Golden Retrievers have been branded as America’s favorite family dog and for a good reason. They are known for being incredibly friendly, loving, and undeniably loyal canine companions. Not only do Golden Retrievers have the personality to become integral parts of any family, but their goofiness and lovability also come with a surprising secret weapon: their high IQ.
Don’t let their penchant for attempting to carry sticks twice their size through your front door fool you; Golden Retrievers are the fourth smartest dog breed in the world. They rank right behind Border Collies, Poodles, and German Shepherds.
Dr. Stanley Coren, a psychology professor and neuropsychological researcher, did a series of studies and research to determine the obedience intelligence in dogs after surveying and consulting over 200 obedience trainers and judges. He is known for his research into canine behavior and his determination that the smartest canine breeds can pick up new commands in less than five exposures and have an obedience percentage of about 95 percent.
Golden Retrievers are easy to train and can pick up on human emotions with little additional training. In fact, Golden Retrievers are so smart that their intelligence level matches that of a two-year-old human!
How Do We Know Golden Retrievers Are Smart?
It’s a big claim that Golden Retrievers are the fourth smartest dog, so what exactly determines how smart a dog is? Dr. Coren based his research on two specific factors: the number of repetitions necessary to learn a command and the success rate of obeying a known command on the first attempt. According to Coren’s research, Golden Retrievers required fewer overall repetitions to learn new commands. They also had a higher success rate of obeying orders on the first try.
Instinctive and Adaptive Intelligence
Another portion of Coren’s research determined that dogs have different types of intelligence. You can see how smart a dog is by examining its instinctive and adaptive intelligence.
As you can probably tell from the name, instinctive intelligence refers to a dog’s instincts. This intelligence centers on inherited abilities that are bred into specific dog breeds. It could be their hunting instinct, their nursing instinct, or, in the case of our Golden Retrievers, the instinct to retrieve things for you without you asking.
Unlike Instinctive Intelligence, Adaptive Intelligence is what a dog can learn without you explicitly training them. While this might seem confusing, a great example is your dog learning your daily routine. For example, say that you always put your dog in their crate when you leave your home. You do this often enough as part of overall crate training that it’s not an explicit command. Eventually, your dog will see you getting ready to leave, and they will go to their crate without you commanding them, giving them a treat, or leading them in that direction. Adaptive intelligence typically showcases skills your dog learned from previous experiences.
How Smart Are Golden Retrievers?
You might be wondering exactly how intelligent Golden Retrievers are. Knowing that they rank fourth smartest amongst 150 different dog breeds doesn’t necessarily equate to knowing how smart they are. Golden retrievers’ intelligence ranking is based on their overall ability to understand commands and their emotional intelligence.
Because they were bred as hunting dogs, they are highly attuned to their owner’s commands. During Coren’s research, he discovered Golden Retrievers were so good at learning new commands that some could even understand commands in as few as five repetitions. Their ability to perform tricks with minimal verbal and nonverbal cues shoots them up the intelligence list.
Golden Retriever’s reputation precedes them when it comes to their emotional intelligence. The furry friends are well known for their love, loyalty, and affection. Not only are Golden Retrievers highly expressive, but they can also notice and respond to the emotions of the people surrounding them. Your Golden can tell when you are happy or sad or angry, when you’re exhausted, and when you might need a bit more love.
Why Are Golden Retrievers Smart?
It’s no accident that different breeds display different levels of intelligence. Some breeds, specifically ones bred for a purpose like hunting or guarding, require a quicker ability to learn and increased responsiveness to an owner’s command.
Golden Retrievers were originally bred to be sporting and retrieving dogs. Breeders valued dogs that responded to commands and made sure to select those traits. Selective breeding has led to Golden Retrievers being smart and easy to train.
How Can I Tell if My Golden Retriever is Smart?
Even though, statistically speaking, Golden Retrievers are incredibly smart, determining your dog’s intelligence level is a whole different adventure. Your dog may enjoy eating cardboard as much as they love to learn and perform new tricks.
A great way to determine your Golden’s intelligence level is to monitor how easy they are to train. Keep track of how many times you have given the command before your dog starts to follow the expected behavior. You may also notice that your dog is incredibly attuned to your emotional state, which indicates their intelligence. Remember that emotional intelligence and learning tricks are separate factors in their overall intelligence level.
Golden Retrievers are amongst some of the most intelligent breeds. They are quick learners, dedicated companions, and loyal friends. They are ideal for any dog lover seeking an easily trainable lifelong companion.
No matter how brilliant your dog is, you will still have to invest time and effort into its training. Golden Retrievers benefit from mental stimulation and training challenges to keep them engaged. They will play with you every chance they get, and because of their eagerness to please you, they will thrive on active interactions with their owners and families.
Featured Image Credit: Ovchinnikova, Shutterstock