Are Golden Retrievers smart

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Golden Retrievers are easily recognized by their lustrous coats with shades of gold, brown, and cream.

These long-furred gun dogs have found a sweet spot in most homes because of their gentle demeanor and friendly nature towards their human family.

But, are Golden Retrievers smart? Can they create simple solutions to some of the problems they encounter?

This is a question that probably rings in the minds of potential owners of Golden Retrievers as they try to figure out their all-around traits.

Keep reading this blog as we dive into the intelligent nature of Golden Retrievers and their famed reputation for being smart dogs.

Understanding Golden Retriever Intelligence

The best way to understand the intelligent nature of dogs is by observing their performance in obedience and working skills.

Golden Retriever
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Coren’s Test on Dog Intelligence

Professor Stanley Coren, of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, is one of the most respected voices in matters of dog psychology.

He specializes in dog history, canine behavior, dog psychology, and their interactions with the human mindset.

Coren has written a litany of books that seek to explain how dogs think and how we can connect with them as humans.

In his book ‘The Intelligence of Dogs’, Prof Coren researched 138 dog breeds and ranked them according to their intellect.

Prof Coren has found dog intelligence to be similar to that of a 2 – 2.5-year-old human. He conducted his research based on the dogs’ abilities to meet two criteria:

1. Obedience Intelligence

One of the decisive factors used was obedience intelligence which measures how often a dog would respond to a learned command successfully.

When a dog breed acts upon a command successfully on the first try, then they are deemed to have impressive brainpower.

2. Working Intelligence

This criterion refers to the number of times Coren had to repeat a new command for the dog to absorb it. This can be compared to how students learn in school.

Making fewer command repetitions meant that the breed was smarter than those who needed more repetition to learn.

How Golden Retrievers Performed in Coren’s Study

During Coren’s research, Golden Retrievers were consistently found to be among the brightest dog breeds in the lot.

Goldens were ranked 4th after Border Collies, Poodles, and German Shepherds. The Doberman Pinscher closed on the best 5 out of 138 breeds tested.

Coren observed that the Golden Retrievers were able to learn new commands in under 10 minutes while making 5 repetitions or less.

They were found to obey a learned command in the first trial at a success rate of 95% or more which was impressive when compared to their average counterparts.

This level of obedience and working intelligence is significantly better than most of the other dog breeds in the study group.

The study revealed that Golden Retrievers can work as service dogs and do well because of their bright minds and trainability.

Golden Retrievers are not only bright dogs, but they are also obedient and loyal to their owners.

These dogs would go the extra mile to learn new tricks in order to please their owners and perform well in assigned tasks.

Other Factors Contributing to Golden Retrievers’ Intelligence

Apart from obedience and working intelligence, there are other factors that Prof. Coren noted would contribute to the intellectual acumen of Golden Retrievers.

1. Instinctive ‘Retrievers’ intelligence

Instinctive intelligence refers to the inborn traits of various dogs that stem from their ancestral breeds. These are the inherent skills and abilities that particular dogs were bred for.

Golden Retrievers were initially bred by Lord Tweedmouth to assist hunters in retrieving gunned waterfowl from the marshlands in Scotland.

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They, therefore, have an innate ability to fetch and retrieve things for their master with little or no training at all.

Going by this instinctive intelligence, you can quickly train a Golden Retriever to pick up small items without too much work.

Golden Retrievers will certainly enjoy playing fetch and having some activities along the beach because they were bred for those circumstances.

Goldens also have an incredible sense of smell, allowing them to distinguish objects quicker than the average breeds.

It is not uncommon to find a 2-month-old Golden Retriever puppy showing some instincts to collect small items in your home.

These instinctive traits all speak to the intellect nature of Golden Retrievers. It should not surprise you when these dogs play and perform well in puzzle games, hide & seek, and games of fetch.

2. Adaptive intelligence

The adaptive intelligent nature of Golden Retrievers is revealed in how quickly they learn new things and are capable of repeating the same on their own.

Golden Retrievers are capable of mastering new skills in different settings based on previous experience and a little training.

They are also able to pick up lessons from their mistakes which they can use to correct their behavior in the future.

This is why you can expect to have an easy time in-house training your Golden Retriever puppy to shape them into becoming responsible adults.

It’s because of the adaptive intelligent nature of Golden Retrievers that makes them suitable breeds for use in service and therapy.

They can walk into a room and comfort an ailing patient by offering to cuddle and adapting to a calm demeanor.

3 Benefits Of Having a Smart Golden Retriever

Owning a smart Golden Retriever comes with several benefits that can spice up your pet parenting journey. Here are some of them:

1. Increased playfulness

Highly intelligent dogs like Golden Retrievers have an increased tendency to play compared to their average counterparts.

They find joy in rolling down the floor and discovering new games while displaying their fun-loving nature to their human family.

Are Golden Retrievers smart
Image Credit: Dragana from Pixabay

The natural playful disposition of Goldies makes them a good breed to bring home if you have children. Goldens tend to form partnerships with kids and team up for endless exciting activities in the house.

Smart dogs can create their own fun when provided with interactive dog toys to play with. It is not unusual to see a Golden Retriever taking up the treat-dispensing toy and solving the tough puzzles for long hours on end.

2. Higher activity level

Bright and strong dogs tend to be more active than the average breed. Golden Retrievers have high energy levels and impressive mental ability which puts them on standby for the next adventure.

This breed has lots of physical and mental vigor that needs to be channeled in a positive outlet to keep them healthy and well-mannered.

Golden Retrievers are active dogs who enjoy accompanying their owners to quick errands in town and in outdoor adventures such as walking, hiking, swimming, and playing.

With a sharp-minded dog with plenty of energy such as a Goldie, you can be sure to get the perfect canine companion to complement your active lifestyle.

3. Ease of Training

One of the biggest benefits of owning a sharp-minded dog is how easy it can be to train them on command and behavior.

With just a few command repetitions, you can train your Golden Retriever to respond to certain cues without breaking a sweat.

Training a Goldie is made even better because of their innate desire to please their owners.

They will quickly pick up new training and do as you instruct them in the pursuit of keeping you happy and shaping their behavior.

You can make the training even better by using positive reinforcement to reward the dog for good behavior and progress.

Golden Retrievers are highly motivated by food. Make sure to include some high-value treats accompanied by praises and petting to appreciate the progress.

Challenges Of Having a Smart Golden Retriever

Having a smart dog, like a Golden Retriever, can be a wonderful experience generally but there are some setbacks that you need to watch out for.

The good news is that these challenges can be avoided and you can live with your dog happily without much trouble.

1. High energy levels

The high energy levels in smart dogs can become a nightmare if they don’t get directed to positive outlets.

A docile Golden Retriever will have loads of pent-up energy and they will devise means of staying active which includes developing unwanted behavior.

An inactive smart dog will use their cleverness wrongly in coming up with destructive ways of capturing your attention or driving out excess energy.

You, therefore, need to be cautious about leaving your Goldie inactive for too long.

2. Mischievous behavior

A bored Goldie may get into mischievous behavior as a way of having to deal with boredom and excess energy.

This destructive behavior might include chewing on items in the house and digging in their bedding for quite a while.

Is Your Golden Retriever Smart?

According to the evidence laid out in Stanley Coren’s book, we can conclusively say that Golden Retrievers are incredibly smart.

Feel free to confirm these findings by asking any owner of this breed to tell you how quickly they respond when called and how long it takes to train them.

You can know if your Golden Retriever is smart by using the same criteria that Coren used to rank the 138 breeds in his study.

A good place to start is by training your Goldie on basic obedience skills such as sit & stay, heel, and recall training.

You can also gauge their mental acumen by providing puzzle toys, playing fetch, and engaging with them in hide-and-seek games.

These mind-provoking activities will help in assessing your Golden’s brain powers and provide stimulation to upscale their problem-solving skills.

Training, Behavior, and Mental Stimulation for Golden Retrievers

Golden Retrievers are very friendly and easily trainable to respond to commands and perform simple tasks. But you need to be aware of their potential to develop mischievous behavior when not given enough attention.

An intelligent and highly energized dog might turn into a nightmare in your house especially when they tend towards developing stress and anxiety.

With proper training, these dogs can be well-mannered especially when dealing with their human caregivers and other animals.

They are always eager to please which explains why they are loyal to their owners and may be used as service dogs.

Make sure to provide your Golden Retriever with plenty of mental stimulation to keep their brain at work.

These brain games are essential in developing your dog’s judgment skills and helping them to become problem-solvers instead of problem-makers.

Furthermore, you need to help your Golden Retriever in shaping good behavior and keeping boundaries where required.

FAQs On Golden Retriever Intelligence

1. Are all types of Golden Retrievers smart?

Yes, all the purebred types of Golden Retrievers are equally brainy. The different types would only differ in their coat color, size, and where they were bred, but the natural disposition remains similar.

There might be some variation in intelligence between the cross-bred Goldens based on their distinctive parents.

You may also notice a negligible variation in the intelligence of mainline Golden Retrievers based on their breeding, training, and general upbringing.

2. What is the average IQ of a Golden Retriever?

It may be challenging to provide a standardized test for measuring the intelligence quotient of dog breeds but smart dogs, like Golden Retrievers, have an average IQ of around 100, give or take.

Golden Retrievers were found to be 4th out of 138 dog breeds in response to obedience intelligence and working intelligence as researched by Prof. Stanley Coren.

3. Is a Golden Retriever one of the smartest dogs?

Golden Retrievers have been proven to be one of the brightest dog breeds. They scored well in both obedience intelligence and working intelligence according to Coren.

They also have instinctive intelligence which is shown in their object-retrieving abilities, and their adaptive intelligence which speaks of their trainability in different situations.

4. Are Golden Retrievers hard to train?

No, Golden Retrievers are not hard to train. On the contrary, these long-furred canines are highly trainable on command and in performing tasks.

Coren noted that most Golden Retrievers were able to learn a new command with as little as 5 repetitions which is far much better than the average breeds.

5. Which dog breed has the highest IQ

According to Coren’s research, the Border Collie breed came strongly as the most intelligent dog among the lot that was tested.

Border collies show incredible problem-solving skills and they require a short time to train them on command and to perform tasks.


Golden Retrievers are among the smartest and most intelligent dog breeds in the world today.

This was confirmed by Coren’s intelligence tests which placed the Goldies at the 4th spot out of 138 dogs tested.

They also have natural retrieving traits which makes them sharp without necessarily requiring training from humans.

Owning a smart dog like a Golden Retriever can be a wonderful experience but you need to watch out for the possible challenges.

Make sure to provide your dog with something positive to do, failure to which they will devise some mischievous ways of entertaining themselves.

Written By

Laura is the founder of Furs'n'Paws. She is a also a pet writer and expert with more than 20 years of experience of working with dogs and cats. She developed a very strong love for animals at a young age. Her passion led her to establish a thriving pet sitting and dog walking business in Dubai. As an expert in pet training, behavior, and nutrition, Laura is committed to helping pet owners and pet lovers by offering high-quality information on a wide range of topics.

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