Are English Bulldogs Really as Smart as We Think? Discover the Hidden Intelligence of Bulldogs

English Bulldogs are beloved for their friendly nature, calm demeanor, and courageous personality. But let’s admit it – sometimes their goofy smiles and carefree attitude make them appear less intelligent than they actually are. So, are English Bulldogs smarter than we give them credit for? Let’s delve into the fascinating world of Bulldog intelligence.

The Measure of Bulldog Intelligence

Bulldogs have often been labeled as one of the least intelligent dog breeds, but it’s essential to understand how this assessment was made. Canine psychologist Dr. Stanley Coren, famous for his intelligence trials, evaluated dog breeds based on “obedience and working intelligence.”

This type of intelligence measures how quickly dogs learn commands and how well they retain their training. While it might not be the most comprehensive measure of intelligence, it is the easiest to objectively evaluate.

Coren’s Criteria for Dog Intelligence

Dr. Coren’s research involved reaching out to 199 obedience trial judges to assess and rank dog breeds according to his criteria. His evaluation included two main factors:

  1. The number of repetitions needed for a dog breed to learn a new command.
  2. The success rate of a dog obeying a known command on the first attempt.

It’s crucial to note that not all dog breeds participated in these trials. Only dog breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club and/or CKC were included. The English Bulldog, being recognized by both, was part of the study.

Where Bulldogs Stand in Coren’s Rankings

According to Coren’s research, Bulldogs performed poorly in intelligence trials, coming in as the 136th most intelligent breed out of 138 breeds. While this ranking might suggest low intelligence, it’s important to understand the context.

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Bulldogs required around 80 repetitions to learn a new unknown command, taking longer than other breeds. Additionally, their success rate in obeying a known command on the first try was only around 25% or lower.

Comparing Bulldogs to some of the smartest dog breeds, such as German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, and Labradors, it’s evident that Bulldogs lag behind. These highly intelligent breeds needed fewer than 5 repetitions to learn a new command and had a success rate of 95% or better.

A Deeper Understanding of Bulldog Intelligence

While Bulldogs may not excel in obedience and working intelligence, they possess other forms of intelligence that often go unnoticed. According to Dr. Coren, there are three dimensions of canine intelligence: obedience and working intelligence, instinctive intelligence, and adaptive intelligence.

1. Instinctive Intelligence: The “Bull-Baiting Intelligence”

Bulldogs were originally bred for bull-baiting, a brutal sport involving taunting bulls until they grew tired. While the sport’s history is tragic, Bulldogs display a unique form of instinctive intelligence honed through this activity.

In the bull-baiting ring, Bulldogs had to navigate the situation carefully to avoid fatal attacks. They needed to dodge and time their pin-down of the bull, requiring a special type of intelligence. This instinctive intelligence is a testament to the Bulldog’s ancestral skills and capabilities.

2. Adaptive Intelligence: Learning From Experience

Adaptive intelligence refers to a dog’s ability to learn for itself. Bulldogs, being strong-willed and independent-minded, excel in this area. They are quick learners who adapt based on their experiences and past mistakes.

Bulldogs that participated in bull-baiting quickly learned how to anticipate bull attacks and react accordingly. This ability to learn from previous experiences is a clear sign of high adaptive intelligence in Bulldogs.

While instinctive and adaptive intelligence are more challenging to measure objectively, countless Bulldog owners have shared their stories of their dogs’ inquisitiveness, problem-solving abilities, and learning from past actions.

What Bulldog Owners Say About Their Dogs

To truly understand Bulldog intelligence, it is best to hear from those who spend the most time with these lovable dogs – their owners. We asked Bulldog owners about their dogs’ intelligence, and here’s what they had to say:

  • P1ggy believes Bulldogs aren’t dumb dogs but rather incredibly stubborn and smart enough to choose what they want to be stubborn about.
  • Bullys_man agrees, stating that Bulldogs are much smarter than most dogs; they just choose to do what they want.
  • Nastshabast emphasizes that while English Bulldogs may not understand every word, they grasp the meaning and are quite smart.
  • Buddin3 describes Bulldogs as stubborn yet loyal and heaps of fun. They believe Bulldogs are very smart.
  • Denzitymatter shares that Bulldogs may not be the smartest, but they are incredibly sweet and have a desire for pets and treats.
  • Systemsrdown highlights that Bulldogs understand what you mean but may choose not to comply. They stand firm that Bulldogs are undeniably smart.
  • Chasmosaur acknowledges Bulldogs’ reputation for stubbornness but insists that it does not translate to low intelligence, emphasizing that they are far from being dumb.
  • Ootagoo praises Bulldogs for their intelligence but highlights the importance of patience in dealing with their stubbornness.
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Bulldog Intelligence: The Verdict

Truly understanding Bulldog intelligence is best achieved by listening to the experiences of dedicated owners. While Bulldogs may not rank highly in obedience and working intelligence, they showcase remarkable instinctive and adaptive intelligence.

So, is the Bulldog the right breed for you? It’s important not to choose a dog breed solely based on intelligence. Temperament and compatibility with your lifestyle should be the primary factors. Bulldogs are great family dogs, known for their affectionate nature, courage, and ability to bring joy to your life. If you can provide the necessary care and love, a Bulldog will make a loyal and entertaining companion.

To learn more about Bulldogs and their unique qualities, visit Katten TrimSalon. Share your thoughts and stories about Bulldog intelligence in the comments section below!

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