Are Chihuahuas smart dogs? Do you struggle to train your Chihuahua? How do we know if our Chihuahuas are struggling to learn or simply training us?
However, their most significant proof of intelligence is they are great people trainers. Polly and Porky have trained everyone they come in contact with very well. Every human in their lives know what every little scratch, shake, whine, or even head tilt means. And we all respond to those cues immediately! Talk about fantastic people-training skills!
Are Chihuahuas smarter than other dogs?
There is a study by neuropsychologist and professor of psychology, Stanley Cohen, that says Chihuahuas are classified as fair or below average for working/obedience dog intelligence. Chihuahuas are actually ranked 125th out of 138 breeds tested.
However, we would say that low ranking is actually proof they are smart. Chihuahuas have fooled us into thinking they cannot be obedient.
In Dr. Cohen’s study, Chihuahuas ranked higher than the Beagle and twelve other breeds out of 132 breeds tested. Honestly, in our opinion though, ranking a dog’s intelligence by his obedience response is probably not the best indicator of intelligence. Some dogs are incredibly smart, but not motivated properly to be obedient. After-all, just as people are unique, individual dogs are unique and will find different things motivating. So, if the study was using food motivators, for example, any dog that is not food motivated would not perform well in the study.
Some other questions to consider when testing for working and obedience intelligence are, were all of the trainers created equal? Was the reward high value for that particular dog? Was the Chihuahua nervous? There are so many variables when ranking IQ’s. One big variable is genetics. Two of the same breed from different lines could have completely different IQ testing results. How many of the same breed did they test?
You can find more on the study here.
What do you think? Is your Chihuahua smart?
Here are some simple questions to answer and tests to try to determine your Chihuahua’s unique intelligence. We would love to hear how your Chihuahua performed in the comments! Simply answer “yes” or “no” to each of the questions below, then give your “yes” answers one point each, and divide by 13 (the total possible points). We’ll call that score an “unofficial Chihuahua IQ test”!
- Can your Chihuahua escape from an x-pen if you close the door but leave it unlatched?
- Does your Chihuahua remember commands you have not practiced in a month?
- Can your Chihuahua solve a food enrichment puzzle toy?
- Does your Chihuahua snuggle with you when you are upset?
- Does your Chihuahua know when you are getting ready to leave the house?
- Can your Chihuahua find a toy or piece of food you hid?
- Does your Chihuahua know how to get attention whenever he wants it?
- Does your Chihuahua have self-preservation and know how to stay safe? For example, one of our tiny Chi’s will walk alongside a wall to get to the potty area so our big dogs cannot run over her.
- Does your Chihuahua initiate play?
- Can your Chihuahua learn and perform tricks?
- Does your Chihuahua manipulate you? As an example, maybe you find yourself sleeping in a certain position just so your Chihuahua can be warm and comfortable.
- Does your Chihuahua recognize his surroundings?
- Have you noticed your Chihuahua can learn by watching?
But what if my Chihuahua is hard to train?
One of our Chihuahuas can learn and perform tricks as good as any Border Collie, but coming when called if there is something gross to roll in… well maybe not so much. She might get a quick roll in first. Does that indicate intelligence? Yes, of course it does. She’s smart enough to know what she wants, and if that means at the moment it requires her to be disobedient (ahem, ignore her recall/come when called), then that’s what she is going to do! The smelly stuff outweighs coming when called. Any dog that is smart enough to understand which option is more rewarding is a very smart dog.
How can you tell if your Chihuahua is smart?
Intelligence testing a Chihuahua or any breed that might not be as willing to work without reward should probably be more cognitive. Give these dogs puzzles to solve and see how they stack up against the so-called ‘brightest’ dogs. A fun cognition test to play with your Chihuahuas can be found on dognition.com. They have 20 games designed by scientists, trainers and behavioral specialists.
So, are Chihuahuas hard to train because of lack of intelligence or are Chihuahuas smart?
We have learned that Chihuahuas can be very stubborn and they are one-person dogs. So for that one very special, lucky person they might come when called… if they have been trained with the right motivators. But they will not typically come when called for anyone else. Well, unless that other person is holding a meatball. That’s how smart those adorable little Chihuahuas are.
Don’t forget to share your Chihuahua’s test results in the comments! And let us know any fun, training stories (of you training your Chihuahua or your Chihuahua training people) in the comments too!