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Are Poodles Smart? How Smart Are They?

Jessica Kim

By Jessica Kim

brown toy poodle at home

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Even though Poodles have a stereotype of being posh and snooty, they’re actually one of the smartest dog breeds. There’s a reason why so many Poodles become show dogs and working dogs. The mix of intelligence and eagerness to please often makes them successful in their line of work.

If you’re wondering just how smart Poodles are, research shows that they rank as the second most intelligent breed in the categories of obedience and work IQ. Here are some interesting things to know about this incredible dog breed’s intelligence.

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How Smart Are Poodles?

While a dog’s intelligence is often compared to the intelligence of a 2-year-old human, Poodles have learning capabilities that are at the level of a 2 or 2.5-year-old child. Some Poodles can learn around 250 distinct words and signals, and they can even perform basic math.

Psychologist and professor Stanley Coren is a leading expert on canine intelligence research, and he speculated that Poodles and other dog breeds have become increasingly smarter through the process of selective breeding. Dogs with intelligent traits were likelier to be bred to pass on these traits.

A recent example of smart Poodles is the social media sensation, Bunny the talking Sheepadoodle. Bunny gained recognition through TikTok videos of her communicating with buttons on a soundboard. She’s able to form four-word phrases, and she’s also seen asking questions and having conversations with her owner by pressing the right buttons.

Brindle poodle puppy carried by a man
Image Credit: PNW Production, Pexels

How To Measure Canine Intelligence

There are different ways to measure a dog’s intelligence.

  • Instinctive
  • Adaptive
  • Working and Obedience

Instinctive intelligence has to do with what the dog was originally bred to do. For example, hound dogs would have high instinctive intelligence based on how well they could sniff out and track game.

Adaptive intelligence is related to a dog’s problem-solving skills and ability to learn from its environment. Lastly, working and obedience intelligence is based on skills dogs learn from formal training classes, like obedience training.

Dogs are also known for having high emotional intelligence and the ability to recognize different facial expressions that humans make. This comes as no surprise as many dogs become successful emotional support dogs or professional therapy dogs.

poodle on a leash
Image Credit: AV_Photographer, Pixabay

Top 10 Smartest Dog Breeds

There are many smart dog breeds, and they rank differently based on what type of intelligence you’re measuring. For example, while Poodles excel in working and obedience intelligence, Golden Retrievers and Labradors are known to be highly intuitive and emotionally aware and are one of the most sought-after breeds for service dog work.

While each dog breed is smart in its own way, there are some that consistently excel in multiple fields of intelligence.

The following are known to be the top 10 most intelligent dog breeds:
  • Border Collie
  • Poodle
  • German Shepherd
  • Golden Retriever
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • Shetland Sheepdog
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Papillon
  • Rottweiler
  • Australian Cattle Dog
two standard poodles standing on grass
Image Credit: NandaArt, Pixabay

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Summing Up

Poodles may look adorable and fluffy, but they’re more than just their looks. They’re one of the smartest dog breeds and have high scores on intelligence and obedience tests. So, never underestimate a Poodle. These dogs are great thinkers, and they just might’ve been outsmarting you this whole time.

See also:

Featured Image Credit: NDAB Creativity, Shutterstock

Jessica Kim

Authored by

Jessica is a freelance writer who spends most of her day researching and writing while her fluffy Cavapoo, Nora, naps beside her. She loves and appreciates pets and animals because there’s so much to learn from them, and they do so much for people. As a dog mom, she understands the special connection that pet parents have with their pets. So, she loves sharing helpful information that people can use to better understand...Read more

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