How Smart Are Dachshunds?

Most of us proud dog owners are always pretty biased on how intelligent are our four-legged friends are, but there have been studies done to rank the intelligence of dog breeds, how smart are dachshunds? and how high do they rank compared to other dog breeds?

According to a study by canine specialist Stanley Coren, Dachshunds rank #92 out of #138 on the canine intelligence list. When it comes to commands and obedience training, dachshunds are considered below average, but when it comes to their instinctive intelligence, they are considered to be very smart.

Are Dachshunds Considered Intelligent Dogs?

 an intelligent dachshund

Perhaps the most important statistic that you will see here today is that dachshunds are placed at #92 on the canine intelligence list.

In case you were wondering, there are 138 breeds on this list, which means that the dachshund is well towards the bottom. 

Based on this particular assessment, it is safe to say that dachshunds are about average or even a bit below average in terms of overall intelligence. 

One of the things that needs to be said here is that when it comes to working and obedience intelligence, or in other words, how easy a dachshund is to train and how quickly they learn, they are rated rather low, as it can take 40 or more repetitions to teach a single command. 

That said, it is unknown whether this is due to a general lack of intelligence, or if it is because dachshunds are just really stubborn and often unwilling to cooperate or to be obedient.

Although quite unlikely, it could be that your dachshund is so smart that it thinks learning your commands is beneath it, but it’s probably the opposite.

However, when it comes to adaptive and instinctive intelligence, dachshunds are considered to be fairly smart, up there with the best of them. 

These dogs are also thought to have relatively high emotional and communicative intelligence. In case you are having problems understanding these terms, such as instinctive and adaptive intelligence, no worries, because this is exactly what we are about to discuss below.

Generally speaking, most dog breeds are thought to have the intelligence equal to a two or three year old child, give or take depending on the breed. 

How Is Dachshund Intelligence Measured?

measuring dachshund intelligence

Ok, so we have talked about how the general intelligence rating for dachshunds is unfortunately quite low, especially when it comes to trainability and obedience, but how exactly did it come to pass that dachshunds earned the #92 spot out of 138 dog breeds? 

Now, keep in mind that here we are not talking about the actual tests that were performed on dachshunds and other dogs to measure their intelligence, but rather what sort of intelligence or what kinds of factors are examined to come to this overall conclusion? 

One of the most respected studies out there comes from Stanley Coren, a canine behavioral and intelligence expert who is very well respected.

This is where that #92 ranking actually comes from, his own experiments. These experiments had two main parts, with the first being to see how long it takes a dog to learn a new command, and the second being to see if a dog will obey a known command on the first attempt. 

As you can see, Stanley Coren’s experiments or trials were based more or less solely on working and obedience intelligence, while the other types of intelligence were largely ignored, which is probably why the dachshund has such a low ranking. 

The other thing that we want to mention here is that generally speaking, dog intelligence is measured in three ways, which include working and obedience intelligence, adaptive intelligence, and instinctive intelligence. 

However, based on recent studies, new findings, and simple scientific advancements, we have chosen to also add two additional types of intelligence to the list, communicative and emotional intelligence.

Let’s take a quick look at the five different ways in which dachshund intelligence can be measured. 

1. Working and Obedience Intelligence

One of the most important types of intelligence that is measured in dogs is working and obedience intelligence.

This generally refers to how easy a dog is to train and how quickly they can learn.

Experiments performed, such as in Stanley Coren’s trials, are designed to determine how long it will take somebody to teach a dachshund a new command, as well as how willing or able a dachshund is to obey a command that it (should) already know. 

This is where the low ranking on the dog intelligence list comes from, because dachshunds are known to be difficult to train, often very difficult.

However, with that being said, it is somewhat unclear whether this lack of trainability has to do with a lack of intelligence or with stubbornness, thick-headedness, and single-mindedness.

Remember, dachshunds are known for being some of the most stubborn dogs out there, and they often have a mind of their own. 

This is why we disagree with that ranking, because while a dachshund may be hard to train, chances are pretty big that it has to do with stubbornness and a simple unwillingness to follow orders, rather than a lack of intelligence.

That said, it is shown that it can take well over 40 repetitions to teach a dachshund a new command or trick, which is admittedly up there.

Unfortunately, in terms of working and obedience intelligence, it does appear as though dachshunds are not exactly the Einstein’s of the dog world. 

2. Adaptive Intelligence

The second type of intelligence that is usually assessed in dogs is known as adaptive intelligence.

As you can probably tell, this has to do with how well a dachshund can adapt to its surroundings, particularly to new things, specifically to problems.  

For example, putting some food inside of a puzzle toy that a dog must solve to get the treat is a perfect way to measure this adaptive intelligence.

How well can a dachshund solve a problem and figure something out for its own? As you will see from the section on the reasons why dachshunds are smart, a part of it has to do with their fairly high level of adaptive intelligence. 

3. Instinctive Intelligence

To provide you with a basic definition, instinctive intelligence refers to a dog’s (or other animal’s) ability to execute the tasks that it was initially bred for. In case you didn’t know, dachshunds were bred to be hunting dogs. 

From German, dachshund literally translates to badger dog, and yes, they were bred to be ferocious hunting dogs that would run down into tunnels and chase out badgers and other such fierce animals.

Dachshunds are purebred hunters, due to this, they also tend to make for fairly good watch dogs. In terms of this instinctive intelligence, dachshunds are fairly high up there. 

Let’s put it this way, if you set your doxie in front of a burrow in the ground, whether it’s a badger, mole, groundhog, or anything in between, it will explore than tunnel and chase out whatever is in there.

Dachshunds have an extremely strong prey drive and hunting instinct, which is why they will go after cats, rats, squirrels, and anything in between.

In terms of executing their initial purpose of being a hunter and chaser, the dachshund has excellent instinctive intelligence. 

Now, what is interesting to note here is that instincts and intelligence are generally seen as separate things, if not the polar opposites of each other.

Therefore, classifying intelligence by instinctive intelligence would actually seem to be an oxymoron.

Is it instinct or intelligence? However, this is more of a philosophical debate than anything else, and we aren’t here to split hairs, so let’s leave the instinct vs intelligence debate for another day.

The bottom line here is that dachshunds do seem to be very instinctual, and they will hunt as they were bred to do. 

4. Emotional Intelligence

The next type of intelligence that we want to mention is emotional intelligence.

Now, this is not usually one of the three types of intelligence that are measured or talked about, at least not like the three main ones we talked about above, but that said, we do think that it is worth mentioning in passing.

Emotional intelligence generally refers to a dog’s (or a person’s) ability to pick up on the emotions of others, how well they can read a room, so to speak. 

When it comes to dachshunds, they are actually known for being very empathetic dogs that can sense when their owners are sad or happy.

Dachshunds are even known for smiling, which is thought to mimic the happy smiles of their owners.

It is even shown that dachshunds may smile because they know it makes their owners happy, and will probably lead to belly rubs and treats.

In terms of emotional intelligence and a dachshund’s ability to sense how you are feeling, we would say that they are quite smart indeed. 

5. Communication Intelligence

The other type of intelligence that many seem to forget, especially Stanley Coren in that study of his, is how well dachshunds can communicate their needs and wants to others, as well as what their vocabulary is like, or in other words, how many words a dachshund can learn. 

Well, dachshunds are pretty good at getting what they want, such as in that example we talked about above, where they will mimic the smile of their owner to get a reward. 

Whether this is emotional or communicative intelligence is debatable, but that said, it definitely shows that a dachshund has a certain level of intelligence, as they can actively trick their owners into getting rewards by smiling.

As you will see below, it is also proven that dachshunds can have quite a good vocabulary when properly trained. 

How Is Dachshund Intelligence Tested?

testing dachshund intelligence

What we want to quickly talk about here is not how well dachshunds excel in terms of each of those types of intelligence that we discussed above, but how those intelligence levels are measured and determined.

Let’s take a quick look at the various tests and experiments which are readily done to determine dog intelligence. 

Testing Working and Obedience Intelligence

Working and obedience intelligence in dogs is tested by trying to train them. The first way to test this kind of intelligence is to try to teach a dog a new command and to see how many repetitions in takes.

The second way to test this type of intelligence is to see if a dog will obey a command on the first attempt. 

Testing Adaptive Intelligence

In terms of adaptive intelligence, this ability to solve problems can be tested in many ways.

For instance, you can pick up your dog’s leash at a time when you don’t usually go for a walk to see if they know what is going on.

You can also put a blanket over their heads to see how long it takes them to escape. 

Putting a treat inside of a puzzle toy and seeing how long it takes them to solve the puzzle is another good test of adaptive intelligence.

Yet another test in this regard is to send your dog out of the room and then rearrange the furniture to see how good the dog’s reasoning and cognition skills are.

In short, any kind of test designed to determine the problem solving abilities of a dog will show what the level of adaptive intelligence is like. 

Testing Instinctive Intelligence

When it comes to instinctive intelligence, this is best tested by placing your dachshund in a scenario where it is supposed to perform a specific task that it was bred for.

In terms of a dachshund, a good test here is to see if it will run down into a tunnel and chase out an animal, which is of course what these dogs were designed for.

Testing Emotional Intelligence

There are not all that many ways to test the emotional intelligence of a dog.

However, one way to do so is to act sad, and then see what your dog does. If you act sad or suddenly change your demeanor, how does your dog react?

If your dog immediately comes to comfort you when you act sad, then it is likely to have a high level of emotional intelligence. 

Testing Communicative Intelligence 

Testing communicative intelligence in dogs is not all that easy, although one good way to do so is to see how many commands they can learn.

The more commands they can learn, the more adept they are at communicating. Another thing that can be done to test this type of intelligence is to ask your dog if it wants something, such as a toy or treat, and then see how the dog reacts.

If you ask your dog if it would like a treat, will it bark or respond in any other way that indicates that it knows what you are asking?

Dachshund IQ VS Other Dog Breeds

Generally speaking, due to their somewhat low score in the obedience and working intelligence department, and the difficulty experience when training dachshunds, they are generally considered to be less intelligent than may other dogs, hence that #92 spot on the list of the top 138 intelligent dogs. 

That said, as you can see, based on many studies and some good old common sense, it is safe to assume that dachshunds can actually be quite intelligent, more so than we given them credit for. 

Let’s keep in mind that it can take dachshunds up to 40 or more repetitions to learn a command, whereas the top ten smartest dogs out there can learn tricks and commands with as few as five repetitions. 

When compared to various other breeds, especially working dogs, dachshunds probably are not all that intelligent. However, let’s keep in mind that dogs cannot talk, so measuring intelligence in them is not an exact science.

3 Reasons Why Dachshunds Are Smart

reasons why dachshunds are smart

What we want to do right now is to talk about some of the reasons or examples that show that dachshunds are actually quite intelligent.

There are a few signs out there that indicate that they are reasonably smart. 

1. They Have Great Instinctive Intelligence

One of the biggest indications that dachshunds are smart has to do with their high level of instinctive intelligence.

Simply put, these dogs were bred to give chase and hunt. Well, if a dachshund sees a squirrel, rabbit, cat, badger, mole, or anything else that it sees as pretty and can sink its teeth into, you can rest assured that it will give chase.

They might not look like it, but doxies are fierce hunters, and 11 times out of 10, when they see prey, they will go after it.

These dogs definitely perform the tasks they were bred to perform, hunting and killing, and of this, there is no question. 

2. They Have Awesome Adaptive Intelligence

In terms of adaptive intelligence, dachshunds are shown to be fairly good learners and problem solvers.

For instance, when it comes to hunting prey, if the prey is too far down in a tunnel, a dachshund can adapt and dig a new hole to try to get to the prey. 

Other examples of adaptive intelligence in dachshunds include various dachshund bringing their owners the TV remote when they want to watch TV (when the dachshund wants to watch TV!!!), as well as their relatively good ability to solve puzzles, such as puzzle toys for food.

Dachshunds are pretty good at making associations on their own and learning for themselves. 

3. Communicative & Emotional Intelligence Are Quite High

Dachshunds are also known for being very empathetic dogs that often mimic the emotions of their owners, and when their owners are feeling sad, these dogs will bring them comfort.

In terms of emotional intelligence, doxies are fairly high up there.

When it comes to communicative intelligence, which can really be seen as a form of adaptive intelligence, this is also quite high.

It is shown that a dachshund can learn up to 165 words, which is pretty darn good, and moreover, it is shown that these dogs can learn to use their body language to communicate with owners in a non-verbal way. 

**A Note on Working & Obedience Intelligence**

We do just want to mention that although wiener dogs score low on the working and obedience intelligence scale, whether or not this is due to a lack of intelligence or due to stubbornness and a simple unwillingness to follow commands is not really known.

A lack of obedience and a high level of stubbornness, in some cases, may actually indicate a higher level of intelligence. Honestly, this one is kind of up in the air at this point. 

What Dog Breed Has The Highest IQ?

Although this is of course not an exact science, it is thought that the dog with the number one highest level of intelligence is the border collie, closely followed by the poodle, the German shepherd, the golden retriever, the Shetland sheepdog, and the Doberman. 


What it all boils down to here is that dachshunds are fairly smart, although certainly not the smartest dogs out there.

What they make up for in stubbornness and a lack of working obedience, they more than make up for it in all of the other categories.

If you need an adaptive and instinctive dog that is emotional in tune with you and able to communicate fairly well, then a dachshund is a great pet to have.