How smart is the Australian Shepherd?

Last updated on September 23, 2022

The Australian Shepherd is a dog with many qualities. This pup is loyal, affectionate, loving, exuberant, and full of life. Aussies make both excellent work dogs and family pets. With the breed’s popularity constantly rising, many people ask questions about these dogs. One of the most common ones is how smart is the Australian Shepherd? So, let’s find out.

How smart is the Australian Shepherd?

How smart is the Australian Shepherd?

Australian Shepherds are extremely intelligent dogs. They possess an above-average IQ. Hence, Aussies fare much better than most dogs in terms of ability. However, besides being brilliant, Aussies are also very clever. This pup is notorious for constantly trying to outsmart its owners. Aussie Shepherds have vital instinctive intelligence because of their herding history. Add the emotional intelligence they possess on top, and you’ll understand how bright is the Australian Shepherd.

The Australian Shepherd needs 15 to 25 repetitions before learning to obey a new command. Thus, training an Aussie is a fun and straightforward job. Aussies excel at obedience. As hard-working dogs, they are happiest when given a job or a task. The brains of these active creatures work constantly. So, the Aussie is an overly enthusiastic being.

Australian Shepherds need to be stimulated and challenged both physically and mentally. Because of their intelligence, these dogs get easily bored. So, we should do training in short and fun sessions. It is best if we incorporate the training with other activities.

The Australian Shepherd will obey an order 80% of the time on the first attempt. These dogs also have adaptive intelligence. Thanks to this trait, Aussies are very versatile. So, these dogs can work as guards, service, emotional support, drug detection, or search and rescue dogs. Aussies also excel at canine sports.

The Australian Shepherd makes an excellent family pet and an even better working dog, thanks to its intelligence. Many times, Aussies act on intuition and instincts. For example, even if you don’t train your Aussie to be protective, the dog will still look after you and your family. In addition, certain qualities have come with evolution. So it’s safe to conclude that the Aussie Shepherd is a brilliant dog.

How is dog’s intelligence measured?

There are many methods to determine a dog’s intelligence. However, the most famous one is developed by Stanley Coren, a canine psychologist. Mr. Coren tested around 100 different breeds during his career. He published the results of the trials in his book, “The Intelligence of Dogs” in 1994.

According to Stanley Coren, dogs possess three different types of dog intelligence:

  • Working intelligence – the dog’s ability to be educated by humans, which includes obedience and the trainability of a breed
  • Adaptive intelligence – the dog’s ability to solve problems by itself
  • Instinctive intelligence – the dog’s ability to perform the tasks it is bred to do. In the Aussie’s case, that’s herding.

When Dr. Coren did the trials, he only considered working intelligence. So, he ranked dogs according to their ability to learn and obey a command. He used two references: how many repetitions a dog needs before learning a new order and how much a dog will abide by an authority on the first attempt.

The Australian Shepherd is a very smart dog

How did the Aussie fare on these intelligence trials?

According to these trials, the Australian Shepherd ranks 42nd out of 100 tested breeds. In addition, the Aussie needed 15 to 25 repetitions to learn a new command, while the most intelligent breeds needed five repetitions. Hence, the medium grade is given to the Aussie. However, Dr. Coren wronged the Aussie, and he admitted it.

As Dr. Coren only tested the working intelligence, he forgot some things about the Aussie:

  1. The Australian Shepherd is so intelligent and energetic. The tested dog probably got bored during the trials.
  2. Aussies react best when commanded by their owner.
  3. Aussies are best trained by using positive reinforcement. It is not clear which methods did Dr. Coren use. 

Coren’s trials did not consider the adaptive and intuitive intelligence of the Australian Shepherd. So, the Aussie might be 42nd on paper, but in reality, this dog is much more intelligent than that. Also, according to other researchers, an intelligent dog would do the following things:

  • Get into trouble
  • Play hide and seek
  • Solve problems
  • Communicate with humans
  • Solve puzzles

As the Australian Shepherds do all this stuff with ease, it is safe to say that Dr. Coren is wrong when it comes to the intelligence of this breed. 

Final words

So, to summarize, the Australian Shepherds are fantastic dogs. They are loyal, loving, affectionate, lively, and intelligent. Owning an Australian Shepherd will have a very positive effect on your life:

  1. The wittiness of the Aussie’ll entertain you
  2. This active furry beast won’t leave you be inactive
  3. Being an Aussie parent is excellent for your physical and mental health

Sure, there are breeds more intelligent than the Aussie. But that’s on paper only. I assure you that, in reality, the smartness of the Australian Shepherd is hard to match. No other dog will entertain and amuse you as the Aussie will. Yet, the dog will please, obey, and protect you at the same time. So, if you’re thinking about becoming a dog parent but don’t know which breed to choose, search no more. You just found your perfect pet, the magnificent Australian Shepherd.

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