Are Pugs Smart or Dumb? Here’s What Makes Them Intelligent Dogs

are pugs smart

If you’re thinking of getting a Pug, you’ve probably been asking: are Pugs smart? Rumour has it that Pugs aren’t the brightest of the bunch.

But don’t let this put you off. What they lack in instinct they make up for in adaptability. Are Pugs dumb? Absolutely not. Pugs are A-grade students.

If you’re wondering whether this is the breed for you, we want to share our know-how. This article contains everything you need to know about pug intellect.


Are Pugs Dumb?

Pugs are not dumb. A trained Pug is a low maintenance, observant, and a fast learner. But even so, many people believe that this is an unintelligent breed.

The Pugs’ goofy appearance and sense of humor are widely misunderstood as signs of stupidity. As a result, they’ve become the class clowns of the dog world. But, in reality, there is no such thing as a dumb dog.

Different breeds possess different types of intelligence. These are instinctive, adaptive, and working intelligence and comprise of these specific skills:

  1. Instinctive intelligence: intelligence defined by skills the breed was bred for. For example, some dogs are bred to be excellent hunters. Others are bred to be efficient retrievers.
  2. Adaptive intelligence: this helps dogs solve problems on their own, learn from previous experiences or mistakes, and adapt their behavior accordingly.
  3. Working intelligence: dogs with working intelligence can be trained easily to perform skills, tricks, and good behavior.

So where do pugs get their “nothing going one between the ears” reputation?

Well, most people associate intelligence with instinctive intelligence. But this isn’t where Pugs shine. Pugs have been bred as companions with no need for a particular, practical skill set.

As such, they do not have an instinctive intelligence. Instead, Pugs have a very high adaptive intelligence. They remember, and learn, from their mistakes and experiences.

This is a valuable type of intellect, but harder to observe in the short term. That’s why people tend to be surprised when they hear Pug owners saying that their pet is super smart.

You might not think it, but the Pugs’ flat face also impacts their intellect. Brain activity requires oxygen. But Brachycephalic dogs are often oxygen-deprived.

As a result, some people think that this might make learning and memory formation more difficult for them.


Are Pugs Smart?

Pugs are smart. Just not in the way most people imagine a brainy dog to be. Pugs were bred to be companions, not workers. They are intelligent, just in different ways.

One of the best things about Pugs is their highly adaptive intellect, which makes them ideal for family life.

Because Pugs learn from their mistakes quickly, you can count on a pooch with a loveable, friendly personality. Pugs love to please people, making them relatively easy to train.

But remember, they are also stubborn- and clever enough to get their own way from time to time.

So let’s look at some typical examples of smart Pug behaviors.

  • They love to please their owners by learning new tricks
  • They adapt to their environment and become calm, well-mannered housemates
  • They have high emotional intelligence and docile nature perfect for families
  • They learn from their mistakes and won’t repeat the same mistake twice
  • They will remember what you like and dislike and try to make you happy


Pug Intelligence: How Smart Are Pugs?

1. What is the IQ of a pug?

Comparing your pug’s intelligence to that of a human is not realistic.

Humans and dogs have different skills and IQ tests are not designed to measure a dog’s aptitudes accurately. As such, no dog can be given an accurate IQ score.

Instead, doggy intelligence tends to be measured in terms of how quickly they learn new tasks. Border Collies rank highest for measured intelligence, whereas pugs demonstrate average understanding.

According to the Fair Woking/ Obedience Intelligence website for canines, Pugs rank 57th for intelligence, putting them in the top 55-69 most intelligent dog breeds. Breeds in this category learn new commands with approximately 40-80 repetitions and obey first commands 30% of the time.

But, remember, it’s important for prospective dog owners to think beyond the numbers. Doggy intelligence rankings are biased towards typically preferred markers of intellect.

Pug’s may be slower to pick up commands than Border Collies, but they boast other unique skills.

2. Pug’s Instinctive Intelligence

Because Pugs were bred as companion dogs, they do not possess much in the way of instinctive intelligence.

As far back as 400 BC, the emperors of ancient China chose pugs as cherished companions. As such, Pugs have not been bred to excel at any particular, instinctive, skill. Instead, they’ve been selected for their docile, loving temperaments.

3. Pug’s Adaptive Intelligence

This is where the Pug shines. The breed ranks highly for social awareness and adaptive intelligence.

Due to being bred as companions, Pugs naturally choose to focus on pleasing their owners. This makes them extremely affectionate, family-friendly pets.

Pug’s people-pleasing behaviors sometimes risk becoming needy and demanding. They have no shortage of time for socializing with their humans. But this also makes them great companions for children and other animals.

4. Pug’s Obedience Intelligence

Pugs do possess some obedience intelligence. But it has to be worked at.

Pugs tend to be quite stubborn but it is eminently possible to train them with a bit of patience. Be consistent and deliberate with your training and offer plenty of (food-based) motivation along the way.

Are Pugs Smarter Than Other Dog Breeds?

Different breeds are smart in different ways. It’s not fair to compare a dog with a high instinctive intelligence with one that excels in adaptiveness.

Typically, measures of intelligence lean towards instinctive and working behaviors. These dogs are bred for a specific skill like hunting.

Compared to dogs with a high working or instinctive intelligence, of course, Pugs will fall short.

In fact, in a ranking of dog breeds based on working intelligence, Pugs placed in the bottom 40. But Pugs are not working dogs and this is not a representation of their strengths. Pugs will rank much higher for emotional intelligence and adaptiveness.

As such, it’s important to choose a breed with characteristics that suit your lifestyle and requirements. This will come down to breed characteristics more than intelligence rankings.


Are Pugs Smart Enough to Be Trained? Are They Easy to Train?

All dogs can be trained and most respond best to positive reinforcement training. This consists of using food, or toy-based, rewards in response to demonstrations of desired behaviors. Different breeds will pick up new commands at different rates.

Pugs tend to be on the slower side. When training a Pug, it’s important to be patient and offer constant reinforcement. For this reason, Pug’s have developed a reputation for stubbornness.

In reality, your dog isn’t stubborn. Pugs have not been bred for learning commands. Stubborn behavior is a sign that you’re not getting the message across. Try changing up your treats or making commands even clearer.

Once your Pug knows your likes and dislikes they promise to be a loyal companion. They might be a bit slow to the mark sometimes, but you can be guaranteed your happiness is their top priority.



 1. Are Pugs dumb?

There’s no such thing as a dumb dog. Different breeds have been bred for different strengths.

Are Pugs smart?

Well, that’s for you to decide.

Pugs are of average intelligence. Stanley Coren’s Dog Intelligence List ranks pugs in 108th position out of 136 breeds.

Pugs may not have instinctive intelligence, but they possess a high level of adaptive intellect. They might need more time to learn new commands but they always have their owner’s best interests at heart.

2. What are the smartest dog breeds?

Dogs with a high level of instinctive and working intelligence are typically considered to be the most intelligent. The most intelligent breeds tend to learn new commands after 5 repetitions or less.

In contrast, Pugs often need a new command repeated between 25 and 40 times. But remember, that’s because Pugs are not instinctive or working dogs. Instead, they excel at long-term adaptive behaviors.

According to Stanley Corren’s research methodology, 51% of a dog’s intelligence comes from its genetic breeding. As such, some of the smartest dog breeds include:

  • Border Collie
  • German Shephard
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • Golden Retriever
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Shetland Sheepdog
  • Poodle
  • Papillon
  • Rotweiller
  • Australian Cattle Dog


Debunking The Myths

Pugs might have fostered a reputation for silliness but this isn’t the whole picture. If you find yourself asking “are Pugs dumb”? it’s time to think again.

Remember, there is no such thing as a dumb breed. Different breeds are bred for different purposes and Pugs were bred as companions not workers. Emotional intelligence is where they shine brightest.

Pugs may not learn new commands quickly or have any exceptional practical skills, but their adaptive intelligence makes them wonderful, loving, and loyal pets.

Are Pugs smart?

If you’re looking for an emotionally intelligent, sensitive, and responsive pet then yes. Pugs are smart indeed.