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Are Miniature Schnauzers Smarter Than Most Dogs? Breed Characteristics & FAQ

Kerry-Ann Kerr Profile Picture

By Kerry-Ann Kerr

black miniature schnauzer dog in autumn in the leaves in the park

The Miniature Schnauzer is the smallest of the three Schnauzer breeds and is known to be friendly, bright, and outgoing. They’re recognizable for their rugged, wiry coats, charming, human-like expressions, and old man beards. “Schnauzer” actually means snout, which is fitting since theirs is so distinctive. But where exactly do they rank when it comes to intelligence? The Miniature Schnauzer comes in 12th out of 131, making it more intelligent than most dogs. A dog’s ease of training can signify intelligence, but there are also more concrete ways to measure a dog’s intelligence, and we’ll discuss them below.

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How Smart Are Miniature Schnauzers?

The Miniature Schnauzer is the smallest of the three Schnauzer breeds and ranks 12th in terms of intelligence. The Standard Schnauzer is 22nd, and the Giant Schnauzer is ranked 35th. The Miniature Schnauzer learns new commands quickly and is easy to train. They often excel in obedience competitions and can understand a new command with only five to 15 repetitions.

miniature schnauzer dog at the park
Image Credit: Roman Zaiets, Shutterstock

How Is a Dog’s Intelligence Measured?

A dog psychologist called Stanley Coren created the dog breed intelligence ranking and worked with 199 North American obedience trial judges to help with this study. Pure breed dogs from the American Kennel Club and Canadian Kennel Club participated. In total,131 breeds were ranked.

The test was split into two. First, they tested how many repetitions it took for a specific breed to learn a new command. Second, they tested what percentage of time the dog obeyed the command on the first attempt. If a dog earned a high percentage, it was considered obedient. Since the Miniature Schnauzer scored five to 15 repetitions to learn a command and obey it on the first attempt 85% of the time, it is considered quick to learn and obedient. Obedience is one of three types of intelligence, but there more to consider when it comes to canine intelligence

Working and Obedience Intelligence

Obedience is the most objective of the three types of intelligence because it’s the easiest to quantify and test. It’s essentially a dog’s ability to learn tasks and internalize instructions, and it is integral to our relationship with dogs. While we’ve grown to love our dogs for more than what they can do for us, the foundation of our relationship is built on the useful tasks they have done for us in the past.

young woman teaching miniature schnauzer some tricks
Image Credit: Romanova Anna, Shutterstock

Instinctive Intelligence

This is generally what a dog was reared for, such as herding dogs bred to herd animals. This ability to round up sheep, keep them together, and move them in a particular direction is inborn. The Miniature Schnauzer was originally bred to catch rats, which was a job usually given to Terriers, but the Miniature Schnauzer has a lively personality and innate ability that makes them excel at it.

Adaptive Intelligence

A dog’s ability to figure out things for themselves, learn, and solve problems is adaptive intelligence. This shows how a dog can learn from experiences with the environment and utilize this information to resolve new issues. Adaptive intelligence is more difficult to measure and can vary among individual dogs of a breed.

miniature schnauzer dog swimming
Image Credit: Santipap, Shutterstock

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Are Miniature Schnauzers Smarter Than Most Dogs?

Ranking 12 out of 131 breeds is impressive and makes Miniature Schnauzers smarter than most dogs. So, which breeds came out ahead?

  1. Border Collie
  2. Poodle
  3. German Shepherd
  4. Golden Retriever
  5. Doberman Pinscher
  6. Shetland Sheepdog
  7. Labrador Retriever
  8. Papillon
  9. Rottweiler
  10. Australian Cattle Dog
  11. Pembroke Welsh Corgi

Intelligence can vary even in the same breed, and there are ways as an owner that you can improve your dog’s intelligence:

  • Keeping their mind and body active: You can use puzzle toys and feeders to make your dog work for its food or a treat. Equally important is keeping its body active since Miniature Schnauzers are full of energy and need plenty of exercise to keep them healthy and happy.
  • Quality diet: A healthy, high-quality diet is crucial to your dog’s overall health and keeping it functioning at its best.
  • Socialization: Make sure you provide your dog with opportunities to socialize with people, animals, and other dogs.
  • Get toys: Making your dog’s environment more engaging and interesting will make them happy and less likely to get bored.
  • Teach tricks and commands: Learning will provide mental stimulation and enrichment.
  • Reward intelligence: Make sure to reward your dog with treats or praise when they do well.

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Some dog breeds outranked the Miniature Schnauzer, but coming 12th out of 131 still makes it quite intelligent. There are also ways you can boost your dog’s intelligence, such as investing in puzzle toys, serving a high-quality diet, and teaching them commands. Miniature Schnauzers are eager to learn, which makes training the adorable dogs an enjoyable experience.

Featured Image Credit: Vika Dubrovskaya, Shutterstock

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