Close this search box.

Are Poodles Smart? How Do You Measure A Dog’s Intelligence?

Enter your email below to get the FREE "7 Day Happy Dog Challenge" eBook

Table of Contents

Poodles are among the smartest dog breeds. And that is a fact. They are in a group with Border Collie, German Shepherd, Australian Shepherd, Labrador Retriever, Doberman Pinscher, and more. Poodles have the two best qualities that make them service dogs. Those are their intelligence and willingness to please. But let’s talk about whether are Poodles smart.

This might not be a surprise for a Poodle owner, but these dogs are amazing. They learn so fast it is admirable.

Poodle Personality Traits

Before we can talk about whether are Poodles smart, let’s take a look at the personality traits that make Poodles such amazing pets. These traits apply to any size variant, be it Standard Poodle, Toy Poodle, or a Miniature Poodle. Often, their mixes inherit some of these personality traits as well.

Some of the most common Poodle mixes include the Pitbull mix, Labrador Retriever mix, Golden Retriever mix, Siberian Husky, and more.

With that in mind, here is a breakdown of their common personality traits.

  • Highly intelligent dogs, they are quick learners that excel in obedience training
  • Lively and energetic dogs that need constant mental stimulation and physical exercise
  • This might surprise you, but they are alert and watchful, able to notice the smallest changes in their environment
  • Friendly and sociable dogs, they get along with people and other animals. But they do display a mood like they are better than everyone in public
  • Affectionate puppies that love to be part of family activities
  • Versatile dogs that can excel in different activities, ranging from therapy dogs to service dogs and dog agility sports
  • Sensitive to their surrounding and the emotions of people around them
  • Playful dogs with a fun-loving nature that love to be entertained


How Smart Are Poodles?

It is no question whether are Poodles smart. The only question is how smart are they? Well, according to some studies, the average dog breed can learn about 165 words and count to four or five.

Poodles, on the other hand, take this to a whole new level. Psychologist Stanley Coren, who created the ranking of smartest dog breeds, says Poodles are capable of learning 250 words, performing basic math, and understanding signals.

Coren studied dog intelligence for many years, and published the books The Intelligence of Dogs and How Dogs Think.

They rank at Number 2, only behind Border Collie.

Understanding Dogs Intelligence

According to Stanley Coren, there are three categories of canine intelligence. Let’s look at them.

Instinctive Intelligence

This type of canine intelligence refers to the ability of a dog in performing the task people bred them to do. For example, Poodles were bred to be water retrievers and bring back birds that their dog owner hunted.

Here is a fun fact. This dog originates from Germany. There, the word for the breed is Pudel, referring to making splashing noises in a body of water. The French, who fell in love with the dog to the point of making it the national dog, originally called it “Duck Dog”.

Adaptive Intelligence

Adaptive intelligence is the ability of a smart dog to modify its behavior based on previous experiences. This is the core of classical conditioning and positive reinforcement dog training.

Dogs with high adaptive intelligence can learn quickly and easily from previous experiences and mistakes. The higher the intelligence, the quicker it is for dogs to learn. Dogs with lower intelligence need several repetitions before they learn.

Working Or Obedience Intelligence

There is a reason why some dogs are called working dogs. A working dog has a high obedience intelligence, an ability to learn and retain training commands, and other things that humans teach them.

And we can attest to that. Bring a Poodle to a learning class, and you will see how it learns everything on the first, second, or maximum third try.


How Coren Measured Poodle’s Intelligence?

According to Coren, Poodles are in the Number 2 spot of the ranking smartest dog breeds. Only the Border Collie is above.

He called for help from 199 obedience trial judges from The American Kennel Club and UKC, and made test criteria based on obedience intelligence and working intelligence.

Essentially, he was measuring the dog’s ability to learn. This is why many dogs do not make the list, because they might not be as willing to work and please as working dog breeds. For example, I can tell you a Jack Russell is quite smart, but he is not as willing to work and listen to you. Independent dogs with characters rarely make the list. But Jacks have amazing adaptive intelligence.

Back to Coren’s criteria, he and the judges assessed and ranked each dog based on two things:

  • The number of repetitions a dog breed needed to learn a new command
  • The success rate in percentage that a dog breed will understand and obey a known command on the first attempt

Poodles beat popular breeds such as the Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, German Shepherd, Rottweiler, Doberman Pinscher, and many more.

The Standard Poodle was able to learn a new command in less than five repetitions. And it had a 95% success rate in obeying known commands.

Is Your Poodle Smarter Than You?

When you look at the intelligence of Poodles, you can easily think they are smarter than humans. But no, they are not smarter than a healthy adult human. Yet, they might seem more intelligent than toddlers.

According to Coren’s scenario, it might be possible for people to have a conversation with a Miniature Poodle, Toy Poodle, or Standard Poodle.

Dutch Cut 1024x797 1

How Long Does It Take For Poodles To Learn?

There are always factors that can determine how long a dog needs to learn a certain command or cue. These factors include, yet are not limited to distraction in the environment, motivation, trust in the person training them, bond with their owner, and so on.

Assuming everything is the same, Poodles can learn a command five times faster than other breeds. The only dog that is better is the Border Collie.

How To Improve Your Dog’s Intelligence?

We said before Poodles are smart. But you can also improve the intelligence of your Poodle puppy. How to do that? Well, you can encourage your dog to use its brain. Often, people forget about mental stimulation when it comes to the exercise needs of a certain dog breed.

To boost your Poodle’s intelligence, play games, use dog puzzles, use food dispensing toys, change up your training technique, try to learn different commands, change your routine in learning, expose your puppy to other dogs, provide regular exercise, and so on.

So, to keep your Poodle on its paws, switch up the typical training, exercise, and routine. Frequent exercise can improve the thinking skills of your dog.

You Might Also Like:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *