The Havanese—a toy breed from Cuba whose ancestry dates back to the 16th century—has, throughout history, been much more of a companion dog and a symbol of wealth than a working dog. Havanese dogs are incredibly amiable, friendly, and intelligent, but just how bright are these chirpy little souls?
According to a breed intelligence ranking, the Havanese is a dog of average intelligence, but they have many other strengths that make them a truly intuitive and loving friend. In this guide, we’ll dig into the Havanese dog’s strengths and explain how they measure up in intelligence rankings compared to other breeds.
Stanley Coren’s Breed Intelligence Rankings Explained
In his 1994 book, The Intelligence of Dogs, Stanley Coren, a canine psychology professor, shared the results of a survey on the subject of dog intelligence. Coren used the information provided by 199 canine obedience judges to create a dog intelligence ranking.
As Coren explains in the book, there is more than one type of intelligence (instinctive, adaptive, working, etc.), and his ranking measures only one type—working intelligence. Therefore, just because a dog is low down in the ranking does not mean that they aren’t intelligent in other ways. He also draws attention to the fact that training also influences intelligence and that there are exceptions.
Where Are Havanese Dogs on the Intelligence Ranking?
On Coren’s ranking, Havanese dogs sit at number 47 out of 79, along with the West Highland White Terrier and the Scottish Deerhound. This places them in the fourth tier, just over the midpoint of the ranking.
Fourth-tier dogs are of average working intelligence, and it typically takes between 25 and 40 attempts to learn new tricks. They obey commands 50% of the time or more. Other dogs in the fourth tier include the Dachshund, Whippet, Great Dane, Boxer, Bichon Frise, and Siberian Husky.
At the top of the pack is the Border Collie at number one, followed by the Poodle, German Shepherd, Golden Retriever, and Doberman Pinscher. As a general rule, it only takes up to five attempts to teach a “top tier” dog a new command and they are also incredibly obedient, following commands around 95% of the time.
In the sixth and final tier, right at the bottom of the list, are the Bulldog, Basenjii, and Afghan Hound. In short, sixth-tier dogs are generally considered not the best at working and obeying commands, but, again, this doesn’t mean they’re not intelligent.
So, Are Havanese Dogs Smart?
Yes! Though they may only be average in the working department, Havanese dogs might be considered very emotionally intelligent.
For one thing, they’re typically very sensitive, form unbreakable bonds with their humans, and are enthusiastic about a variety of activities. This often makes them fairly easy to train and socialize—a feat that might not be so simple with a breed known for stubbornness, like the Afghan Hound.
Their sensitivity also means they’re likely to be in tune with how you’re feeling. On the other hand, extra-sensitive dogs may be susceptible to becoming overly attached and suffering from separation anxiety.
Havanese dogs are also very adaptable. They adapt well to living in smaller homes because of their small size and moderate energy levels and tend to get on well with other dogs, strangers, and children. Of course, socialization is crucial for this to be the case, as with any dog breed, but the Havanese dog’s openness to various living environments, people, and other dogs and pets is a real bonus.
In short, Havanese dogs are sensitive, intuitive beings, which makes them wonderful companions and emotional support dogs. They thrive with calm, respectful, and positive owners who will commit to returning their abundance of love.
The sweet, good-natured Havanese is a real joy to spend time with. Though they may not display brilliance in the working department according to Stanley Coren’s ranking, the Havanese certainly shine in other ways.
This outgoing, adaptable character is often easy to train, and their sensitivity and affectionate nature make for a very in-tune and empathetic companion.
Featured Image Credit: Ralf Bitzer, Pixabay