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Are Corgis Smart Dogs? Here’s Why They’re Highly Intelligent Dogs

Depending on the variation of Corgi, they are some of the smartest dogs.

If you’re thinking about keeping a Corgi, it’s essential to do your due diligence. This includes research on vaccinations, diet regimens, exercise, temperament and more. But as a potential Corgi owner, you may be wondering: are Corgis smart dogs? If so, how smart are they?

Yes, Corgis are extremely smart dog breeds. Both the Cardigan and Pembroke Welsh Corgis are classified as “bright dogs” according to famed researcher, Stanley Coren. However, in Coren’s dog intelligence rankings, Pembroke Welsh Corgis scored better and ranked higher than the Cardigan.

Still, both variations of the Corgi are considered highly intelligent. But what really makes them “smarter” than other dog breeds? 

RECOMMENDED: 100 Most Intelligent Dog Breeds

How We Measure a Corgi’s Intelligence

Stanley Coren measured dog intelligence based on two criteria that the Corgi excelled at.

There’s a lot of ways dogs can be “smart.” Likewise, there are many ways we can measure intelligence in dogs. But since were going by Stanley Coren’s rankings, here’s how he did it. 

Stanley Coren based his dog rankings on these two factors:

  1. The number of repetitions it took a dog breed to learn a new command. 
  2. The percentage that a dog breed will successfully obey a known command on the first attempt. 

Coren contacted obedience judges from both the American and Canadian Kennel Club to help with his trials. In total, he received nearly 200 responses, representing half of the judges in North America at the time. 

Furthermore, only dog breeds that received 100 evaluations from these judges were taken into consideration for his dog intelligence rankings.

Now we don’t necessarily agree that this is the best method for measuring a dog breed’s intelligence. However, it’s a good starting point and base reference. For more information, check out his book on Dog Intelligence here

How Did the Corgi Perform?

Both varieties of the Corgi performed very well in Coren’s trials. As previously mentioned, both the Cardigan and Pembroke Corgi were classified as “bright dogs.” For reference, there are only 20 dog breeds in this category. But what exactly does that mean?

Both Corgi breeds were able to learn a new command with just 5 to 15 repetitions. What’s more impressive is that they’re both able to perform a known command on the first attempt with an 85% success rate.

This is incredible! The Corgi breeds passed with flying colors, safely securing themselves as the top 30 smartest dog breeds in the world. Other popular dogs in the bright dogs category include the Pomeranian, Bernese Mountain Dog, Cocker Spaniel and the Standard Schnauzer.

Corgi vs. The “Average” Dog

Needless to say, not all dog breeds performed as well these the Corgis. Not every dog breed can be above average in intelligence. So, how did the average dog breed do compared to the Corgi breeds?

A dog breed with average intelligence will need between 25 to 40 repetitions in order to learn a new command. Additionally, average dogs will be able to obey a known command on the first try with a 50% success rate.

The means that the Corgi learns between 2 to 8 times faster than the average dog! Likewise, they’ll have a 70% increase in likelihood of obeying a known command on the first try. 

For reference, dogs in the “average intelligent” category include breeds like the Great Dane, Australian Shepherd, Siberian Husky, Boxer and Havanese.

Owners: Is Your Corgi Smart?

We surveyed real Corgi owners and asked them, is your Corgi smart?

It’s great that Corgis performed so well in Coren’s obedience trials. But are they really smart dog breeds? The best way to gauge their intelligence is to ask real Corgi owners themselves. We’ve surveyed real owners from the popular Corgi sub reddit

Here’s what they had to say to the question:

1. Mutoid says [YES]: “They’re a lot of fun and the high intelligence means you can train them to do some really fun tricks. Like other herding dogs they’re very high energy and need to get their daily exercise.”

2. Curigcorgis says [YES]: “They are crazy smart and understand a situation quickly… BUT that doesn’t mean they’re going to be easily trained to do what you want. As herding dogs they need to think for themselves and these guys certainly do that.”

3. Tokisushi says [YES]: “Corgis are highly intelligent dogs. Many (if not most) NEED to be mentally challenged to be happy. Try incorporating more activities that require brain work into your routine.”

4. Happyft says [YES]: “In terms of trainability, they’re quite intelligent – they may not be on anyone’s top 10 smartest breed list, but my little girl catches on pretty quick. This means she’s also really good at escaping whatever enclosure I put her in…She also once tricked me into lying down by pretending that she lost something under the couch, in order to lick my face.”

5. Americasnexttopramen says [YES]: “I’m amazed at how intelligent [my corgi] is, but also very persistent, vocal, and difficult to calm down at times.”

6. Shir01kabocha says [YES]: “But the energy and intelligence [that Corgis] have as a herding breed can be challenging to manage. They can be quite independent and willful.”

7. Axollot says [YES]: “Corgis are very smart…My girl has to use a leash. She hates it. She must know why she has to wear it and what will get it removed. Using logic, while off leash for 1st time and she was slipping around out if the yard? All I had to do was say, do you want back on the leash? For her to come and sit.”

8. Mr_oberts says [YES]: “The important thing to know is that they are smarter than you and they know it.”

9. Sparklerainbowduck says [YES]: “they’re smart and they know exactly what they need to do to get what they want. If they’re not mentally and physically exercised, they will own you.”

10. Trexarms9104 says [YES]: “My corgi leaned so many tricks very quickly. I just love how smart they are!! That’s a very good doggo you have there.”

11. Poodermom says [YES]: “Corgis generally smart, loyal and very cuddly. I have 2 Pembroke Welsh corgis. They need plenty of exercise and love to play. One of my boys has a problem with arthritis in his lower back, but it’s easily managed.”

12. Bobiv says [YES]: “Corgis are very smart and equally as stubborn. As such they will learn bad behavior just as fast (or faster) than they will learn good behavior.”

Owners Survey Recap

Yes, I know this survey is not a great sample size. However, I still had an incredibly difficult time finding a Corgi owner that thought his or her dog wasn’t smart. In our survey, all 12 Corgi owners believed their dog was highly intelligent.

In this case, Coren’s intelligence trials showed these dogs are smart and owners corroborate the idea. 

Owning a Smart Corgi

Here are the major problems that arise with owning an intelligent Corgi.

Both owners and researchers believe Corgis are smart. But is it really that great owning a smart dog breed? We’ve followed up with some real owners to ask for their opinion. Here’s what most had to say about dealing with these dog’s high intelligence.

Stubborn Corgi

There’s no doubt Corgis are very smart, but they’re equally as stubborn. Corgis are smart and they know it, which may explain why they develop their own thoughts and ideas. And sometimes, they’re a little too persistent with their own ideas.

The key to dealing with this is to be consistent in obedience training. You’ll need a lot of patience, but it’s absolutely necessary. Without proper training, they’ll take advantage of you when they can. 

A Corgi owner named Jennifer gives her stubborn Corgi story: “So smart, but SO Stubborn! He knows when I am about to leave or go to bed and jets under the couch, refusing to come out for hours! I don’t understand why she doesn’t respond to the “come” command if she doesn’t want to. She won’t even look at me if I look under the couch at her! She does what she wants!”

Blessing & Curse

According to Coren, Corgis are fantastic learners given the right motivators. They’re able to learn a new command with just 5 to 15 repetitions. But their ability to learn is a blessing and a curse. Not only do they quickly pick up on good behavior, but also the bad ones. 

For example, it could take you 5 minutes to teach a corgi to “shake” or “lay down.” Maybe 10 minutes to teach him to “roll over.” However, it can take months of hand feeding your Corgi to teach them to not be food aggressive around you.

Though it’s simple teaching a Corgi to not take food off the table. Many Corgis will interpret and learn that any dropped food is free for all. Jennifer mentions that her Corgi has been caught trying to knock food off the table onto the floor to swoop in and grab. 

Does Owning a Smart Corgi Matter?

Sometimes it's best to own a dog breed that's not as smart as the Corgi. Here's why.

All in all, Corgis are smart. Sometimes, they’re a little too smart for their own good. But does owning a smart dog breed matter? Many owners make the argument that they prefer a dog that’s not too intelligent. It’s just easier dealing with a less intelligent dog breed.

However, it’s not always a great idea picking a dog breed based on how intelligent they are. All dogs will be “smart” enough to give you what you need. Instead, it’s better to see if the breed’s temperament and personality matches yours.

Both the Cardigan and Pembroke Welsh Corgis are affectionate, loyal and alert dogs. Because they’re herding dogs, they have a ton of energy that needs to be dealt with. Failure to provide them with daily exercise can lead to some destructive behavior with these dogs. 

Corgis also have double coats, meaning they’re excessive shedders. If you’re allergic to dogs, then it’s best you pick out one of these 55 hypoallergenic dog breeds. And if you don’t have time to properly groom them, then be ready to deal with fur everywhere. Literally, everywhere. 

If after all this, you still want a Corgi – go for it! They’re great companion dogs and some of the best dogs in the world.

Do you own a Pembroke or Cardigan Welsh Corgi? Let us know what you think about your Corgi’s intelligence. Leave a comment in the section below!

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