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

Dachshunds are smart, but not according to Stanley Coren's obedience working intelligence rankings.
Written by Richard Jeng

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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About the author

Richard Jeng

Richard has been raising dogs his whole life, including a Poodle, Pomeranian, Corgi and Australian Shepherd. He's always working with animal shelters and dog rescues because of his passion for all dogs. Fun fact: his all time favorite breed is the German Shepherd.

12 Comments

  • I’ve had three Dachshies, two girls (Nubia and Caira) who already passed away of old age 🙁 and my current one Anubis, my boy. In my experience, all three where very mischievous from a couple months old through the age of 2-3 years where they transition from their “youth” stage to adulthood. Once that transition occurs you will experience a companion like no other. Dachshunds can be what I call Velcro-dogs! They can become your shadow, being with you all the time, going with you everywhere, even sleeping with you if allowed. They are very funny companions as well. All three had the tendency of communicating extremely well. For example, when Anubis wanted something, he comes to me, gets my attention and then looks or points to the area of his interest repeatedly until you catch on. Anubis also watches me have conversations with my mother and even starts to make noises that give the impression he’s trying to speak! Some patience is required but ultimately worth it!

    • Have a beautiful one year old dachshund beagle mix. She does look mostly dachshund and chairs some personality traits of both breeds. She was extremely smart and I was able to train her to ring a bell to go to the bathroom within three weeks of having her. When I come home she rips around the house super excited to see me as if to impress me with her speed and agility. When she gets out of breath finally I tell her go get some water Hazel, she immediately turns for her water bowl. She knows many commands and tricks including the all difficult rollover harder for long dogs lol and she demonstrates a very affectionate loving relationship now wait for me but her boyfriend Hans my large beige cat. She’s even smart enough to know that every day at a certain time if someone’s not home the fake a potty bell ring just to go outside and stare at the driveway to see if all the cars look like they there. You asked me she’s too smart for her own good and far more often the not knows what I’m saying another wants to do it or decides to completely ignore me lol 😂😅

  • We have a blue piebald (one year old), Charlie, and an 11 year old Chihuahua, jojo. We just purchased an 8 week old, creme male piebald.

    I had never had a dachshund (mini) and I just adore them. Charlie started bringing his bowl to me when he’s hungry. This was last week, which was why I googled your sight. He is like a little mischievous child but obeys me practically 100% of the time.
    He sleeps with my daughter and has been since we brought him home. He follows us everywhere, sleeps on our lap during television time. He’s incredibly playful. He’s potty trained to use the backyard and wee wee pads.
    Now with our new puppy, I can say that the breed is very determined and lives to explore the world. Our melee puppy already does his business on the wee wee pads, so hopefully it will stick.
    We just wanted Charlie to have a companion.

  • If I was a dog I’d ignore my owner and be whatever the breeds DNA dictates. In fact dogs of any breed are way smarter than man will ever be. The main problem with this survey it’s useless in the fact that the numbers are way to low. You’re going to judge a particular Dog after reviews of a couple hundred people is NOT a reliable survey. Now if you would like to know if a particular dog is smarter than the other I’d start a survey with at least 10,000 reviews. I had a Dachshund, smart as a whip. I fish a lot and after 3 boating days fishing he figured out with no push from me , he already had the fishing bug. He learned to watch the bobber and when it went down he would go nuts. Another example is that we visit Copper Harbor in Michigan. At the marina surrounded by trees there was a small opening there to access the trails around Lake Superior, after a couple of trips there he hightailed to the small opening.upon seeing this I began to park father away to see if it was just a lark and wherever I parked he ran for the opening. Pretty good for being 10 inches tall.

    • Hey Josh, we agree with you that the way Stanley Coren measured “dog intelligence” is flawed in many ways. What’s more important are adaptive and instinctive intelligence, which unfortunately, is not easy to objectively measure. I have no doubt your Dachshund was one smart dog!

  • I have 2 Marcy and Frankie. I got Marcy at 6 months and Frankie at 10 months. They are about 3 years apart. I have trained Marcy to go to her kennel just by pointing to the room. She lets me know when she has to go outside and come in. She knows not to run to the front door when someone rings the door bell but stays 10 feet away. She will come to my whistle and understands to heel. When we got Frankie she helped in trained him and made sure he knew what he had to do by following her lead. If at night he had to go he would let us know and he would do what he had to do and go back to bed. When it is time for bed I just tell them and they go to there kennel. When I have to go to work I let them let them know and they head to the kennel . So over all they are very smart.

  • Yes a Doxie can be stubborn and frustrating, and sometimes all the time spent training at the club, at home and in parking lots goes up in flames but they are not dumb. I say this because mine are bi-lingual. I am a US citizen and my current 3 doxies, 7/5 and 2, were all born in Germany and we still live here. They live in a German environment, and all 3 were slowly introduced to both German (the wife) and English commands and phrases as soon as we were able to bring them home at 9 weeks old. I always tell folks with a big smile, “gotta have patience, they are gonna try and do it their way”

  • Doxies do not lack intelligence. They are sneaky and try to outsmart mom and dad. I have been mom to 11 so far and they have all been different. Doxies are more interested in pleasing themselves than pleasing you. But they are so good at getting what they want, how can you resist the cuteness.They do have selective hearing and a huge vocabulary. They just decide when to use it. I have one doxie that is very human. She doesn’t have the usual dachshund traits. She wants to mommy everyone. Especially me. She is so sweet and kind and patient. Out of my 11, no 2 personalities have been the same. Well actually they do try to see what they can get out of you. Not too stupid.

  • My sweet wirehair doxie, Badger, was with me for 15 years. Nearly killed me to lose him. I’ve had dogs…Danes, spaniels, bassets, beagles…all of my life. Badger was the easiest dog I ever trained. Of the three varieties of doxies, I think shorthaired smooth coats are the toughest to train, long-haired the sweetest, wire-haired the smartest. I now have another wire-haired doxie rescue. He’s coming along beautifully, is learning to play, is expanding his vocabulary, and is happy.
    Great little dogs!

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