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Are Goldendoodles Smart? 9 Surprising Things You May Not Know

How smart are Goldendoodles?

The question, my Goldendoodle loving friends, is not, “Are Goldendoodles smart?” but rather, “Just how smart are Goldendoodles?”

Red Goldendoodle dog wearing glasses and looking smart, photo

In general, all Goldendoodles tend to be quick learners, great at intuiting human emotion, and have loving dispositions. You could say that they go to the head of the class when it comes to canine intelligence.

But you’re probably curious to know more. As a Goldendoodle mom, aunt to two Goldendoodles, professed Goldendoodle super fan, and a research hound, my Doodle dog (a comical red Goldendoodle named Chloe) and I are tracking down the latest on the subject of Goldendoodle intelligence.

In our search, we found some surprising info. So let’s jump into the nitty-gritty on why these fluffy Muppet dogs have their dog moms referring to them as “Little Einsteins.”

Adult apricot Goldendoodle looking at dictionary as if reading it, photo

Here are nine things you may not know about the intelligence of the Goldendoodle.

Are Goldendoodles smart? 9 things you may not know about ’em

9. Every Goldendoodle shines as an individual.

Funny Goldendoodle wearing glasses, photo

First, it’s important to point out that, as with all breeds and mix breeds, every Goldendoodle is unique. All types of Goldendoodles, like all dogs, are individuals. Just like we humans have our own talents, skills, and abilities, each individual dog has talents, skills, and abilities too.

The beauty is in unwrapping the package and discovering all the smarts, quirks, and personality traits that make your Doodle dog “Golden.” Whether your little Doodle dog is an F1B Goldendoodle or or an F1 Goldendoodle or some other combination, nurturing all that know-how in your Goldendoodle’s brilliant noggin is critical. Through socialization, training, love, and attention, your Goldendoodle can live the happiest life with you.

8. Goldendoodles tend to be trainable, but actually there are 3 different measures of intelligence.

Adult Goldendoodle wearing glasses, photo

Now that we’ve set the playing field by clarifying that every Goldendoodle is unique, next let’s look at how experts view canine intelligence.

You probably know that one sign of intelligence is how quickly a dog learns a skill, but did you know there are actually three types of canine intelligence? Read on…

Apricot Goldendoodle looking at the dictionary as if reading it, photo

How experts define each type of canine intelligence

Stanley Coren, author of The Intelligence of Dogs, psychologist, and canine researcher, is considered a leading expert on canine intelligence. He divides it into three categories: instinctive, adaptive, and working.

Instinctive intelligence

According to Coren, instinctive intelligence is a dog’s ability to perform the task it was bred for. So think herding, retrieving, and companionship, for example.

I think of instinctive intelligence as my Goldendoodle’s innate ability to retrieve a ball. From the time she was a puppy, her Golden Retriever and Poodle instincts took over when it comes to fetch games. Nothing makes her happier. “Teaching” my teddy bear Goldendoodle to retrieve wasn’t even a thing. She just did it.

goldendoodle running at full stride across green grass retrieving ball, photo
Retrieving is an example of instinctive intelligence.

However, another Goldendoodle in our extended family pack, prefers nothing more than providing companionship to her family. She’s a cuddlebug. In her case, her instinctive intelligence leans toward companionship and not retrieving.

Adaptive intelligence

Adaptive intelligence is how well a dog can solve a problem without help. When I think of this type of canine intelligence, I think of my Goldendoodle’s ability to use her nose to nudge open her food puzzle games in the blink of an eye. (As an aside, her problem-solving abilities shine when it comes to counter surfing too.)

Working intelligence

The third type, working intelligence, is the category most people think of when it comes to canine intelligence. Working intelligence is based on the number of repetitions it takes for dogs to learn a command. In a nutshell, the theory is this: the fewer the repetitions, the faster the learning, the smarter the dog.

When I think of working intelligence, I think of how quickly Chloe learned to ring the potty bell when she was just a Goldendoodle puppy. Not only did she pick up on it quickly, but she surprised us by noticing and ringing a decorative bell hanging on the door of a relative’s home…unaided.

Related: New Goldendoodle Puppy: 7 Golden Lessons from a Dog Mom

7. Intelligence runs in the Goldendoodle’s family.

You probably know that the Goldendoodle is a cross-breed or hybrid between the Poodle and the Golden Retriever. But did you know that these two breeds go to the head of the class when it comes to intelligence?

The Poodle ranks second and the Golden Retriever ranks fourth on the list of most intelligent dogs. So the Goldendoodle has smart parent breeds.

For the complete list of smartest dog breed’s, read Coren’s article, The 10 Smartest Dog Breeds, at StanleyCoren.com.

6. Because Goldendoodles are a mixed breed, they are not included as part of the “smartest breeds.”

Red Goldendoodle looking overtop her glasses photo

So, are you wondering where the Goldendoodle ranks on the list of smartest dog breeds? You may be surprised to learn that, because Goldendoodles are not considered a pure breed dog, they are not part of Coren’s study nor on the list of the smartest dog breeds.

Not only are they not on the list, but also (at least from everything that I could turn up) there seems to be a gap in research on the Goldendoodle.

But fear not! I was able to find one study (Expression of Behavioral Traits in Goldendoodles from NCBI, which is a part of the United States Library of Medicine) that touches on intelligence through the category of “training.” (As you recall from reading number eight above, training is part of working intelligence.)

Within the study, a small section showed how the Goldendoodle ranks in comparison to the Miniature Poodle, the standard Poodle, and the Golden Retriever when it comes to “trainability.” The numbers showed no statistical difference between the parent breeds and the Goldendoodle.

In my opinion, the conclusion we can draw from this is that the Goldendoodle is on the same “intelligence playing field” as the super smart Poodle and Golden Retriever.

5. Goldendoodle owners give their dogs top marks for intelligence.

Since there was little research specifically on the intelligence of Goldendoodles, we went to the next best source: Goldendoodle parents. You may be surprised to know that, in our own (unscientific) study of 100 Goldendoodle owners, “intelligence” was ranked number two as the word that best describes their Goldendoodle dogs. (“Lovable” ranked number one.) For the complete list of words to describe Goldendoodles as shared by Goldendoodle moms and dads, please read my article, What is a Goldendoodle?

Close-up of red Goldendoodle wearing round glasses to look smart, photo

4. Just being canine makes Goldendoodles at least as smart as a 2-year-old child

While the Poodle and Golden Retriever parent breeds have a lot to do with the Goldendoodle’s intelligence, so too does simply being a canine. According Live Science’s article (Dogs as Smart as 2-year-old Kids), even average dogs have the intelligence equivalence of a 2-year-old child! (For example, “average” dogs can learn 165 words, which is about that of a toddler.) To top it off, the article goes on to say that our dog’s social skills go far beyond a 2-year-old human and rank right up there with the level of human teenagers.

Goldendoodle lying beside dictionary, photo

3. Keeping Goldendoodles mentally stimulated is important to their good health.

With so much smarts wrapped up in these fluffy Muppet dogs, they do require mental and physical stimulation and companionship (i.e. your time and attention). But that’s that best part, and it’s why we humans crave having a furry family member in the first place, right?

Here are five ideas on how to nurture your Goldendoodle’s noggin.

🐾 Allow your Goldendoodle plenty of time to sniff.

According an article published in Science Direct (Let Me Sniff), nosework or “foraging” time makes your dog more optimistic! Maybe that’s why dogs look so happy when they are sniffing the breeze!

One of my Goldendoodle’s favorite foraging activities is going on a Sniffari adventure. You can find our how-to tips for taking your dog on a Sniffari and more ideas in our article on 15 fun dog-friendly activities.

🐾 Give your Goldendoodle new experiences

New experiences, new challenges, and new opportunities to solve problems may help nurture your Goldendoodle’s intelligence. For example, since Goldendoodles require daily exercise, consider taking them for a walk on a new trail rather than your usual trip around the block.

Another enrichment activity that Chloe enjoys are food puzzles. Rather than putting her morning meal in her food bowl, we put it in a food puzzle so she can work to find her food. For more brain teasers for your Goldendoodle, please check out our list of 14 fun games to play with dogs.

Close-up of a Red Goldendoodle using her nose to find treats in a dog food puzzle game, photo
A food puzzle game allows Chloe to “hunt” for her breakfast.

🐾 Enjoy spending time together

Coordinated or organized events that are fun for both you and your dog are another way to keep your Goldendoodle’s mind stimulated. Some ideas to consider are agility training, therapy dog certification, trick dog training, and scent work.

Also, many Goldendoodle enthusiasts are organizing Doodle romps and play dates in their communities and neighborhoods. If there isn’t one in your area, starting your own could be a fun activity you and your dog could do together.

Finally, there are plenty of pet holidays you can celebrate with together with your dog. National Squirrel Appreciation Day and International Goldendoodle Dog Day are a couple popular ones. You may want to bookmark our complete list of pet holidays so you can celebrate them with your furry pal.

🐾 Begin training your Goldendoodle puppy early

As mentioned earlier, dogs who are smart tend to be easily trained. Begin teaching your Goldendoodle puppy simple commands early. There’s no need to wait a few months.

Keep it positive, positive, positive with plenty of praise and rewards of treats or a favorite ball. (Check out my favorite Goldendoodle puppy supplies for more ideas.)

2. Goldendoodles use their intelligence to bring comfort, safety, and joy to others.

Next, let’s look for real-life examples of how the intelligence of the Goldendoodle impacts human lives. Here are just a few touching true stories of how Goldendoodles use intelligence (and gentleness) to solve problems, provide safety, and offer comfort to humans:

🐾 A smart and loving Goldendoodle named Lucky not only gives his 10-year-old owner companionship, but also serves as a diabetic alert dog. The Goldendoodle knows his owner’s scent and is trained to alert him when the child’s sugar levels get low. (You can read the full story on WLWT5 NBC, Diabetic Boy From Alexandria Gets Diabetic Alert Dog One Year After Scare.)

🐾 Barry, a service dog and 2-year-old Goldendoodle, was nominated for the American Humane Association’s Hero Dog award for saving his owner’s life. (For the full story, read Service Dog Saves Owner’s Life at KJRH.com, an NBC affiliate.)

🐾 Agnes, a sweet 2-year-old Goldendoodle, calms children during medical procedures, comforts children in the hospital, and even models how to wear medical gowns. The therapy dog is part of the Dogs for Joy program and works at the MUSC Children’s Hospital. You can read the full story at People.com, Service Dog Duo Starts Work at Children’s Hospital, Get a Look at Their First Week on the Job.)

1. And the number one smartest (but NOT surprising) thing about Goldendoodles…

Goldendoodles magically transform every minute you share with them into infinite amounts of love.

Now that’s genius.

Doodles are “Golden”

Essentially, the Goldendoodle is like a box of chocolates: you never quite know what you’re going to get. But with your time, love, attention, and training combined with their intelligence and friendliness, these comical companions are quick to learn how to fit in with the family and adapt to life with you.

Adult Goldendoodle wearing glasses to look smart, photo

The fun of discovering everything about your Goldendoodle and knowing that there is not one other Goldendoodle quite like yours is the best surprise of all.

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Adult Goldendoodle looking at a book and title, How Smart Are Goldendoodles

medium-sized, senior goldendoodle standing on grooming table, photo
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