How Smart Are Dachshunds? Everything We Know About Their Intelligence

Dachshund dog. The brown girl is six months old. The dog stands against the background of blurred trees and alleys. She turned her head to the side. The photo is blurred
Tymoshenko Olga/Shutterstock.com

Written by Mandy Trotti

Updated: September 22, 2023

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Dachshunds are known for their long bodies and short legs. And they make up for what they lack in stature with their big hearts and personalities. These traits make them a popular dog breed of choice worldwide. But how smart are dachshunds? Below we explore the intelligence of dachshunds, from their problem-solving skills to their training potential; we cover it all.     

Exploring the Intelligence of Dachshunds

Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition Dachshund. How smart are dachshunds?

Dachshunds are small, cute, and very stubborn.

So, how smart are dachshunds? When it comes to exploring the intelligence of dogs, two main factors are considered: their genetics and their environment. Some dogs are more genetically predisposed to be smarter than others, such as the border collie, but training can make a huge difference.   

According to Professor Stanley Coren, about 51% of a dog’s intelligence comes from genetics, while about 49% results from their environment. Although it can be challenging to neatly define what makes up a dog’s intelligence, the near 50/50 split emphasizes the importance of care. Dogs considered unintelligent may come with more difficulties but have a similar capacity to learn or become more obedient with informed training.  

Breeds who work or are more naturally eager to please are often viewed as more intelligent because of their dedication to following commands. However, this assumption often lacks the power of patience and repetition required to learn a new skill proficiently. It also leaves out the skill some dogs, like beagles and dachshunds, have to get the reward they want without doing the work. 

Dachshunds are known for being small, cute, and very stubborn. Their free-thinking attitude makes them more challenging to train than other breeds. If they don’t want to do something, they simply won’t. As a result, they performed on the low end of the scale of Coren’s historic obedience and intelligence trials. However, it’s important to note that Coren left out trials that tested instinctive and adaptive intelligence, two categories that dachshunds excel in. Which means some breeds, including dachshunds, could be smarter than we think.

The Cognitive Capabilities of Dachshunds: Understanding Their Problem-Solving Skills and Brain Size

dog ramp for stairs

Dachshunds were bred to hunt badgers.

Dachshunds are small dogs, so they have proportionally small brains. The brain size of a miniature dachshund is around 70-80 cubic centimeters, whereas the brain size of a standard dachshund is 120-130 cubic centimeters. So, how does this factor into the question, “How smart are dachshunds?” 

While their brains are small, they aren’t less capable. In fact, research shows that all dogs have a similar number of neurons, providing an equal capacity for learning and comprehension. But brain size alone isn’t a reliable indicator of a dog’s cognitive capabilities. Brain function, genetics, nutrition, environmental factors, individual personalities, and learning styles determine a dog’s cognitive capabilities.

Dachshunds may not be the best choice if you want a working or obedient dog, but they are still a great choice if you want an intelligent dog. Dachshunds used to hunt badgers. Their broad paws and strong chests and legs helped them burrow into the dens of their prey. They had to figure out how to get underground or coax them out of their dens. Accomplishing this requires a lot of problem-solving and physical skills. 

Most dachshunds today don’t utilize these skills in quite the same way, but these instincts remain. The difference is that their problem-solving skills are better suited to getting around their home or convincing their owners to give up a few extra treats. Like many dogs, they also recognize words associated with things they enjoy or benefit from, such as “walk,” “food,” and “treat,” without formally being taught the words. 

Dachshunds’ Learning Aptitude: How Quick and Adaptive Are They?

Dachshund dog. The brown girl is six months old. The dog stands against the background of blurred trees and alleys. She turned her head to the side. The photo is blurred

Their independence makes dachshunds great problem solvers.

Dachshunds are intelligent and have a strong desire to learn and explore. They are clever problem solvers and independent thinkers. Although these traits may not be desirable when it comes to obedience, they come in handy regarding adaptability. Dachshunds have the cognitive capacity to learn a variety of behaviors or commands if their owner takes the time to understand their learning style.

Many dachshunds love puzzles and will work through a series of tasks to reach a reward. Puzzle toys and agility courses are activities that allow a combination of their instincts, intelligence, and adaptability to thrive.

They also require a lot of attention. This means they will find ways to get your attention when they want it. Whether it’s finding out what annoys you the most or pulls on your heartstrings, they will work on it to get what they want. It’s not malicious, but they are smart and cunning dogs who aren’t afraid to show it.    

Intelligence Ranking: Where Does the Dachshund Stand Among Other Breeds?

Miniature dachshund howling on the beach

Dachshunds have average intelligence and obedience scores.

There is nothing wrong with being average. But how smart are dachshunds? Dachshunds are considered to have average intelligence and obedience, coming in at 92 out of 138 tested dog breeds. According to Coren’s study, dachshunds are average because they understand new commands after 25-40 repetitions and obey the first command about 50% of the time. 

That sounds pretty good. So, why are they considered average? The top 10 smartest dogs, considered the “brightest dogs,” learn new commands in fewer than five repetitions and obey a command on the first attempt 95% of the time or higher. This list includes the border collie, poodle, and German shepherd, to name a few. 

It’s important to note that any dog that has a comfortable life and is adequately trained has the potential to be more intelligent. Different intelligence types, personalities, environment, and other factors must be taken into consideration to adequately compare the intelligence of every breed, let alone every dog.

That answers the question, “How smart are dachshunds?” But how do you unlock their intelligence potential? Find out below.

Unlocking Dachshunds’ Intelligence Potential: Training Techniques and Mental Stimulation

Two wire-haired Dachshunds playing.

Small breeds like dachshunds require a lot of mental stimulation to be healthy.

We figured out the answer to the question, “How smart are dachshunds?” Now it’s time to learn how to access their skills.

The earlier you start training your dachshund, the more likely they are to succeed. But their success also depends on you. Remaining patient, firm, and consistent will encourage them to learn. Incorporating praise, treats, and their favorite toys will keep them motivated so they learn quicker. And remember to keep training sessions short to prevent frustration. 

Training

Characteristics that make training dachshunds difficult are their tendency to bark and howl, their wanderlust potential, and their prey drive. They can become interested in a scent trail or chase a squirrel without much of a second thought. However, they can be easy to train in a controlled environment because they are very perceptive and demonstrate high problem-solving abilities. 

The most common training issues with dachshunds include socializing with other dogs, excessive barking, and potty training. In fact, dachshunds are one of the most difficult dogs to potty train due primarily to their naturally stubborn nature. When it comes to successful potty training it may require the most patience and perseverance.   

Mental Stimulation

Mental stimulation is crucial for all dogs, especially small breeds like dachshunds. They are lively dogs with big personalities that require daily mental stimulation to keep them happy and healthy. The activities that work for your dachshund may differ according to your preferences and your dog’s unique personality, but there are many options. For example, socializing with other dogs is great as long as your dachshund gets along with other dogs. 

On the other hand, physical activities like agility training and interactive playtime are the best for stimulation and working on behavioral issues. Their elongated bodies aren’t practical for heights, but they are fast runners. Remember those big paws that are great for digging? Their instinct to dig can be incorporated with finding their favorite treats or toys. Puzzle toys and interactive feeding toys are strongly recommended. These options for safe mental stimulation will help you raise a healthy, well-rounded pet.  

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About the Author

Mandy Trotti is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on pets and travel. Mandy has been writing professionally for three years and holds a Bachelor's Degree in English Literature from the University of South Florida, which she earned in 2022. A resident of Florida, Mandy enjoys going on walks with her rescue beagle, visiting botanical gardens, and watching the sunset on the beach.

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