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Why Are Poodles So Smart?

Growing up, I lived in a house with a poodle and I loved every minute of it. Our family poodle ended up living a long time and was a joy to be around. She seemed to love everyone who came into the home and never seemed to meet a stranger.

As I got exposure to other dogs, I also realized that our poodle was very smart. That got me wondering, are poodles really that much smarter than other dogs? Furthermore, just how smart are they?

Poodles Have Both Adaptive and Instinctive Intelligence

Poodles are among the smartest dog breeds out there. They have a high degree of both instinctive and adaptive intelligence. Therefore our poodle didn’t just seem smart. She was smart.

Examining Why Poodles Are So Smart

While the big words above are nice, it is better to try to pinpoint exactly why poodles are so smart. Even though this dog breed Is famous for its intelligence, there is much more to the intelligence of a dog than watching it follow commands and perform tricks.

It is better to take a closer look at just how smart the poodle can be. There are a few points that everyone should keep in mind.

Looking At a Medical Study: Poodles Rank Second

Recently, there was a study published by a renowned canine psychologist named Stanley Coren, who has a Ph.D. in this field. His study concluded that poodles were the second smartest dog breed out there.

He enlisted the help of close to 200 professional dog judges and came out with a set of criteria that he used to rank the intelligence of dog breeds. Some of the criteria that he used included:

  • The number of repetitions that it took a dog to learn a new command; the fewer repetitions it took a dog to learn a new command such as sit, stand, or stay, the smarter this dog was deemed to be
  • The success rate (in terms of percentage) that a dog breed will obey a known command on the first try; the more often a dog remembered the command on the first try, the smarter that dog was deemed to be

It is important to note that this study only looked at dogs that call North America home. Furthermore, not all dog breeds that were assessed made the final list because the sample size for a particular dog breed might have been too small.

In the end, poodles ranked second. Only the border collie performed better than the poodle. Some of the breeds that the poodle beat out to rank second include German shepherds, golden retrievers, and lab retrievers.

Based on the study, the poodle was able to learn a new command in fewer than five tries. While these commands were probably basic ones, this is still impressive nonetheless.

Finally, poodles in this study also boasted a 95 percent or higher success rate in remembering commands that were learned previously. Clearly, there are very few breeds that are as intelligent as the poodle.

This study simply goes to show that poodles are incredibly intelligent dogs. While this is only one study and it did not include every dog breed in the world, poodles are clearly among the smartest dogs out there.

It is always better to place an objective opinion on something like this, so it is nice that there is evidence to back up the gut feeling that most people have when it comes to poodles.

Now, it is time to take a look at a few more reasons why we consider poodles to be such intelligent dogs.

Comparing Poodles to an Average Dog

Let’s take a closer look at how poodles do when compared to other dogs that are out there. Sure, poodles are at the top of the list in terms of dog intelligence, but how did most dogs perform?

Average dogs are usually able to learn a new command with a few dozen repetitions. In general, they are able to grasp something in between 25 and 50 tries.

This means that poodles are able to learn a new command about five times faster (or more) than average dogs. In addition, it seems that average dogs will obey a command they know about 50 percent of the time. Sometimes, other dogs might not hear the command.

In other cases, they might not want to follow it. Sometimes, they simply forget that they know the command. These are all reasons why a dog might not obey a command on the first try. Again, the poodle solidly outperforms average dogs.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with being an average dog. Average dogs are wonderful! They make great companions. When it comes to dog intelligence, the poodle simply ranks higher.

Poodles Make Great Retrievers

One of the reasons why owners seem to believe that poodles are simply smarter than other dogs is that they have a high degree of instinctive intelligence.

This refers to the ability of a dog to use his or her instincts to perform helpful tasks. One example is the ability to retrieve. While poodles might not have the word “retriever” in their name, they still retrieve with ease.

It seems that the poodle evolved (or was bred) to retrieve items of all kinds. This includes balls, bones, toys, and even game.

Yes! The poodle can be used to retrieve certain animals when taken hunting! For example, poodles are great at retrieving water game, including ducks! Poodles are among the best swimmers out there. They don’t have to spend a lot of time learning how to swim.

They simply adapt to the water naturally when they get wet! This means that the instinctive intelligence of a poodle is exceptional. Not only can they swim well but they can retrieve ducks and return them to their owners. They happen to be one of the best breeds when it comes to this specific job.

Taking a Look at a Poodle’s Adaptive Intelligence

While instincts are important, they are only one part of the equation when it comes to evaluating the intelligence of a dog breed. Adaptive intelligence is the other component. Poodles have been shown to rank highly in this area as well.

When discussing adaptive intelligence, this refers to the ability of a dog, such as a poodle, to learn new tasks for himself or herself. This includes a few different points, such as:

  • Learn from the Past: How well does a dog learn from the past? If a dog makes a mistake, will he or she remember this and not make the same mistake again?
  • Problem Solving: If a poodle is faced with a problem, how well does he or she attack this problem? Can the dog solve this issue?

While this is just anecdotal evidence, I remember that the poodle I had as a child was an exceptional problem-solver. My dog even figured out how to use the bathroom door wedge!

When she realized that it was time for another bath, she would try to pick up the wedge and place it in the door, hoping that would stop me from getting inside! Of course, it didn’t work. My poodle still got a bath!

My poodle also knew what was required to go for a walk! If my poodle wanted to go for a walk, she would go and get the leash, place it in my hand, and bark. There is nothing like the adaptive intelligence of a poodle. It truly is impressive.

Poodles Often Clean Up After Themselves

As I was trying to learn more about dogs, I wanted to see if other owners had experiences that were similar to mine. I figured my stories would carry more weight if they are backed up by science (such as the study from above) as well as the experiences of other poodle owners. One of the common themes I noticed is that poodles seemed to clean up after themselves.

No, this doesn’t mean that poodles use the toilet. It means that poodles seem to pull out their toys and put them away when they are done with them.

One of the most common issues I have come across when talking to other dog owners is that they don’t like it when their dogs pull out all of their toys, throw them across the house, and don’t clean them up!

While most dogs do not clean up after themselves, poodles do! Or, at least they can be taught to do so thanks to their intelligence!

I encountered a few stories of poodles cleaning up their toys. This was surprising to me! Well, poodles are very smart dogs and it doesn’t surprise me that they can do this.

It’s just that my childhood poodle never seemed to clean up! Maybe we just didn’t teach her to do so! Regardless, having a dog that picks up its own toys is great! This is just another reason why poodles are so smart!