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Are English Bulldogs Smart?

In this article, we’ll look into the intelligence of English Bulldogs, break down their smarts by types of intelligence, compare them with other breeds, and share some tips to make your Bulldog smarter. 

We’ll also discuss ways to maximize your English Bulldog’s intelligence through proper training and mental stimulation.

Background and History of English Bulldogs

They’ve become incredibly popular

Just how popular?

Well, in 2022, the English Bulldog ranked #6 on Most Popular Dog Breeds in America by the American Kennel Club.

Not impressed? 

You should be…

They ranked at #6 out of 199 dogs! 

Sure, they’re not as popular as the Frenchie (who just ranked #1), but they’re definitely one of America’s favorites.

Loved for their goofy personality

There are many reasons to love the English Bulldog.

Its personality has to be one of the top reasons, though.

They also make great family pets, are loving lap dogs, and are pretty low-maintenance.

I want to know how smart the English Bulldog is!!!

I get it — you came here wondering one thing…

Are English Bulldogs smart?

Before we answer this question, let’s take a look at what exactly intelligence is for dogs.

Defining Intelligence in Dogs

When we’re talking about intelligence for humans, we can perform an IQ test.

But dogs?

They can’t really take a test like us humans…

Besides, what makes us intelligent isn’t exactly what we’re looking for in canine intelligence.

It can’t be measured by a single number — there are three main types of canine intelligence:

The three types of canine intelligence

  • Instinctive intelligence: This type of intelligence is related to a dog’s natural abilities and breed-specific traits, such as herding, hunting, or guarding.
  • Adaptive intelligence: Adaptive intelligence refers to a dog’s problem-solving abilities and its capacity to learn from experience.
  • Working and obedience intelligence: This type of intelligence is associated with a dog’s trainability and its ability to understand and respond to commands.

There are other factors at play

In addition to these three types of intelligence, various factors contribute to a dog’s overall intelligence, including its breed, training, and socialization.

Dr. Stanley Coren stated that… 

“51% of a dog’s intelligence stems from its genes while 49% is based on environmental circumstances.”

An English Bulldog wearing glasses laying on a stack of books

Time to crack open these books!

Assessing English Bulldogs’ Intelligence

Instinctive intelligence

English Bulldogs have a strong instinctive intelligence due to their history as bull-baiting dogs.

They have a natural ability to guard and protect their family, making them great watchdogs. 

Loyal & affectionate instincts

They are also very loyal and affectionate with their owners, which is an instinctive trait that has been bred into them over many generations. 

However, their instinctive intelligence may not be as strong in tasks that require problem-solving or independent thinking, as they tend to rely more on their instincts than on their intellect.

Adaptive intelligence

English Bulldogs may struggle with adaptive intelligence due to their stubbornness and reluctance to follow commands that go against their natural instincts. 

Slow to learn new commands

They may require more time and patience to learn new tricks or obedience commands. 

They still can learn though!

However, with consistent training and positive reinforcement, they can learn to adapt to new situations and perform well in obedience competitions. 

Adaptable to many living conditions

English Bulldogs are also adaptable in terms of their living situations, as they can live happily in small apartments or large houses, making them a great choice for city dwellers.

Working and obedience intelligence

English Bulldogs are not known for their working or obedience intelligence, as they were not originally bred for these types of tasks. 

However, they can still excel in obedience competitions with consistent training and positive reinforcement. 

Not big athletes

They are not the most athletic breed, but they can learn to perform simple tasks such as sitting, staying, and coming when called. 

Loving companions

They may also excel in therapy work, as they are affectionate and gentle with children and the elderly. 

However, due to their physical limitations, they may struggle with tasks that require agility or endurance, such as search and rescue work.

An English Bulldog Puppy with a Boy

English Bulldogs are wonderful family dogs & friendly around children

So Just How Smart is the English Bulldog?

English Bulldogs ranked 77th out of 79 breeds, placing them in the “lowest” intelligence category. 

You’re probably wondering where this ranking comes from.

The work of Dr. Stanley Coren

It’s from a book called “The Intelligence of Dogs” written by the famous psychology professor & neuropsychology researcher Dr. Stanley Coren. He’s done a whole bunch of work on dog intelligence but his dog intelligence ranking is what he’s most known for.

In this book, he ranked every breed’s intelligence based on how quick they learn new commands and how often they’ll obey a command the first time you ask. 

Dr. Stanley is a psychology professor & neuropsychological researcher at the University of British Columbia.

 he’s famous for his book, “The Intelligence of Dogs”, where he ranked each dog breed based on these 3 types of intelligence mentioned above.

They are considered “lowest” intelligence

In Coren’s book, he classed dogs into 6 categories — brightest dogs, excellent working dogs, above-average working dogs, average working dogs, fair working dogs, and the lowest degree of working/obedience intelligence dogs.

English Bulldogs are in the “Lowest Working Intelligence” category.

Lowest Degree of Working/Obedience Intelligence

  • Understanding of new commands: 80 to 100 repetitions or more.
  • Obey first command: 25% of the time or worse.

How does this compare to other breeds?

  • #75 — Borzoi
  • #76 — Chow Chow
  • #77 — Bulldog
  • #78 — Basenji
  • #79 — Afghan Hound

The smartest dog breeds on Coren’s list

  • #1 — Border collie
  • #2 — Poodle
  • #3 — German Shepherd
  • #4 — Golden retriever
  • #5 — Doberman Pinscher

This isn’t the whole story

Okay, it’s true — your English Bulldog isn’t going to be curing any diseases or sending rockets to space…

We all already know this.

What do you mean I’m not a genius?!

Maximizing Your English Bulldog’s Intelligence

While English Bulldogs aren’t the smartest dogs on the block, this doesn’t mean they’re 

Here are some tips to help you maximize your English Bulldog’s intelligence:

1. Proper training techniques

Don’t be fooled.

Just because English Bulldogs are in the lowest intelligence category…

Doesn’t mean they can’t be trained!

Positive reinforcement is key

Positive reinforcement training methods, such as clicker training or reward-based training, are highly effective for English Bulldogs. 

These techniques encourage your dog to think and make decisions, strengthening their problem-solving abilities and adaptive intelligence. 

Be patient and consistent with your training, and always use rewards like treats, praise, or toys to motivate your dog.

Negative reinforcement is never recommended

You should always use positive reinforcement when training your dog.

You don’t want to punish them for bad behavior — this can lead to fear and aggression.

This means that you reward them for behavior that you want them to repeat.

2. Socialization and mental stimulation

Socialization and mental stimulation are essential for English Bulldogs to reach their full potential. Socialization involves exposing your dog to different people, animals, and environments from a young age, to help them develop confidence and adaptability.

How to provide mental stimulation

Mental stimulation can include activities like puzzle toys, interactive games, and obedience training. 

Forms of mental stimulation
  • Puzzle toys
  • Interactive games
  • Obedience training
  • Socialization

Why it’s important

By providing your English Bulldog with these experiences, you can enhance their cognitive abilities and improve their overall mental health.

A mentally stimulated and well-socialized dog is likely to be more confident, better behaved, and ultimately, more intelligent.

3. Encouraging your English Bulldog’s natural abilities

English Bulldogs have their own unique set of natural abilities that can be encouraged and developed to maximize their intelligence.

For example, they have a great sense of smell, which can be utilized in scent training exercises.

They’re eager to please (but stubborn at times)

They also have a strong desire to please their owners, making them highly trainable and responsive to positive reinforcement.

By taking the time to understand your English Bulldog’s strengths and weaknesses, you can tailor your training and enrichment activities to suit their individual needs.


Don’t forget!

49% of a dog’s intelligence is believed to be a result of their environment.

This means that you can help your English Bulldog be smarter by providing them with proper training, socialization, and mental stimulation.

With patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement, you can help your English Bulldog reach their full potential and become a highly intelligent and well-behaved companion.

So do your part to help your English Bulldog get straight-A’s and reach their full potential.

They’ll be the best companion you could ever ask for.