How smart are Golden Retrievers?

how smart are golden retrievers

The Golden Retriever is a friendly and affectionate family dog that enjoys great popularity. However, few people are aware of how smart Golden Retrievers are.

So are Golden Retrievers smart? The Goldie is one of the most intelligent dog breeds in the world, ranking 4th in some statistics. But the breed is not only characterised by intelligence, but also by the will to use it. The Golden Retriever has a high will-to-please, which means that it wants to please its owner and learns quickly.

How to measure if a Golden Retriever is smart?

The criteria to call a Golden Retriever smart can certainly vary from person to person. Who wants to determine that?

Prof. Stanley Coren, for example, puts it down to the following:

How intelligent or how smart Golden Retrievers are, can be seen by how fast a new command or a new trick is learned.

How fast does not mean the duration in “time”, but how many repetitions do I need until the Golden Retriever understands the command. The simplest and first command that everyone teaches their dog is probably “sit”.

A Golden Retriever learns very quickly that he should sit when the command “Sit” comes. Usually this can be achieved with a few repetitions in a short time.

If a dog needs a maximum of 5 repetitions to learn a command, he is considered smart according to his criteria.

Now, don’t make the mistake of thinking that dogs that take much longer are therefore “dumber”. They are often more stubborn and don’t see the point of sitting down for a treat. They are then more difficult to train and motivate.

How intelligent a Golden Retriever is can also be seen by how confidently it will perform a known command.

So if you teach your Golden Retriever the command “Sit” in a few minutes, the chance that he will perform it directly in the following days is very high. The success rate for a Golden Retriever to safely perform a learned command the first time is 95%.

In summary, we can say that Golden Retrievers learn quickly and execute the learned command very confidently on the first try.

I can use our Cane Corso as a comparison, who learns commands very quickly and is happy to carry them out. Our Broholmer is exactly the opposite. She doesn’t always sit down for a treat or a stroke.

how smart are Golden Retrievers
© Alexander

How intelligent are golden retrievers?

According to Prof. Stanley Coren’s research, the Golden Retriever is the fourth most intelligent dog breed in the world.

As an average dog owner, it is possible to teach a Golden Retriever a basic command with less than 5 repetitions.

The chance that the Golden Retriever will perform this command successfully the first time is 95%.

That is very good. If you are looking for a smart dog that learns new commands quickly, the Golden Retriever is the right choice.

How much smarter is the Golden Retriever compared to other breeds?

Taking the above criteria as a benchmark, about 25 to 80 repetitions are required for a command to be successfully learned at ranks 55 and above, and the success rate on first execution is about 50%.

These breeds include the French Bulldog, Chihuahua or Pug to name a few.

You see, if you get a Golden Retriever or maybe you already have one, your dog is smarter than average and is one of the most intelligent dogs around.

Are there any dumb dogs?

According to the above criteria, if the dogs in the top 10, like the Golden Retriever in 4th place, are considered smart, then the dogs in the back places would have to be stupid.

But that’s a bit too short-sighted. Just because a dog learns a command quickly, because it might even be greedy and do anything for a treat, doesn’t automatically make all dogs stupid that don’t do that.

Some breeds think and work independently. For these breeds it simply makes no sense to do this or that for a treat.

In my opinion, the list is a good indicator of whether a dog likes to learn quickly, but not necessarily proof that a dog is stupid because it needs more tries or takes more time.

What else makes a Golden Retriever smart?

In addition to obedience and working intelligence, Instinctive and Adaptive Intelligence are among the criteria that determine whether a Golden Retriever is smart.

Instinctive intelligence is the ability that is in the genes of each breed. What were the dogs originally used for.

The Golden Retriever was and is an English hunting dog used for retrieving shot waterfowl and other animals. So he had to be smart enough to track down the prey and bring it to the hunter without biting it.

Other dog breeds, according to the first two criteria are considered stupid, such as the Mastiff, are classic guard dogs.

In this case they are there to protect their territory and family and are so intelligent that they do not let a stranger in. With a Golden Retriever this is not said, especially not if you stand at the fence with a treat.

So intelligence is also sometimes multifaceted and different for everyone. Just because you are bad in math you can still be above average in foreign languages.

The next point to find out if a Golden Retriever is smart is the adaptive intelligence.

This tells you if a dog learns from its mistakes or uses a certain behavior on its own in certain situations. Dog breeds with high Adaptive Intelligence can learn from their own mistakes or situations.

Example of Adaptive Intelligence are:

  • You put on your shoes, which you always put on when you take your Golden Retriever for a walk. Your Golden Retriever eventually knows that there is now a walk and is happy.
  • On the walk, your dog knows if he walks quietly past other dogs, there will be a reward.
  • With our Cane Corso, I notice immediately when she doesn’t want to jog. Normally, she always comes running happily. But sometimes I noticed that when I wore my running clothes, she disappeared into her dog bed with her head down. She knew, now I want to jog and she showed me so that she is not there today.

Also in this category, the Golden Retriever is considered smart or intelligent. They can adapt to their environment and situations very well. This is also the reason why everyone likes them.

What speaks for a Golden Retriever

You now know that a Golden Retriever is an intelligent dog. So you can and will have a lot of fun with him if you want to teach him all kinds of things. Besides, he is just a friendly, affectionate dog.

The Golden Retriever needs a little more exercise than the average. This comes from his original use and the fact that he was out all day with the hunter.

So if you’re looking for an intelligent, active and loving family dog, you’re right on the money with the Golden Retriever. In addition the Golden Retriever is easy to train.

Conclusion: How smart are Golden Retrievers?

The Golden Retriever is one of the smartest dog breeds in the world. They learn new commands quickly and can perform them confidently after a short time.

Their strong will-to-please makes them easy dogs to train.

© (featured Image)


I am Marco and I have the pleasure of living with 3 large Mastiff-type dog breeds. I would like to share my dog-related experiences on this blog

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