Are Dachshunds Smart? – Here’s Why They Rank Low For Dog Intelligence

If you’re planning to bring home a Dachshund, you’ve made a great decision! These German dog breeds are friendly and affectionate, with a little bit of spunk. However, potential owners may be wondering just how intelligent these little badger dogs really are.

So, are Dachshunds smart? According to canine psychologist, Stanley Coren, Dachshunds are the 92nd most intelligent dog breed for working & obedience dog intelligence. The low intelligence ranking is mainly due to their stubborn and independent nature. However, Dachshunds are exceptionally smart when it comes to their instinctive intelligence. In fact, it’s why they’re some of the best badger hunters.

Though Dachshunds are considered “average” in dog intelligence, there are many reasons why they’re actually a lot smarter than you’d think. While Dachshunds perform poorly in one aspect of dog intelligence, they tend to excel in other areas. Let me explain why.

How We Measure a Dachshund’s Intelligence

The list of dog breeds ranked by intelligence was developed by Stanley Coren, a researcher, pHD and prominent canine psychologist. However, his rankings measured just one component of dog intelligence, that is, obedience & working intelligence.

He did have some help with his research, though. Coren contacted all the North American obedience trial judges from the Canadian and American Kennel Club to ask for help in measuring dog IQ. To his surprise, nearly 200 obedience trial judges agreed to participate.

He asked the obedience judges to assess and rank various dog breeds based on the criteria that he developed.

Stanley Coren’s Dog Intelligence Criteria

To fully understand why Dachshunds ranked so low in Coren’s dog intelligence rankings, we must first understand the criteria used by the renowned psychologist. While they were initially met with a lot of criticism, it makes a lot of sense for obedience and working.

His trials were based on the following:

  1. How many repetitions it took for a dog breed to learn a new, unknown command. As you may have guessed, fewer repetitions meant a smarter dog.
  2. The success rate in which a dog breed will obey a known command on the first attempt. Breeds with a higher success rate ranked better on the dog intelligence list.

Coren made sure that only dog breeds with at least 100 responses qualified for his final dog intelligence ranking list. As a result, only 138 different dogs qualified. Because of how popular Dachshunds were at the time, they had no problem qualifying.

In addition, only breeds recognized by the AKC or CKC were allowed to participate in the trials. This means no mixed dog breeds or rarer international breeds, either. Dachshunds are recognized by both kennel clubs, so they had a chance to participate.

How the Dachshund Performed

Based on Coren’s criteria, the Dachshund was the 92nd best performing dog breed. Because there were 138 dog breeds in total, this placed these dogs in the “average intelligent” class. But what exactly does this mean for the Dachshund?

This meant that the Dachshund was able to understand and learn a new command with 25 to 40 repetitions. As such, it may take a whole afternoon to teach a Dachshund a command – depending on the complexity.

On the other hand, a Dachshund is able to successfully obey a known command on the first attempt with only a 50% or better success rate. Not too bad at all. However, this is still considered “average” among dogs that took part in the obedience trials.

For reference, many other popular dog breeds are in the same intelligence class as the Dachshund. The Australian Shepherd, Cavalier King Charles SpanielSiberian Husky, Great Dane, Havanese, Boxer are all “average intelligent” dogs. So, there’s nothing wrong with being average.

Dachshunds vs. The Smartest Dogs

Now that we have a good understanding of what an average dog is capable of, how do Dachshunds compare to the “smartest” dogs in the world?

Breeds in the bright dogs group are able to learn a new command with just 5 to 15 repetitions. In addition, bright dogs are able to obey a known command on the first try with an 85% or better success rate

For reference, other dogs in the bright dogs category include: both Corgi breedsCocker Spaniel, Brittany and the Pomeranian.

The top 10 smartest dogs are on another level. They’re able to learn a new command with less than 5 repetitions! Also, the top 10 dogs are able to obey a known command with a 95% or better success rate

The dog breeds in the top 10 category include the Rottweiler, Golden RetrieverGerman ShepherdPoodle and the Border Collie (at the number 1 spot). 

Why Dachshunds Rank Low in Dog Intelligence

One of the biggest complaints we hear from Dachshund owners is that they’re little, stubborn dogs. Sure, maybe not all Dachshunds are stubborn, but it’s more common than you think. 

The problem with a stubborn Dachshund is that they’re not always willing to cooperate in obedience training. They won’t do it just for the sake of “working.” And because Coren’s intelligence trials are heavily based on obedience, we can understand why Dachshunds would perform poorly.

However, just because your Dachshund doesn’t obey your command on the first try doesn’t mean they don’t know what you’re asking. It’s very possible that they’re just too stubborn to give in to what you want.

Some Dachshunds will do what they want. Others may obey, but it’s not necessarily because the owner gave a command. If they feel like it, they’ll do it. It really depends on the individual dog.

However when it comes to Dachshunds, the key is to shower them with a lot of affection and love. If you love your Dachshund unconditionally, they’ll begin to start opening up and cooperating.

This won’t happen overnight and will require some patience with your dog. Always train with positive reinforcement, as it works (by far) the best with Dachshunds. 

There are certainly some limitations to the way Coren designed his trials. And although we think it’s a good place to start, it certainly doesn’t truly measure a dog’s intelligence. 

Reasons Why Dachshunds Are Smart

Real owners will tell you that Dachshunds are fantastic at communicating with humans. These dogs understand their owners very well and are unusually good at telling them what they want. 

But when it comes to measuring true dog IQ, there are two other important componentsinstinctive and adaptive intelligence. Even Stanley Coren will admit that these two components of dog IQ exist.

I would argue these dimensions are even more important than obedience and working intelligence, which were used for Coren’s trials. The unfortunate thing is that these other two types of intelligence are very difficult to measure on an objective level.

The Hunters’ Intelligence in Dachshunds

Instinctive intelligence refers to the ability or special skill that the dog was bred with. Most dog breeds that you see today weren’t always companion dogs. In fact, true companion dogs in the past were rare. Most of them had a role or job in society.

For example, Corgis were bred to be herding dogs. Thus, their instinctive intelligence is herding. Dobermans were bred to guard and protect. Similarly, Labradors were bred to retrieve, hence their natural ability to retrieve their ball or toy when thrown.

But how is this a type of dog intelligence? Let’s consider the herding dog.

The ability to push and drive livestock towards different directions requires this special type of intelligence. These dogs know exactly where to go to move animals in their desired direction. They’ll cut them off and chase them from different angles to achieve this.

Similarly, Dachshunds were bred to be badger hunters. In fact, they were one of the fiercest and most aggressive hunters at one point in time. Their instinctive intelligence is the ability to track down badgers with their noses and flush them out of their burrows.

Plus, having elongated bodies and short legs help them efficiently maneuver through the burrows. They’re so good at hunting badgers, the American Kennel Club tried to rebrand them as “badger dogs.” That being said, the world’s smallest hunting dogs have extremely high instinctive intelligence.

The Dachshund’s Adaptive Intelligence

The final dimension of dog intelligence is adaptive intelligence. This type of smartness refers to the dog’s ability to learn for itself. Is the dog good at solving problems? Do they learn from past mistakes and experiences? These are all key questions when identifying adaptive IQ in dogs.

Instinctive intelligence in roughly the same for all individual dogs within a breed. However, adaptive intelligence can vary within a dog breed. The good news is that Dachshunds generally score well in this department.

For example, Dachshunds are capable of understanding a huge vocabulary, which is why they’re so adept in the communication department.

Are Dachshunds For Me?

It’s important that when you choose a dog breed, you don’t decide based on an “expert” calling one dog breed intelligent.

Dogs really don’t need to be that smart. Most dog breeds, including the Dachshund, are more than capable of giving you what you need. 

Instead of asking how smart Dachshunds are, you should be asking “does a Dachshund’s personality or fit mine? It’s more important that Dachshunds are compatible with you and your family.

With that said, Dachshunds are one of the most loving breeds you can find. They can be a little mischievous at times, but it’s all part of their charm. They’re the ultimate German lap dog. If you still feel like Dachshunds are right for you, then you should absolutely get one! 

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