Are Golden Retrievers Intelligent?

The first time you brought home America’s favorite dog, you must have been really excited. Golden Retrievers are highly devoted, friendly and affectionate dogs. However, it seems as if most of their pet parents have the same question on their mind: “Are Golden Retrievers Intelligent?

Let’s Find Out: Are Golden Retrievers Intelligent?

Yes, they are highly intelligent. In fact, experts have deemed them the 4th smartest breed in terms of work intelligence and obedience (from over 138 different breeds of dogs).

Only the German Shepherd, Poodle and Border Collie breeds are considered to be smarter than Golden Retrievers out of numerous breeds, and hence, we consider them to belong to the top echelon of dog intelligence.

Are Golden Retrievers Intelligent?

Now that we’ve determined that Golden Retrievers are intelligent based on what researchers have to say, let’s have a closer look at their research parameters to better understand the ‘how’ of it all.

Pup-formance Criteria

Stanley Coren, the researcher who concluded that Golden Retrievers were, in fact, the 4th intelligent breed of dogs, had requested for the input of hundreds of obedience trial judges in North America. Their input helped him cross-match, analyze and finally, assess when dog breeds excelled based on 2 main determinants:

1. Number of Repetitions

This factor of determination signified the number of repetitions each dog breed had to go through to finally learn a command. Intelligent dogs, such as America’s favorite dog, require fewer repetitions and therefore, learn basic commands much more quickly.

2. Success Rate

Their success rate is determined by the rate at which they obey known commands on their first attempt. Dog breeds that have the highest success rates are, of course, considered to be more intelligent.

The only limitation of data possible in his research was that he only included dog breeds that had at least 100 responses from trial judges. Since Golden Retrievers are considered to be the 3rd most popular dog in the US, they had an overwhelming number of responses and therefore, faced no bias in data collection.

How Intelligent are Golden Retrievers?

Golden Retrievers had performed exceptionally well in terms of both the determining factors mentioned above. In fact, Golden Retrievers had easily soared to the Top 10’s very early on during the research process and were finally able to maximize their performance up to #4.

Simply put, Golden Retrievers were successful at learning new commands from their hoomans. More specifically, Coren had found that these playful fur-balls were able to learn new commands at an average of 5 repetitions. However, if you have ever been lucky enough to play with one of these people-pleasing and obedient creatures, you wouldn’t be as surprised as the rest.

Still, Golden Retrievers didn’t fail to impress when Cohen also concluded that this breed was accustomed to fulfilling known commands with a success rate of up to 95%! Again, intelligence seems to be quite an understatement for the obedience of these guys.

To add some context to our discussion, some other popular breeds of dogs that fit the upper echelon of dog intelligence include Poodles, Labradors, German Shepherds, Rottweiler and even Golden Retriever mixed-breeds, including the Goldendoodle.

Golden Retrievers vs Other Dogs

We’ve already determined where Golden Retrievers stand on the intelligence spectrum, but what does this information mean with respect to other dog breeds? This is why we chose dogs that ranked from #63 to #104 for a fair comparison.

Cohen found that the ‘average dog’ required anywhere from 25 – 40 iterations to fully learn unknown commands. When compared to the highly intelligent Golden Retrievers, this is 5x slower, and that, even in human-terms, is a lot!

On the other hand, in terms of obedience, average dogs obey known commands at an average success rate of 50% or higher. While this stat isn’t that bad on its own, it is nowhere near what Golden Retrievers are capable of.

Don’t get us wrong, though. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being average. Some of the most popular dog breeds in the world fall under the category of ‘average IQ’, namely, Siberian Husky, Great Dane, Dachshund, Boxer and Australian Shepherd.

Instinctive Intelligence

This refers to the innate ability or skill sets of particular dog breeds. Simply put – what your dog was born to do. Sure, dogs are only considered good companions and drug-sniffers, however, they were primarily guardians, game retrievers, hunting companions and herders.

Golden Retrievers, specifically, are retrieving and sporting dogs, as is quite evident in their name. More specifically, this breed of dog had managed to specialize in retrieving waterfowl once it had been shot by a hunter. Of course, this skill set is applicable across so many other categories such as small games.

To sum it all up, Golden Retrievers are excellent at fetching objects from water. For this reason, if you’re planning on testing the intelligence of your pup, try taking them for a casual swim around and watch how their natural instincts overshadow your trained skills.

Adaptive Intelligence

This is yet another dimension of intelligence and it simply refers to what dogs can learn by themselves. You see, even the average dog tends to have very high adaptive intelligence and are capable of applying their previous learning experiences simply based on memory.

When it comes to Golden Retrievers, their adaptive intelligence is so sharp that they quickly start associating objects with consequent actions. For instance, if you always wear your running shoes before taking them out on a walk, it isn’t long before your dog will be ready for a walk as soon as you undo their laces before putting them on.

Their adaptive intelligence is probably the reason they are such a delight around other pets or small children.

Our Final Thoughts

Now that we’ve answered your question, “Are Golden Retrievers intelligent?”, if you’re considering getting yourself one from the pound or the local pet shop, just ask yourself one question: “Do you love to get cuddled?’

If so, you’ll be glad to know that households that have at least one of these dog breeds are never short of cuddles. This is how these intelligent and elegantly ‘Golden’ creatures communicate their affection toward you or your loved ones.

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