How smart are Miniature Schnauzers

minaiture schnauzer intelligence

Are Miniature Schnauzers smart

The Miniature Schnauzer is really smart ranking 12th on the list of dog breed intelligence.  Most of the breeds that do rank higher are working dogs. They are ranked the smartest of the three sizes of Schnauzer with the Standard Schnauzer ranked 22nd and the Giant Schnauzer ranked 35th.

They are easy to train and learn new commands quickly. The Miniature Schnauzer often excels in obedience competitions. Tests have shown that they can understand a new command from only 5 to 15 repetitions.

Even though they are smart and can learn quickly they can have an independent streak and like to think they are in charge.

Check out this video of one very smart Miniature Schnauzer called Whiskey.

How is Miniature Schnauzer intelligence measured

The list of dog breed intelligence was created by Stanley Coren who is a dog psychologist. Coren worked with 199 North American obedience trial judges to help with his study. Only pure breed dogs from the American Kennel Club and Canadian Kennel Club participated. This meant that mixed breed dogs and breeds not recognized by the kennel clubs were not tested.

The test used to measure dog intelligence was two-fold. They first tested how many repetitions it took for a certain breed to learn a new command. Secondly, they tested what percentage of the time the dog obeyed the command on the first attempt. Dogs with a high percentage of obeying the command were considered to be obedient.

How did the Miniature Schnauzer score? The results show that Miniature Schnauzers took 5 to 15 repetitions to learn a command and obeyed on the first attempt 85% of the time. This makes them quick to learn and a very obedient dog relative to many other breeds.

The three types of dog intelligence

There is a lot more to dog intelligence that learning new commands and being obedient. Obedience intelligence is just one of the three types of dog intelligence. The three types of dog intelligence are;

Obedience/Working intelligence

Obedience intelligence is what we have discussed above. Miniature Schnauzers rank very high in this form of canine intelligence. But how do they rate in the other types?

Obedience is the most objective of the three types of canine intelligence making it easy to test and quantify. Adaptive and instinctive intelligence can be more subjective.

Instinctive intelligence

Instinctive intelligence relates to the skill and purpose the dog was bred for. It is an innate ability that doesn’t need to be taught. For example, a herding breed instinctively knows how to herd usually with little or no training required.

The miniature Schnauzer was originally bred down from the Standard Schnauzer to hunt and exterminate rats and vermin. This was usually the domain of the terriers but the Miniature Schnauzer has the innate ability and lively personality to excel at this. Mini Schnauzers are often referred to as terriers when in fact they are not a terrier. To learn more about why the Miniature Schnauzer is not a terrier see here.

Adaptive intelligence

Adaptive intelligence refers to a dog’s ability to solve problems and to learn and figure out things for themselves. This can be hard to measure but there are some tests you can do with your Miniature Schnauzer to see how good they actually are at adaptive intelligence.

Puzzle toys are one good way to do this. Most puzzle toys involve your dog working out how to to get a treat. The exemption is the iFetch Frenzy. When selecting puzzle toys for your Miniature Schnauzer try to choose toys that are a little more difficult or have different levels of difficulty.

For the top puzzle toys for dogs see here.

This video below shows a couple of other tests you can do to see just how well your Miniature Schnauzer works things.

Other signs of intelligence in dogs

Apart from the three types of canine intelligence discussed there are other things that dogs do that are quite smart. Firstly is empathy. This is a kind of emotional intelligence of how well your dog is able to read you and your emotions. Miniature Schnauzers are very people orientated and love your company. They are very empathetic.

Another intelligent, if not a little sneaky, is strategic manipulation.  This is when a dog will deceive us in order to get something they want. Researcher Marianne Heberlein did a study into this when she realized her dogs were doing it to her.

Marianne had a routine of taking her dogs out to the toilet each night before bed and gave them a treat when they came inside. One day she realized that one of her dogs would pretend to go toilet just to get the treat. This prompted her to investigate more.

With a research team at the University of Zurich, 27 dogs were tested. They paired each dog with two human partners. A co-operative one who allowed the dogs to eat treats, and a competitive one who withheld the treats.

The handler led each dog to one of three boxes. One had a tasty sausage, another had a less appetizing dog treat and the last one was empty.

The dogs quickly learned if the handler was co-operative or competitive and led the co-operative partners to the sausage box more often than the competitive partner.

By leading the competitive partner to the incorrect box the dog had a chance to keep the delicious sausage for itself later on when the experiment was repeated with a co-operative partner.

Let us know in the comments of examples of strategic manipulation your Miniature Schnauzer has used on you.

How to improve your Mini Schnauzer’s intelligence

Your Miniature Schnauzer is already pretty intelligent. However, there are ways to improve your dog’s intelligence. These can include;

  • Socialization – provide plenty of opportunities to your Miniature Schnauzer to socialize with other dogs, animals, and people.
  • Teach tricks and commands – learning is a great way to provide mental stimulation and enrichment and increase brain power.
  • Food Enrichment – instead of feeding your dog just from a bowl use puzzle toys and feeders to make them work for their food. For more on feeding enrichment for dogs see here.
  • Keep them active – Miniature Schnauzers are high energy and need plenty of exercise. A healthy dog is less stressed and bored and smarter. For a guide to Miniature Schnauzer exercise see here.
  • Quality diet – diet is crucial to keeping a dog healthy and functioning at their best.
  • Reward intelligence – give your dog praise and rewards for showing signs of intelligence.
  • Puzzle toys – Provide your Miniature Schnauzer with toys that test and improve their problem-solving skills. For the best puzzle toys for dogs see here.
  • Environmental enrichment – make their living environment more interesting and engaging. For more on environmental enrichment see here.

Miniature Schnauzer related posts you may like:

Best type of toys for Miniature Schnauzers

How much exercise does a Miniature Schnauzer need

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