Are Chihuahuas Smart? In-depth Dog IQ Analysis

by Sonya | Last Updated:   January 9, 2021
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Chihuahuas are graceful, small, and compact dogs. They are curious and willful little dogs. They have an alert expression and a terrier-like attitude.

These small, aggressive dogs have big personalities that make them the most fun, loyal companions.

But are Chihuahua’s smart? Chihuahuas can be a lot of things, but smart is not one of them. They do not rank well in the current list of smart dog breeds and do not have a reputation for being considered a smart dog.

Does this mean that all Chihuahua’s are “stupid”? Of course not, you could always make the argument that the way dogs are tested for intelligence doesn’t really say much except for what they are specifically testing for.

In this post we break down why Chihuahua’s are not always considered smart, and some helpful tips for boosting your Chihuahua’s brain power, so keep reading!

Chihuahua sticking out tongue not looking smart

What is the IQ of a Chihuahua?

According to Stanley Coren’s book, The Intelligence of Dogs (opens Amazon affiliate link), Chihuahuas are the 125th smartest dog breed out of 138. This lower rank is because these little ones lack obedience. They are considered below average for working and obedience intelligence.

Have you ever wondered what is really going on inside your Chihuahua’s head? Have you ever thought about the nature of your little companion’s memory? 

There are three dimensions of dog intelligence:

Working and obedience intelligence

Working and obedience intelligence indicates a dog’s ability to learn from humans.

Instinctive intelligence

Instinctive intelligence indicates a dog’s ability to perform the tasks it was bred for. These tasks can be herding, hunting, fetching, guarding, or companionship.

Adaptive intelligence

Adaptive intelligence refers to a dog’s ability to learn from past experiences and solve problems on its own.

These dogs need 40 – 80 repetitions for the understanding of new commands.

Dr. Dodman says, “Some dogs do some things better than others, and they have different behaviors.” Chihuahuas excel in both adaptive and instinctive intelligence areas. 

Chihuahuas were bred for companionship. These dogs are amazing at understanding human emotions because that’s what they were bred to do. 

To become a great companion, Chihuahuas learn about their owners and adapt to their current situation.

Are Chihuahuas dumb?

Most of the Chihuahua owners say that this breed is smart. However, Coren’s dog intelligence test says oppositely.

The primary reason for this discrepancy is that Coren’s dog intelligence rankings were primarily based on obedience trials. The top-performing dogs were more likely to obey known commands.

The Chihuahuas are known to be very stubborn dogs. They are not working dogs as they are bred for companionship. These little dogs are not motivated by obeying commands for the sake of working.

Obeying commands is a good starting point but there is definitely much more to a Chihuahua’s intelligence than just obeying commands. Many Chihuahua owners believe that if you know what motivates a Chihuahua, they will obey your commands.

Three Chihuahuas, 2 years old, dressed up and 1 year old, dressed up and3 years old, dressed up and sitting in front of white background

Are Chihuahuas easy to train?

The pocket-sized Chihuahua makes a fun companion, especially when trained. You can train your Chihuahua to do cute tricks!

There are plenty of Chihuahuas in competitive sports, shows, and movies, showing that they absolutely can be trained to advanced levels.

Chihuahuas have a reputation for being loud, snappy, and difficult to train dogs.

Here are some important basics when training a Chihuahua:

  • You must establish limitations and reassert yourself as the pack leader. If your Chihuahua doesn’t respect you, training will be difficult.
  • Always be gentle with them. Use a positive reinforcement protocol for training your dog. Punishment and negative reinforcement will not help in Chihuahua training.
  • Keep your training sessions short and engaging with lots of praises and rewards.
  • You must provide regular exercise and physical activity to your pet. This might help in making your dog more responsive to training.
  • Never use choke collars on a Chihuahua as their necks can easily get hurt.
  • Never allow your Chihuahua to jump from a high place as it might hurt its joints due to the landing impact.
  • Chihuahuas have a low tolerance for very hot and cold weather. If you are taking your Chihuahua for a walk during cold weather, let him wear a sweater. Also, avoid taking your Chihuahua out when the temperature is above 35 degrees. They are vulnerable to overheating.
  • Be sure to socialize your Chihuahua as much as you can with people and other pets.

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Some pet parent tips for Chihuahua owners:

Feeding

Always feed your Chihuahua at set intervals. Do not let your little one free feed. You are going to make the decisions in the household. Your Chihuahua needs to conform.

Walking

When you take your little dog for a walk, be sure to control the walk. Do not let your Chihuahua pull or decide on the direction you are going to go. Leash train your Chihuahua during puppyhood

Remain calm

Do not be harsh on your dog. Yelling and punishments at your Chihuahua only send mixed messages of aggression. Remain calm and redirect your little furry pal when it is misbehaving.

Jumping and Furnishings

Set your boundaries early on. You must impose some limitations while keeping a Chihuahua. Try to have some control of your space and set restrictions on what furnishings the dog is allowed. Chihuahua owners tend to easily let the dog get up on furniture whenever it wants.  

Entering and Exiting

Always have a low key entrance and departure. Only take notice of the Chihuahua when it reaches a calm and relaxed state.

To truly educate a Chihuahua, you need to be the alpha leader or the dog will always feel he is in charge.

Related Reading:

  1. Why Aren’t My Chihuahua’s Ears Standing Up?
  2. How Long do Chihuahuas Stay Pregnant? Pet Parent Tips
  3. How Long do Chihuahuas Stay in Heat?
  4. What is the Best Dog Food For Chihuahua Puppies

Final Thoughts

It’s not fair to label any dog breed as smart or dumb. Yes, some dogs are brighter than others and are easily trainable. In fact, most dogs are good at something, you just have to figure out what!

Although Chihuahuas do not rank high on Stanley Coren’s dog intelligence rankings, they are great companions and have high adaptive intelligence.

If you’re looking for a loving lap dog who can become your best friend for life, the Chihuahua is perfect for you. 

Sonya is a software engineer by day and recently earned her MBA degree, but she also loves spending her free time writing about her favourite passion, dogs! Click here to read more.