This article takes a look at different authority sources to answer your question: 'Are bulldogs smart dogs?' Let's take a look at these different sources.
Are Bulldogs Smart Dog Breeds?
English Bulldogs are medium-sized friendly dogs with a calm demeanor yet a courageous personality. In my opinion, they’re unfairly labeled as aggressive and dumb dogs. But are they really more intelligent than we give them credit for?
So, are Bulldogs smart? English Bulldogs are dogs with “low intelligence.” They’re ranked the 136th smartest dog (out of 138) for obedience & working intelligence. But obedience isn’t everything, as they show high adaptive and instinctive intelligence. In reality, they’re unfairly labeled as “dumb dogs.”
There’s more to dog intelligence than just obedience training and work ethic. Bulldogs are a classic example of how intelligent dogs are misunderstood and branded as dumb. So, let’s explore what actually makes Bulldogs smart.
Bulldogs relaxed and lazy nature, plus innate stubbornness can put into question their intelligence. This can make onlookers to wonder if English bulldogs play the fool or are they really smart but prefer to not showcase it?
With that in mind, are English bulldogs smart? Bulldogs are known for their stubbornness and were ranked in the bottom ten “most intelligent dog breeds” by psychologist Dr. Stanley Coren. Bulldogs find it difficult to follow the instructions given to them by humans and are somewhat lacking in intuitive problem-solving.
Ranking the intelligence of dogs is difficult and somewhat subjective. Just like how humans may excel in one field of study, but suffer in another.
This relates to dogs, by ranking specific skill sets and expertise with others can showcase greatness for some breeds while demonstrating where others may lack.
How are dogs’ intelligence measured?
There are several breeds that most of us associate with as being smart, working dogs. German Shepherds are known for their protective instincts and for working alongside the police force whilst the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is an excellent therapy dog with its empathetic and soothing temperament. And Golden Retrievers are relied on for guiding and even rescuing vulnerable owners. Different breeds have different skill sets, and its good to understand what activities they are best suited for and what types of owners they will match best with.
There are two primary ways of measuring a dog’s intelligence: ‘instinctive intelligence’ and ‘adaptive intelligence’. ‘Instinctive intelligence’ takes into consideration the reasoning behind what the dog was bred for and how well it adheres to this purpose. Initially, over one hundred years ago, bulldogs were bred for bull baiting and were identified as strong aggressors, but after being crossed with a Pug, their predominantly aggressive streak was complimented by their more affectionate side.
‘Adaptive intelligence’ is a measurement of a dog’s ability to think and act independently and how they are able to approach a range of tasks and problems. If we look at Border Collies again, a farmer needs a dog that is motivated and tactical so that it can fulfill its duties on the farm and out on the fields. With an ability to firmly lock eye contact and make decisive decisions, the way in which this breed of dog performs out on the field demonstrates its fastidious mind. Although these qualities are ideal for certain owners and purposes, the breed needs to be consistently challenged and given healthy outlets. If you are seeking a calm home-life and leisurely dog walks, you might want to consider a non-working breed.
English bulldogs are proven to have an innate tendency to protect and even offer compassion and empathy to owners when they are grieving. These are valuable qualities in a pet—especially within a family unit or around children. Their ability to make those around them smile, not only because of their unique appearance but also their general funny demeanor, means that they make exceptional playmates for little ones and brighten up the entire family’s day!
An important point to remember is that although bulldogs can be entertaining and exhibit high bursts of energy, they are predominantly indoor dogs and are not designed to spend lengthy amounts of time outdoors unsupervised nor are they the type of pet that you would choose to go running with or on a long walk.
Why Bulldogs Rank Low for Intelligence
First of all, the current smartest dog breeds list is based on flawed logic and tests. In reality, it’s extremely difficult to standardize a dog IQ test. Obedience and working intelligence is a great start, but doesn’t tell the full story of a dog’s IQ.
But because it’s the easiest type of canine intelligence to objectively measure, Stanley Coren went with that. In the end, Coren’s dog intelligence ranking is essentially based on an obedience test.
Still, why did Bulldogs perform so poorly during Coren’s trials?
Are Bulldogs Smart Enough to Be Trained?
Bulldogs are stubborn alright, but that doesn’t mean you can’t teach them a trick or two.
Trainers have reported that bulldogs respond well to frequent training sessions and patient reassurance. They are likely to mess up frequently, so a kind forgiving heart is a must when training a bulldog.
Bulldogs can be difficult to potty train and prefer to do their business inside as pups. As they get older, bulldogs can learn a variety of complex tricks like rolling over, shaking hands, speaking, SKATEBOARDING etc.
I have heard that French bulldogs are easier to train than their American or English cousins, but I am sure that a competent trainer could probably work with whichever variation without much trouble. Here are a few of our favorite tips on how to train a bulldog.Opens in a new tab.
If you are trying to train your English bulldog, be prepared to slog through the mire of stubbornness. When bulldogs don’t want to do something they won’t budge. This is where you need to show reasoning behind what you are training and start at a younger age when their minds are more open to change.
If you have ever heard the adage, “You can’t teach a dog new tricks.” This holds very true with English bulldogs.
They older they are, the more difficult it can be to train.
To train well you will need to be consistent, patient, clear in your directions, and motivate with constant praise and treats for a job well done. Stick with it, and you are sure to teach your English bulldog some great tricks.