Are Miniature Schnauzers Smart? You Will Be Surprised

The miniature schnauzers are an intelligent breed that falls in the second tier of Stanley Coren’s tiered canine intelligence survey.

Placing twelfth, the miniature schnauzer outranks the Belgian Tervuren, cocker spaniel, and Weimaraner!


Are Miniature Schnauzers Smart?

The results of Coren’s study (See Below) ranked the miniature schnauzer twelfth among more than one hundred breeds.

This puts them in the second “intelligence” tier in the company of dogs like the Belgian Malinois, German short-haired pointer, Vizsla, and Weimaraner.

These results mean that the average miniature schnauzer can learn a new command within five to fifteen repetitions and obeys the new order at least eighty-five percent of the time.


Stanley Coren’s Canine Intelligence Study

In the 1990s, canine psychologist Stanley Coren studied intelligence in over one hundred dog breeds.

His study rated canine’s brightness based on the feedback of one hundred ninety-nine dog obedience judges.

Each judge ranked dog breeds in a survey based on the breed‘s ability to learn a new command and obey that command regularly.


Top Tier

Dogs on the top tier are often working dogs that can learn a new command within five repetitions. These dogs obey the new order at least ninety-five percent of the time.


Second Tier

Dogs on the second tier can learn a new command within five to fifteen repetitions. These dogs obey the new order at least eighty-five percent of the time.


Third Tier

Dogs on the third tier can learn a new command in fifteen to twenty-five repetitions. These dogs obey the new order at least seventy percent of the time.


Fourth Tier

Dogs on the fourth tier can learn a new command in twenty-five to forty repetitions. These dogs obey the new order at least fifty percent of the time.


Fifth Tier

Dogs on the fifth tier can learn a new command in forty to eighty repetitions. These dogs obey the new order at least forty percent of the time.


Sixth Tier

Dogs on the sixth tier can learn a new command in more than one hundred repetitions. These dogs obey the new order at least thirty percent of the time.


There Are Always Exceptions

The judge’s survey answers were on point, but they also noted that there are always exceptions to the rule.



Upon reviewing the surveys of each obedience judge, Coren found conformity among their ranking of different breeds.


What Other Breeds of Dogs Rank in the Second Intelligence Tier?

Coren’s study put twenty dogs in the second intelligence tier. In addition to the miniature schnauzer, this category includes:

  • Pembroke Welsh corgi
  • Belgian Tervuren
  • English springer spaniel
  • German short-haired pointer
  • Belgian sheepdog
  • Flat-coated retriever
  • Vizsla
  • Pomeranian
  • Schipperke
  • Standard schnauzer
  • Nova Scotia duck-tolling retriever
  • English cocker spaniel
  • Collie
  • Keeshond
  • Cocker spaniel
  • Weimaraner
  • Cardigan Welsh corgi
  • Brittany spaniel
  • Bernese mountain dog
  • Belgian Malinois
  • Irish water spaniel


What Dogs Rank on the Top Intelligence Tier?

Coren’s study ranks just ten breeds in the top intelligence tier. These brainy breeds include:

  • Border collie
  • German shepherd
  • Poodle
  • Shetland sheepdog
  • Labrador retriever
  • Rottweiler
  • Australian cattle dog
  • Doberman pinscher
  • Golden retriever
  • Papillon


How Does the Miniature Schnauzer Compare to Other Schnauzer Breeds?

Coren’s study also ranked the standard schnauzer and the giant schnauzer in terms of intelligence.

The miniature schnauzer ranks twelfth in the second tier, the standard schnauzer ranks eighteenth, and the big schnauzer ranks twenty-eighth.

So, the miniature is the most intelligent of the schnauzer breed variations.


Limitations of Coren’s Study

Coren’s study on canine intelligence is the “go-to” when comparing various dog breed intelligence. Coren’s analysis does have limitations, however.


The Test Ranks Only One Type of Intelligence

The study only looked at working intelligence and overlooked adaptive, intuitive, spatial, kinesthetic, interpersonal, etc.


The Study Did Not Account For Mixed-Breeds or Breeds Unaccepted by the AKC/CKC

The study only included AKC and CKC dogs, limiting results to purebred dogs accepted by the AKC and CKC.

This limitation is a problem because it severely limits the scope of the data obtained.


The Study Relied on Memory

The obedience judges that ranked the different dog breeds took a survey, and their answers yielded the study data.

Unfortunately, the judges’ information is from their memory – something that can be notoriously faulty!


Are Miniature Schnauzers Smart? Final Thoughts

Are miniature schnauzers intelligent?

Yes, when it comes to working intelligence!

Although they are not the top-ranked breed, miniature schnauzers come twelfth out of more than one hundred breeds studied by canine psychologist Stanley Coren in the 1990s.

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