Are Chihuahuas Smart?

There are several reasons why Chihuahuas make great lap dogs, of which one is their size, of course. They tend to act big and bad, which can put them in harm’s way. This impulsive behavior of theirs might have you thinking about whether your little pup is clever at all. So if you are wondering, “are Chihuahuas smart,” then here is an excellent summary.

Are Chihuahuas Smart Pets?

It is not uncommon for a pet owner to think that their dog is the smartest on the block. While this might be true for some, an intelligent dog can come in many forms.

Any dog has the potential to be smarter than the rest, but it depends on his human. As pet owners, we need to be willing to put in the work!

We need to invest time and effort to channel the dog and train knowledge.

One will find that several dog breeds have a range of intelligence. However, this intelligence can refer to many attributes.

For example, some dogs will be easier to train with proper gear while others make better-working dogs who can herd livestock.

When it comes to Chihuahuas, training can be challenging, and are they the “working type.” Hence the question: “Are Chihuahuas smart?”

Does a Chihuahua’s Brain Size Matter?


Brain size is not associated with all kinds of canine intelligence. However, scientists do say that it is not necessarily the brain size that tells the story.

But instead, the ratio of brain-size-to-body matters.

Although there is no conclusive evidence that Chihuahuas have a high IQ, the Chihuahua’s brain size is enormous.

If you want to test your dog’s IQ yourself, you can find many IQ tests online.

Chihuahuas have a high body-to-brain ratio. These dogs have the largest dog brain, relative to their size.

With such a large brain, it makes it more clear why Chihuahuas are so quick-witted.

Does a Chihuahua Memory Span Matter?


There are two forms of memory a dog uses. The first is short-term memory, which is incredibly limited compared to humans.

The more items stored in short-term memory, the greater the fluid intelligence of a species. The capacity for short-term memory is a good indicator of an individual’s IQ.

If you give your Chihuahua a treat now, it only takes 70 seconds for them to forget you gave them that treat.

Therefore, punishing your Chihuahua 2 hours after they did a deed will only leave them confused and maybe create fear.

A Chihuahua’s short-term memory is, in fact, very limited.

A Chihuahua’s memory span that is long term will help them remember a sound, smell, or visual cue with a known behavior or emotion.

This is why your Chihuahua might start wagging his tail in joy at the sight of his leash when you are taking him for a walk.

A Chihuahua’s memory span can retain the training he has received all his life. The same goes for fear imprinted from puppyhood.

A Chihuahua that has been mishandled once will get aggressive when certain senses of a bad event reappear.

What Is A Chihuahuas Intelligence Ranking?


Intelligence can come in many forms, which are measured in different ways.

Many Chihuahua dog owners will confirm that their Chihuahua is intelligent due to things they can do or how they behave.

To understand how smart your Chihuahua is, we must look at individual intelligence rankings. In specific categories, Chihuahuas rank high and, in others, low.

However, it is essential to note that this is intelligence measured compared to human constructs.

Chihuahua Intelligence Ranking in Certain Categories.

  • Instinctive intelligence

Chihuahuas were initially bred as ratters. In other words, dogs were used for hunting rats.

Instinctive intelligence is high in dogs who are used as herding dogs. These kinds of dogs can round up animals or collect them from a hunt instinctively.

Today Chihuahuas are bred as companion dogs, and they do have an intuitive ability to guard.

Furthermore, Chihuahuas are exceptional at understanding human emotions and needs.

This ability also falls under instinctive intelligence and comes out whenever you need a cuddle buddy after a rough day.

  • Working and obedience intelligence

Working and obedience intelligence is your dog’s ability to do things taught through human instructions.

Measurements would be made by counting how many repetitions it takes for your dog to react to a command.

These kinds of commands include things like sitting, staying, and giving the paw.

According to studies, when it comes to working and obedience intelligence, Chihuahuas rank below average.

For this type of intelligence, they rank 125th out of 138.

While the “average dog” needs 25 to 40 repetitions to learn a new command, a Chihuahua might need 40 to 80 repetitions.

But do not let studies like this disappoint you because your dog’s personality can also have an input.

Some Chihuahuas might be more submissive and willing to please, while others might have a stubborn streak.

  • Adaptive intelligence

What a dog can learn to do for himself is called adaptive intelligence.

Even though Chihuahuas are not the best at taking commands, they rank high in adaptive intelligence.

Chihuahuas have excellent skills in adaptive behaviors. They can solve problems of their own and learn from their mistakes.

Keep in mind that adaptive intelligence may differ between dogs of the same breed. (source)

For instance, Chihuahua A might be able to push and pull a door open while Chihuahua B only stands there and barks.

Are Chihuahuas Smart Enough To Train?

We already covered that Chihuahuas rank low in obedience intelligence. This means that training them to follow commands may be difficult.

We must remember that Chihuahuas are one-person dogs most of the time. They might not be motivated to come if the wrong person calls them.

Their stubborn streak also makes it hard to train them because they won’t be willing to do anything if it’s not in their interest.

Therefore a high-reward treat might do the trick during a training session as swimming.

Overall, your Chihuahua’s obedience intelligence can depend on many factors.

Their personality and motivational factor will play a role in how easy it is to train your little pup.

Just because your Chihuahua doesn’t want to sit on command doesn’t mean he is not intelligent.

Some might say that not doing something they don’t want to do makes them very smart little dogs!

House Training A Chihuahua

Teaching a dog to do little tricks for treats is not a priority for some dog owners. Potty training, on the other hand, is something most dog owners want to be successful at.

Unfortunately, Chihuahuas are not easy to train in this category either. Again this is not proof of their intelligence.

Together with a Chihuahua’s tiny bladder and willful personality, housebreaking a Chihuahua can be challenging.

Reasons Why It May Take Long To Pottytrain A Chihuahua


    1. Their small size makes it challenging to notice when they slip off to do their business.
    2. Chihuahuas were developed as a breed in Mexico, which has a warm climate. The rain, cold, wind, or snow will discourage them from relieving themselves outside.
    3. They might not like the outdoors since they are household pets.
    4. The process of elimination is more frequent in Chihuahuas due to their small bodies.

Your outside neighborhood might make them feel vulnerable. Too much traffic, kids playing outside, or other dogs barking might make your dog feel uncomfortable going outdoors.

Understanding what makes them difficult to house train can help you figure out what works best for your dog.

With some patience and the right kind of methods, one can successfully house-train a Chihuahua pup.

Keep in mind that this kind of dog does not respond well to harsh punishment. They are highly motivated and willing to please.

Therefore, it is best to use treats as a reward if they did their business in the right place.

Yelling at them an hour after they peed on the floor will confuse them. Instead, use a firm voice when you catch them in the act.

Why Your Chihuahua Might Be Smarter Than You Think?


The best way to know how smart your Chihuahua is is by paying close attention.

Have you ever noticed that you might be responding to their every wine, scratch, shake, or head tilt?

Think about it, if you as an owner react to all their cues, have they not trained you?

Chihuahuas do not act smart all the time when it comes to something we want from them.

But when they need us, we jump right away as they are brilliant people trainers!

Read Also: Chihuahua Breed With A Large Dog


Whether Chihuahuas are smart or not depends on what you base the measurements on. If you strictly look at studies done to measure their intelligence, the results will not be very pleasing.

However, one needs to take into consideration different factors when ranking these dogs’ intelligence. Chihuahuas are strong-minded, mostly respond to motivation, and might scare easily.

Overall, Chihuahuas are smart dogs, and many Chihuahua dog owners will verify that.

With a highly adaptive and instinctive intelligence ranking, it is fair to say that Chihuahuas are clever in many ways.

Read Next: Can Chihuahuas Eat Eggs