Smart Female Pug with Glasses

Are Pugs Smart or Just Extra Special?

Are Pugs Smart or Just Extra Special?

Pugs are goofy fellows with a whole lot of personality. Their flat nose and expressive eyes make them highly appealing. So if you are also into getting a Pug, you should wonder about their smartness.

“Are Pugs smart?” Well, the rumors aren’t exactly what you want to hear. Your Pug baby isn’t the A+ student you want him to be.

Pug’s canine intellect is categorized as below average. According to Stanley Coren’s dog intelligence list, Pugs hold 108th position. This is out of 136 qualifying breeds.

But don’t let this pull you off of this lovely companion. A Pug’s high adaptability makes up for his intelligence. And let’s not forget the unconditional love this fellow has to offer!

This blog contains everything you need to know about your sweet fido’s brain. Today, we will look at Pug intelligence and how it works. But, first, let’s explore what makes your fur baby smart.

Dive In!

Are Pugs Smart or Dumb?

Absolutely not!

Yes, we agree. Pugs are ranked low in Stanley Coren’s dog intelligence trials. But that doesn’t make them dumb. It’s just a false rumor haunting the dog-loving community for a while.

Pugs are highly trainable fellows. They are fast learners. In fact, a trained Pug is a highly low-maintenance companion. Yet, many people believe in rumors that a Pug is an unwise breed.

Most of these tales come from people who don’t know Pugs very well.

The Pug’s goofy appearance causes some rumors. But, unfortunately, your fur baby’s sense of humor is widely mistaken as stupidity. So the lovely dog has gained popularity as a clown of the dog world. But the truth is there is no such thing as a dumb Pug.

It’s true. All dogs are intelligent in a unique way. Each Pug has different characteristics and strengths, making them bright. And humans are often unable to see these strengths clearly.

Every dog has a different type of intelligence and skills. Following are the three types of intelligence a dog breed can have.

Instinctive Intelligence

Pug with Purple Ring

The original purpose of the breed describes this intelligence. It highlights the skills of why a dog was bred. And how successfully is the breed performing now? For instance, some dogs are bred for hunting purposes. Others turn out excellent retrievers.

Are Pugs Smart in their instinctive intelligence? Probably not.

They aren’t hunters unless it’s a treat that you’re bringing out of the pantry. They aren’t retrievers. Pug owners know at any time during a game a catch, their Pug may get bored and move on to something else. Like smelling their rump or something.

Adaptive Intelligence

This intelligence lets a dog figure out a solution on his own. Yes, it is similar to self-learning. It encourages decision-making abilities. A pup shows adaptive intelligence when he learns from previous mistakes and then makes changes.

Are Pugs smart in their adaptive intelligence? Yes, if it is their goal in mind, not necessarily yours. How many Pugs do you know that have learned to put ½ inch of their chin on the coffee table to look up with those sad eyes? I’ve known quite a few, especially when I’m having a snack on the couch. Pugs learn sweet little behaviors that get them a treat. Or at least, they learn behaviors that get someone telling them, “You’re the sweetest Pug ever.”

Obedience and Working Intelligence

This intelligence can be seen while training a dog to do tricks. Dogs with this intelligence learn skills and tricks very quickly.

Now you know there are multiple types of intelligence. We cannot define any breed as dumb companions. Many times, when we compare a familiar breed with an unfamiliar one, we see faults.

For example, a dog with obedience training will look more intelligent to you. And a dog with adaptive intelligence will seem less wise.

Are Pugs smart in their obedience training? Gasp! Obedience training! Most of the time, Pugs are training their owners to be obedient to them. So, I guess Pugs are smart.

But seriously, I’ve never had any problems training any of my Pugs as long as they are willing to do it. But, unfortunately, some days, they just aren’t in the mood.

The Silly Pug

Pug playing on bed

So, where do Pug babies get their “silly dog” reputation?

Well, mostly dog intelligence is linked with instinctive intelligence. But this is not your Pug’s cup of tea. They are bred as companion dogs. So, there is no need for any practical and decision-making skills.

Pugs do not shine with instant intelligence. However, their adaptive intelligence is very high. That’s why they remember and learn from their past mistakes. This is especially true if they’re trying to get you to give up that popcorn.

This type of intelligence is precious. But it is hard to observe in a short time. That’s the reason you surprise people by saying your Pug baby is super smart.

You might be surprised by this fact. The face also affects a dog’s intelligence. Active brains require more oxygen. Some believe Brachycephalic dogs are oxygen-deprived. I tend to disagree since my Pugs are never out running a marathon.

Thus, some people think that a Pug’s face might make learning difficult for him.

Are Pugs Smart?

Without any doubt, yes!

Your furball Pug is smart. Just not in the way people imagine him to be. Pugs were bred as companions. They were not supposed to be workers. But, no doubt, they are wise. But in their own ways.

Yes, Pugs don’t have a specific talent to excel in. But this doesn’t mean they are less intelligent.

Adaptive intellect is their best thing. They are bred to turn out a loving lap dogs. It means you will have a snuggle monster who will genuinely love you. Pugs are great for family life.

You can count on a Pug to learn from his mistakes. Pugs like to make their humans happy. They have lovable friendly personalities. So, training them isn’t that of a challenge. Just make sure you have training treats available and lots of praise.

We all have heard the phrase to learn from our mistakes. Pugs are champions of this phrase. They are actually the easiest dogs to train. And not the most challenging breeds to potty train.

Just remember, Pugs are smart but can be stubborn. They are just like kids. So, you little fellow is clever enough to get his own way from time to time.

Here are Some Typical Examples of Pug’s Smartness:

  • They are people-pleasures. Learning new tricks is where they shine.
  • They adapt to any environment. Pugs are well-mannered and calm housemates.
  • Their emotional intelligence is very high. Perfect for families!
  • Their adaptive intelligence helps them not to repeat the same mistake twice.
  • They remember your likes and dislikes.
  • They have learning intelligence. Your Pug will show you that he loves you through lots of smooches and hugs.

Why do Pugs Rank so Low in Intelligence Trials?

Pugs have so many impressive abilities. Right? Then why they performed low in Stanley Coren’s intelligence trials?

Let’s examine what happened on the test.

Stanley Coren’s test is actually the measurement of a dog’s obedience. There are merits to find out how fast a dog learns a new command. Yet, it doesn’t cover the entire story.

If you are a Pug owner, then you already know this. Pugs can be super stubborn! These lovely pups don’t always obey a known command in the first attempt. He just won’t listen! Your Pug baby definitely knows what you are asking.

Most Pug lovers will agree that their pup is smart but not in obedient ways. Sometimes they want to do things their own way. However, they are fantastic at communication. Plus, Pugs are emotionally transparent, which means they can convey their emotions well.

Pugs can be independent-minded dogs. So the pup will listen to you very well. But your Pug will huff and puff because he doesn’t want to do it!

Just because a Pug doesn’t like to obey a command doesn’t mean he is less brilliant and doesn’t understand.

Seems fair why they scored low in obedience and working intelligence.

How Smart are Pugs?

Pugs are not the most obedient dogs you can ask for. But they are wise in other ways. Indeed, these sweet souls are not “obvious” intelligent dogs. But they don’t need to be.

In ancient times their role was to serve as friends. And they were great at their job. That’s why Pugs were the favs of Chinese Emperors and royalty in ancient China.

Their companionship is a form of instinctive intelligence too. So let’s look at what else makes a Pug intelligent.

What is the IQ Level of a Pug?

Pugs Smart

Let’s make it fair here. Comparing a Pug’s smartness to human intellect isn’t realistic.

Both humans and canines have different skills. Unfortunately, our IQ tests are not designed to measure a dog’s intelligence accurately. This means no dog can get an accurate IQ score.

Dog intelligence is measured in terms of how fast they learn new tricks and commands. That’s why Pugs demonstrated average understanding.

Fair working obedience intelligence website for dogs has ranked Pugs 57th for intelligence. This test ranks your Pug friend in the top 55 to 69 most intelligent dog breeds. Dogs Falling in this category learns new tricks with around 40 to 80 repetitions. Almost 30% of the time, they obey their first command.

Perspective owners need to think beyond the numbers. Dog intelligence ranking is mainly based on instinctive intelligence. It’s not fair to judge a dog by our preferred markers of intellect.

Pugs are slower to pick up commands. But you should not take their unique skills for granted.

Pug’s Adaptive Intelligence

This is a Pug’s jam. Pugs rank high for their social awareness.

Pugs have a natural instant of focusing on people-pleasing. This turns them into highly loving pets.

Pugs hate a lack of socializing. Their people-pleasing nature sometimes becomes needing and demanding. But this makes them a perfect pal for kids and other animals.

Pug’s Obedience Intelligence

Pugs have obedience intelligence to some extent. But owners have to work on it.

This little Pug can be pretty stubborn. So you will need a bit of patience to train them. But constant training and plenty of “MOTIVATION” can do the trick.

Don’t be surprised if your Pug gives you a face saying “NO.” Sometimes the goofy fellow thinks about a command. And then decides, Nah, I’ll pass.

How to Motivate a Pug

Food for Pug

Pugs are generally tricky to train. But that doesn’t mean they cannot learn things. You just need to use the proper motivator!

No single motivator works for every dog breed. Some breeds enjoy following the commands (like Australian Shepherds). Others like making their own decisions. At the same time, Pugs need a delicious treat to get started.

Pugs are food-driven dogs. They will do anything to get the treat you have in your hand. Of course, they love getting pets. But if you’d like to train them, you have to do better than pets and love. You’re probably doing that throughout the day – just because they’re your Pugs.

No treats, No tricks, Hooman! 🐶

Quite clever, huh?

Is My Pug More Intelligent than Other Dog Breeds?

By intelligent, if you only mean intuitive or working intelligence, then-No. Pugs are not the smartest. The most intelligent dog breeds learn to follow commands after 4 or 5 repetitions.

According to Stanley Coren’s intelligence test, the most intelligent dog breeds are as follows:

  • Border Collie
  • German Shepherd
  • Poodle
  • Golden Retriever
  • Shetland Sheepdog
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Papillon
  • Australian Cattle Dog
  • Rottweiler

All dogs are intelligent in different ways. It is not fair to analyze a dog having instinctive intelligence when they have adaptive intelligence.

Most intelligence measures lean towards working behaviors. Dogs with instinctive intelligence are bred for particular skills. They excel in hunting and related tasks.

But Pugs are not ideal working dogs. Our standard of intelligence does not represent their strengths. Pugs rank higher for adaptiveness and emotional intelligence.

It’s vital to choose a breed that suits your requirements. Your top priority should be breed characteristics rather than intelligence rankings.

Are Pugs Easy to Train?

You can train any dog if you want to. Most dogs respond well to positive training. Positive training works. Offer treats and toys in response to the desired behavior.

Dogs pick up commands at different rates. Pugs are a little slower. Therefore, they need constant reinforcement and patience. For this reason, people think they are challenging to train.

Are Pugs smart or stubborn? Yes, sometimes. But remember, they are just not bred to learn commands. A Pug’s stubbornness can be a sign that your message is not clear. Or the motivator you are using is not exciting them. Try changing your treats. And make your commands more transparent.

A well-trained Pug is promised to be a loyal friend. But, of course, they can be slow learners than other breeds. But one thing’s for sure. Your happiness is their topmost priority.

Bottom Line

Pugs may have a reputation as silly fellows. But this isn’t the complete picture. If you also believe “Pugs are dumb,” it’s high time to think again.

Remember, the term dumb dog breed has no reality. Different breeds are developed for unique purposes. And a Pug was never meant to be a worker.

I bet you will never regret the decision to bring a Pug into your life. These beauties will always be by your side. They will company you and make you happy with lots of cuddles.

So, if you are looking for a sensitive and emotionally intelligent pet, then yes. Pugs are your way to go!

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