Rottweiler Intelligence — Are Rottweilers Smart?

Rottweilers are wonderfully intelligent dogs. They are in a league with German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and Border Collies in their ability to learn new commands.

But they also possess a special kind of intelligence that empowers them to read the intentions of strangers that makes them highly protective guard dogs.

If you are planning to provide a forever home for a Rottweiler, there are lots of things you will need to consider: Diet, vaccinations, training, temperament, and how accepting your neighbors may be of this remarkable breed.

You need not have any doubt, however, of your Rottweilers intelligence.

In terms of working and obedience IQ, Rottweilers are the ninth most intelligent breed out of 138 breeds tested.

Experts agree that Rottweilers are among the most intelligent of all breeds.

What may make a bigger difference to you, however, is not your Rottweiler’s ability to learn new commands but your canine companion’s ability to protect and to guard you and your family — even the family cat.

Expert Opinion of Rottweiler Intelligence

The most comprehensive assessment of the relative intelligence of Rottweilers (along with 137 other breeds of dogs) was conducted by a team of trainers and dog experts organized by Canadian psychology professor Stanley Coren.

Dr. Coren’s methods have received both criticism and praise, but they are generally accepted by dog training professionals.

Coren’s canine IQ tests may not be perfect, but they are a great starting point.

Coren recruited 193 North American obedience trial judges to help him collect data on the intelligence of the 138 breeds of dogs.

Coren based his computation of canine intelligence on two factors:

  1. How many repetitions it took a dog to learn a new command. The fewer times it took to teach a dog a new command, the more intelligent they were assumed to be.
  2. The percentage of dogs of the same breed that learn a new command on the first try. Getting a new command right on the first attempt is the mark of a superior canine mind, according to Coren.

Only breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club and the Canadian Kennel Club were included in the study.

Coren also only included breeds for which there were at least 100 responses. This resulted in some beloved breeds being left off the list.

Rottweilers are internationally recognized. They are immensely popular. Coren’s collaborators had no problems finding enough Rottweilers to include them in the study.

What did the researchers find out?

On average, a Rottweiler is able to learn a new command after just five repetitions.

This means that most Rottweilers can be trained to obey a new command in just a few minutes.

Even more impressively, Rottweilers are able to carry out a newly learned command on the first try with a success rate of 95%.

Coren and his fellow researchers confirmed something that Rottweiler owners already knew: Rottweilers are incredibly obedient.

And they rank in the 1op 10 of all breeds for their ability to obey their owners and learn new activities.

How Do Rottweilers Compare to Dogs of “Average” Intelligence?

Many beloved dogs have average intelligence, but there is a noteworthy gap between the intelligence of an average dog and the intelligence of a Rottweiler.

Rottweilers don’t just learn faster. They are also capable of remembering and obeying commands a higher percentage of the time

It takes a dog with “average intelligence” between 25 and 40 repetitions to learn a new command. “Average” dogs need 5 to 8 times as long to learn a new command as a Rottweiler.

Dogs of average intelligence will obey a command they know just 50% of the time. It isn’t just that they are strong-willed and stubborn. They simply aren’t as smart as Rottweilers.

And how do Rottweilers compare to the breeds that did especially poorly on the tests administered by Coren and collaborators?

Some breeds just don’t possess the same kind of intelligence as Rottweilers and other breeds in Coren’s top tier.

They might need as many as 100 repetitions to learn a new command, and then they would only be able to perform it 25% of the time.

Rottweilers can learn hundreds of commands.

They have episodic memory, the ability to recall events as if they were replaying a movie of events, only with tastes and smells in addition to sights and sounds.

Rottweilers can pick out objects by their photographs. And they can zero in on the right side of a human’s face to observe the human’s emotional state.

Coren and his fellow judges would be among the first people to admit that the kinds of intelligence they measured don’t tell the whole story.

The ability to learn and follow commands is just part of a dog’s intelligence.

Keen instincts and the ability to adapt to changing conditions are important dimensions of canine intelligence, too.

But Rottweilers also excel in these other two dimensions of canine intelligence.

Your Rottweiler’s Instinctive Intelligence

Instinctive intelligence refers to the special skills that are practically hard-wired into the brains of a breed of dog.

Just about every breed of dog once had a special purpose. Poodles, for instance, were bred to retrieve ducks from cold-water ponds for hunters.

Terriers were bred to kill rats. Leonbergers were bred to carry children and the elderly around in little carts.

Dachshunds were bred to hunt badgers and sheep-dogs were bred to herd sheep.

You would probably be surprised how quickly Poodles take to swimming. You don’t have to spend a lot of time training a Terrier to go after rodents.

Leonbergers have an intuitive sense of how to carry children around in a wagon, and sheep dogs are born to take care of sheep.

A dog doesn’t need extensive attention by humans to exercise its intuitive IQ. That intelligence is just “there.” These abilities don’t need to be taught.

Rottweilers also have intuitive intelligence. They were bred to be some of the fiercest guard dogs ever.

They are among the most feared protectors in all of dogdom. They can protect humans or other animals or both.

Whether a Rottweiler is naturally suspicious or, more often, naturally easy-going, he will have the instinct to defend and protect.

Your Rottweiler will be sufficiently confident in that ability not to need to bark a lot.

There are other breeds that make formidable guard dogs. Some are big and vicious. What makes Rottweilers the best guard dogs is the way they understand their surroundings.

They can assess the situation and know how to respond to keep their charges safe.

They protect children and seniors and give active adults another set of eyes to monitor the safety of their surroundings.

Rottweilers Also Possess High Adaptive Intelligence

Adaptive intelligence is the ability of a dog to think for itself.

Rottweilers have so much adaptive intelligence that in many situations, particularly as guard dogs, they are essentially self-training,

Your Rottweiler’s adaptive intelligence will give her the ability to remember where you store treats.

Your Rottweiler’s adaptive intelligence will tell him when you are dressed to go out for a walk and give early warning signals that mealtime is on its way without your having to say anything.

Adaptive intelligence will also inform your dog of people you are always glad to see and people you would rather stay away,

Your Rottweiler’s adaptive intelligence will inform him of signs your child is about to run out into the street to chase a ball, maybe running into traffic, so your dog can prevent danger.

Your Rottweiler will recognize the most likely places a burglar will break in and which way a criminal might run off into the woods.

Thanks to their high adaptive intelligence, Rottweilers can learn from their mistakes. And they can come up with creative solutions for problems.

One Rottweiler owner, for instance, had two dogs. Every time he would throw a stick for the Rottweiler to fetch, the other dog would steal it.

After this happened a few times, the Rottweiler went out into the woods and found a stick so large that the other dog couldn’t carry it.

Your Rottweiler may recognize that when you put on your coat, there is likely to be an opportunity to go outside, but if you reach for your car keys, you might be going to the vet.

Rottweilers have been known to figure out how to open the refrigerator and discern ways to unlatch their crates.

They can read your moods and know when you need their companionship.

Does Your Rottweiler’s High Intelligence Really Matter?

Rottweilers are so intelligent that sometimes it is hard to determine whether the owner is training the dog or the dog is training the owner.

Rottweilers can amuse and challenge their owners with their endless ability to try and do new things.

Will you really love your Rottweiler for his mind?

The truth is, you don’t really need a smart dog to have a happy relationship with your dog.

High intelligence is important for Rottweilers that do police and military work, but it is not quite so essential for a stay-at-home companion dog.

Still, it’s nice to have a dog that is so ready to learn. If you love the challenge of keeping up with a really smart dog, a Rottweiler is a great choice.

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