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Are Pugs Intelligent? Yes/No? {Answered in Detail}

Pugs are ranked 108th out of 136 in Stanley Coren’s list of the most intelligent dogs which makes them stay in the below-average category. However, in adaptive intelligence, they are quite good. They are often considered as great communicators and therefore excellent adaptive dogs. That makes them great communicating dogs. 

Pugs are adorable dogs. There is no doubt that pugs provide us with enormous love and affection. They are kind and gentle. Intelligence is one of the most important traits pet owners want to look at in their pets. That is why we are going to discuss this in a bit more detail. Although Pugs are not ranked as very intelligent dogs, they are quite adaptable. They lack instinctive intelligence as they are not basically bred for intelligence. It is worth mentioning that pugs are not normal dog breeds but genetically modified. And, the prime goal was not intelligence thus they do lack in that.


Are Pugs Smart Dogs?


Pugs are smart, quick learners, and super adaptive. They are great family dogs, and they can learn a lot if you train well. They have high adaptive intelligence since they are bred to be great human companions.

Though, pugs’ smartness can be a tad bit different than others. It makes them suitable for family life. They are very easy to train and are adaptive. They also like to please people. But remember that pugs are also clever enough to get their way.

They can be adamant and stubborn. But, yet they know how to get their way. Can you then say that pugs are not intelligent dogs? Not at all, pugs are great with family, kids and other pets in the house. They are a loving, caring, and amazing breed. 

Some smart behaviors of pugs:

  • Pugs love to please owners by learning new tricks.
  • They are adaptable to the environment and become kind, well-mannered pets.
  • Have high emotional intelligence, perfect fit for family life.
  • Learn mistakes, won’t repeat twice.
  • Know your preference, likes, and dislikes.

What Are the Areas of Intelligence for Dogs?

The truth is we cannot judge all the dogs in the same metric standard. All the dogs are different. It’s a shame if we try to fit all ideas into one. Dog’s require a much-specialized process in terms of determining their true capability of intelligence. Whereas widely appreciated sections where intelligence is often judged includes the follows-

  1. Instinctive Intelligence: This intelligence especially comes from a dog’s inherent qualities. These qualities are natural qualities that the dog has been bred for. Pugs are bred for companionship whereas some other dogs can be bred for hunting. 
  2. Adaptive Intelligence: This sort of intelligence generally tests the ability of a dog to solve problems on its own. This sort of capability is much needed in dogs. Their ability to perform tasks shines out.
  3. Working and Obedience Intelligence: This form of intelligence is typically seen when we need our pug to perform tasks. Like to potty or sit in a specific place. It means the dog’s ability to perform instructions as commanded.

By knowing more and more about these various strands of intelligence you can conclude every dog is different. No two dogs are similar. So, judging their intelligence is not an easy task.

How Do We Measure Intelligence in Pugs?

A canine psychologist named Stanley Coren measured purebred dog’s intelligence. He measured many dog’s IQ levels by their obedience and working intelligence. Under obedience and working intelligence, it measures how well can your dog learn your instructions? How well can they execute them? The process of them following your commands might require them to be obedient. So their obedience is also important here.

Of course, it indeed seems to be a very placid one-dimensional study. But the results of it provides you with great objectivity to know more about a dog’s intelligence. With the help of 199 obedience judges, Coren developed criteria to judge a dog’s intelligence. 

Coren’s dog intelligence criteria

He asked his fellow obedience dog psychologist to implement his criteria and see the performance of the dogs. This way a list of many small dog breeds was prepared. They looked at how each of the breeds performed. The criteria include:

  1. How much repetitive the dog was in learning commands? If a dog learned it fast, that means they were a fast learner. If they took the time that meant they lacked intelligence skills.
  2. The more able the dog was to get the command on the first try, the more intelligent it was. This is how the intelligence of pugs was also judged. 

The test had its fair share of limitations as well. Not all the highly intelligent dog breeds participated in the test. Only dog breeds that were recognised by the AKC or Canadian Kennel Club participated. That also meant a long host of mixed breeds did not participate. 

However, to be assessed all dogs had to have done 100 assessments. Pugs qualified in these assessments.

How Did the Pug Perform?

As far as pug’s performance is concerned, they lie in the category of ‘fair intelligence’ or ‘below intelligence’ class. The pug scored a rank of 108 out of 138 dog breeds. The category in which pugs were placed in the list of dogs, means that pugs might take 40 attempts to learn a new command. However, the learning also depends on understanding the complexity of command. They had a 30% success rate on their first try.

But, do not feel like being in the below-average category is a bad thing. In fact, many other dogs fall in this category including breeds like Maltese, French Bulldog, Saint Bernard, and the Chihuahua.

How Intelligent are Your Pugs?

The intelligence of pugs is very different from humans. Humans measure intelligence in terms of their ability to grasp things quickly. In pugs, it’s completely different. It is measured through an ability of a pug to execute tasks. As far as fair objective intelligence website is concerned, pugs rank 55, putting them amongst top intelligent breeds. 

However, Stanley Coren made the assessment better by including another aspect of the dog’s intelligence as well and that includes:

  • Instinctiveness
  • Adaptiveness
  • Working capacity
  • Obedience

As far as Coren is concerned, a lot of dogs’ intelligence is inherited from their parents. It is as much as 51% that a dog inherits intelligence from their DNA. The rest of 49% develops from their environmental factors.

Pugs instinctive intelligence

Remember that pugs have been bred as companion dogs, so their instinctive intelligence lies in being a companion. Do you know historically in China, emperors liked brachycephalic dogs and hence pugs came into existence. So, pugs are often seen as companion dogs, they are not made to be instinctively intelligent. They were always seen as companion dogs. They were never bred as a guard or tracking dogs. 

Pugs Adaptive Intelligence

Adaptive intelligence is the type of intelligence where social awareness is required. In this case, pugs know who their owners are and they love them. They are very affectionate towards their parents. This characteristic also makes them emotional, loving, and caring dogs that love babies. They are also needy and demanding dogs. They love attention.

Pugs Obedience Intelligence

Obedience intelligence however is solely determined by the owner and none else. They might decide not to follow a command but do not make it as if they do not know about it. A bit of work with them, especially training your pug can go a long way. Sometimes, you may also find that your cute little pug is thinking about the training, but alas you would most likely encounter that they could not be less bothered. 

They can be very adamant and with the adamancy, it might feel like they also crave human attention. It’s not uncommon for pugs to suddenly lie flat in the middle of the road and not care about crossing the road. They simply want another human to come and pick them up.

Every dog breed has a certain kind of motivation that keeps them going. Some dog breeds like Golden Retrievers like intellectual stimulation. While other breeds like our beloved pugs like a dog treat when handed a treat they can do better. 

Knowing more about companionship intelligence in pugs

Instinctive intelligence generally refers to the intrinsic characteristics of intelligence that a pug possesses. All dog jobs differ as per the purpose they were bred for. These jobs can be varied including retrieving, herding, guarding, hunting and so much more. Simple as that, have you wondered how blue heelers were bred to take care of livestock. They nip at cattle’s heels and push the cattle in proper directions.

These are instincts that these dogs carry. These instincts cannot be developed by humans. Similarly, if we look at a pug, the instinctive quality that they carry is that of a companion. Companionship is an intrinsic intelligence as well. Pugs became so good at their job that the ancient Chinese Emperors reserved them to be their companions. Pugs are good communicators; they can convey how they feel to people. They can convey emotion at a very deep level. Only a few dog breeds have had this capability. 

How Do Pugs Stand Out With Their Intelligence?

We all know that pugs are amazing dogs with high adaptive/intrinsic intelligence. Let’s look at more factors that affirm these talents that they have got. Some areas that pugs excel in:

  • Pugs can learn tricks very fast: Pugs have this innate need to be loved. They like to please their loved ones. So, they try to learn tricks very fast and then please their human parents.
  • Pugs can be very chill room-mates: This is true for all pugs. They are not like other dogs who run around. They rather are laid back. Other dogs want to accomplish tasks, while pugs love to be chill. 
  • Pugs are family dogs: Pugs are very good for families. They shower everyone with all their love. They bind families together. They are good with babies and other pets. And, they are relatively low maintenance as well.
  • Pugs do not make the same mistakes: There are likely chances that your pug knows that they messed up. If you show dissatisfaction towards any of their behaviour, they know they did something wrong. They won’t make the same mistakes.
  • Pugs can be good friends: Pugs are such good companions. They love people and crave attention. They know that they want attention so they make the people around them friends. They will play with you and even demand constant attention from you.

Pugs have amazing intelligence well suited for a family. Contrary to popular opinion, their IQ in knowing about companionship is very high. Though there is no metric to measure, they are caring, loving dogs. Their innate love towards you makes them special.

Why Are Pugs Considered Dumb?

You know that your pug does tremendously well in companionship. And that factor of intelligence is great in pugs. But, have you known How much our human mind tends to find tangible areas to define intelligence? We make preconceived notions based on floating information rather than knowing more about the dog. We hear something and we tend to believe. In case, the truth is intelligence cannot be quantified this way. In pugs also in a similar way you need a better gaze to appreciate how intelligent they are. 

Adaptive intelligence takes time to kick off. Maybe during the initial years, you might not see your pug behaving intelligently. But give it some time it will surely reach there. It takes time. That’s why every pug owner says that pugs are not that dumb as they are made out to be. They are insightful, vibrant, and lovely dogs. 

A person who has not spent time with the dog cannot comment on the dog’s intelligence. And with their appearance pugs always come off as aloof and comical. Their faces are goofy. They do not look wise. Anyone who knows about instinctive intelligence can appreciate how intelligent pugs are in real life. It’s the rumour that makes pugs unintelligible. While in reality, their rotted knowledge about companionship places them miles ahead and at a different stature than other dogs

Can Pugs be Considered Smarter than Other Dog Breeds?

This is where the issue of intelligence emanates from. We cannot simply compare dog breeds on the basis of intelligence. Like humans, pugs also think differently. They feel and want things differently. On the basis of that difference, they were picked as companion dogs. Can we then let pugs be different now? Can pugs be a breed that does not do things that they are supposed to do to be a companion?

How can we compare two breeds which have different levels of understanding and intelligence? Can we compare a working intelligent dog to one who has high intrinsic intelligence? It is simply not fair. The measure of intelligence as of today is leaning more towards areas of intrinsic and working behaviours as opposed to being a holistic aspect. 

Working dogs are breeds that know how to hunt. Pugs are not working dogs. In working intelligence pugs are ranked in the below-average category. But, that’s not the truth. In adaptive areas of intelligence, pugs do extremely well. So, it entirely depends on the dog and its strong suit. For you, the breed characteristics should come first and then other factors like intelligence. Your needs and requirements are better reflected when you choose characteristics over intelligence.

Are Pugs Smart Enough to be Trained?

Every pug has the capacity to learn. Pugs pick up good habits fairly quickly in positive reinforcement. We need to equip them with better learning techniques and offer rewards once they get a thing done.

Pugs are very slow to train. They need positive reinforcement and continuity of behaviour to be trained. They are stubborn as well. Take your time with training them. Dogs like pugs do not get the message in a single stride. It takes them time to learn the message. Try better, they will surely get it. You just take care of their treats. Pugs are slow but sturdy. Once they get your commands clearly, they will make sure they follow them.

What Are the 10 Smartest Dogs?

The standard measure of intelligence is often obedience and working intelligence. In that case, there are some dogs who do better than your pug. But, please make sure that intelligence itself is a very debated aspect. There is nothing such as an intelligent being. It’s the aspects of one’s behaviour. Some are good in any kind of intelligence out of the three we talked about.

Stanley Coren’s tally of top 10 smartest dog breeds are

  • Border Collie (Herding dog).
  • Poodle (Non-sporting dog).
  • German Shepherd (Herding dog).
  • Golden Retriever (Sporting dog).
  • Doberman Pinscher (Working dog).
  • Shetland Sheepdog (Herding dog).
  • Labrador Retriever (Sporting dog).
  • Papillon (Toy dog).
  • Rottweiler (Working dog).
  • Australian Cattle Dog (Herding dog).

These are the dogs that did extremely well in the intelligence tests.

Why Do Pugs Adapt to Things Faster?

The biggest asset a pug has is its adaptive intelligence. It can excellently learn from its mistakes. Some dogs like pugs simply have a sharper sense to adjust to the surroundings. They know how to respond to things. To know more about this aspect of intelligence we had done some interviews with pug owners.

A pug owner said that My pug is so intelligent. She looks at me with puppy eyes and then takes me to the treats cabinet. She hopes I will give her the treats because she displayed those puppy eyes. I feel sometimes she trains me.

This experience tells us a lot about a pug’s intelligence. The pug learned how to communicate their messages to the owner. The fact that a dog knows how to get the owner off the chair is itself commendable. Their ability to communicate is a clear sign of their adaptive intelligence. This is just one story. There are many stories that justify a pug’s ability to understand things in a much better manner. They can communicate much better than other dogs.

How Can You Motivate Your Pug?

Yes, it’s agreeable that pugs sometimes can be very lazy. It feels as if they lack the motivation to do things. For pugs their ability to accomplish lies in giving them treats. Pugs obey things when you provide them with delicious treats. Just like some basic training can be done by providing your pug with delicious treats. In the same manner, you can motivate your pug through treats as well. 

FAQs on Pug’s Intelligence

Are pugs easy to train?

Yes, pugs are easy to train, provided there is a stimulant involved. You can make sure you provide them with treats when they follow your commands. Their intellectual prowess is good. They can learn easily whatever is being taught. Compared to other dogs, pugs learn tricks easily. It’s just that they do things at their own pace and they can be very stubborn. 

Are pugs smart?

Smartness comes in various forms. Which form are you looking for? If you take a pug you might not have a very good working-obedient dog. But, you will have an extremely intelligent, highly effective, instinctual/ companion dog. Pugs will give you all the love and care in the world. They are emotionally intelligent, sensitive, and responsive pets.

Can you increase your pug’s intelligence?

You can challenge your pooch, that way their intellectual faculties will be better. Make them sniff things that they do not normally sniff. Make them work a bit harder on their jumps. Once their brain is more in sync with the body. They will show improvements in their intelligence.

Final Words!

I hope that the reading has opened you up to the idea of various types of intelligence. And knowing that no one type can be considered significant. Pugs are a great family dog. If you want that kind of dog they are a great pick. They can drool and act like a clown near you, remember that they love you. That’s why even if the verdict in the popular domain is that pugs are dumb. You stand by the fact that your dog is intelligent and amazing. Believe in that because your pug is surely great. Pugs may lack practical skills. But they shine bright in adaptive skills. If you want an emotional cute dog as opposed to a rough and tough dog, pugs are great.