Dog Training Smartest Dogs

Are Poodles Smart? – Reasons Why They’re Some of the Most Intelligent Dogs

Poodles are the second smartest dog breed in the world.

Poodles are elegant dogs with a charming personality. As a result, they’re one of the most popular family dogs in the America. Plus, they’re popular candidates for mixes – producing the world’s most popular designer dogs. But are Poodles smart? How smart are they?

Poodles are highly intelligent dog breeds. In fact, they’re the second smartest dogs when it comes to obedience/working intelligence. Additionally, Poodles excel in other components of dog IQ, such as instinctive and adaptive intelligence. 

Though Poodles are widely known to be intelligent canines, there’s much more to their high IQ than just learning commands and tricks. We explore just how smart these dogs can actually be.

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Measuring a Poodle’s Intelligence

We measure a Poodle's intelligence based on their obedience and working performance.

Poodles are the second smartest dogs, according to esteemed canine psychologist, Stanley Coren. But how did he come up with this conclusion and the ranking of canine intelligence?

With the help of 199 obedience trial judges from the AKC and CKC, Coren was able to construct a dog breed ranking based on dog IQ. Using Coren’s criteria, the obedience judges assessed and individually ranked recognized dog breeds.

Coren’s Canine Intelligence Criteria:

  1. The number of repetitions needed for a dog breed to learn a new command. The fewer repetitions required meant a more intelligent dog breed.
  2. The success rate (%) that a dog breed will understand and obey a known command on the first attempt. Dog breeds with a higher success rate were ranked higher for canine intelligence.

Not all dog breeds that were assessed made Coren’s final intelligence rankings. Only dog breeds that received at least 100 responses were qualified. In addition, only North American recognized dog breeds participated in the trials.

How the Poodle Performed

Poodles ranked at the top of the list. In fact, only one dog breed (the Border Collie) outperformed the Poodle. As a result, Poodles were classed in the top 10 most intelligent dog category.

Furthermore, Poodles beat out other highly popular breeds, such as German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers.

With that said, Poodles were able to learn a new command with less than 5 repetitions. These commands are likely basic, but impressive nevertheless.

In my opinion, what’s more impressive is that Poodles will obey a known command with a 95% or higher success rate. There are few dog breeds as obedient as the Poodle!

Poodles vs. Average Intelligent Dogs

We know Poodles are top 10 smart. But how do these graceful dogs compare to the “average intelligent” dog breed?

The average dog is able to learn a new command with 25 to 40 repetitions. This means that Poodles are at least 5 times faster at learning commands than average dogs.

When it comes to obedience, the average dog will obey a known command on the first attempt with a 50% or higher success rate. In other words, Poodles are roughly 70% more obedient.

Some of the most popular family dogs are in the average intelligence category. For reference, dog breeds include the Siberian Husky, Australian Shepherd, Boxers, Greyhounds, Great Danes and Dachshunds.

Owners: Is Your Poodle Smart?

Poodles are intelligent according to real Poodle owners.

To truly understand how smart Poodles can be, we decided to ask real Poodle owners. By surveying the popular Poodle Subreddit forum, we’re able to collect real responses from dog owners. Here’s what they had to say about the Poodle.

1. Disgustipated says YES: “Poodles are smart and curious, and are really good at learning your every move. Mine knows that hiking boots mean fun but dress shoes mean she’s getting left at home.”

2. Slowbillybullies says YES: “They are hilariously intelligent yet stubborn. They have the most personable personalities, I’ll never be able to have another breed!”

3. Anonymous says YES: “Poodles are really smart and thrive on training and mental stimulation, they aren’t just lapdogs.”

4. Arcticfawx says YES: “She’s very smart and easy to train, very curious. She picks up on things fairly quickly, stable temperament, very good bounce back from fear/startle. I love her to pieces.”

5. Rickieson says YES: “He’s super easy to train! We can literally teach him a new trick in an afternoon, he loves it. They’re so smart and love to learn.”

6. Rice_on_white says YES: “She’s extremely smart and learns new commands very quickly. She is friendly and happy around all other animals, loves playing with our cat, and is a total snuggle bug.”

7. Anonymous says YES: “Poodles are hands down the smartest dogs i’ve own….and my family has raised 5 breeds! They’re such great communicators that I sometimes think she knows what i’m saying when I don’t use the usual commands.”

8. Illbevictorious says YES: “She’s super smart and learned quick. Kind of stubborn but very sweet. Very friendly with other dogs and people. Not too bark-y but somewhat.”

9. Ohnothereshegoes says YES: “Inquisitive, too smart for her own good, loving but independent, and perpetually amusing, she’s the light of my life.”

10. Bionic4life says YES: “Poodles are smart enough to walk themselves. I swear my toy poodle understands every word that I say. He just chooses which ones to react to.”

Poodle Owner Survey Recap

It’s hard to argue against the intelligence of Poodles when all the owners believe they’re highly intelligent. We know this is an extremely small sample size, but it’s still difficult to find any owner that would say otherwise.

Out of the 10 Poodle owners we collected responses from, all ten thought their dog was smart. Most dog breeds will receive a few “no” and some “mixed results.” However, Poodles got a “yes” across the board. It doesn’t get more impressive than that.

Reasons Why Poodles are Smart

Poodles excel in obedience/working intelligence. Though it’s helpful for a dog to be obedient and learn quickly, it’s not everything when it comes to canine intelligence.

According to Stanley Coren, dog intelligence is comprised of three components: obedience/working, instinctive and adaptive intelligence.

As you may have guessed, Poodles are also very smart dogs when it comes to both instinctive and adaptive intelligence. Let’s further explore these ideas and see what else makes Poodles smart.

The Best Water Retrievers

The second dimension of dog IQ is instinctive intelligence. This component refers to the innate ability and/or skill that the Poodle was bred for.

For example, the Rough Collie is one of the most prized herding dogs. Their instinctive intelligence is herding. Being able to round up livestock, put them in formations and guide them to a destination requires instinctive intelligence.

These dogs were not taught to herd, they just knew how to do it. Similarly, the Poodles were bred to retrieve water game, such as ducks.

Did you know Poodles are some of the best swimmers? It’s not because they spend a ton of time learning to swim, they’re just naturally adept while in the water.

The Poodle’s instinctive intelligence is their ability to efficiently swim towards small water game and bring them back to their owners. In fact, they’re one of the best dog breeds at this job.

Poodle’s Adaptive Intelligence

All dogs within a breed have roughly the same instinctive intelligence. However, adaptive intelligence can vary among individual dogs. Poodles, however, have been known to exhibit high adaptive intelligence.

Adaptive intelligence refers to what the dog is capable of learning for him or herself. In other words, how great of a problem solver they are and whether they’re able to learn from previous experiences/mistakes.

One Poodle owner tells us just how smart his Poodle is. He says “the Poodle is incredibly smart. He figured out how a door stopper wedge works and picks one up and moves it to the bathroom door when he knows I’m going to bathe him in hopes that it would stop me from getting in the door.

Another owner tells us how her Poodle knows when they’re about to go for a walk. She explains, “before I go take my Poodle out for a walk, I put on sunscreen. Now she’ll lead me to the dresser where there’s sunscreen is when she wants to go for a walk!

Both these stories show just how high a Poodle’s adaptive intelligence can be. They learn quickly from previous events and may sometimes even use experience to communicate to humans.

Smart Toys for Smart Poodles

With intelligent dog breeds such as the Poodle, you can expect they’ll need a ton of mental stimulation. This can be anything from obedience training, to “treasure hunts” and even a game of hide and seek.

The examples above requires most of your attention, which most Poodle owners may not have. The solution is provide dog puzzles and smart dog toys to help with mental stimulation when you’re busy.

One of my favorite dog puzzles is the StarMark Bob-A-Lot Dog Puzzle. It’s essentially a weighted toy where you put in treats or your Poodle’s meal.

The Poodle will need to bob the toy until treats come out from the bottom. It’s fun, interactive and Poodles love playing with it. I highly recommend checking it out at Amazon.

Another fantastic puzzle is the Nina Ottosson Outward Hound Dog Puzzle. It’s a puzzle where you hide treats and your Poodle needs to figure out how to “unlock” the treats by sliding the tabs.

My dog loves playing with this and would be kept occupied for an hour in the beginning. However, as they get used to it, they’ll be much quicker in obtaining the treats. Still, highly recommended – take a look at it here.

The final recommendation is the Outward Hound hide and seek plush toy. I think it’s absolutely adorable and my sister’s Australian Shepherd pup is obsessed with this.

The objective of this dog puzzle is to try to get the squirrels out of the tree trunk. Put them well inside the plush trunk and they’ll spend a good time trying to get them out. They have other animals, such as bees, but the squirrels were too cute to pass up.

If you’re interested, you should really look into this at Amazon here.

There are a ton of ways you can provide mental stimulation for your Poodle. It doesn’t necessary have to be a dog puzzle or smart toy. However, they give you some “time off” with your Poodle.

Is the Poodle For You?

Remember that it’s not necessary to have a smart dog. All dog breeds are intelligent enough for your basic needs. They don’t really need to be that intelligent. Also, don’t let the “experts” tell you whether your dog is smart or not.

Instead of asking whether Poodles are smart dogs, I’d ask whether their temperaments and personalities fit my needs.

These dogs are elegant and charming in their own right. They’re affectionate and can be very loyal dogs. You just need to provide them with the attention and care they deserve.

With that said, if the Poodle is right for you – go for it! There are few dog breeds as wonderful and friendly as the Poodle.

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