Are Corgis Smart? A Comprehensive Look at Corgi Intelligence

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Written By Dane Michael

I am a passionate dog owner for 10+ years. MyFavCorgi is a community of 500,000+ corgi fans with advice to buy, raise and care for your corgi.

Corgis, with their short legs, fluffy bodies, and big ears, may not look like the most intelligent of dogs.

But appearances can be deceiving. I can attest to the fact that corgis are much smarter than they look – and I’m sure many other corgi owners can too.

Corgis are a smart breed, renowned for their intelligence and problem-solving abilities. This is one of the reasons they make great family dogs as they are easy to train.

How smart are corgis?

Corgis are intelligent dogs. The exact level of their intelligence can vary from individual to individual, but most sit higher than the average dog. Their intelligence is from their training, genetics, and personality.

Corgis are known for their trainability, their ability to problem solve, and their ability to understand their owner’s emotions.

These traits make them adaptable dogs, capable of learning wide range of tasks.

In 1994, a psychologist named Dr. Stanley Coren wrote a book called The Intelligence of Dogs: A Guide to the Thoughts, Emotions, and Inner Lives of Our Canine Companions.

This was a seminal book in the field. It is the definitive guide to intelligence in dogs – giving the exact ranking of corgis compared to other dogs.

How corgis rank compared to other dogs?

In this book, in a section on the Ranking of Dogs for Obedience and Working Intelligence, the Pembroke Welsh corgi came in at Number #11 on the list.
This means there are only 10 dogs smarter than a Pembroke Welsh corgi.
Similarly, the Cardigan Welsh corgi came in at Number #26, still well inside the Top 30.
Likewise, on the American Kennel Club’s list of the smartest dog breeds, corgis are ranked in the top 10. This is alongside other intelligent breeds such as Border Collies, Poodles, and German Shepherds.

These ranks from Dr. Coren are based on factors such as:

  • the speed a dog can learn new commands
  • the number of repetitions needed for a dog to learn a new command.

In these tests, corgis ranked with a score of 85% (likelihood to obey the first command) and 5–15 repetitions to learn a new command.

While corgis may not be the absolute smartest dog breed, they are among the most intelligent.

What makes corgis smart?

There are several factors that contribute to the intelligence of corgis, specifically: their trainability, problem-solving skills, and their skill in responding to their owner’s emotions.

One of the main reasons corgis are smart is because they are highly trainable.

Corgis are eager to please their owners. They are quick to learn new commands and tricks.

They are also good at adapting to new situations. This makes them easy to train for a wide range of behaviours like sitting, staying, and coming when called.

Another reason corgis are smart is because of their problem-solving abilities.

Corgis have a strong sense of curiosity and can figure out complex problems on their own. In the home, this could be a slow feeding machine or a new toy.

They are also good at using their natural instincts to navigate their surroundings. This lets them find creative solutions to challenges.

Corgis are also intelligent because they can understand and respond to their owner’s emotions and body language.

Corgis are very perceptive. They can quickly pick up on subtle changes in their owner’s behaviour. This allows them to anticipate their needs and respond accordingly. These traits make them versatile dogs, perfect for any family home.

How do you define smartness in corgis

In The Intelligence of Dogs, Dr. Coren ranked over 100 different breeds.

He ranked these breeds using three specific types of intelligence:

  1. Instinctive intelligence: the ability to perform tasks it was bred to perform like herding
  2. Adaptive intelligence: the ability to problem-solve and learn from previous experiences
  3. Working and obedience intelligence: the ability to learn when being taught by humans

As a corgi dad, I have seen firsthand just how intelligent this breed of dog can be. ​Let’s look at how these three intelligence traits play out in my little corgi.

  1. As a corgi, he was bred to herd sheep. And to this day he still loves to chase a ball and play fetch. I often joke he could still lead a whole flock of sheep if I gave the chance.
  2. He’s incredibly quick to learn. For example, it didn’t take him long at all to figure out how to use the doggy door when I moved into my new place.
  3. He responds to commands. He follows commands like “sit,” “stay,” and “come” almost instantly, after we spent the time learning these skills.

He may be small, but his quick mind makes him one of the smartest dogs I’ve ever known. the corgi runs a much less scientific study, but it sure is a lot of fun!

How do I make my corgi smarter?

As in the case of humans, the intelligence of dogs is not fixed but can be influenced by rearing and life history.

To increase the three dimensions of a dog’s intelligence, some techniques include:

  1. Instinctive Intelligence: Breeding and selective breeding can play a role in increasing this dimension. It can be hard to shape once the dog is born though.
  2. Adaptive Intelligence: Giving positive reinforcement training, mental stimulation, and new experiences can help increase your dog’s intelligence.
  3. Working and Obedience Intelligence: Consistent, positive reinforcement training and obedience classes can improve a dog’s ability to follow commands and perform tasks.

There’s also intention intelligence (the personality factor). For this, socialisation and training can help improve your dog’s understanding of human body language. I’ve found these some of the biggest influences on how smart my corgi appears. Plus, nothing looks smarter than being able to do a few tricks.

Most of the techniques work best with young dogs. Many should start as soon as your dog moves in.

What are the smartest dogs?

Herding breeds like Border Collies, Australian Shepherds and corgis are universally considered to be extremely intelligent.

It’s no secret that purebred dogs have very different skills. These skills depend directly on what they were bred to do.

Herding breeds, like corgis, are considered smart. Due to the nature of herding breeds, they are excellent at both making independent decisions and taking instructions from humans.

In The Intelligence of Dogs, Dr. Coren’s top 10 smartest breeds in order of intelligence were:

  1. Border Collie
  2. Poodle
  3. German Shepherd
  4. Golden Retriever
  5. Doberman Pinscher
  6. Shetland Sheepdog
  7. Labrador Retriever
  8. Papillon
  9. Rottweiler
  10. Australian Cattle Dog

 Coming in at number 11 is the corgi, just shy of the top 10, but a pretty good spot if you ask me.

The book suggests dogs in the ranks 11 to 26 may perform slightly worse than the top 10, but virtually any trainer (regardless of skill) can get these breeds to perform.

What are the dumbest dogs?

The dumbest dogs are usually variations of the hound, including the Basset Hound, bloodhound, and Afghan Hound.

Based on the book The Intelligence of Dogs, the top 10 lowest-ranking breeds, that is, the dumbest dogs list, were:

  1. Basset Hound
  2. Mastiff
  3. Beagle
  4. Pekingese
  5. Bloodhound
  6. Borzoi
  7. Chow Chow
  8. Bulldog
  9. Basenji
  10. Afghan Hound

These dogs at the bottom are the most difficult to train, with the lowest degree of working and obedience intelligence.

During initial training, these breeds may need thirty or forty repetitions before they show the first inkling they have a clue about what is expected of them.

So, does this mean these are the 10 dumbest dog breeds? Well, not necessarily. When talking dumbest dog breeds, remember, all dogs are bred for different skills.

You don’t judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree. Likewise, some dogs are better at some behaviours than others.

Trainability just might not be the right criteria to judge intelligence for all breeds.

The Basset Hound tops the list of the Dumbest Dogs.

Are corgis smart or dumb?

Corgis are not dumb at all. In fact, they are known for their intelligence, with many sources ranking them among the most intelligent dog breeds.

Their eagerness to please their owners make them highly trainable and easy to work with.

From this, their intelligence make them well-suited for heaps of activities, including obedience and agility competitions, as well as more everyday tasks like using a doggy door or learning commands.

They are also known for their high energy levels, which can make them a lot of fun to be around. While some people may assume corgis are not very smart because of their small size, this is not the case,

In fact, many people who own corgis find they are just as intelligent as larger breeds of dogs.

How intelligent is a corgi?

Whereas smart refers to learnt skills, intelligence is an innate trait. In this regard, corgis are a both smart and intelligent breed due to their genetics and their training.

The terms ‘smart’ and ‘intelligent’ are basically interchangeable, but to break them down:

  • Intelligence is a natural trait of your corgi. It refers to their ability to learn.
  • Smartness covers what they have learnt. It also covers how they use their learnt skills.

Corgis have been bred for centuries to work as herding dogs on farms, and this work requires a high level of intelligence. This intelligence, when put to work, makes them smart.

Corgis are able to quickly learn and understand commands. This makes them a great family dog as they are able to follow your instruction and listen to what they need to do.

Therefore, it is accurate to say corgis are intelligent dogs.

What do corgis think about all day

There is no scientific proof corgis have thoughts in the same way humans do. However, studies show they do think about their needs, feelings and experiences. This may include exercise, sleep, or eating.

If you’ve ever had to have a conversation with a toddler, you know how hard it is to understand what they’re thinking. The same is true for dogs, but even harder!

It is difficult to say exactly what corgis think about all day as we cannot communicate with them in the same way we can communicate with other humans.

As scientists continue to study the animal mind, they are finding it to be a complex and fascinating place.

Parrots, for instance, not only mimic words but seem to understand them (or at least the context), putting them together in sentences. Gorillas are also capable of using sign language and pictures to communicate.

While these abilities are impressive, they are still limited compared to human abilities. These animals don’t, for example, seem to understand they can ask questions. They also don’t understand that others may have knowledge they do not.

Corgis, like humans, have complex brains capable of producing thoughts and emotions. While we may not know exactly what our corgis are thinking, it is clear they have their own unique ways of interacting with the world around them.

Do corgis have good memories?

Corgis are thought to have good memories, in part due to the fact that they are very smart. It’s one of the factors that helps makes them easy to train.
Corgis are known for their ability to remember their owners, as well as other people and animals they have encountered.
They can also remember commands they have been trained to perform, and they can remember the routes they have taken during walks.
Corgis’ ability to retain memories is also likely influenced by their emotional connections with their owners.
The specific memory abilities of corgis vary from dog to dog, but in general, they are likely to have good memories.

Final thoughts on whether corgis are smart

Intelligence can be difficult to define and measure in animals. However, corgis are considered to be intelligent. This is due to their alertness and their quick learning of new skills.

Originally bred to be herding dogs, this has given them a natural level of intelligence. This, combined with their playful personalities, make them great pets to have in your home.

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