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Are Greyhounds Smart? – Here’s Why They’re Actually Intelligent Dogs

There’s so much more to Greyhounds than just being the fastest dog breed ever. And despite the public perception, they’re actually docile, independent, quiet, and athletic. However, owners may wonder just how smart the Greyhound is.

Greyhounds are just “average intelligent” according to canine psychologist Stanley Coren. In fact, they’re the 86th smartest dog breed for “obedience & working intelligence.” But what Greyhounds lack in O&W intelligence, they make up for it with incredible instincts and their ability to learn from past experiences or mistakes.

There’s more to dog smarts than just obedience and work. We’ll examine why Greyhounds scored in the “average intelligence” class. In addition, we’ll look at the reasons why they’re actually smart dogs. You’ll be surprised at just how intelligent Greyhounds can be.

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How We Measure a Greyhound’s Intelligence

Here's why we ranked Greyhound among average intelligent dogs.

To understand why Greyhounds ranked 86th out of 138 for canine intelligence, we’ll need to examine how the “experts” came to this conclusion. The infamous canine psychologist and pHD, Stanley Coren, ranked 138 dog breeds based on “obedience and working intelligence” (O&W).

O&W intelligence essentially measures two things in the dog. First, it measures how quickly a dog is able to learn a new command. In addition, it measures how well a dog retains their training. It’s not the ideal way to measure dog intelligence, but it’s the most objective method.

Coren’s Canine Intelligence Criteria:

Fortunately, the acclaimed psychologist had the help of 199 obedience trial judges from the American and Canadian Kennel Club.

Based on his criteria, the judges assessed, evaluated and ranked as many recognized dog breeds as they could. Here’s the criteria that the judges were instructed to use:

  1. The number of repetitions needed to learn a new (unknown) command. The fewer number of repetitions necessary, the more intelligent the dog breed is.
  2. The success rate that a dog will obey a known command on the first attempt. A higher success rate means the dog breed is more obedient and intelligent. 

Stanley Coren had a huge number of responses. However, for his final list of the smartest dog breeds, he only included the dog breeds that had at least 100 assessments. Those without enough data were left out of the list.

Given the popularity of Greyhounds within North America, qualifying for Coren’s list was not a problem. And because Greyhounds are recognized by the kennel clubs in North America, they participated in his trials.

How the Greyhound Performed

Greyhounds didn’t perform too well, but they didn’t perform too bad. They were…average. But being average isn’t as bad as it sounds. In fact, it’s the largest dog intelligence category with over 40 dog breeds!

For reference, other popular dog breeds in the same category include the Australian Shepherd, Shiba Inu, Siberian Husky, Boston Terrier, Great Dane and the Dachshund. These dogs aren’t bad company to be on an intelligence list with!

But what does this actually mean for the Greyhound? This meant that they were able to understand and learn a new command with 25 to 40 repetitions. In other words, it may take under an hour to teach a Greyhound a new command!

In addition, Greyhounds were able to obey a known command on the first attempt with a 50% (or better) success rate. While this doesn’t compare to the super-obedient, it’s not bad for the “average” Greyhounds.

Greyhound vs. The Smartest Dogs

The smartest dog breeds are the ones that performed within the top 10. Greyhounds and the top 10 dogs certainly a gap in working & obedience intelligence. But how much more intelligent are they compared to Greyhounds?

The top 10 smartest dog breeds were able to learn a new command with less than 5 repetitions! This means you could potentially teach them a trick in a few minutes. Plus, they learn at least 5 times faster than Greyhounds.

What’s more impressive is that these dogs are able to obey a known command on the first try with a 95% or better success rate. The smartest dogs are also the most obedient, good boys.

And if you’re curious, the dogs in the top 10 category are some of your household names. These smart dogs include the Border Collie, Doberman, Rottweiler, Poodle, Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever and the German Shepherd.

Why Greyhounds Rank Low For Dog Intelligence

There are a few reasons why Greyhounds ranked so low in dog intelligence, at least according to Coren’s tests. A glaring flaw in the trial is the fact that the test was essentially an obedience test. That is, it was only based on O&W intelligence.

It’s extremely difficult to create an accurate and comprehensive standardized test for measuring dog IQ. Just because your Greyhound doesn’t obey your command doesn’t mean he doesn’t understand what you’re trying to say. 

First of all, Greyhounds are extremely independent dogs. They tend to have independent minds and won’t necessary follow your commands just because you say so. However, this doesn’t mean they aren’t loyal to their owners.

One Greyhound owner explains,

I read that greyhounds tend to think for themselves and want to do things with you rather than for you. I like that independence.

– Reddit User

Another possible reason Greyhounds ranked low for dog intelligence is probably because they’re very stubborn dogs. Though this may vary greatly by dog, it’s well-documented that Greyhounds can have their stubborn streaks.

Another Greyhound owner describes that, saying: “He gets very stubborn and sometimes does not want to move. I’ll try to tug on his leash a bit and he won’t budge.

2 Reasons Why Greyhounds Are Actually Smart

Through Coren’s obedience trials and the Greyhound’s personality traits, we know that Greyhounds aren’t the best when it comes to obedience and working intelligence.

However, obedience and work is just one dimension of dog IQ. According to Stanley Coren, there are three components that make up canine intelligence. As such, Greyhounds are smart in other ways with Instinctive and Adaptive Intelligence.

1. The Greyhound is a brilliant hunter

Instinctive intelligence refers to the skill, innate ability or job that the dog was bred for. For example, Australian Shepherds are some of the best herding dogs in the world. That said, herding is the instinctive intelligence of Aussies.

Their ability to innately round up, push and guide livestock towards a specific direction with little to no human training is a form of dog intelligence, called instinctive intelligence. Knowing how to position the flock requires this style type of intelligence.

Likewise, Greyhounds were bred for coursing game and racing. By coursing game, I mean chasing fast game and leading them towards hunters or their traps. I guess you could call them the “herding dogs” of hunters.

This skill is not as simple as just running after an animal. Greyhounds are eerily good at predicting where the animal is heading. With their instincts, they’ll try to cut them off or push them in the desired direction of their human hunters.

Like with the Australian Shepherd, the Greyhounds natural instincts to guide game is a special type of intelligence that’s only seen and appreciated by hunters. It’s unfortunate that most families don’t get to experience the brilliance of these dogs on the field.

2. The Greyhound is great at learning from observing others

The last and final dimension of dog intelligence is called “adaptive intelligence.” This refers to the dog’s ability to learn on his or her own through previous experiences and the environment. It also reflects the dog’s ability to solve problems.

All Greyhounds are born with roughly the same instinctive intelligence. However, adaptive intelligence among dogs can vary greatly even among the same breed.

But even so, most Greyhounds have been known to show great adaptive intelligence. For instance, one Greyhound owner warns us about this, explaining,

Greyhounds are smart and will likely figure out how to open the fridge. Be mindful of this.

This intelligent Greyhound likely learned from watching the owners open the fridge door countless times. He continues by adding, “again, Greyhounds are smart and will figure out how to open doors. Always lock the front door.”

Another Reddit user and Greyhound owner told us that his dog was perhaps the most intelligent dog he’s ever met.

He explains,other dogs display intelligence by performing tricks or tasks. My dog displays his brains by understanding the effects of his actions, the consequences, and the temporary nature of any punishment.

All these are clear signs of Greyhounds learning by observing their humans. This is a clear sign of having high adaptive intelligence. And although these are just two examples, there are plenty of stories just like these. Just ask any Greyhound owner!

Is Your Greyhound Smart?

To get a better understanding of how smart these dogs can be, we decided to ask real Greyhound owners the question: is your Greyhound smart?

So, we surveyed the popular Greyhound Subreddit and other dog forums for responses. Here’s what these Greyhound owners had to say.

Real Owner Answers:

1. Sidsavvy says Yes:Indy’s proven to be very intuitive and intelligent so far. We were worried about stairs because we’re in a basement apartment, but he took one look at them and ran down them with no problems! He’s learning everything quickly and he’s taking to training well.”

2. Djouboti_phat says No:He’s lovable, but he is not a smart dog. Not smart at all.”

3. Castielgalafran says Yes:She is the sweetest, most empathetic, and most intelligent pet I’ve ever had. She’s more loving than any pet I grew up with. She’s described as a “Velcro dog” and very intelligent.”

4. Quetzal1234 says YesShe’ll be laying down with everyone and just randomly start whining. In her case, it’s also because she’s super smart and trying to communicate and react to the situation, so maybe consider it a blessing in disguise?

5. Juliabeanz says Yes:He is so smart, energetic, and entertaining! So glad I randomly lurked this sub 8 months ago, and it wound up with this weird, silly fella on my couch.”

6. Pisspoordecisions says Yes:Mine is super smart as well. Well…he’s very easy to train, and has even picked up on things I’ve never taught him…like if I say “go to bed” – he goes to his bed, if I point to his crate and snap my finger he’ll trot over and lay down in it.”

7. Suckmywakelol says Mixed:I’ve got one smart one and one dumb one lol. The dumb one is still smart enough to figure out how to get food though! With food in your hand you can train a greyhound to do anything.

8. Kitchu22 says Yes:They’re super smart – they just don’t always have the innate desire to please people like some dogs do, and if it’s not a high value pay off in their eyes then it may happen but on their own terms, haha.

9. Melaidie says Yes:Yeah, my grey is very smart. She knows when she’s getting walkies, we’ve trained her where to stand while we get the lead out, not to jump etc.

10. Chiborg9999 says Yes:Greyhounds aren’t dumb. They’re actually one of the most intelligent breeds. They’re just independent and do not have a high desire to please.

Is the Greyhound for Me?

Despite what the “experts” say, it’s apparent we have overwhelming evidence that these hounds are in fact, highly intelligent dogs. However, should this really matter to you?

At the end of the day, you shouldn’t pick a dog breed based on how “intelligent” they are. All dog breeds, including the Greyhound, are more than capable of providing you with what you need.

Unless you’re looking for a dog breed for a specialized job, such as military and police dogs, it really shouldn’t matter. Instead, ask yourself: does the Greyhound’s personality and temperament fit me?

These dogs are very independent and docile, making them amazing companions. Plus, they get along great with kids and other dogs with the proper socialization. In other words, they’re some of the best family dogs.

If you still believe that Greyhounds are right for you, I’d highly recommend bringing one home! You’ll instantly fall in love with the playful nature and charming personalities of these dogs.

Do you own a Greyhound? What intelligent (or not-so-smart) things do they do that make you feel that way? Let us know in comments section below!

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