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Are Chihuahuas Smart?

Are Chihuahuas Smart?

You'll usually find Chihuahuas described as lovable and alert little dogs bursting with energy (though, a few minutes of zoomies around the house will quickly tire them out). With their loyal personality, they tend to be the best little companions who you will find by your side no matter what. 


However, because of their dominant personality and working ability, Chihuahuas are often unfairly labeled as "dumb" dogs. The canine psychologist Stanley Coren says that Chihuahuas are below average for intelligence. In Coren’s trials, out of 138 dogs, they’re the 125th "smartest" breed. 

 Are Chihuahuas Smart Dogs Chihuahua Empire Blog

Even though many find the personality of the Chi rather loud and quite obnoxiously bossy, where Chihuahuas lack in obedience, they make up for it with rather high adaptive intelligence.


What Are The Types of Chihuahua Intelligence?


Dogs have numerous forms of sensory intelligence such as visual, auditory, or tactile just like humans do. Intelligence can be broken down into three groups:


  • Instinct intelligence comes from the type of breed. Guard dogs guard and watch over their home or people, retrievers go fetch and retrieve, hounds track down and pursue, pointers sniff out their target and indicate their whereabouts, and companion dogs (Chihuahuas) are attuned to human emotions, signals and respond to our moods to provide comfort, healing, and love.


  • Adaptive intelligence is pretty much measuring what a Chihuahua can learn to do for him/her self. It includes learning from experience with their environment/surroundings, solving new problems and puzzles, and so on. Adaptive intelligence can greatly differ among Chihuahuas of the same breed.


  • Working and obedience intelligence is similar to what we might call school-learning and is fundamentally what a Chihuahua can learn to do with our instruction. 



One higher strength does not make one dog smarter than another. It is simply a matter of different intelligence levels in each dog - their intelligence levels are unique just like their personality! 


A dog IQ test is not about proving a dog’s intelligence - they are simply a helpful tool in determining the problem-solving and memory skills of a Chihuahua. 


Chihuahua - The Biggest Brained Dog


Did you know that Chihuahuas have the biggest brain in the dog world? Chihuahuas have the largest brain-to-body ratio of any breed of dog. The Chihuahua brain is very (very) large when considering the rest of their body.

Chihuahua Intelligence Chihuahua Empire Blog

While brain size may not equal more intelligence, it is a really interesting fact about these little guys! 


How Do I Measure My Chihuahua's Intelligence? Chihuahua IQ Test


There are quite a few factors to consider when determining what is the true dog intelligence of the Chihuahua. 

Hint: if you don't have a Chi of your own, they’re smarter than you might think.


  • Test 1: Allow your little pooch to smell and familiarize themselves with a towel. Then, place it over their head - problem-solving! 

Scoring: three points if they figure out how to free themself in under 15 seconds, two points if it takes 15 to 30 seconds, and one point if it takes more than 30 seconds.


  • Test 2: Place your Chihuahua's favorite treat on the kitchen floor and place a towel over it. Time them to see how long it takes for the meaty treat to be found and eaten.

Scoring: three points if figured out in under 15 seconds, two points if it takes 15 seconds to one minute, and one point if it takes more than one minute.


  • Test 3: Place three empty cups upside down in a row. While your Chi watches, put a treat under one of the cups. Distract them then allow them to look for the treaty.

Scoring: three points if they go straight to the treat cup, two if they check one cup before finding the right one, and one point if they check both wrong cups before the right one.


  • Test 4: Underneath a couch or another piece of furniture (low enough to the floor that only your dog’s paw will fit), place a treat down just within paw’s reach - reasoning and problem-solving skills!

Scoring: three points if it takes them under one minute to reach for the treaty using only their paw, two points if they try to fit their head in first or uses their nose and paws, and one point if the test was given up entirely.



Test Results:

  • 11-12 points: Uh, awesome! Your Chihuahua is a doggy-dog genius. 
  • 5–9 points: Your doggy probably won’t make it into Harvard but he has some pretty good paw-tential. Definitely a smart cookie!
  • 1–4 points: Your Chi might need some help figuring things out and getting things done. These dogs tend to give the best cuddles and kisses—which is all that matters anyway.


Why Do Chihuahuas Rank Low For Intelligence?


Chihuahuas ranked in the bottom half of the dog breeds for intelligence. Out of the 138 qualified dog breeds that were tested, Chihuahuas ranked 125th in canine psychologist Stanley Coren's trials and 67th for fair working and obedience intelligence. Not as high as most Chihuahua owners would think, as many owners stated that their Chis picks up tricks very quickly. 


Categorized in the “fair intelligence” group, the Chihuahua was able to learn a new command with just 40 to 80 repetitions. Resulting in the determination that it may take well over a few hours for Chihuahuas to learn a new command.

 Is My Chihuahua Smart Chihuahua Empire Blog

However, Chihuahuas obeyed known commands on the first try with a 30% (and most often better) success rate. On paper, they don’t seem very obedient but owners argue, and rightly so, that Chihuahuas respond exceedingly better depending on the person giving the commands.


    Why Is My Chihuahua So Darn Stubborn?


    Chihuahua owners believe that Chis ranked particularly low because of their (horrendously) stubborn attitudes. 

    Due to their strong-willed personalities, Chihuahuas need patience as many do not respond well to demands being "barked" at them. 

    Patience, consistency, and the best meaty treats tend to work a little magic on the Chihuahuas stubbornness. And, the more fun you add to their learning experience and training, the more fun it is for everyone. 


    The Top Reasons Why a Chihuahua is the Best Pet for Your Home 


    If you’re looking for compact courage and love that is adorably pint-sized, filled with bubbly energy, dares to check anything out, get a Chihuahua. Of all the different small breeds out there, no other dog takes the front seat. Quick to bond, this itty bitty pooch is unbelievably loyal, and did you know that Chihuahuas can be an excellent watchdog if trained well? That's right! Because Chihuahuas are naturally vocal and animated little animals, this means they are well equipped to let you know if someone (who wasn't invited over for afternoon tea) is knocking at the door.

    And we can't forget to mention that they also make the perfect bed warmer as they love to snuggle up close. 


    The saucy Chihuahua has well-earned its place as a favorite toy dog breed because of its intense devotion to a single person (even with the attitude).


    Thinking about getting a Chihuahua? Make sure you check out all you need to know about the Chihuahua breed.

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