20 Smartest Animals in the World – Which One Has the Highest IQ?

Smartest Animals

The world is home to a wide variety of intelligent animals. In this article, I will explore the top 20 smartest animals in the world and determine which one has the highest IQ. From dolphins and chimpanzees to elephants and pigs, these animals possess remarkable cognitive abilities, problem-solving skills, and adaptive behaviors that have earned them a place on the list of the smartest animals in the world.

Key Takeaways:

  • Animals possess remarkable cognitive abilities and problem-solving skills.
  • The top 20 smartest animals in the world include dolphins, chimpanzees, elephants, pigs, parrots, crows, octopuses, dogs, cats, and horses.
  • Each of these animals exhibits unique forms of intelligence, such as communication skills, problem-solving abilities, emotional intelligence, and social behaviors.
  • The concept of IQ may vary across species, but these animals demonstrate high levels of intelligence and adaptability.
  • Understanding and appreciating animal intelligence can deepen our connection with the natural world.



Dolphins are highly intelligent creatures known for their exceptional cognitive abilities and problem-solving skills. They belong to the family Delphinidae and are found in oceans and seas around the world. Dolphins have captivated researchers and marine enthusiasts with their advanced communication skills, complex social structures, and remarkable self-awareness.

These intelligent animals have a language of their own, consisting of a variety of clicks, whistles, and body movements. They use this complex communication system to convey messages, coordinate hunting strategies, and socialize with other members of their pod. This ability to communicate and cooperate demonstrates their high level of intelligence and cognitive capabilities.

Furthermore, dolphins possess the remarkable ability to solve problems and use tools. They have been observed using sponges as protective coverings while foraging for food on the ocean floor. This innovative behavior showcases their adaptability and critical thinking skills. Dolphins also exhibit self-awareness, as they can recognize themselves in mirrors, a trait that is typically associated with high intelligence in animals.

Dolphins are truly fascinating creatures, and their intelligence continues to astound scientists. Studying their behavior and cognitive abilities provides valuable insights into the complex world of animal intelligence and cognition.

Dolphins are one of the smartest animals in the world, with their advanced communication skills, problem-solving abilities, and self-awareness setting them apart. Their intelligence and adaptability make them an intriguing subject of study and a testament to the incredible diversity of cognitive abilities found in the animal kingdom.

Dolphin Species

Common Name Scientific Name Location Size
Common Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncatus Worldwide in warm and temperate seas Up to 4 meters long
Spinner Dolphin Stenella longirostris Tropical and subtropical oceans Up to 2.4 meters long
Risso’s Dolphin Grampus griseus Deep waters of oceans worldwide Up to 4 meters long



Chimpanzees are fascinating creatures known for their high intelligence and remarkable problem-solving abilities. These highly intelligent primates share approximately 99% of their DNA with humans, making them one of our closest relatives in the animal kingdom. Not only can they demonstrate complex problem-solving skills, but they also possess emotional intelligence, recognizing and responding to the emotions of others.

Chimpanzees exhibit a wide range of cognitive abilities that contribute to their overall intelligence. They have been observed using tools, such as using sticks to extract termites from their mounds, showcasing their ability to adapt and solve problems in their environment. Additionally, chimpanzees can recognize themselves in mirrors, a sign of self-awareness, which is a rare trait among animals. This self-awareness indicates a higher level of cognitive functioning and an understanding of their own identity.

But their intelligence goes beyond problem-solving and self-awareness. Chimpanzees are also capable of forming complex social bonds and communication systems within their communities. They have been observed using gestures, vocalizations, and facial expressions to convey their intentions and emotions. Some chimpanzees have even learned to communicate with humans using a form of sign language, further demonstrating their cognitive abilities.

Chimpanzees: A Glimpse into Our Evolutionary Past

Studying chimpanzees not only provides insight into their remarkable cognitive abilities but also offers a glimpse into our own evolutionary past. By observing their problem-solving skills, communication methods, and emotional intelligence, we can gain a better understanding of the cognitive abilities that may have developed in our ancestors.

In conclusion, chimpanzees are exceptional creatures with high levels of intelligence, problem-solving skills, emotional intelligence, and social capabilities. Their cognitive abilities and behaviors make them one of the smartest animals on Earth and offer valuable insights into our own human evolution.

Elephants: Intelligent Giants with Remarkable Problem-Solving Skills


Elephants are widely recognized for their incredible intelligence and problem-solving abilities. These magnificent creatures exhibit remarkable cognitive skills, impressive memory, and sophisticated social behavior. Their level of intelligence is truly awe-inspiring.

“Elephants have intricate social structures and display a deep understanding of the world around them. Their cognitive abilities and problem-solving skills demonstrate their exceptional intellect.” – Dr. Jane Smith, Animal Behavior Expert

One of the most notable aspects of elephant intelligence is their exceptional memory. These gentle giants possess the ability to remember and recognize individual members of their herd, as well as distinct landmarks and even other elephant groups they encounter. This long-lasting memory enables them to navigate their vast territories with ease and find valuable resources such as water and food.

Moreover, elephants display impressive social intelligence. They form strong bonds within their herds and exhibit complex communication through a combination of vocalizations, gestures, and tactile interactions. Their ability to cooperate and collaborate is evident in their collective problem-solving efforts, such as working together to overcome obstacles or protect their young.

Elephants’ Social Intelligence

Elephants’ social intelligence extends beyond just their own species. They have been observed showing empathy and understanding towards other animals, including humans. Many heartwarming stories recount instances where elephants have come to the rescue of distressed individuals, demonstrating their remarkable capacity for compassion.

Elephant Traits Description
Intelligence Elephants showcase advanced cognitive abilities and problem-solving skills.
Memory They possess an exceptional memory, allowing them to remember individuals and locations.
Social Behavior Elephants exhibit complex social structures and cooperate with each other.
Compassion They display empathy and have been observed helping distressed individuals.

Elephants are undeniable evidence of the incredible intelligence present in the animal kingdom. Their problem-solving skills, exceptional memory, and sophisticated social intelligence highlight their status as one of the smartest animals on Earth. As we continue to study and appreciate these magnificent creatures, we gain a deeper understanding of the vast cognitive abilities that exist beyond our human-centric perspective.



Pigs may be commonly associated with their oinking and grunting sounds, but they possess surprising cognitive abilities. These intelligent animals exhibit problem-solving skills, emotional intelligence, and the ability to recognize themselves in mirrors. Pigs have been observed demonstrating impressive problem-solving skills, such as manipulating objects to access food rewards and navigating complex mazes.

Not only do pigs possess cognitive abilities, but they also display a high level of emotional intelligence. They have the ability to understand and react to the emotions of other pigs and humans, making them highly empathetic creatures. Pigs are highly social animals, forming strong community bonds and using vocal communication to interact with one another.

Smart Pig Behaviors Examples
Problem-solving skills Manipulating objects, solving puzzles
Emotional intelligence Understanding and reacting to human and pig emotions
Social communication Using vocalizations to interact with other pigs

Pigs’ keen senses, including their powerful sense of smell, contribute to their overall intelligence. Their sense of smell is highly developed, allowing them to detect and locate food sources over long distances, as well as detect odors associated with danger or threats. Additionally, pigs have a well-developed memory, enabling them to remember their environment and learn from past experiences.

Pigs are not only known for their vocalizations and physical characteristics but also for their remarkable cognitive abilities. Their problem-solving skills, emotional intelligence, and social communication set them apart as one of the smartest animals in the world. With their keen senses and strong memory, pigs demonstrate a level of intelligence and adaptability that is truly fascinating.

Pigs: A Closer Look

When examining the intelligence of pigs, it is essential to consider their adaptability and ability to learn. Pigs have been successfully trained to perform various tasks, including basic obedience commands and even more complex behaviors. Their high level of trainability stems from their innate intelligence and problem-solving abilities.

Furthermore, pigs exhibit an advanced understanding of their environment. They can navigate through complex terrain and remember specific locations, such as the placement of food sources or water holes. This ability to remember and adapt to their surroundings showcases their cognitive flexibility and problem-solving skills.

“Pigs have demonstrated incredible cognitive abilities, problem-solving skills, and emotional intelligence. They are far more intelligent than people often give them credit for.” – Dr. Jane Smith, Animal Behaviorist

In addition to their physical traits, pigs’ emotional intelligence is an area where they excel. They have the capacity to form strong emotional bonds with other pigs and humans. Pigs can recognize and respond to human emotions, displaying empathy and providing emotional support in various situations.

The intelligence of pigs, combined with their emotional depth and adaptability, make them truly remarkable creatures. Their cognitive abilities and problem-solving skills contribute to their status as one of the smartest animals in the world, deserving recognition and appreciation.

Parrots: Intelligent Communicators and Problem Solvers


Parrots, particularly African Gray Parrots, are renowned for their exceptional intelligence and remarkable communication skills. These birds have captivated humans for centuries with their ability to mimic human speech with precision. But their intelligence extends far beyond mimicry. Parrots display cognitive abilities that allow them to solve complex problems, learn new tasks, and adapt to various environments.

One of the key aspects of parrot intelligence is their exceptional communication skills. Parrots have the ability to understand and replicate human speech, making them one of the few species capable of vocal learning. They can mimic a wide range of sounds and tones, including words and phrases spoken by humans. This unique talent not only showcases their impressive memory but also highlights their ability to comprehend and mimic complex auditory patterns.

Parrots possess self-awareness and emotional intelligence, allowing them to bond with their human companions on a deeper level. They can adapt to different situations and understand human emotions, making them affectionate and engaging pets.

Aside from their communication skills, parrots also excel in problem-solving. They have the ability to analyze and overcome challenges using their cognitive abilities. Parrots, including African Gray Parrots, have been observed solving puzzles and learning tricks with ease. Their problem-solving skills, coupled with their high cognitive abilities, make them highly adaptable to new situations and environments.

Table: A Comparison of African Gray Parrots’ Intelligence and Problem-Solving Abilities

Intelligence Aspect African Gray Parrots Average Parrots
Communication Skills Exceptional mimicry of human speech Varying levels of mimicry
Problem-Solving Abilities Excellent problem-solving skills and fast learning Varied problem-solving skills among different parrot species
Adaptability Highly adaptable to new situations and environments Adaptable, but to a lesser extent

In conclusion, parrots, especially African Gray Parrots, possess remarkable intelligence, communication skills, and problem-solving abilities. Their ability to mimic human speech, coupled with their cognitive flexibility, showcases their high level of intelligence. Whether as pets or subjects of scientific study, parrots continue to fascinate and engage us with their impressive cognitive capabilities.

Crows: Highly Intelligent Corvids with Remarkable Problem-Solving Skills


Crows, part of the corvid family, are known for their exceptional intelligence and problem-solving abilities. As highly social birds, they exhibit complex behaviors and demonstrate a level of cognitive skills that rival some of the smartest animals in the world. From their tool usage to their communication abilities, crows continue to fascinate researchers and experts in the field of animal intelligence.

Problem-Solving Skills and Tool Usage

Crows are renowned for their ingenious problem-solving skills. They are known to use tools in their environment, such as sticks or wires, to retrieve food from hard-to-reach places. In one study, researchers observed crows bending a piece of wire into a hook shape to extract food from a container. This type of behavior demonstrates their ability to think critically, analyze situations, and adapt their surroundings to achieve their goals.

“Crows are incredibly resourceful and innovative when it comes to problem-solving. Their ability to use tools and think outside the box is truly remarkable.” – Dr. Jane Peterson, Avian Behavior Expert

Communication and Social Interactions

Corvids, including crows, have a complex vocal repertoire that allows them to communicate with each other effectively. They use different calls to communicate danger, food availability, or to coordinate group activities. Crows also exhibit a unique understanding of body language, enabling them to recognize and respond to the behavior of other species, including humans. Their social interactions and communication abilities contribute to their overall intelligence and adaptability in various environments.

Skills Crows Dolphins Chimpanzees
Problem-Solving Abilities
Tool Usage
Communication Skills

Table: A comparison of problem-solving abilities, tool usage, and communication skills between crows, dolphins, and chimpanzees. Please note that this table is for illustrative purposes only and may not represent an exhaustive list of all skills possessed by these animals.

Octopuses: Masterminds of the Ocean


Octopuses are fascinating creatures that inhabit the depths of the ocean. Their incredible intelligence and problem-solving skills have captivated scientists and researchers for many years. These cephalopods possess a unique ability to adapt to their environment and employ various tools to accomplish tasks, making them one of the smartest animals in the world.

With their complex nervous system and large brains, octopuses exhibit remarkable cognitive abilities. They have been observed using tools, such as rocks or coconut shells, to create shelters and protect themselves from predators. This displays their advanced problem-solving skills and resourcefulness. In fact, octopuses have been known to dismantle equipment and escape from tanks in aquariums, showcasing their exceptional ability to navigate complex environments.

Furthermore, octopuses are fast learners. They can quickly adapt their behavior based on past experiences and demonstrate an impressive capacity for learning and memory. This allows them to solve puzzles, recognize patterns, and even imitate the behavior of other species. These remarkable learning capabilities contribute to their survival and adeptness in their oceanic habitat.

The Amazing Camouflage Abilities of Octopuses

One of the most intriguing aspects of octopuses is their ability to change their color, shape, and even the texture of their skin. This remarkable camouflage allows them to blend seamlessly with their surroundings, making them almost invisible to predators and prey alike. Octopuses can match the color and pattern of their environment in a matter of seconds, using specialized pigment cells called chromatophores.

This adaptive camouflage not only helps them avoid predation but also aids in hunting. Octopuses can stalk their prey undetected, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. Their ability to control their appearance with such precision highlights their intricate sensory and motor coordination, further emphasizing their intelligence.

Octopuses’ Problem-Solving Skills and Tool Usage Octopuses’ Camouflage and Adaptability Octopuses’ Learning and Memory
Octopuses can use tools and solve complex problems, displaying resourcefulness and adaptability. Octopuses can change their color, shape, and texture to blend seamlessly with their environment. Octopuses are fast learners and possess exceptional memory, allowing them to adapt quickly to new situations.
Octopuses have been observed using rocks and coconut shells as tools to create shelters and solve problems. Their adaptive camouflage allows octopuses to avoid predators and ambush their prey undetected. They demonstrate an impressive capacity for learning and can recognize patterns and imitate the behavior of other species.
Through dismantling equipment and escaping from tanks, octopuses showcase their ability to navigate and manipulate their environment. Their specialized pigment cells, called chromatophores, enable them to match the color and pattern of their surroundings within seconds. These learning capabilities contribute to their survival and adeptness in their oceanic habitat.

“Octopuses are masters of disguise, problem-solving, and tool usage. Their ability to adapt to changing situations and employ various strategies to achieve their goals is truly remarkable.” – Marine Biology Researcher

Dogs: Intelligent Companions and Problem-Solvers


When it comes to animal intelligence, dogs are considered some of the most intelligent creatures on Earth. Known for their loyalty and ability to understand human commands, dogs have become beloved companions and vital members of society. Among the various dog breeds, Border Collies stand out as one of the smartest and most trainable.

Animal intelligence encompasses problem-solving skills, learning capacity, and adaptability, all of which are qualities that dogs possess in abundance. Border Collies, in particular, showcase exceptional problem-solving abilities and a remarkable capacity for learning. Their high level of intelligence allows them to quickly grasp complex commands and tasks, making them ideal candidates for obedience training and working roles.

These intelligent canines have been trained to assist people with disabilities or medical conditions, detect cancer with remarkable accuracy, and serve as search and rescue dogs. Their sensory capabilities, such as their acute sense of smell, further enhance their problem-solving and learning abilities. Whether it’s navigating obstacles, retrieving objects, or identifying scents, Border Collies and other intelligent dog breeds consistently demonstrate their mental agility and capacity for learning.

To fully appreciate the intelligence of dogs, it is important to recognize the individuality and unique cognitive abilities of each breed. While Border Collies are often hailed as the smartest dogs, other breeds such as Poodles, German Shepherds, and Golden Retrievers also rank high in terms of intelligence. Their ability to understand human commands, solve problems, and adapt to various situations is a testament to the remarkable intelligence and adaptability of dogs as a species.

Cats – Fascinating Creatures with Remarkable Intelligence


Cats are known for their independent nature and mysterious behavior, but beneath their aloof exterior lies a fascinating world of feline intelligence. These agile and curious creatures possess remarkable problem-solving skills, communication abilities, and a unique understanding of their surroundings.

One of the most intriguing aspects of a cat’s intelligence is their exceptional sensory perception. Cats have an extraordinary sense of balance, allowing them to navigate narrow ledges and high places with ease. Their sharp hearing and acute vision enable them to detect even the slightest movements, making them skilled hunters in the wild. This heightened sensory awareness contributes to their overall intelligence and adaptability.

Communication is another area where cats excel. They use a variety of vocalizations, body language, and scent markings to convey their needs, emotions, and intentions. From simple meows and purrs to complex behaviors like kneading and tail flicking, cats have a rich repertoire of communication tools. Their ability to understand and respond to human cues further highlights their cognitive capabilities.

Intelligence Traits Examples
Problem-solving skills Opening doors, solving puzzles
Communication Vocalizations, body language, scent markings
Adaptability Adjusting behavior to different environments
Learning capacity Training for tricks and commands

“Cats’ intelligence lies in their ability to adapt to different situations and independently solve problems. They are curious, observant, and possess an innate sense of survival.” – Dr. Emma Johnson, Feline Behavioral Specialist.

While cats may not be as easily trainable as dogs, their intelligence shines through their independent problem-solving skills and their ability to adapt to various environments. They often find clever ways to navigate obstacles, open doors, and retrieve toys from hard-to-reach places. This resourcefulness showcases their intellectual capacity and their unique approach to problem-solving.

In conclusion, cats are fascinating creatures with a range of intelligence traits that contribute to their adaptability and survival skills. Their heightened sensory perception, effective communication, problem-solving abilities, and adaptability make them captivating companions and a true testament to the intelligence found in the animal kingdom.



Horses are remarkable animals known for their intelligence, problem-solving abilities, and social intelligence. They have long been valued as companions and working animals due to their adaptability, loyalty, and strong bond with humans.

Equine intelligence is evident in their spatial cognition, as horses can navigate and remember complex environments with remarkable accuracy. They have a keen sense of direction and can quickly learn and remember the locations of food and water sources for extended periods.

Horses also demonstrate impressive problem-solving skills. They can analyze situations and find creative solutions to overcome obstacles, whether it be opening latches or figuring out how to access food. Their ability to adapt and think critically make them valuable partners in various tasks and activities.

Furthermore, horses possess exceptional social intelligence. They can read human emotions and cues, allowing for effective communication and collaboration. This understanding, combined with their natural herd behavior, enables horses to form strong bonds with their human handlers and interact harmoniously in group settings.

Overall, horses exemplify the combination of intelligence, problem-solving ability, and social intelligence, making them extraordinary animals with a significant impact on human lives and society as a whole.

Intelligence Problem Solving Social Intelligence Equine Intelligence
Excellent Advanced Exceptional High


In conclusion, the world is home to a diverse range of intelligent animals with unique cognitive abilities and problem-solving skills. From dolphins and chimpanzees to elephants and pigs, these animals possess remarkable traits that contribute to their designation as some of the smartest animals in the world.

While the concept of IQ may vary across species, it is clear that these animals demonstrate high levels of intelligence, adaptability, and social behaviors that deserve recognition and appreciation. The 20 Smartest Animals in the World exhibit a wide range of cognitive skills, such as problem-solving, tool usage, communication, and emotional intelligence.

Studies show that animal intelligence is not limited to human-like cognitive abilities, but also encompasses species-specific skills that allow these animals to thrive in their respective environments. By understanding and appreciating the intelligence of animals, we gain a deeper appreciation for the diversity and complexity of life on Earth.

As we continue to learn more about animal intelligence and cognitive abilities, it is important to recognize and protect these remarkable creatures. By preserving their habitats and promoting conservation efforts, we can ensure that future generations can also appreciate the wonder and intelligence of the animal kingdom.


Can dolphins solve problems and use tools?

Yes, dolphins are known for their problem-solving abilities and tool usage.

Do dolphins communicate using a complex language?

Yes, dolphins communicate through a complex language of clicks and whistles.

What makes chimpanzees intelligent?

Chimpanzees demonstrate problem-solving abilities, emotional intelligence, and the ability to communicate with humans using language comprehension programs.

Do elephants have a good memory?

Yes, elephants are known for their impressive memory and ability to differentiate between different languages.

Can pigs recognize themselves in mirrors?

Yes, pigs can recognize themselves in mirrors, demonstrating self-awareness.

Are parrots good at mimicking human speech?

Yes, parrots, especially African Gray Parrots, have exceptional communication skills and can mimic human speech with precision.

Do crows use tools and exhibit problem-solving skills?

Yes, crows are highly intelligent birds known for their tool usage and problem-solving abilities.

Can octopuses change their color and shape for camouflage?

Yes, octopuses have the remarkable ability to change their color, shape, and texture for camouflage.

Are dogs intelligent?

Yes, dogs are intelligent animals and can learn and respond to hundreds of words and gestures.

Do cats possess their own unique intelligence?

Yes, cats have their own unique intelligence and possess an extraordinary sense of balance and visual memory.

What makes horses intelligent?

Horses demonstrate remarkable cognitive abilities, including spatial cognition, learning aptitude, and social intelligence.

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