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Are Mastiffs Smarter Than Most Dogs? Mental Stimulation Tips & Games

Jeff Weishaupt

By Jeff Weishaupt

Brindle Mastiff Close up

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Dr. Luqman Javed

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Mastiffs are affectionate, loyal, and protective dogs, thus being known as gentle giants. These dogs can be great companions and family pets, but many potential pet owners wonder if they’re smarter than other dogs.

Of course, dogs are individual animals, so true intelligence can vary from dog to dog. But factors like memory, socialization, and participation can measure a dog’s intelligence. In that case, Mastiffs can be somewhat intelligent, but they’re not the smartest dogs.

Keep reading to learn more about the intelligence of a Mastiff and how you can make them smarter.

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Are Mastiffs Smart?

Mastiffs are considered intelligent dogs, but intelligence can vary based on the individual dog. This breed is known and appreciated for its problem-solving skills and trainability. They also perform exceptionally under positive reinforcement and consistent training.

Mastiffs tend to have a gentle and patient temperament, making it easy for them to learn tricks. They’re most responsive to treats, praise, affection, and positive reinforcement. This means training can be a breeze for a smart Mastiff.

But there’s no doubt that the Mastiff is not the smartest dog out there. Though no official intelligence ranking exists for dogs, the breed is often outranked by various other breeds, such as the Border Collie, Poodle, and German Shepherd, on anecdotal lists that attempt to rank canine intelligence. Still, intelligence isn’t the main factor that makes a good pet, and Mastiffs have enough unique qualities to make them ideal companions.

Mastiffs vs. Other Dog Breeds

Image Credit: 947051, Pixabay

It’s tricky to accurately compare the intelligence of a Mastiff with other dog breeds. That’s because dogs are individual animals, which means their intelligence may vary from dog to dog, not breed to breed. However, the American Kennel Club (AKC) considers Mastiffs an averagely intelligent breed.1

Mastiffs are quick learners and respond well to consistent, positive training methods. They also have a keen sense of loyalty and obedience, which makes them highly motivated to please their owners.

This is especially noteworthy given their large size and strength, as such breeds aren’t often known for their intelligence and responsiveness.

Mastiffs are also very adaptable to various situations and environments compared to other breeds. They can adjust well to new surroundings by quickly processing new information and learning from their experiences. This adaptability gives them an advantage over other dog breeds, highlighting their capacity to think critically and problem-solve.

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The Intelligence of a Mastiff

Each dog breed is intelligent in its own way, having different skill sets according to its brain structure and personality. Although some breeds may have a broader skill set, here are a few ways your Mastiff can be intelligent:


The Mastiff typically has a great memory. They can remember things like the scent of their owners, familiar surroundings, and the location of their food and water. Their keen sense of smell aids their good memory and keeps them highly attuned to their environments.

As they can remember scents, they can also recognize people after some time by associating them with a smell. These highly trainable dogs quickly memorize commands and tricks during training sessions. Positive reinforcement will make you more likely to help your Mastiff remember tricks.

Of course, their short-term memory only lasts a few minutes, like any other dog. However, their long-term memory can last months to even years. That means your Mastiff will remember you for years after not seeing you if you’ve entered its long-term memory.

These dogs can also remember and associate certain memories as positive or negative. These experiences can influence their reactions and behaviors in the future. Overall, a Mastiff’s memory is its strongest suit regarding intelligence.

mastiff dog with tongue out
Image Credit: Michal Ninger, Shutterstock


Mastiffs are sociable dogs and can be friendly with humans and other dogs. Of course, their temperament highly influences their friendliness level, along with early training and socialization experiences.

Early socialization helps Mastiffs learn how to interact with different animals and humans. It’s a great way to prevent unwanted behavior or aggression in the long run, so it should begin during the puppy stage. It should also involve exposure to various experiences, people, and places.

This will allow them to socialize with any other pets in the house without breaking out into a fight. Since these dogs are large, it’s always best to supervise interactions with a smaller dog breed.


Mastiffs can be pretty smart, so they learn tricks quickly after receiving the right training, positive reinforcement, and training. However, factors such as motivation, personality, and age can influence how well a Mastiff participates and learns tricks.

Their gentle and patient temperament makes them great learners, but they’re also motivated by positive reinforcement. You’ll find that your Mastiff reacts best to affection from its owners, praise, and treats.

With consistent and positive training, any dog can learn various tricks. That includes basic commands like sit, stay, shake, and come.

Still, it’s important to remember that all dogs learn at their own pace. Your Mastiff may not learn tricks as fast as Border Collie or Poodle and may even have a stubborn streak. Practicing patience and consistency is the only way to make training easier for a Mastiff.

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Providing Intellectual Stimulation for Your Mastiff

Image Credit: Ricantimages, Shutterstock

Like human beings, your Mastiff needs a chance to improve its intelligence. With some help from their owners, they can become more intelligent than most dogs of the same breed, so it’s best to keep your Mastiff stimulated and thinking.

Here are a few ways to intellectually stimulate your Mastiff:

Provide Mental Stimulation

Mastiffs need mental stimulation like any other dog to keep their minds active and engaged. You can provide this in the form of various puzzle toys. Treat dispensers are a great example since their problem-solving skills and thought process are rewarded by a treat.

You can also include new commands and tricks to keep their minds sharp in your training sessions.

Enroll in Training Classes

The best way to help your Mastiff learn new skills is by enrolling them in training classes. The trainers will help your furry friend get smarter and improve their obedience. Professional dog training classes utilize positive reinforcement tactics like clicker training to encourage your Mastiff and expand its mental abilities.

Play Interactive Games

A brisk may be easy enough to meet your dog’s daily exercise requirement, but including some interactive games is also crucial. That includes games like tug of war, fetch, and hide and seek, which urge your Mastiff to use problem-solving skills and improve its physical fitness.

Give Them Plenty of Exercise

Mastiffs need about an hour of daily exercise to stay mentally and physically fit. After burning their energy levels daily, your Mastiff is more likely to be content and relaxed, making them more open to learning new tricks.

Socialize Your Mastiff

After adopting your Mastiff, socialize them while in the puppy stage by exposing them to new experiences and environments. Socializing them with other animals and people can also help improve their cognitive abilities in the long run.

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Dogs are individual animals, so their intelligence doesn’t depend on the breed. However, Mastiffs generally showcase intelligent behavior with the help of their trainability and problem-solving skills. Most importantly, they react well to positively reinforced training.

If your Mastiff isn’t intelligent, it’s worth noting that it’s not the only factor that makes a great dog. Each breed has its own unique traits, such as protectiveness, affection, and loyalty in Mastiffs.

Whether your Mastiff is a genius or not, they’ll bring joy as a companion for years to come.

Featured Image Credit: Joseph Gruber, Shutterstock

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