Chihuahuas are adorable, have a sassy temperament, and occasionally have an attitude like a guard dog. Whether a Chihuahua is part of your family or you’re considering adopting one of these tiny dogs, most people ask, are chihuahuas smart dogs? You might want to know about the IQ of the most popular Mexican dog breed, and you may be surprised.
Stanley Coren is a canine psychologist who claims that Chihuahuas rank below average in obedience and working intelligence. Dr. Coren’s trials in working and obedience intelligence ranked Chihuahuas at 125 out of 138 breeds. The good news is that Chihuahuas rank high in adaptive intelligence .
Measuring the Intelligence of the Chihuahua
To determine how smart Chihuahuas are, it’s essential to understand Stanley Coren’s methods to measure the dog’s intelligence. The psychologist asked nearly half of the kennel club judges from the American and Canadian kennel clubs to use his criteria to conduct research.
Canine Intelligence Criteria
The judges who participated in obedience trials used Stanley Coren’s criteria to rank different dog breeds. The criteria the judges used was based on:
How many repetitions does it take for a dog of a specific breed to learn a new or unknown command? According to the judges, fewer repetitions meant that the dog was more intelligent.
The trial judges based their criteria on percentages of dogs that obey a command that they already knew on the first attempt. The higher the success rate a dog has, the more obedient and intelligent it is. The dog breeds that had 100 or more responses qualified for the final round of Coren’s dog intelligence rankings.
Since Chihuahuas are listed in the AKC list of most popular dog breeds, they got a lot of responses. Many people were skeptical about Coren’s method of determining how smart specific dog breeds are. Experts agree there’s much more to a dog’s intelligence than an IQ and a work ethic.
Chihuahuas Performance and the Coren Method
To measure a dog’s intelligence Coren used 138 different dog breeds. Chihuahuas ranked 125th in the test. Understandably, most Chihuahua owners would have expected them to rank higher. Chihuahuas were ranked in the category of fair intelligence. The Chihuahuas in the group were able to respond to a new command after the trainer repeated the command between 40 and 80 times. At that rate, it could take a Chihuahua a few hours to learn a new command. On the flip side, when a Chihuahua already knows a command, they have a response rate of 30 percent or better. Some owners believe that how the Chihuahua responds depends on the person giving the commands.
Some of the most popular dog breeds with the same intelligence level as the Chihuahua include:
- French Bulldog
- Great Pyrennes
- Saint Bernard
Chihuahuas vs. Other Dog Breeds
According to the Coren study, Chihuahuas ranked lower or below average in comparison to other dogs. Average dogs were learning new commands after hearing them between 25 and 40 times. The “average” dogs were learning commands almost twice as fast as the Chihuahuas in the group. Most dogs of other breeds will obey a command they’ve learned on the first attempt with a success rate of 50 percent. The percentage isn’t much higher than the Chihuahua, but it is higher. As a reference, some of the dog breeds that are considered to be average are:
- Australian Shepherd
- Bichon Frise
- Great Dane
- Siberian Husky
Why Chihuahuas Have a Low IQ Ranking
Coren’s study claims that Chihuahuas have a low IQ. However, Chihuahua owners have a different opinion. Chihuahuas scored lower on the intelligence scale because Coren mainly relied on kennel club judges that work in obedience trials. In this case, the dogs that performed the best, like Border Collies and other working dogs, are more likely to obey commands.
A Chihuahua’s Stubborn Streak
Although Chihuahuas are loyal and affectionate little dogs, most of them have one trait in common; they’re notorious for their stubborn streak. Chihuahuas are also strong-willed and don’t always obey commands from their owners. Here are some suggestions on working with your stubborn Chi:
- If you’re having problems getting your Chihuahua to obey, it’s likely your training method and not the dog. Training your Chi can be as easy as training any other pup with the correct approach. It takes more patience to train a dog that’s strong-willed and stubborn.
- Never force your Chihuahua to do anything. Trying to coerce your Chihuahua into doing something they don’t want to will bring out the stubborn streak. Negative reinforcement like punishing or scolding your Chihuahua or any dog should be a training method to avoid. Dogs respond to owners who treat them well, especially during training.
- Chihuahuas, like most dogs, are motivated by positive reinforcement dog training. Praise and petting from their owners for obeying commands is a great motivator. When your Chihuahua responds positively, enthusiastic praise and a favorite treat will encourage your pup to obey.
- Chihuahuas are strong-willed and stubborn, but they’re intelligent dogs that need patient, loving owners. The best way to get your Chihuahua to respond is with a firm yes or no, and positive reinforcement. Approach training your Chihuahua with a positive mindset. Be consistent and patient with your training, and it will be a positive experience for you and your pup. Using a positive approach makes the learning process faster. Positive reinforcement helps your dog to be more confident.
Tiny and Protective
Chihuahuas are one of the most loyal and affectionate tiny dog breeds. When they bark more than some other breeds, it’s not because they don’t love their owners. Chihuahuas bark because they’re attempting to protect their owners. These tiny dogs have different motivators than working dogs. They don’t have the working dog mentality like a Shetland Sheepdog or a German Shepherd.
Chihuahuas were bred to be companions and lapdogs. Chihuahuas often develop a strong bond with one member of their family and want to defend and protect the pack. The motivation for Chihuahuas is the love and devotion they have for their pack leader and their family members. They don’t really care about responding to commands as long as their family is safe. The devotion of these little dogs is a much better trait than being able to perform on command.
Reasons That Chihuahuas Are Intelligent
Stanley Coren’s research focused on working intelligence and obedience. However, even Coren admitted that there’s more to a dog’s IQ than these components. There’s more than adaptive and instinctive intelligence, at which Chihuahuas excel. Instinctive intelligence is the skill or ability that dogs were bred for. For example, some dogs are herders while others are retrievers. Herding dog breeds instinctively know how to drive animals. Herding is an instinctive skill.
Chihuahuas, Companionship, and Intelligence
In the Chihuahua’s case, these little dogs were bred to be companions. Chihuahuas have an amazing ability to understand the needs and emotions of their owners since that’s what they were bred for. A Chihuahua will often be incredibly cuddly and sweet with you when they sense you’re stressed or don’t feel well. A Chihuahua’s instinctive intelligence is being able to read your emotions and comfort you.
Adaptive Intelligence and Chihuahuas
One unique trait that Chihuahuas have is solving problems by themselves and learning from their past experiences. Many canine experts consider a dog’s adaptive intelligence to be the most significant component of their IQ. Most companion dogs have high adaptive intelligence. Chihuahuas have to learn to adapt to their situation.
Is Your Chihuahua Intelligent?
Dog owners may have differing opinions on the intelligence of their dogs. Some owners think that dogs that are carried around in a purse would suffer cognitive abilities. Most owners agree that their Chihuahuas are intelligent, adapt to new surroundings easily, and learn quickly. The majority of Chihuahua owners say that their dogs are brilliant, loyal, and train quickly with repetition.
Is a Chihuahua the Dog For You?
All dogs, including Chihuahuas, can be loving and loyal companions. No one should adopt a dog based on how smart they supposedly are. No matter the breed, all dogs are capable of learning with a patient owner that’s consistent with training. Chihuahuas are sweet little dogs that are loyal to their owners. They take their role as your best friend seriously. When you’re searching for your new furry friend, always choose your dog based on their personality and temperament.
1. What is the IQ of a Chihuahua?
According to the studies done by Stanley Coren, Chihuahuas rank 125th out of 138 breeds in terms of IQ. However, Coren based his conclusions on research conducted by trial judges of the American and Canadian kennel clubs. Most of the dog breeds in the study were herding and working dog breeds. Responding to their owner or trainer’s commands is part of their training.
2. Do Chihuahuas recognize their owners?
Yes. Chihuahuas do recognize their owners. Chihuahuas are loyal, affectionate little dogs that form strong bonds with their owners. They will often defend their favorite person in the family from other people and animals, sometimes even those in their families. They often gravitate toward and form a close bond with one person. Sometimes Chihuahuas bond with the person whose personality is most in sync with theirs.
The ways to bond with your Chihuahua are to keep your dog close to you while you’re watching TV. Buy a small dog carrier and go for walks with your Chi. Feed your pup on a regular schedule to keep stress levels even. Groom your friend and pet your dog a lot. Set a regular time for training and playing.
3. Are Chihuahuas hard to train?
Chihuahuas are cute, sweet, cuddly, and stubborn. They aren’t the easiest breed to train. Any dog owner should be loving and patient when training their pup and that’s especially true with Chihuahuas. This breed has a stubborn streak but they have high adaptive intelligence. Many companion dogs like Chihuahuas have high adaptive intelligence and can adapt to their environment quickly. One of the Chihuahua’s most positive aspects is that when these little dogs learn a command they have a higher response rate than some other breeds. Some people believe that how well a Chihuahua responds to training depends on the person giving the commands.
4. What is the stupidest breed of dog?
It’s unfair to consider some dogs stupid when dogs are like humans in one respect, some of us are better at some things than others. Most dog breeds are around 150 years old so there isn’t a lot of research to determine the intelligence of different breeds. The Basset Hound is rated as the least intelligent. The designation is likely because Bassetts are more interested in getting scents from the ground than listening to their owners.