Are Golden Retrievers Smart?

By John Martin - May 3, 2021

Golden Retriever smiling in a field

There is no question that Golden Retrievers do not merely have gold fur- their hearts are pure gold too! One factor that you can indeed question is the breed’s intelligence- are these dogs smart? 

If you are considering a Golden Retriever as a potential breed to bring home, you should know all about their wit. In essence, yes- they are incredibly smart dogs. 

Read on ahead to find out more about the intelligence of Golden Retrievers!

The Intelligence Of Golden Retrievers: How Smart Are Golden Retrievers?

While these dogs are goofy to no end, they are immensely sharp as well. 

Golden Retrievers are almost as smart as human children around the age of 2 to 2.5 years. These goofy dogs can learn more than 165 words too. 

All over the globe, dog lovers widely accept Golden Retrievers as the fourth most intelligent dogs. Only Border Collies, Poodles, and German Shepherds are smarter than these clever rascals.

Obedience And Working Intelligence Of Golden Retrievers 

Golden Retrievers are highly clever companions. It is pertinent to be aware that this breed secures the 4th position from 138 types when it comes to working intelligence. 

The sharp minds of Golden Retrievers make them excellently obedient dogs. Dr. Stanley Coren, a canine psychologist belonging to the University of British Columbia, came to this conclusion following comprehensive research and assessment.

Coren and his team based their conclusions on two criteria:

  • The ability of a dog breed to learn new commands 
  • The success rate of each breed performing a command the dog already knows 

The results of the exercise showed that Golden Retrievers were able to learn new commands and obey them in less than five attempts. As for the second factor, the canines followed orders they already knew with a success rate of 95%.

If you need values to compare, note that the average dog breed learns new commands after between twenty-five to forty attempts. It indicates that these breeds have a slower rate of learning by almost five percent as compared to Golden Retrievers. 

You must note that the 138 breeds that were a part of this assessment qualified based on popularity and recognition by kennel clubs. 

A few other breeds that can almost rival the intelligence of Golden Retrievers are Rottweilers, Labradors, and various mixes. You can find an extensive explanation and record of this study in the book “The Intelligence Of Dogs” by Dr. Stanley Coren

Related: How Much Do Goldens Shed?

The Instinctive And Adaptive Intelligence Of Golden Retrievers 

Even the most qualified canine psychologists agree that a well-rounded system of judging a breed’s average intelligence does not exist. The current test of wit for Golden Retrievers relies upon working intelligence and obedience. 

While it is a considerable method to measure the IQ of a dog, it does not cover all aspects. Despite this, it remains the most objective procedure to follow when evaluating the intelligence of a breed. 

The brainpower of dogs consists of two additional and crucial elements. These are adaptive and instinctive intelligence. 

Several researchers argue that adaptive intelligence and instinctive acumen are more important than the one-dimensional factors of obedience and work. Read ahead to gain a better understanding of these two components and how they play into the intelligence of Golden Retrievers. 

Related: Do Golden Retrievers Smile?

Instinctive Intelligence 

Instinctive intelligence is a term dog researchers use to describe the specific tact or role that breeders intended for a dog to perform. The breeding of Golden Retrievers stems from a particular purpose of fetching downed game in water. 

The dazzling breed is sporting and retrieving dogs- as is in the name. They have an intrinsic “calibration” or instinct to fetch and swim without hindrance or much training. 

It is safe for you to conclude that the instinctive intelligence of Golden Retrievers lies in their unrivaled ability to retrieve and fetch items. This goofball of a breed remains uncontested in intelligence when it comes to retrieval and swimming. 

If you have a Golden Retriever, you will observe that in situations and environments that involve locating and planning, your dog will perform admirably well. In opposition to other breeds, Golden Retrievers can analyze circumstances in such surroundings in a far better manner. 

How Does Instinctive Intelligence Contribute To The Overall Acumen Of Golden Retrievers? 

The original role of Golden Retrievers demanded that they exert independent efforts to locate, find, and retrieve downed game. They had to remain alert and aware of their surroundings and keep the position of their instructor in mind. 

Cooperation and assessment of their surroundings played a colossal role in retrieving hunted fowl. It is often a challenge to locate an item and then find the best path towards it, but this keen breed manages to do it all systematically. 

Instinctive intelligence of this form gives rise to problem-solving abilities. It also nurtures the insightful nature of Golden Retrievers, giving them the mind they have. 

Adaptive Intelligence 

Adaptive intelligence is yet another aspect of the cleverness of dogs that you cannot overlook. It refers to the capability of dogs to develop skills or senses to aid themselves and live better. 

In this sphere, Golden Retrievers perform impressively well. They have shown that they are capable of learning from their past experiences. 

The gorgeous breed boasts of high adaptive intelligence, often making mistakes and understanding the consequences without training. Golden Retrievers may cause an uncomfortable situation and learn from it, never repeating it. 

Object and action association is another facet of the intelligence of a dog breed. Golden Retrievers display exceptional abilities in linking some items with upcoming actions, or vice versa. 

It means that these dogs are perceptive as well. They can understand their environment and the situation they are in, often making them a suitable breed to have in a home with children

The Emotional Intelligence Of Golden Retrievers 

Dog lovers are deeply fond of dogs for a multitude of causes. A common reason is that dogs are extremely affectionate and emotional animals. 

You cannot judge the overall intellect of a dog merely based on the IQ of the rascal. Emotional intelligence is an essential factor, as well.

You will be glad to know that Golden Retrievers are profound, sensitive dogs. These happy-go-lucky furry friends have time and again displayed a spectacular understanding of humans and their emotions. 

Golden Retrievers can scout out whether you are happy or sad, angry or exhausted. Likely, the golden canines will then watch themselves accordingly, letting you have your space or showering you in a deluge of cuddles!

Golden Retrievers, Their Cognitive Abilities And Social Capacity 

A study going back to 2017 discovered that the level of social intelligence of dog breeds is similar to that of toddlers. Dogs require cooperative communication with their humans to establish relationships. 

According to the different areas of Coren’s research, Golden Retrievers are highly sociable too. They possess impressive cognitive abilities in addition to this. 

How To Engage The Mind Of A Golden Retriever 

The intelligence of a dog can either be a boon or a bane! Golden Retrievers, with their sharp minds, require mental stimulation to keep their tails wagging. 

The sharp, keen brain of a Golden Retriever is not immune to get weak and atrophy. If you do not ensure that you make your smart dog use their intellect, your furry friend’s brain can be susceptible to premature aging. 

You must know that Golden Retrievers are highly energetic and playful dogs. If they do not receive adequate mental stimulation, their high degree of smartness can take a turn for the worse. 

The breed can amaze you with intelligent actions but often disappoint you with equally intelligent negative activities. 

Here are some reasons you should actively encourage the mental stimulation of your Golden Retriever: 

  • Mentally engaging activities help in alleviating boredom.
  • Active, intelligent dogs require mental activity to remain happy and avoid depressive episodes.
  • Mental stimulation can aid in the reduction of hyperactive behavior.
  • Challenging activities keep the muscles of the mind powerful.
  • Mentally active Golden Retrievers are immune to untimely cognitive dysfunctions.
  • Proper stimulation of your dog’s mind prevents aggression, lowers stress, and eliminates all traces of unnecessary, destructive behavior 

There are several ways through which you can ensure that your rascal gets all the mental exercise the buddy needs. Here are some such activities: 

  • Introduce your Golden Retrievers to puzzle toys 
  • Take your dog out for an integrated walking and swimming session.
  • Create a hurdle course for your dazzling dog to successfully complete 
  • Teach new commands and words to your Golden Retriever
  • Check your dog in at a doggie daycare center or pet boarding.
  • Hide treats and toys all over the house and prompt your Golden Retriever into searching for them 
  • Play hide and seek with your smart dog.
  • Try to encourage your dog to watch canine-friendly videos- YouTube is rife with such media.
  • Make your dog listen to music specifically developed for dogs.

In addition to these activities, you must also keep talking to your dog. Golden Retrievers are undoubtedly smart, so you need to keep them engaged and acknowledge them. 

If you talk to your dog often and with full attention, your buddy will develop a stronger bond with you. Golden Retrievers adore being a part of a family, and addressing your dog will only make them follow your instructions and understand you better.

To Sum Up 

Golden Retrievers are one of the most fun-loving yet smart breeds out there. You must not let their torrential goofing overshadow their innate intelligence. 

These beautiful, affectionate dogs are obedient and easy to train. They make for excellent family dogs as well- so if you have children at home, a Golden Retriever would be the perfect best buddy!

The popular breed is perceptive and adaptive as well- your life will never be dull with a Golden Retriever around!