One of the reasons people love poodles is because they are so intelligent- however a question I often get asked is, which kind of poodle is the smartest?
All poodle breeds are equally intelligent, according to the available research. Poodles ranked as the 2nd most intelligent breed in a famous study ranking breeds on their intellect, making them one of the smartest dogs around.
Miniature, standard, and toy poodles all have the exact same breed standards and have the same distinctive traits as one another. So, when dog breeds were assessed for their intelligence they were categorized as one breed. While teacup and Klein poodles are a popular choice for dog owners now, these two dogs are not recognized by the American Kennel Club, so it is hard to say if they meet the same exacting standards as the toy, miniature, and standard poodle. However, owners of both Klein and teacup poodles report them being just as intelligent and good pets as their recognized brothers and sisters.
Some poodle owners are sure that different color poodles are more intelligent than others. Some people say that black and white poodles are the smartest, their reasoning for this being that these are the original standard colors for poodles, where breeders focused mostly on intelligence and temperament. The reasoning behind this is that when poodle breeders focused on breeding poodles in less common colors, like red for example, the breeder was more likely to put breeding for intelligence below breeding for the color they wanted to achieve. While it is true that in prestigious dog shows, black and white are the most represented colors, there is no evidence, other than anecdotal, that color has any effect on a poodle’s intelligence.
It is also possible that people’s personal biases and preferences has an effect on the belief that different colors equals different intelligence. For example, if someone owned a particularly intelligent white poodle, they may go on to think all white poodles are the same- when actually, while on the whole poodles are clever, like humans, some are certainly more clever than others within the same breed.
What makes Poodles so smart?
Poodles, like all other pet dogs, come from one common ancestor- the wild dog and the wolf. While your fluffy poodle may seem just about as far as possible from the scary wolf, this is because, over the centuries, humans bred dogs based on characteristics they found appealing.
Poodles were originally bred as hunting dogs- and one of the key desirable characteristics for a hunting dog is intellect. Hunting dogs need to be intelligent so they can be trained well to follow their owner’s instructions- imagine if you were a hunter and your dog got distracted and did the wrong thing just as you were about to catch your dinner-you’d be hungry for sure!
Hunters will have bred their best hunting males with their best hunting females time and time again until they ended up with intelligent dogs who were great for hunting whatever- from birds, to rabbits the poodle helped put food on our ancestor’s table.
Poodles are no longer used for hunting as much but now there is just as much reason to breed poodles for their intelligence and this reason is dog shows. Poodles are a familiar face in any dog show and they perform well in pretty much every category- from agility to athleticism- whatever category, to win a prestigious dog show poodles have got to be amongst the most intelligent.
Another reason poodles are still bred for their intelligence is to be service or therapy dogs. While Labradors, German shepherds, and golden retrievers often come to mind when you think of service or therapy dogs, because of their intelligence, loyalty and trainability poodles are ideal for this role.
However, all service dogs need a lot of specialist training in order to learn everything they need to know- such as recognizing seizures or alerting their owners to danger- so don’t think that just because you have a poodle that you can rely on them to keep you safe.
Poodle intelligence ranking- what is it and what does it mean?
While everyone thinks their dog is the most intelligent- when we are talking about a dog’s intelligence, what does that actually mean?
The most influential study that was done on dog intelligence was by Dr. Stanley Coren a professor of canine psychology at The University of British Columbia. He wrote and published a book ranking dogs based on their intelligence, and it is still the main body of research that analyses canine intellect.
Coren looked at a few things to assess dog breed’s intelligence but the main ones were how many times a command needed to be repeated before the dog learned the new command (with the fewer the better) and how often a dog was successful at understanding and obeying a command first time round.
The poodles in this study came second, with the border collie being crowned “top dog”. However, this was a pretty limited study and missed out on a lot of aspects of intelligence that are really important to dog owners, such as emotional intelligence, problem-solving, and instinct.
I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking I’d prefer a dog who can read my mood to one who can learn commands quickly. However, luckily, poodles also exhibit emotional intelligence and I often feel like my dog Billie knows what I am feeling.
In terms of a poodle’s problem solving, I’m also sure I’m not the only poodle owner who’s dog’s intelligence has got the better of them- on all poodle forums there are stories of clever poodles working out how to open cupboards and doors to get what they want (normally food!).
Can you make your poodle smarter?
In short, yes. Like humans, poodles need to spend time learning about the world to reach their maximum intelligence and flex those brain muscles. A lot of poodle owners picked a poodle mainly because of their reputation for being smart, so if a poodle appears to be less sharp than others, it can be a real disappointment for the owner.
To help your poodle learn, you should ensure they are regularly socialized with other dogs and people. This will help them learn manners and social etiquette, both with their dog friends and the people they meet.
Training your poodle to be in a prestigious dog show is something that takes years and years of dedication, patience, and practice- but something that may well be worth the time and effort!
Regularly training your poodle and teaching them new tricks will help your poodle learn how to focus and follow directions- a key aspect of intelligence for anyone, poodle, or person!
Your poodle can also be trained to learn lots of words- be these objects or commands. Most poodles have the ability to learn at least 200 words and many can learn far more than this. What you teach your poodle to do with these words is up to you- be it to fetch his lead, open the door, or wait patiently in one spot. If only poodles could use a kettle, I’d never need to make my own coffee again…
Problem-solving games will also help your poodle learn how to approach problems they encounter. Examples of problem-solving games include treat puzzles, kongs, treat balls, … the list is endless and most involve your pooch having to work out how to get snacks.
To some poodle owners, a poodle’s intelligence can be both a blessing and a curse. While their intelligence makes a poodle an exciting companion who keeps owners on their toes, if a poodle is not offered enough stimulation they will quickly become bored. Bored poodles can misbehave and become frustrated easily, so it really is worth spending time to make sure they are learning and entertained.
I hope i have managed to answer some key questions when it comes to your poodle’s intelligence- if you have any questions please feel free to get in touch!