they’re saying when they talk. However, the very act of mimicking their owners is amazing on its own. They don’t have vocal cords. Instead, they make sounds using their throat and the air that flows through it.
  • Parrots bond with their human companions or other parrots if they’re in the wild. Mates often stick together for life!


  • If you’ve ever owned a dog, their intelligence is obvious. Dogs can surprise us in many ways with their good memory, emotional intelligence, and ability to obey commands.
  • Because their sense of smell is several times better than humans’, this is why dogs assist in rescue missions and join the police force.
  • Dogs are life-savers in more ways than one. Service dogs are trained to help the blind, deaf, and people with PTSD go about their daily lives.


  • They are able to remember solutions to problems for up to three years, which is longer than most primates.
  • Raccoons are able to open latches, turn doorknobs, and even untie knots to gain access to food or shelter.
  • They are known for their intelligence and problem-solving abilities.


  • They are excellent swimmers and can hold their breath for up to 8 minutes underwater.
  • They have excellent memory and can remember the location of food sources and other important landmarks.
  • Otters have large brains compared to their body size, which is thought to be a sign of intelligence.

Sea lions

  • Sea lions are able to recognize themselves in mirrors, which is a sign of self-awareness.
  • They are quick learners and can be trained to perform a variety of tricks and behaviors, similar to dogs.
  • They are able to adapt to changing environmental conditions and can learn to avoid predators and other threats.

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1 thought on “List of Smartest Animals in the World | Most Intelligent Animals”

  1. According to scientific research wolves are a lot smarter than dogs but I don’t see them on this list. A wolf’s brain is 17-22% bigger than a domesticated dog’s brain. In Europe, Wolves are the apex predator in the animal kingdom and by far the smartest animal in european nature.

    They rarely attack humans since they know we are a danger to them. In 99.9% of all cases of humans encountering wolves, the pack will try to get as far away from human beings as possible. Only in super rare cases, when the wolves have just killed an animal, do they take the risk to let humans come “close”. Their sense of smell is their strongest sense, just like many other animals, and this sense is around 100 times better than a humans sense of smell. If you get within 900 yards (825 m) of a wolf they’ll know you where you are. And they’ll try to stay as far away from you as possible.

    The size of a wolf: The average domesticated dog weigh about 40 lbs (18kg), while the smallest grey wolf usually weigh about 75 pounds, and the larger ones exceed 175 pounds (80kg). Wolves are also a lot taller and longer than dog breeds similar to them. If you see a wolf in person, you’ll be shocked by how big they are.

    Remember: We are a lot more dangerous than any animal and only a few animals know this. One of these very smart animals are wolves. Why or how they know this, is up for debate. But there’s a reason only two people have been killed by wolves in all of North America in 20 years, they don’t want to have anything to do with human beings. Two people have died from wolf attacks, in TWENTY years, in the entire NA. Dog’s have probably killed more people than that. Just goes to show you, there’s no need to be afraid of wolves more than a dog on the street. In fact, you should probably be more afraid of getting bitten by a dog than a wolf.


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