If you’re looking for a mixed dog breed, the Goldendoodle is one of the best the canine kingdom has to offer. This Golden Retriever-Poodle mix is an affectionate companion, but an even better family dog. However, owners may be wondering if they’re actually smart dogs.
Goldendoodles are smart hybrid dogs. The two parent breeds, the Golden Retriever and Poodle, are both among the top 5 smartest dog breeds. For this reason, it’s likely that Goldendoodles will inherit the same high intelligence. Not only are they highly intelligent water retrievers, but they’re also superb at understanding human emotions, which is why they make excellent guide dogs.
Again, there are no tests that prove Goldendoodles are smart dogs. However we have plenty of evidence, along with anecdotes from real owners, that can help us predict the intelligence of this breed. Read on to learn what makes the Goldendoodle an intelligent hybrid.
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Table of Contents
- Measuring Dog Intelligence in Goldendoodles
- Other Reasons Why Goldendoodles Are Smart
- Adaptive Intelligence of Goldendoodles
- Is Your Goldendoodle Smart?
- Are Smart Goldendoodles For You?
Measuring Dog Intelligence in Goldendoodles
The current list of smartest dog breeds was developed by canine psychologist and pHD, Stanley Coren. And while his trials were met with plenty of criticism, one major complaint was that hybrid dogs, such as the Goldendoodle, were not included in his dog IQ test.
Coren’s study measured only one component of dog intelligence, that is, obedience and working intelligence. In summary, this type of IQ basically measured how quickly a dog can learn a command and how well the dog retained his or her training.
Even Coren admits that it’s not the most ideal way of measuring dog intelligence. However, it is the most objective way to do it. So just how did he measure dog intelligence?
The Criteria for Dog Intelligence
Stanley Coren contacted all the obedience trial judges from the Canadian and American Kennel Club for his trials. In total, 199 judges agreed to help him out. Given the criteria, judges were able to evaluate and rank dog breeds in a coordinated effort.
Coren’s criteria for dog intelligence is as follows:
- The number of repetitions it took for a dog breed to learn a new command. Fewer repetitions meant faster learning time – thus a smarter dog.
- The percentage that a dog breed is able to perform a known command on the first try. A higher success rate is associated with a more intelligent dog breed.
After collecting the responses, Coren only considered breeds with at least 100 evaluations. This meant that those with fewer evaluations did not make the final list of smartest dogs. Additionally, mutts like the Goldendoodle didn’t even participate.
The criteria was met with a lot of criticism. However, they are the most reputable scientific research we have on dog intelligence – even today. We don’t necessary agree with this, but it’s an excellent starting point for ranking the smartest dog breeds in the world.
Results of the Poodle & Golden Retriever
Again, Goldendoodles didn’t participate in this intelligence trial. But because the Goldendoodle is the hybrid of the Golden Retriever and Poodle, we can look at how these individual parent breeds performed. Based on their results, we can estimate the hybrids’ intelligence.
Needless to say, both breeds passed with flying colors. In fact, both the Poodle and Golden Retriever made it to the top 5 ranking! Making this ultra-exclusive intelligence class is no easy feat. In fact, only 10 dog breeds are within the same intelligence class.
According to the trials, Poodles are the second smartest dog breed. On the other hand, Golden Retrievers are the fourth most intelligent dog breed in the world. But what exactly does this mean and how does it translate in every day situations?
Both dog breeds can learn a new command with just 5 repetitions or less. In other words, it’ll probably take under 10 minutes to teach these dogs a basic command.
But that’s not all. Both of these breeds will also obey a known command on the first try with a 95% (or higher) success rate. Not only are they lightning fast at learning but they’re highly obedient dogs too!
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Golden Retriever & Poodle vs. “Average Dogs”
Now that we know both the Golden Retriever and Poodle rank at the very top of the canine kingdom, how smart are they compared to others? Is it really that big of a difference?
For reference, the average dog breed – that is, with “average” intelligence, will need 25 to 40 repetitions to learn a new command. Compared to the Goldendoodle’s parent breeds, average dogs need 5 to 8 times more repetitions!
Furthermore, average dogs will obey a known command on the first try with just a 50% success rate. This means the Golden and Poodle are nearly twice as likely to get it right on the first attempt.
What’s surprising is that average dogs are some of the most iconic and popular breeds in the world. These dogs include the Australian Shepherd, Great Dane, Siberian Husky, Bichon Frise, Shiba Inu and more.
Other Reasons Why Goldendoodles Are Smart
There are plenty of reasons why the Goldendoodle is a highly intelligent dog breed. There’s so much more to these dogs than just excelling at obedience tests.
According to Stanley Coren, there are three dimensions of dog intelligence. As discussed, the first is obedience and working intelligence. However, there’s also instinctive intelligence and adaptive intelligence. Both of which, can be more subjective and difficult to measure.
The Goldendoodles’ Instinctive Intelligence
A dog’s instinctive intelligence refers to what the dog was bred for. What’s the breed’s special skill or talent? This could be guarding, herding, transportation, companionship and so much more. But you may be asking why is this a type of dog intelligence.
Let’s take the Australian Shepherd for example. They were undeniably bred to herd sheep and cattle. And because they were bred for this job, they require little to no human intervention to do this task. They’ll naturally start pushing and moving flocks.
Understanding how to do their job effectively, such as where to run to guide sheep on a certain path, is a special type of intelligence – instinctive intelligence. All dogs have this, including Goldendoodles.
What’s interesting is that Goldendoodles have two types of instinctive IQ. Because both parents were bred to retrieve game, it’s most likely that these instincts are still in them. However, the true purpose of the Goldendoodles was to provide companionship in a hypoallergenic dog.
Goldendoodle’s High Emotional Intelligence
The Goldendoodle is one of the best family dogs you can own. They’re intelligent enough to understand that infants and toddlers are fragile, yet important to the pack (family).
For this reason, Goldendoodles are inclined to be extra careful around small children. And as the kids grow older, they’ll develop into some of the best playmates for them.
Goldendoodles have a keen sense of their environment and everything that’s going on in it. They seem to know when you’re down or happy – and they’ll approach you accordingly.
This is a sign of high adaptive intelligence, which refers to a dog’s problem solving ability and social awareness. Dogs that can learn for themselves, such as Goldendoodles, are highly adaptive.
If this isn’t a sign of a highly intelligent mutt dog, I’m not sure what is. You can always count on a Goldendoodle to celebrate with or comfort you.
Great Communication is a Sign of High Intelligence
Goldendoodles are adept at communicating with humans (as well as other dogs). There’s a reason why they’re social and outgoing dogs – because they’re effective communicators.
Many owners will tell you they have an uncanny ability to communicate their ideas, desires and fears. Plus, they usually find clever ways of communicating with you.
Goldendoodles know what they want and will always find a way to let you know. Our 2 year old will lead us to the leash, ball, frisbee or food storage with her facial expressions.– Kat S. (Goldendoodle owner)
For example, if your Goldendoodle wants a certain treat, expect them to grab your attention and slowly lead you to the place the treat is stored. Depending on your dog, these “signals” can be more complicated and at times, just downright brilliant.
In order for your Goldendoodle to be excellent communicators, you (the owner) need to put in some work too. If you teach your dog as many commands and words as possible, it’ll make their communication more effective.
Adaptive Intelligence of Goldendoodles
The final component of dog intelligence is adaptive intelligence. This is essentially what the dog is capable of doing for his or herself. Can the dog learn from previous mistakes and experiences? How excellent of a problem solver is the dog?
Unfortunately, adaptive intelligence is nearly impossible to measure in dogs, at least objectively. For this, we need to rely on owner stories and anecdotes to give us clues in this department.
Sometimes, intelligence can be seen in the actions of the dogs. And according to owners, there are a number of “smart things” that Goldendoodles do. Here are some real examples from real owners.
One Reddit user tells us a story about her Goldendoodle (named Noodles):
“Usually when she goes to pee, I open our front door and say, “go pee pee”. She pees and comes back in or she lounges around on the grass a bit, then comes back in.
This time, she went straight to eating grass when she got outside, so I shouted, “Noodle! Stop eating grass and go pee pee!”
She proceeded to continue eating grass, squatted, peed, and kept eating grass. Didn’t even move a single inch. This is the first time I witnessed her being a little smart ass that I found both cute and funny. Luckily she hasn’t done this again, but just wanted to share a moment!“
This Goldendoodle was being a little “smart ass” and we understand why. The fact that Noodles understood what his owner wanted is already a clear sign of intelligence. However, Noodles is apparently a great problem solver.
He wanted to eat grass, but his owner wanted him to go potty. His solution? To do both at the same time! This is a clear sign of adaptive intelligence in Goldendoodles.
Another Reddit user explains his frustrations with training an intelligent Goldendoodle:
“The intelligence is definitely a blessing and a curse. Last night my goldendoodle puppy got a hold of a sock. We’ve been practicing drop it with treats, so I try to tempt him with a treat to give it up.
He knows I’ll take the sock, so he tries for a solid minute to take the treat with the sock still in his mouth.“
As mentioned, learning from previous experiences is a sure sign of adaptive intelligence. This Goldendoodle knows how it works, based on past actions. Afraid of being fooled once again, the Goldendoodle tries to secure the treat before giving up the sock!
Obviously these are just two signs of adaptive intelligence in Goldendoodles. If you ask any owner, you’ll likely to hear plenty of stories just like these!
Is Your Goldendoodle Smart?
With limited data on the Goldendoodle’s obedience performance, asking real owners is perhaps the best way to gauge how smart one actually is. So, that’s exactly what we did. We surveyed real owners on the popular Goldendoodle sub Reddit to ask them this question.
Real Owner Answers:
1. Userunknown26 says Yes: “Got our first Goldendoodle (Henry) 6 days ago and it’s been the best!!! He’s so intelligent, but always distracted.”
2. Alose says Yes: “He is extremely intelligent and affectionate. From about 8 months to 18 months he was extremely hyper. Now he looks forward to his daily walk, and some play time, but otherwise is content to lay around all day.”
3. Amazingistired says Yes: “He is extremely intelligent. It was very easy for him to learn tricks, he is always interested and involved in things that are going on, and he looks at people in the eye all the time to communicate. He occasionally watches tv and immediately recognizes animals.”
4. Eyetheswan says Yes: “My gosh these dogs are so intelligent. BUT almost everywhere I read, people are talking about how much energy their Goldendoodle has and how sometimes it can get out of control.”
5. Yokeactuator says Yes: “My Goldendoodle is the sweetest and smartest floof of a dog I’ve ever had. We’ve had her a little over a week and she’s been doing great with training!”
6. Redditforabookreport says Yes: “She’s an incredible dog. She’s so smart that she taught herself how to climb a pool ladder last summer.”
7. Nosoup4ewe says No: “He’s not a smart dog, but he knows what love is.”
8. 3rdinput says Yes: “I heard Goldendoodles were smart but nothing prepared me! My pup is 10 wks old. He was crate trained from the first night. Fetching and releasing. All ready sitting on command. And I came home last night and my wife has him shaking hands!”
9. Savitar206 says Yes: “Our dog knows shake, sit, lay and bang (play dead). He can also ring the bell to go potty. 4 months old.”
10. Shoopdaw00p says Yes: “She just seems like she is too smart and doesn’t want to ever listen to commands. We feel like we didn’t get the most obedient dog out of the litter. We still love her.”
Are Smart Goldendoodles For You?
There are a lot of reasons to bring home a specific dog breed. But I don’t think intelligence should be a factor. The truth is, all dogs – pure or mixed – are capable of providing you with everything you need in a dog.
Unless you need a dog breed for a specialized task, every dog breed is capable of thriving as a pet, companion and friend. These specialized skills can be hunting & pointing, herding, searching, police work or retrieving. And in that case, there are breeds that specifically excel in those areas.
In my opinion, most dog owners should be looking for breeds based on temperament and personality. Does the Goldendoodle match your personality and needs?
Why Get a Goldendoodle?
Goldendoodles are gentle and calm dogs when they need to be. They also know when the time is right to be energetic and active. For the most part, these dogs are very affectionate and have an easy-going personality.
They’re comfortable lounging around with you, but also enjoy a nice stroll through the dog park. As social creatures, Goldendoodles are friendly with all humans and animals. They can literally befriend anyone in a short time.
However, if you’re looking a guard dog (or watch dog), these dogs aren’t right for you. Sure, they have good size – but they’re as friendly as a butterfly.
Instead of protecting your house, they’ll probably try to lick your intruders. But on the bright side, they make decent apartment dogs because they’re friendly and don’t really bark.
Some Goldendoodles rarely shed (and are classified as hypoallergenic dogs) so they can be great for allergy-sensitive owners. Though, shedding severity depends on the dog.
If after all this, you still believe they’re right for you – go for it! There’s a reason why they’re one of the most popular mixed dog breeds!
Do you own a Goldendoodle? If you do, is your Goldendoodle smart? Let us know in the comments section below!
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