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Aster's avatar

Do you think large dogs tend to be smarter than little dogs?

Asked by Aster (15576 points ) January 6th, 2013

Most often, the dogs that appear to be really smart are German Shepherds , Yellow Labs and large mixed breeds while little dogs like bichons and Maltese are rarely linked with outstanding acts of intelligence. Do you think large dogs are more intelligent than small dogs and if so, why would they be smarter?

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10 Answers

cazzie's avatar

Smaller dogs tend to have been breed for their looks, not their ability to do a task, like herd or fetch and assist in hunting. Larger dog breeds were bred for these skills. Some smaller dogs, like some terriers, were bred for hunting smaller prey, like rats. They were bred for their tenacity. Of course, I am generalising here. I’m sure people have owned small dogs that were very clever and I have certainly known large dogs that were dumb as bricks. I have known of Afghan hounds to be rather stupid and had poor sense of direction and get lost very easily. But when I see an annoying barking small dog, my son and I look at eachother and say, ‘Little dog, Little brain.’ and laugh.

Shippy's avatar

Perhaps you are assuming this on brain size. But their brains are proportionate to their body. It is said certain breeds are more intelligent. But I would imagine that is based on what is expected of the dog. For example hunting dogs will be perceived to be smarter by hunters.But their genetic inherent instincts are just honed to hunting. Instinctual behavior is not intelligence as rated by human methods.

marinelife's avatar

The smartest breed is the border collie, which is by any measure a medium-sized dog. I don’t think size is an indicator.

TinyChi's avatar

Not really, dude.
My border collie is like not the brightest dog in the world and my little terriers are actually pretty smart and fast learners. I also used to have like an Australian Shepard who was like the biggest air head, she was awesome though.

muppetish's avatar

Piggy-backing off @marinelife, the second smartest dog in the world, the poodle, is a small to medium-sized dog (toy, miniature, and standard.) Size isn’t the greatest indication. Breed is generally a good indication, but not always so (as @TinyChi notes.)

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

I really think it all depends on the dog, just like with people. I’ve seen smart and stupid dogs of all breeds. I bought my mom a toy poodle puppy years ago and it was my job to train him. That little thing potty trained in three days, and learned whatever I taught him, in a snap. No joke. He was brilliant. He had the nastiest, knock-you-on-your-ass dog breath ever, but he was brilliant.

hiphiphopflipflapflop's avatar

Here is a ranking based on the responses of 199 obedience judges of the American Kennel Club and the Canadian Kennel Club. They are defining ‘intelligence’ as the number of times a dog trainer needs to repeat a new command before a ‘typical dog’ of that breed understands and obeys it as well as the number of times a known command generally needs to be repeated before it is obeyed.

tinyfaery's avatar

JRTs are quite intelligent. I think your premise has been disproven.

Why even question it? Look all around you; size has little to do with intelligence.

rooeytoo's avatar

These are all generalizations because nothing is written in stone. First I would ask if you are referring to actual intelligence or trainability? They are 2 entirely different things. Dogs from the working and herding breeds are usually the most intelligent and trainable, they include large and small dogs but mostly larger breeds. Course there are some dumb ones in there too, huskies are not noted for either as a rule. I have always had bouviers and akitas, both extremely intelligent but tough as nails to train. They have a thought process that makes a lot of humans look dumb in comparison. Terriers were bred to go to ground (terra) after critters that could easily kill them. They are courageous and tenacious but you don’t see them in obedience trials because they are not overly smart or trainable. Poodles are usually smart and trainable, the toys being the least of the 3. Hunting dogs are usually in the same catagory as terriers, they are bred for a purpose and some still are good at that purpose. And some are extremely eager to please which makes them trainable.

Dogs are not unlike people, there are no hard and fast rules. My dingo mutt is so smart it is scary, she definitely thinks and obeys when she chooses. I go back to my usual mantra, go to a reputable breeder and question them about their breed. Someone who has been in the breed for 20 years or so. They can give you the best lowdown on their breed.

One should also say that dogs are like humans in that some are smarter than others. I know a couple of people who have utility degrees on their afghans but they bred the dogs themselves specifically for obedience whereas most afghans are dumber than dirt and not particularly trainable either.

The link @hiphiphopflipflapflop is good and explains the different types of intelligence more eloquently than I. It is old though, JRT’s have beenrecognized by the AKC for some time now I believe.

Blondesjon's avatar

No, but I do firmly believe that dogs are infinitely smarter than cats.

oh yeah. that just happened.

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