Dogs are one of the smartest mammals on the planet earth; if you own a dog, you can attest to the fact that the dog is smart. However, you must know that all dogs do not have the same level of intelligence; some are very smart, while others are not as smart. If you own a Chihuahua, you will be interested in knowing the level of intelligence of your dog.
Chihuahuas are smart, but they are not as smart compared to other breeds. Dog intelligence is categorized as three, adaptive/working, intuitive, and obedience. Chihuahuas have a low ranking of overall intelligence among all dog breeds. Chihuahuas are smart enough to obey basic commands.
As a chihuahua owner, you should know that Chihuahuas are not the smartest dog breeds, so you should not expect them to perform as intelligently as other breeds like a German Shepherd or a Border Collie.
Are Chihuahuas Smart?
If you meet with different owners of Chihuahuas to ask how intelligent the dogs are, you will get various answers and opinions. Some may agree that they are intelligent, while others will say otherwise. However, we cannot rely on mere opinions; rather, proven facts are the best bases to prove the opinion.
According to research made by a psychologist named Stanley Coren, Chihuahuas are not intelligent dogs. Stanley conducted an obedience test on 138 dog breeds using 199 obedience trial judges. The judges ranked the intelligence of each of the dogs based on two criteria.
The first criteria was on the number of repetitions made before a dog could learn a new command. The commands given were unknown to the dogs before. For Chihuahuas, it took about 40 to 80 repetitions before they could learn a new command. The second criterion was on each dog’s success rate in obeying an already known command on the first attempt.
When asked to obey an already known command, Chihuahuas had a 30% success rate. For dogs with a higher success rate, it means they are obedient and intelligent. Although on this second criteria, owners argued that the dogs could have performed better depending on who gave the command.
However, since the same basis was used on all other dogs, that should not be a basis of argument. At least, some other dog breeds had a higher success rate. From the outcome of the obedience test, Chihuahuas ranked 125 out of the 138 dogs examined. So, they were classified to be in the categories of dog breeds with fair intelligence. The result implied that Chihuahuas’ intelligence level was below average.
Possible Reasons Why Chihuahuas Ranked Low
Despite the outcome of Coren’s intelligent test on the dogs, some Chihuahuas owners are still of the opinion that their dogs are smart. Truly, the test was based on obedience trials of dogs, so it is normal for certain dog breeds to rank higher and perform better.
For instance, dog breeds bred for hunting, sport, and guard purposes would naturally obey commands better. So, this could be why Chihuahuas ranked low in the test. Other possible reasons for Chihuahuas’ low level of smartness are explained below.
Chihuahuas Are Stubborn
If you own a Chihuahua, you would agree that they are very stubborn and aggressive. They like doing things just the way they want it and would often not listen to a command. They are usually strong-willed, as most owners could testify to this. Chihuahuas are described by some as small dogs with big personalities.
It is important to state that training, patience, and approach could go well in helping a Chihuahua obey better. If you give your dog instructions and do not obey, try using a different approach. Please do not force it into doing anything. If you want a dog that obeys perfectly, you should not consider a Chihuahua.
Chihuahuas Have A Protective Instinct
Although Chihuahuas could be very stubborn and aggressive, they are loyal and very protective of their owners. If you have visited a family with Chihuahua breeds, you will notice the dogs are very territorial and would not want a stranger around. They cherish their relationship with their owners and would not want anything to harm them.
Regardless of Chihuahuas’ small size, they do not always feel intimidated. So, you might not blame a Chihuahua if it does not obey a command. Its goal is to keep its owner, family, and home safe, rather than obeying commands. However, Chihuahuas’ protective instinct can become aggressive when the dog is provoked.
How Smart Are Chihuahuas Compared To Other Dogs?
We already stated that Chihuahuas ranked 125 out of 136 dogs. This means their intelligence level is below average when compared to other dogs. Chihuahuas did not perform well in the two different criteria that different dog breeds were examined.
On the first criteria, compared to other dogs that ranked higher, it only took about 25 to 40 repetitions before other dogs learned a new command. In contrast, Chihuahuas took about 40 to 80 repetitions before learning a new command. Also, on the second criteria, some other dogs had a very high success rate in obeying an already known command.
Breeds such as Border Collie, German Shepherd, and Rottweiler ranked higher. Dogs that ranked 50% were considered to have an average working and obedience intelligence. However, for Chihuahuas, their success rate was just 30%. This falls even below the average category. So, the implication is that Chihuahuas have a fair or below-average intelligence level compared to other dogs.
We mentioned earlier that Chihuahuas are not the most intelligent dog breeds; in fact, they are regarded by some as “Couch Potatoes.” However, one of the unique qualities of Chihuahuas is that they focus more on their human or dog companions than other things in the environment, although this varies among Chihuahuas.
Chihuahuas were never bred for their intelligence or work ethics; they were bred to be companion dogs, and they perform excellently as companion dogs. Dogs like Doberman and Poodles are bred for obedience work.
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How Smart Are Chihuahuas?
Truly, based on Coren’s intelligence test, Chihuahuas ranked quite low. However, it is important to know that the test only focused on obedience and working intelligence in dogs. There are other forms of intelligence the test did not address – instinctive and adaptive.
In the other two tests, Chihuahuas have proven to be smart dogs. The instinctive intelligence examines the special abilities a dog is bred for. Chihuahuas are bred for companionship, and they are very good at this. Their owners can testify to this.
Chihuahuas are good at understanding humans’ expressions, moods, and body language. Their instinctive intelligence helps them read and know when their owners are in distress, unhappy or sick. Moreover, they often come around to cuddle and cheer their owners up most times.
Also, adaptive intelligence examines how a dog could solve problems and learn from past experiences on its own. A lot of dogs bred for companionship usually have high adaptive intelligence. Since they are bred to be good companions, they can study and understand their owners perfectly well to adapt and be effective in every situation.
Chihuahua Brain Size
All dogs have the same brain size; however, Chihuahuas are said to have the biggest brains. This is a result of the brain-to-body ratio of Chihuahuas. Their brains weigh about 70 to 80 grams.
It is difficult to have a standard IQ test for dogs, and this is because there are different breeds, and each dog has a different motivator. It will be wrong to judge a dog’s intelligence by conducting a few tests; each dog breed is good at something, so comparing them with other breeds does not depict the true intelligence of the dog.
Shawn Manaher is a serial entrepreneur but when he isn’t working, he loves dogs. He’s owned different pets over the years, and always gives a part of his heart to each pet.