Are Portuguese Water Dogs Smart? 4 Ways To Increase Their Intelligence

Portuguese Water Dogs are among the most popular breeds in the world for various reasons, and that includes them being smart, obedient, and independent. But, there are a lot of other factors that constitute intelligence, so just how brilliant is this breed, and in what order is he when compared to other dogs?

Admittingly, it is no easy feat to truly determine the level of smartness of a Portuguese Water Dog. Somehow, we can get a glimpse of his obedience, working, instinctive, and adaptive intelligence levels. Let’s dive in!

How Dr. Stanley Coren Measured a Dog’s Intelligence

Dr. Stanley Coren, a canine psychologist known to be one of the most well-respected in the world, started out with an initiative to create a list that would identify which dogs are the smartest. 

But, to accurately understand the implications of his study, we have first to find out how Dr. Coren measured the dogs’ intelligence. This project started off by asking 199 judges of dog obedience to assess every dog breed and place them in their respective rankings.

There are two bases for Dr. Coren’s criteria concerning dog intelligence:

1. The number of repetitions of a command the breed requires to grasp and learn it fully: In the case of the Portuguese Water Dog, he needed a considerable time and number of rehearsals before he ultimately understood the drill.

2. The likelihood to obey and do the command learned: All dog breeds that have a high success rate in obedience are then ranked accordingly while comparing it to others’ performance. 

The dog breeds included in Dr. Coren’s Intelligence of Dogs list were those whose number of responses did not exceed 100. The Portuguese Water Dog, being a hardworking, compliant dog with a hint of stubbornness, did an impressive show, making him easily qualify. 

Knowing that there are hundreds of dog breeds out there, the only ones who participated are those that are recognized by the Canadian Kennel Club and the American Kennel Club. Mixed, hybrid, and designer dogs were thoroughly excluded.

How Smart Is a Portuguese Water Dog vs Other Dog Breeds?

Out of over 100 dog breeds judged in Dr. Coren’s list, the Portuguese Water Dog secured the 28th spot along with the Giant Schnauzer. His spot means he’s a third-tier, above-average working dog who can learn a trick after 15 to 25 repetitions of a command. The success rate when it comes to his obedience was 70 percent. 

There are six tiers in all, and the top three spots were earned by the Border Collie (1st), Poodle (2nd), and German Shepherd (3rd). 

Does a Dog’s Breed Matter When It Comes to Smartness?

A dog’s breed does matter, but intelligence isn’t solely based on that. After all, there are different types of intelligence, and the Portuguese Water Dog may possibly excel in one or two aspects and not that well with the rest. 

If we apply that to all the other dog breeds, it’s a probability that the Portie dog will perform better than any other, including the ones on the top list. 

Some Breeds Excel in Instinctive Intelligence

Instinctive intelligence refers to what the breed is bred and developed for. The Portuguese Water Dog purposely came about to herd fish; meanwhile, a Corgi’s primary task is to herd the cattle. With that being said, a Portuguese dog will most likely outperform a Corgi or vice versa when it comes to performing specific skills. 

Every Dog Has Different Adaptive Intelligence Levels

This factor is less dependent on the breed. What this tells us is that adaptive intelligence heavily refers to how a dog can learn something from the environment and apply the lessons drawn out of it. 

What supports the notion that every dog has varying adaptive intelligence levels is the fact that some Portuguese Water Dogs can do a task with little to no mistakes while others of the same breed commit mistakes over and over. 

In a general sense, though, there can be an expectation set for a Portuguese Water Dog. People would automatically assume he’s obedient and smart, but we have to remember that every dog is an individual, therefore unique and different. If there’s a brilliant Portie, there are also a few who can be less smart. 

Every Breed Has Different Working and Obedience Intelligence

Both working and obedience intelligence largely refers to how well a dog of any breed learns the commands they receive from their humans. There are observable differences which is why the judges that helped out Dr. Coren were able to identify which breeds score high on these aspects.

4 Ways to Increase Your Portuguese Water Dog’s Intelligence

Every dog has a high potential to be sharp-witted or surpass even more the current state of his brain prowess. A Portuguese Water Dog is off to a good start if he has a dedicated owner who will aid him in becoming not just a wonderful dog but as well as a canine who can do many things.

To further improve his mental capacity, we suggest four ways:

1. Invest in Dog Toys

Portuguese Water Dogs are naturally playful. One thing you can do to spark his natural behavior is to invest in quality dog toys suitable for his size. To enhance his sense of smell as well as keep the weight down and keep him entertained, the Lamtwek Snuffle Mat would be a perfect choice. 

Dog toy balls from Chuckit!  Will also provide enough physical and mental stimulation for your highly energetic Portie dog. Get involved as well, so your dog gets the most fun from every game he plays while learning new things.

2. Consistent Training

You will always hear pieces of advice that puppies have to be trained as early as possible. Though they are not a blank slate that waits to get filled up with knowledge, Portuguese Water Dogs would need aid from a human to unlock their potential.

Start the training from basic to complex and do so regularly. Dogs can be forgetful, after all. If you are not sure how to go about with your Portie’s training, hiring a professional is a good decision. You can gradually learn from a dog trainer and eventually teach the rest of the drills to your dog yourself.

3. Positive Reinforcements

Motivation is a big influencer of learning. Know what drives your Portuguese Water Dog to obey and use that to your advantage. A few treats and praises here and there are essential keys to making him remember the commands and perform them well. 

This will urge the dog to retain his learned behavior and also find out that behaviors that are not reinforced should be eliminated.

4. Adequate Love and Encouragement

Breeds like the Portuguese Water Dog are natural people-pleasers. They become more pumped up to do what they are told as a sort of respect to their owners. When a dog is treated right and is given lots of encouragement, learning will happen faster than a dog who receives inadequate love. 

Remember, happy dogs are more able to learn and are less likely to make undesirable mistakes and behaviors.