How Smart Is A Chihuahua Dog

How Smart Is A Chihuahua Dog?

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Chihuahua dogs are instantly recognizable. This breed has been in countless movies, and is known for its fun loving and sassy nature. The chihuahua is iconic, and often found perched in the handbags of celebrities and fashionistas alike. 

Due to its reputation as a showy dog with lots of attitude, the chihuahua has now also got a name for itself as a stupid or dumb dog. So, are chihuahuas really dumb, and how intelligent are they? That’s what we are here to find out! 

What Is A Chihuahua?

A chihuahua is most well known for its small size, and is often considered a purse dog. These dogs are actually one of the oldest breeds in the Americas, with its lineage dating back to before Columbian times.

Despite their small size, the chihuahua has a huge personality. These dogs are often very confident and sassy, and will try and rule over you if they are not properly trained!

According to the American Kennel Club, the Chihuahua is a graceful, balanced and regal dog with a terrier-like demeanor. These dogs never really weigh more than about 6 lbs, and have rounded heads, erect ears and full luminous eyes. 

Chihuahuas can have long coats or short fur, and these coats come in many patterns and colors. However, due to their small size, they do sometimes need a little extra help to keep warm during cold weather, and will need blankets to keep them cozy.

What you may not know about the chihuahua is that their eyes are incredibly expressive, which can really work on you to get what they want.

Even this tiny breed will need training as they will try to dominate you with their confident and outgoing personalities. That doesn’t sound very dumb to us! So, are chihuahuas dumb dogs?

Are Chihuahuas Dumb Dogs?

Chihuahuas can be trained and taught tricks and commands much like any other dog breed. However, despite their ability to learn and understand commands, chihuahuas are ranked rather low on the lists of intelligent dog breeds, as it takes them longer to train. 

In a study by neuropsychologist and profession of psychology, Stanley Cohen, chihuahuas were found to be below average or fair, when it comes to dog working and obedience intelligence. The breed was ranked at 125th out of 138 breeds tested in the study.

In addition to this, the media portrayal of chihuahuas has also played a part in the belief that these dogs are dumb.

They are often represented as dumb, silly or stupid characters in movies and television, which has further confirmed the expectation that this breed is not very smart. 

How Smart Is A Chihuahua?  

The chihuahua is known to be sassy, bold, confident and charming, so why do we consider them dumb dogs?

Chihuahuas are one of the most popular lap dogs, so it comes as no surprise that you may be thinking of getting one for yourself, and wanting to do a little research into the breed. So, how smart is a chihuahua?

Well, as studies have proven, chihuahuas rank fairly poorly in the list of dog obedience and intelligence.

However, if we take a look at the study in depth, we can make the assumption that despite their lack of interest in obedience training, chihuahuas may be smarter than you first thought. Chihuahuas are instead thought to have high adaptive intelligence. 

What this means is that chihuahuas are able to measure, gauge and learn from their environment and adapt to it. They can learn from other dog breeds and those around them, and can figure out what behaviors are expected from them, just with their adaptive intelligence. 

However, the study was based upon obedience. The tests were conducted by recording the number of repetitions it took to learn a new command, and the success rate of a dog obeying the known command on the first attempt. 

Chihuahuas got the reputation of fair intelligence, as it took 40-80 repetitions to learn a new command. In addition, the success rate for the first attempt was about 30%. In comparison, other average intelligence dog breeds were able to learn new commands in 25-40 repetitions, with a 50% or better success rate. 

So, if they are able to adapt and learn quickly, then why did they rank so low in intelligence tests? 

The answer to this question is that it is extremely hard to gauge a dog’s intelligence as different breeds have different motivators. Some dogs love to please, and learn, whereas other dog breeds prefer to do their own thing.

Chihuahuas are the latter kind. They are not working dogs, and do not have a work ethic or desire to do things for you.

Chihuahuas are known to be very stubborn and sassy dogs. They are incredibly strong willed creatures, despite their very small size. If you try to coerce your chihuahua into doing something, the likelihood is that they will refuse.

Positive reinforcement works very well for some chihuahuas, but you do need a lot of patience and consistency to get them to learn. 

Another important factor is that they often do not have a desire to please strangers offering them treats or teaching them tricks. Chihuahuas are one of the most loyal dogs, and will be very affectionate and defensive of their owners. 

They are bred to be lap dogs and canine companions, and therefore develop strong bonds to their owner. What this means is that they are often really motivated by their loyalty and devotion to their owners, and don’t care about commands and tricks. 

This is why they performed poorly in obedience training and tests, as they do not enjoy learning tricks, and really do not care about them. A chihuahua is intelligent in different ways. They have instinctive intelligence, and adaptive intelligence. These are the areas in which chihuahuas excel. 

Their instinctive intelligence allows them to understand human emotions, behavior and needs, as they were bred to be companion dogs. They can sense when you feel down, or if you are unwell, and will linger around you to make sure you are okay.

They are also adept problem solvers, and able to learn from past experiences, mistakes and the environment around them due to their adaptive intelligence. 


To summarize, in terms of obedience and working intelligence, chihuahuas do not rank very highly and are considered to have fair intelligence. However, this is not what the chihuahua was designed and bred for. 

A chihuahua is a companion dog, and a lap dog, and is far more intelligent when it comes to gauging human emotions, needs and behaviors, and is able to understand these, whereas other dog breeds may not.  

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