How Smart Is A Chihuahua Dog?

How Smart Is A Chihuahua Dog?

Chihuahua is the smallest existing dog breed weighing less than 10 pounds (4.5 kg). According to the FCI recommendation, their ideal weight is 6 to 7 pounds (2.7 – 3.2 kg). As for intelligence, most experts can’t agree on how smart is a chihuahua dog, and it is still a subject of long-standing debate.

The fact is that Chihuahuas ranks a lowly 125 in the list of the 138 most intelligent breeds in Stanley Coran’s Intelligence of Dogs book as a fair working smart dog. However, is the number of repetitions to learn new commands the only relevant thing when discussing Chihuahua intelligence rank? Let’s see.

How to Measure a Dog’s Intelligence?

Measuring intelligence in dogs is entirely different from the tests we use to prove people’s intelligence. In such a case, the primary criteria include two obedience tests for each breed:

  • The number of repetitions the dog needs to learn an unknown command.
  • The success rate to perform a known command from the first attempt expressed as a percentage.

The test seems logical at first sight, but most experts from the American Kennel Club are highly critical regarding it. For example, smart Chihuahuas can’t learn obedience and agility quickly, but you can teach your furry friend to participate in competitions that include these traits.

On the other hand, even though dog’s working intelligence doesn’t include only obeying commands, it is definitely a good starting point. Let’s see how to measure a dog’s intelligence in the best possible way.

1. Instinctive Intelligence

It is the primary dog trait embedded in their DNA we breed them for. For example, when people need a herding dog, they will choose the breed that rounds up sheep instinctively. Similarly, hunters always choose dogs that collect the birds or small game during a hunt.

Chihuahua with mouse toy

Originally, Chihuahuas were bred as ratters. Nowadays, most people choose them as companion dogs even though they have an instinctive ability to guard. That is probably a reason for the low Chihuahua smart ranking.

2. Adaptive Intelligence

This type of intelligence includes what a particular dog can learn to do based on past experiences. It is an individual trait and is not the same even among animals of the same breed.

Since it includes the dog’s ability to solve problems on its own, it is probably the essential aspect of its IQ. Companion dogs need to adapt to their owners, so they usually have high adaptive intelligence.

It is not a rule for each individual, but there are many examples of Chihuahua intelligence. This dog can learn to push and pull doors or wait for the owner in front of the door at the time he or she returns from work.

Keep in mind that these abilities are individual, and two dogs that live in the same home can develop different potential.

3. Working and Obedience Intelligence

This type of intelligence includes everything the dog can learn according to the owner or coach’s instructions. For example, each dog can learn primary commands, such as stay, sit, and paw. However, the time they need to learn something new varies greatly depending on the breed. In other words, this type of intelligence is in a direct correlation with the number of repetitions the dog needs to react to a particular command.

Chihuahua obedience

Some experts claim that it is quite hard to measure working intelligence since it often depends on the dog’s personality more than its IQ. So, are Chihuahuas stupid when they are not interested in pleasing you? I don’t think so. For example, one Chihuahua may need only ten repetitions before reacting to the particular command, while another more stubborn one needs at least 15 to 20 repetitions.

The only thing this can prove is that the first pet wants to please its owner while another one doesn’t care. Not to mention that some dogs learn quicker when you offer them treats and more attention.

4. Measuring the Chihuahua’s Intelligence

As I have already mentioned, there is no final agreement among experts when it comes to the question are Chihuahuas smart dogs. Some owners claim that they are dumb, but others are convinced their beloved furry friends are highly intelligent. How is it possible that there are so many differences of opinion?

It is most likely about the method that the reputable canine psychologist Stanley Coren used to measure the dog’s intelligence. He asked 199 obedience trial judges from different North America Kennel Clubs to conduct his research using specific criteria. After the obtained results, he concluded that the average dog could learn a new command after 25 to 40 repetitions. Since Chihuahuas need 40 to 80 repeating, it seems that they are not too below average.

Chihuahua training process

Another criterion includes the speed of obeying a known command after the first try. Most dogs can do that with at least a 50% success rate. Very often, Chihuahuas show better results and successfully obey this requirement at the first attempt in 30% of cases. The question is, why the discrepancy, especially when you know that this breed’s brain is larger compared to its body size than in other dogs? Experts explain this in several ways.

It is well-known that these animals are highly stubborn. Unlike working dogs, your Chihuahua is not particularly motivated to obey commands. The problem is also in the person giving the order, and this breed will respond depending on the level they like the man issuing the command. The only way for this dog to obey the command is to stimulate it adequately. In such a case, you will see how intelligent is a Chihuahua. Plus, it usually makes up a lack of obedience with high adaptive intelligence.


If you only focus on working intelligence and obedience, you will be disappointed with Chihuahua intelligence ranking. Luckily, these criteria are not the only measurement of dog intelligence, and Chihuahuas will excel at both adaptive and instinctive areas.

Keep in mind that these dogs are excellent for companionship, and you can be sure that your tiny furry friend understands your emotions and needs better than most other breeds. Take advantage of this lovely dog’s positive sides without paying too much attention to calculations that measure immeasurable.