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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. However, potential owners may be wondering just how intelligent these little badger dogs really are.

Dachshunds are average-intelligent dogs, according to canine psychologist, Stanley Coren. In fact, the breed is the 92nd smartest dog breed for working & obedience IQ. However, this low ranking is largely due to their stubborn nature. Dachshunds are intuitive badger hunters, suggesting they have high instinctive IQ (a special type of dog intelligence).

Though Dachshunds are considered “average” in dog intelligence, there are many reasons why they’re actually a lot smarter than people think. While they perform poorly in one aspect of dog intelligence, they tend to excel in other areas.

RECOMMENDED: 100 Smartest Dog Breeds

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 list of dog breeds ranked by intelligence was developed by Stanley Coren, a researcher, pHD and prominent canine psychologist. However, his rankings measured just one component of dog intelligence, that is, obedience & working intelligence.

He did have some help with his research, though. Coren contacted all the North American obedience trial judges from the Canadian and American Kennel Club to ask for help in measuring dog IQ. 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 the criteria that he developed.

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. While they were initially met with a lot of criticism, it makes a lot of sense for obedience and working.

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. As a result, only 138 different dogs qualified. Because of how popular Dachshunds were at the time, 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 or rarer international breeds, either. Dachshunds are recognized by both kennel clubs, so they had a chance to participate.

How the Dachshund Performed

Based on Coren’s criteria, the Dachshund was the 92nd best performing dog breed. Because there were 138 dog breeds in total, this placed these dogs in the “average intelligent” class. But what exactly does this mean for the Dachshund?

This meant that the Dachshund was able to understand and learn a new command with 25 to 40 repetitions. As such, it may take a whole afternoon to teach a Dachshund a command – depending on the complexity.

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 that took part in the obedience trials.

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. So, 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 capable of, 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). 

Why Dachshunds Rank Low in Dog Intelligence

One of the biggest complaints we hear from Dachshund owners is that they’re little, stubborn dogs. Sure, maybe not all Dachshunds are stubborn, but 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 trials 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 know what you’re asking. It’s very possible that they’re just too stubborn to give in to what you want.

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. Others may obey, but it’s not necessarily because the owner gave a command. If they feel like it, they’ll do it. It really depends on the individual dog.

However 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. 

2 Reasons Why Dachshunds Are Really Smart

Real owners will tell you that Dachshunds are fantastic at communicating with humans. These dogs 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. Even Stanley Coren will admit that these two components of dog IQ exist.

I would argue these dimensions are even more important than obedience and working intelligence, which were used for Coren’s trials. The unfortunate thing is that these other two types of intelligence are very difficult to measure on an objective level.

The “Hunters’ Intelligence” in Dachshunds

Instinctive intelligence refers to the ability or special skill that the dog was bred with. Most dog breeds that you see today weren’t always companion dogs. In fact, true companion dogs in the past were rare. Most of them had a role or job in society.

For example, Corgis were bred to be herding dogs. Thus, their instinctive intelligence is herding. Dobermans were bred to guard and protect. Similarly, Labradors were bred to retrieve, hence their natural ability to retrieve their ball or toy when thrown.

But how is this a type of dog intelligence? Let’s consider the herding dog.

The ability to push and drive livestock towards different directions requires this special type of intelligence. These dogs know exactly where to go to move animals in their desired direction. They’ll cut them off and chase them from different angles to achieve this.

Dachshunds were born with this natural ability to track and hunt, and require little to no human training.

Similarly, Dachshunds were bred to be badger hunters. In fact, they were one of the fiercest and most aggressive hunters at one point in time. 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.

The 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? These are all key questions when identifying adaptive IQ in dogs.

Instinctive intelligence in roughly the same for all individual dogs within a breed. However, adaptive intelligence can vary within a dog breed. The good news is that 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. Learning how to communicate with the owner through non-verbal actions is a clear sign of adaptive intelligence. 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)

Once again, Cindy’s Dachshund learned to associate physical items with a consequent action or result. This was not taught by the owners. Rather, the Dachshund made the association by learning herself. This is adaptive intelligence in dogs at its finest.

Of course, 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!

Is Your Dachshund 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.”

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 or 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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Ron Humphrey

Thursday 7th of July 2022

I rate my five year old Dachshund "Max" as clever, rather than smart. Meaning he figures things out quickly. When he wants to go outside, via the sliding glass door in the kitchen, he will come to me, usually working at my computer, and lick my left - yes, always the left leg. A couple of months ago, he did this and I automatically got up and headed for the kitchen. No Max. He had gone back to sleep on his pillow. Then I glanced in the kitchen and saw my Maltese, "Cooter," waiting by the door. Cooter knew he wanted out but he didn't know how to tell me. But Max had seen Cooter by the door and realized he wanted out but didn't know the signal. So Max did it for him. And has repeated it a number of times in Cooter's favor. To me, that is a two step thought process for a dog. Max learned his name the first day after strenuously rejecting my more innovative suggestions of "Stretch" or "Longfellow." Once I said "Max," the ears popped up, the tongue came out, and the tail went into Turbo-Wag mode. There are times when I want him inside but he is busy rat hunting and ignores me. So, yes. Stubborn is as stubborn does.

Gypsy

Tuesday 8th of March 2022

They are extremely stubborn! But, they are very loyal and very smart! My first one would come to me for whatever he wanted. For example, he would bark at me when the sun wasn’t on the floor (he would sit and follow it till it went away on the ground) as if I was able to move it. When I got my second Dachshund, he would come to me to let me know he wanted the toy that he had and wanted me to get it! The second Dachshund took more time to communicate, but he was also abused. He too turned out to be very intelligent! They are far from stupid! People should not mistake their innate stubbornness for stupidity. To me, that also shows intelligence. They play you well if you let them!

Nancy McKeen Jacoby

Tuesday 1st of March 2022

If I had to give my mini dachshund a grade on obedience, he would get a C or C-. Gentle persuasion works best. But when it comes to learning new things, figuring things out, learning new words and communicating what he wants or needs, he gets an A+. I constantly have to invent ever more challenging games and tasks for him to conquer.

Christopher

Saturday 26th of February 2022

For me dachshunds are extremely intelligent dogs. We already have the second one and it was no different with my parents and grandparents. Dachshunds are undoubtedly stubborn, but they understand everything, are able to communicate excellently and walk without a leash - even in the city! The two most important commands "stand" and "sit" work. The rest is of little interest to them ...

Charmaine

Wednesday 29th of September 2021

I have a mini dachshund, he's almost 5 months now. He's super smart. Potty trained fast. He only had less than 5 pee accidents in the house for 3 months that we have him and 1 poop accident.

He knows a lot of tricks, sit, up, down, roll over, paw, twirl go in the tunnel, touch and bang to name a few. He could do these all continuously with me using just one small treat.! He constantly impresses me. I only have to do 3 repetitions of command and he already gets it.!

Consistency is the key in training them.