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Home > Dogs > How Smart Is a Samoyed? Canine Intelligence Facts & FAQ

How Smart Is a Samoyed? Canine Intelligence Facts & FAQ

white Samoyed dog in a beautiful forest

Samoyeds are usually considered to be decently smart dogs. However, measuring canine intelligence is challenging, if not impossible. While some dogs are great at hunting, others may be great at police work. How do you compare the two?

Often, when someone asks how smart a dog is, they’re asking how easy that breed is to train. However, there are many smart breeds that don’t train easily due to a lack of obedience. In other words, they know exactly what you’re saying, but don’t feel like doing it. The Samoyed falls into this category.

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Are Samoyeds Easy to Train?

Because they are so stubborn, these dogs don’t train easily. That doesn’t mean they can’t be trained. You just have to be consistent and provide plenty of positive reinforcement. It’s important to teach them commands inside your regular training time and also provide plenty of real-world practice. That said, their training difficulties don’t mean that they aren’t smart. They just use their intelligence for different things.

Furthermore, while this breed is often considered pretty smart, some breeds surpass them. For instance, Border Collies are some of the most intelligent dogs around and far surpass the Samoyed when it comes to intelligence.

It’s also important to keep in mind that all dogs are individuals, and their intelligence will vary at least somewhat.

young woman in denim shorts are sitting at glass and training a white fluffy cute samoyed dog in the summer park
Image Credit: yurakrasil, Shutterstock

Where Do Samoyeds Rank?

As we’ve stated, it is incredibly challenging to rank canine intelligence. It can even be challenging to figure out exactly what “intelligence” is when it comes to canines and other species.

However, there have been several attempts to rank dogs in terms of intelligence. Usually, these tests rank dog breeds based on how long it takes them to learn a new command. Therefore, dogs that are not great at training tend to get the short end of the stick. The Samoyed is often one of these.

What Dogs Are Smarter?

While the Samoyed is pretty smart, there are plenty of other breeds that are smarter. For instance, the Golden Retriever and Border Collie are all smarter by quite a bit, along with 30—40 other breeds.

Breeds that are very obedient, like the German Shepherd, tend to do very well in obedience trials. After all, they were literally bred to listen to commands, so they tend to do very good at it.

Once again, there are lots of variances in the same breed. However, intelligence is at least partially genetic, especially in dog breeds. Therefore, purebred dogs tend to have about the same intelligence as other members of their breed. You may find some outliers, but they are rare and usually don’t fall too far from the tree.

How Are Samoyeds Smart?

As we’ve touched on a little bit, all dog breeds are bred to do different things. A hunting breed will be much better at hunting than following commands. Obedience simply wasn’t what the dog was bred for.

Samoyeds are known for being very versatile. They were bred to herd livestock in colder regions by themselves. Unlike Border Collies, they weren’t bred to work closely with people so, they don’t respond as readily to training and tend to be very independent. Of course, this independence does well when they need to make decisions by themselves, whether they’re herding livestock or just hanging out at home.

However, that also means that they’re likely to come to their own conclusions instead of just listening to whatever you say. They may ignore a command because they don’t think they should do it, for one reason or another. This trait makes them hard to train and is why they are often not recommended for first-time owners.

It doesn’t mean they aren’t intelligent, though. In fact, this breed can be incredibly intelligent in some cases, such as when they need to problem-solve.

white female samoyed dog standing on a fallen log in the snow
Image Credit: Monika Hodanova, Shutterstock

Are Samoyeds Smarter Than the Average Dog?

The Samoyed is more intelligent than average. According to most tests, this breed can outperform two-thirds of all dog breeds. Therefore, they would be somewhere in the 70% percentile in terms of intelligence.

Keep in mind, this is just looking at breeds as a whole. There is no way to test every dog’s intelligence in the world and then take an average from that. However, studies have found an average intelligence for a range of dog breeds, and we can use those averages to figure out an average for all dogs.

While dogs do vary within their breed, they don’t vary that much. The point of a purebred dog breed is for all the dog’s traits to be predictable, including their intelligence.

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Final Thoughts

More intelligent dogs are better at picking up on new commands. This trait is great for those training service dogs or competing in obedience competitions. However, very intelligent dogs can also be very overwhelming and high-maintenance. They require tons of mental stimulation, or they may become bored and destructive. They may also figure out things that you don’t want them to, such as how to open doors.

Therefore, just because Samoyeds aren’t the most intelligent breed doesn’t mean you should write them off. They’re still great dogs, and they require less mental stimulation than the smartest breeds.


Featured Image Credit: Evgeniia Shikhaleeva, Shuttestock

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