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Are Golden Retrievers Smart? What You Need to Know!

Patricia Dickson

By Patricia Dickson

Golden Retriever eating

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Dr. Paola Cuevas

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The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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If you’ve ever been around a Golden Retriever, you know why they have quickly become one of the most popular dogs in the world to own as a family pet. Their popularity is largely because they are so gentle and have great personalities. Initially, the breed was bred as hunting dogs but evolved over the years into excellent family pets.

It’s also been said quite often that Golden Retrievers are smart. Yes, Golden Retrievers are incredibly intelligent. But, just how intelligent are they? We’ll talk about this and more in the article below.

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Are Golden Retrievers Smart?

Yes, Golden Retrievers are very intelligent. This breed is easy to train, and they learn commands very quickly. Some believe that Golden Retrievers are as smart as most 2-year-old humans.

Why Are Golden Retrievers So Smart?

Golden Retrievers have been ranked as the fourth most intelligent dog in the world, only coming in fourth behind Poodles, German Shepherds, and Border Collies.

Well-known psychologist Stanley Coren asked almost 200 obedience trial judges from North America to help him study the intelligence levels of different dog breeds to see which ones were the smartest. Coren decided the dogs had to meet two criteria to determine their intelligence levels. The first was how long it took them to learn a new command, and the second criterion was the success rate in which the dog performed a command on the first attempt if the command was new.

woman gives a toy to her golden retriever dog
Image Credit: Natalia Anyukhina, Shutterstock

What Were the Research Findings?

As you would imagine, Golden Retrievers performed well during the tests. It was also determined that the breed could easily learn a new command within five repetitions, which is amazing compared to the average dog.

Most dogs in the study ranked between 63rd and 104th place and needed at least 25 to 40 repetitions to perform a new command, which is five times slower than the Golden Retriever. The average obedience intelligence of Golden Retrievers is 95% on the first try when it comes to new commands. The average dog only scored 50%.

Areas of Intelligence Where the Golden Retriever Shines

While the areas below aren’t the only areas where the Golden Retriever performed exceptionally, they are the ones where they shined brilliantly.

Golden retriever dogs lying on floor_
Image Credit: Tatyana Vyc, Shutterstock


As you probably already know, Golden Retrievers love water, and hunting waterfowl comes easily to them. The dogs were initially bred to hunt waterfowl, and the hunters only needed to give them a couple of commands for the dogs to retrieve the birds. This means Goldens scored high in intelligence in the hunting category.


We’ve all seen feel-good movies with Golden Retrievers as actors. They learn commands quickly, making it simple to follow directions on set.

Here are some examples of Golden Retrievers featured in movies and on television.

  • Buddy: Air Bud
  • The Buddies: The Buddy movies
  • Bailey: A Dogs Purpose
  • Comet: Full House
  • Duke: Busch Beans Commercials

Goldens are chosen as actors not only for their beauty but also for their calm demeanor and intelligence.

Detection Dogs

Golden Retrievers are one of the most commonly used breeds for detection dogs. Golden Retrievers have a keen sense of smell, and law enforcement agencies often use them to sniff out drugs at airports, seaports, and border crossings. They help track down fugitives and reduce the amount of drug trafficking.

Golden Retriever dogs on the grass
Image Credit: Petr Jilek, Shutterstock

Do Golden Retrievers Make Good Pets?

Golden Retrievers make excellent pets. In fact, they are one of the most highly recommended pets for families. Since they are so intelligent, friendly, and gentle, they do great with children, especially when they grow up together.

Don’t be surprised if your Golden Retriever looks after your little ones and is very protective of them. Expect your Golden Retriever to tag along to family BBQs, the beach, and certainly any picnics since they are super friendly, even to strangers.

The dogs also do well with other pets. However, they have a strong prey drive, and you’ll want to ensure that you train and socialize them as puppies for the best results. Golden Retrievers are rambunctious when they are younger, so make sure to keep an eye on smaller pets.

Is Your Golden Retriever Smart?

The Golden Retriever will be smart, no matter which dog you give a forever home. It’s not only the experts that say this breed is extremely intelligent. Pet owners agree it’s a very loyal, smart, gentle breed. You will need to train and pay attention to your dog, just as you do with any dog breed you adopt.

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Final Thoughts

Golden Retrievers are brilliant animals that respond well to training and enjoy human companionship. It’s not only their intelligence that makes them great family pets, but it’s also their loyalty and ability to love you as much as you love them.

Featured Image Credit: Chendongshan, Shutterstock

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