Are Golden Retrievers Smart? (Pros & Cons Of Having A Smart Dog)

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Are golden retrievers smart?

Well, according to Dr. Stanley Coren’s book, The Intelligence of Dogs, they’re the fourth smartest dog breed.

So yes, they are smart.

But if you’re wondering if they’re smart because you’re thinking about getting one, then there’s a lot more to consider…

Are they easy to train?

Do they need lots of mental stimulation?

Are they mischievous?

We’ll answer all of those questions and more in this article…

How Smart Are Golden Retrievers?

are golden retrievers intelligent

Don’t let their goofiness trick you, golden retrievers are the fourth smartest breed behind Border Collies, Poodles, and German Shepherds.

They’re easy to train and easily pick up on human emotions.

In fact, they’re about as smart as a 2 or 2.5-year-old human and can learn over 165 words.

However, their intelligence is a blessing and (potentially) a curse, which we’ll cover shortly.

But first, let’s start with the question most people want to know…

Are Golden Retrievers Easy To Train?

Golden retrievers are easy to train for two reasons.

We’ve already covered one—they’re really smart.

Their intelligence helps them quickly learn new commands and behaviors.

But the other reason they’re easy to train is that they like pleasing people.

They’re sweet family dogs that want to make you happy.

It’s part of what they were originally bred to do.

In the 1800s they were bred as hunting dogs that would retrieve shot down birds, so they’re used to working with and for people.

Today some golden retrievers are still hunting dogs, but they’re also search and rescue dogs, therapy dogs, and service dogs.

Now that’s the good part about them being smart.

But sometimes their brains can get them into trouble…

Are Golden Retrievers Mischievous?

Golden retrievers are very smart and love to play.

Those are both good qualities… until you as the owner don’t want to play!

Here’s a quick story about my golden retriever, Oliver.

It was easy to teach him the “drop it” command as a puppy.

He was very young when he learned that when we’re playing tug, or if he has something in his mouth, “drop it” means open your mouth and drop it.

However, he’s also so smart that he’s learned that stealing rags from the kitchen gets us to play his favorite game, which is keep away.

When he takes a rag from the kitchen and we ask him to drop it you can literally see the gears in his head spinning as he asks himself, “Should I be obedient and drop it? Or should we continue to play my favorite game?”

The combination of golden retriever’s love of playing and their brains can sometimes drive you wild.

And it’s not just Oliver.

Check out this video of Archie, the famous golden retriever thief.

Golden Retriever Loves To Steal Things [VIDEO]

Although there’s no doubt he’s a thief, it’s tough to get mad at those sweet eyes and happy tail…

How To Mentally Satisfy Golden Retrievers

Because golden retrievers are smart, high-energy dogs, they need to be mentally stimulated.

If you don’t challenge them mentally, they’ll start to engage in destructive or unwanted behavior, like chewing up household items, or excessive barking.

Here are two great ways to mentally stimulate your golden:

  1. Train them
  2. Give them puzzle toys

Golden retrievers love to learn so a few training sessions per day will help keep them challenged and satisified.

Puzzle toys, like frozen kongs, are great for making them think and earn their food.

Many trainers I’ve talked to actually don’t even have food bowls for their dogs.

Instead, they feed them out of puzzle toys or make them earn their meals during training sessions.

This keeps them from getting bored and destructive.

Personally, we only feed Oliver from a food ball which takes him about five to ten minutes to get all of his food.

Another way to keep goldens stimulated and prevent destructive behavior is to get them to love chewing on chew toys.

Check out this article to learn more about getting your golden to love chew toys.

Do Golden Retrievers Make Good Pets?

If you’re wanting to know if golden retrievers are smart, I’m assuming the real reason you’re asking is that you want to know if golden retrievers are good dogs and if they’re right for you.

Here’s the truth: golden retrievers make outstanding pets… for the right people.

Goldens are intelligent dogs with a lot of energy.

They need a lot of training and exercise to keep them happy and from developing bad habits or behaviors.

They love being around people and are great family dogs, but they need attention and quality time with people (instead of being stuck in a crate all day).

In return for all the time and energy you put into them, you will get endless love and cuddles

Oliver has been way more work than I ever imagined he would be, but he’s also brought me way more joy than I ever imagined he would.

If a golden retriever sounds like too much for you, that’s ok, there are plenty of other dog breeds out there.

But if you’re up for the challenge and want a dog that will truly be part of your family, you will love having a golden retriever


golden retriever puppy smart

Yes, golden retrievers are very smart, which makes them easy to train.

However, they can be mischievous, or even destructive, if they’re not mentally stimulated enough.

Puzzle toys and training sessions are two great ways to mentally challenge them.

Have any more questions about the intelligence of golden retrievers?

Have you had a smart golden retriever?

Let me know in the comments below!

And if you know someone who is considering a golden retriever, please share this with them!

P.S. If you liked this article, you’ll love these 63 crazy facts about golden retrievers.

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