Pugs are one of America’s most popular dog breeds, currently ranking at number 35 in popularity of dog breeds in the United States.
Pugs are very friendly and good with children, making them great family pets for families with kids who love to learn new tricks as they integrate into your family.
And who couldn’t help but love their squishy faces and little bodies…
Looks aren’t everything, are they?
But how smart are they?
Are Pugs really as intelligent as other dogs?
Owners give varying reports…
Many owners say their pugs are very smart.
But others claim their dogs are not as bright as they could be. Is this perhaps due to a lack of training?
So what’s really going on with the Pug?
Are they smart or not?
What Exactly is Canine Intelligence?
Before we answer the question, “Are Pugs smart?”
Let’s first define what we mean by “intelligence.”
What the American Psychological Association says
The American Psychological Association (APA) defines intelligence as “the ability to acquire and apply knowledge; to think abstractly and creatively; to plan, solve problems, make decisions quickly and accurately; [and] learn from experience.”
By that definition, dogs are typically as smart as the average two-year-old; however, this can vary depending on each dog.
But let’s be honest…
This isn’t a fair way to consider whether a dog is smart or not.
Nobody expects dogs to come even close to a human’s intelligence.
But that doesn’t mean dogs are stupid by any means…
Dogs, in general, are considered to have a high level of intelligence within the animal kingdom. With some dogs even being able to learn over 1,000 words and understand human body language.
How canine intelligence is measured
In the context of canine intelligence, one of the most well-known researchers is Dr. Stanley Coren, a psychology professor at the University of British Columbia.
Coren developed a list of criteria to assess canine intelligence based on their ability to learn new commands, their problem-solving skills, and their ability to adapt to new situations.
Does your dog understand what you’re saying
Have you ever thought, “My dog knows what I’m saying!!!”.
Well, they probably have some what of an idea. They definitely can learn words and associate them with certain things.
They are also able to do tricks like sit or roll over that require them to recall information in order to follow commands given by their owners.
So how smart are Pugs?
According to Stanley Coren’s Dog Intelligence Ranking, the Pug is the #57 Most Intelligent Dog Breed.
This places them in the “Fair Working/Obedience Intelligence” category, along with other dogs such as the French Bulldog, Chihuahua, Saint Bernard, and Italian Greyhound.
Fair Working/Obedience Intelligence
Understanding of new commands: 40 to 80 repetitions.
Obey first command: 30% of the time or better.
Sure, Pugs aren’t the smartest pups on the block, but they’re far from the dumbest too!
Pugs Intelligence Compared to Other Dog Breeds – Who’s Smarter?
Pugs are an intelligent dog breed, but they’re not the most intelligent dog breed out there.
Their stubborn nature can make them difficult to train, and they don’t always listen well.
However, they can be trained to do tricks and perform simple commands.
The smartest dog breeds according to Coren are:
- Border Collie
- German Shepherd
- Golden Retriever
- Doberman Pinscher
Some of the least intelligent dogs are:
- Shih Tzu
- Basset Hound
Check out how Smart this Pug is!
How to Properly Train Your Pug — How Long Should It Take?
There are a lot of factors that can affect how long it takes to train your Pug.
Some dogs learn quickly…
But with others, it might take a bit more time and patience.
Your consistency is a major factor
It also depends on the amount of time you have available to devote to training, as well as how consistent you are with the process.
Most people find it takes anywhere from a few days to a few weeks for their pug puppies to learn basic commands like sit, stay, and come.
For a detailed training schedule for your new Pug pup, check out this guide that the AKC (American Kennel Club) has put together.
Basic Commands to Teach Your Pug
Teaching your Pug basic commands can be a lot of fun. It’s very rewarding & satisfying too when they do start to listen to your commands.
It’s important to remember that Pugs are stubborn and may not want to do what you’re asking them to do.
If they are distracted by another dog or person, they may not pay attention to you, so be sure to train in an area that is free of distractions.
Essential commands to teach your Pug
- Sit: This is one of the most basic things you can teach your Pug because it helps with training so many other things later on.
- Stay: This is important for safety and good manners.
- Come: Again; this trick is less of a trick and more of a needed skill for safety and manners.
- Off: This will come in handy if you want to teach your Pug to get off furniture or if they tend to jump on visitors.
- Lay Down or Down: This will significantly help with crate training.
Effective Training Techniques for Pugs – What Gets Them Motivated
Pugs are smart little dogs, but they’re also very sensitive and can be easily discouraged by harsh training methods.
Here are some tips on how to effectively train your Pug:
- Start training early: Pugs are intelligent dogs, but they can be stubborn, so it’s important to start training as early as possible to establish good habits and routines.
- Use positive reinforcement: Pugs respond well to positive reinforcement, so use treats, toys, and praise to reward good behavior. Avoid using punishment or negative reinforcement, as this can damage your relationship with your dog and make training more difficult.
- Keep training sessions short and frequent: Pugs have a relatively short attention span, so keep training sessions short (10-15 minutes) and frequent (2-3 times per day). This will help your Pug stay focused and avoid becoming bored or frustrated.
- Be consistent: Use the same commands and cues consistently, and enforce rules and boundaries consistently. This will help your Pug understand what is expected of them and avoid confusion.
- Make it fun: Pugs are playful and social dogs, so make training fun and engaging. Use games, toys, and play to keep your pug motivated and interested in training.
- Be patient: Pugs can take longer to train than some other breeds, so be patient and persistent. Don’t get discouraged if progress seems slow, and keep working with your Pug to help them learn and grow.
Why positive reinforcement is better than negative reinforcement
Pugs like praise, so make sure you give it!
I mean, what dog doesn’t love praise and treats?!
Especially when they’re doing something right… they’ll quickly learn what they need to do to get more praise & treats.
Instead of telling your Pug “no” or punishing them when they’ve done something wrong, try rewarding them with treats, love, and/or praise when they do something right.
This will encourage them to repeat the behavior in order to get more treats and praise from you!
Negative reinforcement is never recommended
Negative reinforcement means that if your Pug does something bad (like peeing on the couch), then he will receive a negative consequence (like being spanked).
This is an ineffective way of training.
Mainly because it doesn’t teach them what he should be doing instead
Instead, it just makes him afraid of doing anything at all.
This could lead to bigger behavioral problems down the line, such as separation anxiety or aggression toward other people/animals.
How Does a Pug’s Intelligence Impact You as Their Owner?
The intelligence of a Pug is one of the most prominent things about our little friends and can affect how you train and integrate these fuzzballs into your life.
Pugs who have been properly trained, no matter their intelligence level, can make wonderful additions to your family, but only if you understand how their minds work, and this will take time as you get to know your individual pup.
So, while Pugs might not be winning any awards or competitions for their high levels of intelligence and problem-solving skills, they will still make a wonderful addition to your family, and with a little work and persistence, they will learn all of the tricks you have set out to teach them!