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Are Dachshunds Smart? – Here’s Why They Rank Low For Dog Intelligence

If you’re planning to bring home a Dachshund, you’ve made a great decision! These German dog breeds are friendly and affectionate, with a little bit of spunk. But potential owners may be wondering just how intelligent these little badger dogs really are.

So, are Dachshunds smart? According to canine psychologist and pHD, Stanley Coren, Dachshunds are classified as dogs with “average” working & obedience dog intelligence. In fact, they’re ranked the 92nd smartest dog breed out of 138 purebred dog breeds. 

Though Dachshunds are considered “average” in dog IQ, there are many reasons why they’re actually smart dogs. Just because they didn’t perform superb in Coren’s intelligence trials doesn’t mean they’re not an intelligent dog breed. Let’s examine why.

RECOMMENDED: 100 Smartest Dog Breeds Ranked

How We Measure a Dachshund’s Intelligence

Dachshunds are more intelligent than Coren's rankings, but how do we measure how smart a Dachshund is?

The dog intelligence list is largely credited to Stanley Coren, a researcher, pHD and prominent canine psychologist. However, he did have some help.

Coren contacted all the North American obedience trial judges from the Canadian and American Kennel Club to ask for help. To his surprise, nearly 200 obedience trial judges agreed to participate.

He asked the obedience judges to assess and rank various dog breeds based on his own criteria.

Stanley Coren’s Dog Intelligence Criteria

To fully understand why Dachshunds ranked so low in Coren’s dog intelligence rankings, we must first understand the criteria used by the renowned psychologist.

His trials were based on the following:

  1. How many repetitions it took for a dog breed to learn a new, unknown command. As you may have guessed, fewer repetitions meant a smarter dog.
  2. The success rate in which a dog breed will obey a known command on the first attempt. Breeds with a higher success rate ranked better on the dog intelligence list.

Coren made sure that only dog breeds with at least 100 responses qualified for his final dog intelligence ranking list. With that said, 138 different dogs qualified. Because of how popular Dachshunds are, they had no problem qualifying.

In addition, only breeds recognized by the AKC or CKC were allowed to participate in the trials. This means no mixed dog breeds, either.

How the Dachshund Performed

Based on Coren’s criteria, the Dachshund was the 92nd best performing dog breed. This means that the Dachshund was able to understand and learn a new command with 25 to 40 repetitions

On the other hand, a Dachshund is able to successfully obey a known command on the first attempt with only a 50% or better success rate. Not too bad at all. However, this is still considered “average” among dogs. 

For reference, many other popular dog breeds are in the same intelligence class as the Dachshund.

The Australian Shepherd, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Siberian Husky, Great Dane, Havanese, Boxer are all average intelligent dogs. There’s nothing wrong with being average.

Dachshunds vs. The Smartest Dogs

Now that we have a good understanding of what an average dog is, how do Dachshunds compare to the “smartest” dogs in the world?

Breeds in the bright dogs group are able to learn a new command with just 5 to 15 repetitions. In addition, bright dogs are able to obey a known command on the first try with an 85% or better success rate

For reference, other dogs in the bright dogs category include: both Corgi breeds, Cocker Spaniel, Brittany and the Pomeranian.

The top 10 smartest dogs are on another level. They’re able to learn a new command with less than 5 repetitions! Also, the top 10 dogs are able to obey a known command with a 95% or better success rate

The dog breeds in the top 10 category include the Rottweiler, Golden Retriever, German Shepherd, Poodle and the Border Collie (at the number 1 spot). 

Is Your Dachshund Smart?

We asked real Dachshund owners: Is your dog smart?

To get a better ideal of how smart Dachshunds are, we asked real Dachshund owners what they thought about their dog’s intelligence.

To do this, we surveyed the popular Dachshund sub reddit and other dog forums for responses to this question. Here’s what the Dachshund owners had to say.

Real Owner Answers

1. Jvfricke says Yes: “This might just be because I talk to [my Dachshund] a lot (I live alone, he’s basically my roommate) but he has a huge vocabulary and I’ve become very good at reading his reactions so that I know he hears most of what I say.”

2. Thathockeychick23 says No: “These dogs are very tough to train. Trust me, I have a mini dachshund. We have to have someone come in and train him cause obedience school did not do anything for him.”

3. Perplexed89 says Yes: “My Frodo-Dodo dachshund is the best bud I’ve ever had. So smart and loyal. Never leaves my side.”

4. Maloohree says Yes: “My doxie talks all the time. She does this little howl when she wants her toys out of the toy bin or when she wants them brought to her on the couch. She will howl when I walk in the door. Also when she wants food, water or to go outside.”

5. Ioakuas says Mixed: “I’ve had two doxies in my life… and of the two, one was very intelligent and the other was colossally stupid.”

6. Kjohnson says No: “I just don’t think these dogs are a very smart breed. Ours is dumber than a rock. He’s almost 4 and still has accidents in the house, even after we give him plenty of outside time. He’s a brat too!”

7. Calmiche says Yes: “Mine has quite a few words she recognizes. Including; Walk, Outside, Treat, Food, Water, Shower, Bed Time and several names of her favorite toys. She’ll actually go and find specific toys if I name them, which is interesting.”

8. Lish says Yes: “Dachshunds are very smart dogs. Dachshunds can be very stubborn, but very loving dogs.”

9. Joannaduplessess says Yes: “Dachshunds are in no way dumb. They can be stubborn and strong willed, but it’s because they like to do things on their own time. They learn very well when you least expect it.”

10. Anonymous says No: “I bought 2 mini dachshunds last year.I never could get them potty trained.I would take the outside,and they would wait until we came back into the house to use the bathroom.They also like to tear up everything in my house.”

Owners Survey Recap

Most of these owners tell us a different story when it comes to their Dachshund’s intelligence. Though it’s a small sample size, 6 out of 10 owners believed their Dachshund was actually smart!

On the other hand, 3 Dachshund owners thought their dog was not very intelligent. Only one owner experienced mixed results. In his case, one Dachshund was smart and the other wasn’t. 

Why Dachshunds Rank Low in Intelligence

There are a number of reasons why Dachshunds performed so poorly in Coren's intelligence trials.

One of the biggest complaints from Dachshund owners is that they’re stubborn little dogs. Though not all Dachshunds are stubborn, it’s more common than you think. 

The problem with a stubborn Dachshund is that they’re not always willing to cooperate in obedience training. They won’t do it just for the sake of “working.”

And because Coren’s intelligence tests are heavily based on obedience, we can understand why Dachshunds would perform poorly.

However, just because your Dachshund doesn’t obey your command on the first try doesn’t mean they don’t understand you and what you’re saying.

One experienced dog foster parent tells us:

I’ve fostered tons of dogs in my lifetime, but none as stubborn as the Dachshund.

– Uhhhlaneuh (Reddit User)

Some Dachshunds will do what they want, and not because you (the owner) have given a command. It really depends on the individual dog.

When it comes to Dachshunds, the key is to shower them with a lot of affection and love. If you love your Dachshund unconditionally, they’ll begin to start opening up and cooperating.

This won’t happen overnight and will require some patience with your dog. Always train with positive reinforcement, as it works (by far) the best with Dachshunds. 

There are certainly some limitations to the way Coren designed his trials. And although we think it’s a good place to start, it certainly doesn’t truly measure a dog’s intelligence. 

Why Dachshunds Are Smart

Dachshunds are smart in more ways than just obedience training.

Real owners will tell you that Dachshunds are fantastic at communicating with humans. They understand their owners very well and are unusually good at telling them what they want. 

But when it comes to measuring true dog IQ, there are two other important components: instinctive and adaptive intelligence.

I would argue these dimensions are even more important than obedience and working intelligence, which were used for Coren’s trials.

The Ultimate Badger Hunters

Instinctive intelligence refers to the ability or special skill that the dog was bred with. For example, Corgis were bred to be herding dogs. Thus, their instinctive intelligence is herding.

The ability to naturally push and guide livestock towards different directions requires this special type of intelligence. Corgis were born with this ability (without human training) because breeders bred them that way.

Similarly, Dachshunds were bred to be badger hunters. In fact, they’re one of the fiercest and most aggressive hunters. It’s why they’re so good at their jobs.

Their instinctive intelligence is the ability to track down badgers with their noses and flush them out of their burrows. Plus, having elongated bodies and short legs help them efficiently maneuver through the burrows.

They’re so good at hunting badgers, the American Kennel Club tried to rebrand them as “badger dogs.” That being said, the world’s smallest hunting dogs have extremely high instinctive intelligence.

Dachshund’s Adaptive Intelligence

The final dimension of dog intelligence is adaptive intelligence. This type of smartness refers to the dog’s ability to learn for itself. Is the dog good at solving problems? Do they learn from past mistakes and experiences?

Though adaptive intelligence can vary within a dog breed, Dachshunds generally score well in this department.

For example, Dachshunds are capable of understanding a huge vocabulary, which is why they’re so adept in the communication department.

A Reddit user tells us exactly what we mean. He posted:

I could tell he wanted something… So I ran through in escalating order of things he likes to see if that’s what he wanted. When I went to “water” he lost his mind and ran to his bowl and sure enough, he just ran out of water.

This Dachshund made sure that the owners knew exactly what he wanted. What a smart dog indeed!

Another Doxie owner (and The Smart Canine reader) explains to us:

Bella, our doxie is not great with obedience. But things she does like bringing us the remote when she wants to watch TV makes us think she’s super smart. And yes, she loves staring at the TV.

– Cindy Y. (Dachshund owner)

These are just two examples of high adaptive intelligence with Dachshunds. However, there are plenty more. Doxies do these type of things all the time – just ask any owner!

And if your Dachshund has demonstrated something that makes you think he or she is highly intelligent, please leave a comment in the section below!

Are Dachshunds For Me?

It’s important that when you choose a dog breed, you don’t decide based on an “expert” calling one dog breed intelligent.

Dogs really don’t need to be that smart. Most dog breeds, including the Dachshund, are more than capable of giving you what you need. 

Instead of asking how smart Dachshunds are, you should be asking, does a Dachshund’s personality and temperament fit mine? It’s more important that Dachshunds are compatible with you and your family.

With that said, Dachshunds are one of the most loving breeds you can find. They can be a little mischievous at times, but it’s all part of their charm. They’re the ultimate German lap dog.

If you still feel like Dachshunds are right for you, then you should absolutely get one! 

Do you own a Dachshund? Let us know, is your Dachshund smart? Leave a comment in the section below!

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Donna Glover

Saturday 29th of May 2021

I have 3 dachshunds. They adapt quickly to things even though they don't like change. They are very smart and yes very stubborn. I believe this to be why people think they are stupid. Patience is key with this breed along with lots of attention and love. If they get mad or their feelings hurt, they will act out by chewing things up or pottying in the house. They are a full-time job but come with more love and joy than you can imagine. They learn words and tone of voice quickly. They always want to be with you everywhere you go. Yes, especially the bathroom. I have had a couple of different dogs growing up. German Shepard, Chow and Spaniel but my favorite is my Dachshunds!

Arleen

Saturday 15th of May 2021

Yes Dachshunds are stubborn but smart. My mini dachshund was number 2 in the US in 2015 in obedience. When she got her CDX she came in first out of 17 dogs. Affectionate beyond belief. Patience and understanding. As long as they know who is boss and they know you is the alpha dog, they do like to please. Consistency is key. Once they learn something they have it. I potty trained my dog in a week using a bell on the door. Dachshunds are food motivated so training for me was not a problem. If they know that they are going to get a treat for going outside to do their business guess what they will go outside. I can train my dachshund to do anything. Just be consistent, kind and reward with a treat. I have done agility, obedience, rally and dancing with your dog. My back room is full of ribbons. When you succeed with a stubborn breed it is very rewarding. Do more with your dog then sitting on the sofa.

Barbara Wilson

Monday 3rd of May 2021

My dachshund is very smart. He runs the house. I buy him rawhide made in the USA, and when I introduced him to Bully Sticks, he now refuses to chew the rawhide. When I change his water every day, I will tell him to drink water, and he comes over and drinks. I tell him to get his favorite toy, and he goes through the toy box and gets his favorite toy. If I mention UPS, Postman, or FedEx, he will bark. I will ask him if he needs to potty, and he will go to the door if he has to potty. I trained him in two weeks when he was a puppy on pee pads, and I got him at 8 weeks old. At 6 months old, I had no problem telling me he needed to potty, and then we went outside. The only problem I have with him is he is afraid of people and thank God we don't have many visitors. I sent him to puppy school, and I hired a trainer, but nothing helped. We love him and put up with the problem. He loves my husband, and he follows him everywhere. That's my husband's baby.

Martin

Wednesday 14th of April 2021

Absolutely agree. I had 2 dachshunds in my life - thebsecond is 4 years old now. Both of them are-were absolutely inteligent.

It is just that they are kind of more smart for themselves.

The iq benchmark you are mentioning says that the dogs are smart if they obey.

But from the stuborn dachshunds view - he would be stupid to obey you just like that for no obviois reason :)

They are absolutely amazing little dogs - I absolutely love them...

Fantain

Wednesday 24th of March 2021

I think that dumb obedience is not a sign of intelligence. My 9 month old dachshund knows when a treat is being used to get him to do something and when it is just a treat. He won’t take a treat if I try to use it to get him to come to me. He knows it is a trick and means I am going to put him back on his lead. He likes to thread things through his plastic ring, his ball, rope and even tries to thread his blanket through it. He knows his toys by name and goes fetch them correctly when I say their name. He is a very smart dog. I actually like his stubbornness and self-determination. We would admire it in a human!