Pomeranians are bold, spirited and lively little dogs. They have a curious personality and a family-friendly vibe that’s perfect for all owners. But with their happy-go-lucky temperament, owners may question the intelligence of these charming dogs.
Pomeranians are very smart dogs! According to canine psychologist Stanley Coren, they’re the 28th smartest dog breed for “obedience & working intelligence.” Pomeranians are quick at learning new commands and superb at retaining their training. However, it’s the Pomeranians’ incredible ability to learn and solve problems that make them truly intelligent dogs.
Owners will agree that Pomeranians are some of the smartest dogs that the canine kingdom has to offer. In this article, we’ll examine how we measure the Pomeranian’s intelligence and the 3 reasons why Poms are such intelligent dogs.
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How We Measure a Pomeranian’s Intelligence
As mentioned, Pomeranians are “bright dogs.” But how did we come to this conclusion? Stanley Coren, a pHD and canine psychologist from the University of British Columbia, is credited for developing our list of the smartest dog breeds.
Coren requested the help of 199 obedience trials judges from the American and Canadian Kennel Club to participate in his research. Through Coren’s trials, they were able to measure just one dimension of dog intelligence, that is, obedience & working intelligence.
Obedience and working intelligence (O&W) refers to how quickly a dog learns commands. In addition, it tells us how well a dog retrains their training. Although this isn’t the perfect measurement of dog IQ, it is a great starting point.
Coren’s Dog Intelligence Criteria
Based on Coren’s criteria, each judge assessed and evaluated as many dog breeds as they could. Here’s how they measured the dog’s obedience & working intelligence:
- The number of repetitions it took for a dog breed to learn a brand new command. The fewer repetitions necessary, the higher they scored.
- The success rate of a dog breed obeying a known command on the first attempt. A higher success rate is associated with greater dog intelligence and obedience.
Stanley Coren received a ton of responses, however, not all breeds qualified for his final ranking list. To reduce any anomalies, only dog breeds with at least 100 assessments qualified. This meant that rare dog breeds, without enough assessments, didn’t make the cut.
In addition, not all dog breeds participated in the trials. Only breed recognized by either the AKC or CKC were allowed to participate. The good news is that Pomeranians were wildly popular and recognized by both clubs. So, they had no problems qualifying.
How Pomeranians Performed
Is it really a surprise that Pomeranians scored extremely well? They performed so well that they’re in the second smartest dog class, called the “bright dogs” category. But what does this actually mean for the Pomeranian breed?
What this meant was, Pomeranians were able to learn a new command with just 5 to 15 repetitions, on average. Depending on the complexity of the command, you would be able to teach a Pomeranian a new trick in just a few minutes!
Impressively, Pomeranians were able to obey a known command on the first attempt with an 85% (or better) success rate. Perhaps it’s their love for the owners or their loyalty. No matter what the reason is, you cannot deny their obedience.
And just for reference, other popular dog breeds in the Pomeranian’s intelligence class include both Corgi breeds, the Bernese Mountain Dog, Cocker Spaniel, Standard Schnauzer and the Weimaraner. Plus, so many more!
Pomeranians vs. “Average” Dogs
Pomeranians scored two classes above the “average” dog’s intelligence class, beating out some of the most popular dog breeds in America. So just how much more intelligent are Pomeranians compared to the average dog breed?
The average dog is able to learn a brand new command with just 25 to 40 repetitions. In other words, Pomeranians are at least twice as fast at learning new commands than your average dog. And in some cases, they can be 8 times quicker at learning commands.
On the other hand, the average dog will obey a known command on the first try with a 50% (or better) success rate. While this doesn’t seem that bad, Pomeranians are 70% more obedient and “reliable” than your average. It really puts things to perspective, doesn’t it?
There’s nothing wrong with being average. And just so you have an idea, some of the world’s “household dog breeds” have average intelligence. These breeds include, the Australian Shepherd, Siberian Husky, Great Dane, Dachshund, Shiba Inu and Boxer.
2 More Reasons Why Pomeranians Are Smart
Pomeranians rank among the best for obedience & working intelligence, which is the dimension of IQ that Stanley Coren tested in his trials. But there’s more to dog intelligence than just great work ethic and obedience.
In fact, even Coren admits there’s more to it. What’s arguably more important than O&W are instinctive and adaptive intelligence. However, those dimensions of dog intelligence aren’t as easy to measure in an objective manner.
1. Pomeranians are great at communicating and reading emotions
Instinctive intelligence refers to the skill or ability that the dog breed was developed for. In the past, all dogs were purpose-bred for some role or job in society (think herding, retrieving, guarding, etc.) Poms were no exception.
For example, Australian Shepherds were bred to be herding dogs. This isn’t because they were trained by humans. Rather, these dogs were born with the ability to round up and push livestock. This is their instinctive intelligence.
But why is herding a type of dog intelligence? The fact that these dogs know how to position their bodies to push livestock in a certain direction requires intelligence.
How about Poms? Pomeranians were originally bred to be sled dogs. Yes, you read that right. They were used as sled dogs in the 16th century. But while this may have been their instinctive intelligence in the past, it is not anymore.
Today, Pomeranians are much smaller than they once were. They’re no longer suited to be top working dogs, let alone sled-pulling dogs in harsh snowy conditions. Instead, Pomeranians are bred to be loving companions and family dogs.
Most days my Pom is a crazy tornado. But on days when I’m sick, he somehow knows I’m not feeling well and will lay down next to me for hours.– Trisha A. (Pomeranian Owner)
With that said, the Pomeranian’s ability to communicate, show affection and assess situations is the instinctive intelligence of Poms. They’re are incredible at reading people’s emotions and will provide comfort when needed.
If you’ve ever had a dog comfort you when you’re feeling down, you may be wondering how they knew. That is a companion dog’s instinctive intelligence. All companion dogs need this type of IQ. It’s what makes them good at their “jobs.”
Fortunately, Pomeranians are some of the best when it comes to true companionship. I mean, there’s a reason why they’re one of the most popular small dogs.
2. Pomeranian are superb at adapting and solving problems
Adaptive intelligence is the final aspect of dog intelligence. It refers to how the dog is able to learn for itself. Does the dog learn from previous mistakes and experiences? Are they able to solve problems on their own? These are the questions to ask when determining adaptive IQ.
According to owners, Pomeranians are great problem solvers and it really shows. Based on anecdotes about how Pomeranians learn and their unusual interest in dog puzzles, we can assume that they have fairly high adaptive intelligence.
A new Pom owner explains how the transition and process of an adopted Pomeranian went, saying:
She had some anxiety and aggression issues, but she’s doing so much better a year later, she’s a very adaptable dog. Poms are great in any environment, they adapt pretty well I think.– Reddit User
Dogs that can quickly adapt usually have high adaptive intelligence. That’s because the dog is able to learn from the environment and adjust accordingly. There are plenty of dogs that never adjust. After all, dogs are creatures of habit – and change is difficult for dogs with low adaptive IQ.
Another Pomeranian owner describes her dogs’ incredible ability to solve dog puzzles:
He’s more than just tricks-smart. I bought him a small kong that I was putting treats in to occupy his attention. But he gets the treats out very quickly. Too smart.– Trisha A. (Pomeranian Owner)
Mental stimulation is crucial for Pomeranians. They’re great at solving problems and will always be up for solving any “puzzle.” Trisha’s Pom is an expert problem-solver. Again, another clear sign of adaptive intelligence in this Pomeranian.
Although these are just two examples, there are plenty more out there on the internet. Just ask any Pom owner and they’ll tell you similar stories just like these.
Is Your Pomeranian Smart?
Intelligence can vary by individual dogs. In order to really get a good idea of how smart Pomeranians are, we decided to ask real owners this question.
We surveyed the popular Pomeranian sub Reddit (and other dog forums) for answers to this question. Here’s what these Pomeranian owners had to say.
Real Owner Answers:
1. Aquahearts says Yes: “My little fluff is aptly named victor von doom…and he’s very smart! we are teaching him various commands and training him and he picks up on things very quickly.”
2. Allisonrages says Yes: “Killa (Pomeranian) is intelligent, loving, happy, center of attention, playful, and very outspoken. The dog loves to demand for things and she will guide you to what she wants.”
3. Chinahandy says Yes: “I love my Pom, but I’m at my wit’s end. She is smart. She knows what to do, but it feels like she is just being defiant.“
4. Somerfield says No: “I’ve tried teaching him to lie down, but he just doesn’t get it. Is this normal for Pomeranians or is my baby a little dumb haha?“
5. Ghostyflyby says Yes: “I got my pom when he was 5 months old. It’s taken 4 months for him to be fully trained. He’s completely house broken, he lets us know if he has to go potty now by sitting at the end of the hallway and waiting for us.”
6. Antigeist says Yes: “This is my little sausage [Pomeranian] Charley. He’s 9 weeks old and a super lovely, smart baby.”
7. Luie04 says Yes: “One of my poms was so smart, it was frustrating. Literally had me chanting, “be smarter than the dog….” Silver lining? My second pom didn’t need training, the first one trained her.“
8. Alliaaaa says Yes: “My Pomeranian, Elliot, is currently 7 months old. He’s extremely extroverted, inquisitive, alert, intelligent, very playful & active, and 100% dedicated to me.“
9. Crimsonfury73 says Yes: “Our pom is very smart, too! I think Pomeranians are actually smarter than a lot of the supposedly smarter breeds (we also have a collie and a papillon), it’s just that poms are a little stubborn and don’t have very good focus.”
10. Vadervixen says Yes: “We have another Pom and an Aussie. Penny has learned “sit” ” lay” and “dance” in a week…and is crushing potty training.”
Dealing With Smart Pomeranians
Owning a smart dog breed like the Pomeranian is great for bragging to your friends. But it’s not always a good thing. Higher intelligence generally means more work for the owner.
According to Reader’s Digest, smarter dogs are far better at problem solving. These highly intelligent dogs are so good at it that they actually enjoy dog puzzles. Not only do puzzles keep them busy, but it helps stimulate their minds.
One of the best way to test this theory out is to get your Pomeranian some puzzles. You’ll keep them occupied while providing necessary mental stimulation. Win-win!
My hands-down absolute favorite dog puzzle is the Outward Hound Hide & Seek Puzzle Toy. Our Australian Shepherd loves this adorable plush toy and it does a great job keeping him mentally engaged.
I decided to get the one with squirrels because I thought it was cute. They’re plush squeak toys that you hide within the “tree trunk” and hope your Pom figures out how to get them out. Dogs love this.
Another favorite dog puzzle of mine is the Nina Ottosson Outward Hound Dog Puzzle. Hide treats in the puzzle and let your Pom slide and unlock the treats. Your Pom will love this, especially if you have a food-driven Pomeranian.
It doesn’t matter what you get for your Pomeranian. Just make sure to get something. With an intelligent mind, dog puzzles are even more important. The alternative can be obedience training, but you likely won’t have hours to spend on this daily.
Is the Pomeranian For Me?
Now that we know Pomeranians excel in the three areas of dog intelligence (obedience, instinctive and adaptive), there’s no doubt Pomeranians are smart dogs. But, should you get a Pomeranian for this reason? The short answer is no.
When deciding which dog breed to bring home, you should never make the decision based on how smart a dog is. Instead of asking how smart a Pomeranian is, ask: does a Pomeranian’s temperament fit mine? Are they suited for my lifestyle?
These dogs are very playful and have need to live an active lifestyle, despite their petite size. Even so, they make great pets for elders or busy owners because they’re not overly dependent.
And despite their small size, Poms can make fantastic watch dogs. They’re always alert and attentive, and won’t hesitate to bark at intruders. At the least, they’ll let you know of any unwanted guests.
If you still think Pomeranians are right for you, I’d highly suggest raising one. They may be small but they’re brimming with energy and positive fun!
Do you own a Pomeranian? What things do they do that make them seem intelligent? Let us know in the comments section below!
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