What are some examples of intelligent small dogs?

Kind of along the lines of the Jack Russell Terrier, but with somewhat less sheer insanity?

Side question: is the Jack Russell’s reputation for sheer insanity well deserved?

I had a Miniature Pinscher that was an incredibly intelligent and perceptive dog. He was a little high strung, but nothing like a JRT.

As a kid (well, up until last year, in fact) I had Westies. Too damned smart. Great dogs, but it’s kind of a relief to have a big stupid dog now. :slight_smile:

I did love the Westies, though - they’re small but they’re solid little beasts. The breed standard says they’re “possessed of no small amount of self-esteem”, which is also certainly true.

IME, you maximize your chances for a sane dog by going with a mixed breed. Little terrier mixes aren’t hard to find, nor are little spitz mixes.

MinPins are very intelligent. We are owned by one who is still feisty and alert at the age of 14.

14 years old!

You know how old that is in dog years?

Yep… 14. Dog years are exactly the same length of time as human years are. How could it be otherwise. What do you think, they live on a different planet or something?

What about a Sheltie (aka Shetland Sheepdog)?

A good point is that the little dogs live a lot longer - Haplo was 16 when he died. I got him when I was in high school and had no idea I’d be buying a house with an eye towards a yard for him. Something to think about.

A properly trained JRT is perfectly fine, a true joy of a pet. Owners who don’t know what they’re doing or don’t have the time or inclination to do it properly will have an out of control, insane dog that runs their household. But that could easily be true of any dog.

I grew up with a JRT and it was the best dog I ever had. Exceptionally smart. I could swear she understood English fluently.

I have a miniature American Eskimo who can open all the clasps on a Samsonite hard-sided suitcase to retrieve food inside.

Malteses and poodles are very smart.

With important caveats, I present the dogtime.com list again.

[li]Breed tendencies are only tendencies; individual dogs will vary dramatically in how much of their breed’s tendencies are expressed. Generally, people make too much of breed tendencies; how a dog is raised and how he or she is socialized and exercised will probably have greater impact than genetics.[/li]
[li]Intelligence is an iffy quality to measure in humans; in animals even moreso. In the case of dogs, some studies have been criticized for measuring obedience in performing tasks rather than true intelligence, and thus under-representing more independent breeds like herding dogs.[/li]
[li]Lists like this are subject to a certain amount of bias, of course, if the list compiler(s) favor certain breeds. On the dogtime lists, for example, the shar-pei seems to score pretty badly in a lot of categories, but I’ve never been around a shar-pei, and have no idea how accurate that is. I think the dogtime site uses a lot of different authors, which would theoretically tend to cancel out some of the bias, but I don’t know how the list was compiled – if several authors debated about the rankings, that would seem more reliable than if one person cranked them out over the lunch hour.[/li][/ul]

With those qualifiers in mind, I generally find myself agreeing with most of the broad generalizations about breeds I read on dogtime.com.

Dogtime’s breed list sorted by “intelligence”

Not surprisingly, many of the breeds mentioned so far in this thread show up in the top category on dogtime.

Now I have a mental image of a very hungry but energetic 2-foot tall Inuit person, appropriately dressed, huffing and puffing trying to open a giant suitcase. Thank you for that. :slight_smile:

I’ve got a min-pin as well. It’s one of the cleverest dogs I’ve had. However, I would say he’s more clever at getting what he wants; Not what the human wants.

My Border Collie can manipulate cage locks, and remember a surprising number of objects, but the Min-pin always ends up with all the dog biscuits.

What is meant by sheer insanity?

I have to ask because I read this a lot and have never seen anything to justify it. I currently have 7 Jacks.

They have energy, they are exuberant, and very happy little dogs. But their intelligence is amazing. It’s really good that they don’t have fingers. They pick up tricks and behaviors very quickly and respond well to both me and my wife. AND this is surprising to the trainer we had help us in the beginning, they share a single large food bowl.

rereads thread title Dogs? Dogs? Whoops.

This is so depressing.

Intelligence in dogs is like intelligence in humans: purely an individual thing. Consistent variations across races are bunk in either species.

That’s a stupid thing to say. Everybody who’s ever had dogs can tell you that breeds of dogs have characteristics, some of them mental. Some dogs are more trainable, some are more independent, etc. Sure, they’re individuals (Captain is nothing like most Catahoulas, mentally) but the “average” Border Collie is going to be a hell of a lot smarter than the average lab.

We have a chihuahua. If you want sheer insanity, this is the breed to beat. Chihuahua loco.

Pugs are among the larger toy breeds and are quite sharp, so much so that they can be really effective manipulators of people if not properly trained. There is many a pug that learned that cocking its head and looking cute is a preferable alternative to, you know, doing stuff. The mischevious side can be fun, though, too.

I just got a pug puppy about a month ago. He’s 3 months old and he already knows sit and lie down from just a few sessions, as well as learning what “potty” meant practically instantly when I first got him. Teaching him “sit” took literally a couple of minutes. About five tries and he had it down. I was suspicious but he really understood the command after that one time! He will “forget” sometimes if I don’t have something he wants, but will “remember” if I insist. Of course, when I have a toy or treat, he always remembers.

Pugs also have the benefit of being reasonably calm dogs. However, they crave attention and love being at the center of it. My pug goes from happily and deeply involved in chewing a bone to “Now! Now! Need attention! Right now!” as soon as he sees that I’m petting the cat.

Holy mother of Og, you must have Absolute Zero body fat.:smiley:

I have a JR mut (his mother was a JRT and his father was an Irish day laborer but he’s all JRT in temperament). His name is Ollie (he’s on the left) and I love him dearly, but he is the Tasmanian Devil when it comes to energy. He knows full speed ahead and he knows stop and that’s it. He’s super friendly with humans- loves everybody- but I have literally seen him wear out a 6 year old boy when they got into a contest to see who would get tired of throwing the ball and playing first.

As for intelligence, I cannot figure out whether he’s the most intelligent dog I’ve ever had or the stupidest because there’s evidence for both. They are HARRRRRRD to train- very stubborn, very aggressive, and they have absolutely no concept of their size. Ollie weighs about 20 pounds and would not think twice about attacking a rabid pit bull, which is the worst thing about him.
OTOH, I had a problem with rats briefly. HAD. That’s when I realized all those years of chasing balls and playing- he was drilling. I paid Orkin $200 to get rid of the rats and they were absolutely worthless. One day Ollie was sitting in my lap in my LR (all JRTs that I’ve known were total lap babies btw- also total cuddlers- you can’t slide a stick of gum between his side and mine at night in bed) when we heard a squeak come from the kitchen- one of the little mo-fos had made its way into the house proper- and literally before I was out of my chair and across the room Ollie had spotted, pounced, trapped and killed the rat; by the time I got into the kitchen less than 10 seconds after we’d heard the squeak he was slinging its corpse around and I had to hold him upside down to get him to drop it.
So I thunk and I thunk- these rats are coming from the storage house— I wonder… I took Ollie on a field trip and within a few minutes he’d killed 5 of them. I haven’t had rats since that day. My sister had a rat problem at an old house she owns- took Ollie on a working vacation, they were gone. So things like this make you realize just what they were bred for and it wasn’t for pets.

OTOH I have a Rat Terrier, Mardi (on the right in that same picture) whose ancestors were specifically bred to kill rats. While Ollie was playing Aguirra Wrath of God in the kitchen and the storage house Mardi had his little fat butt pressed against the corner wall barking his head off with a “You do the killing, I’ll supervise… save me a drumstick if you eat it” look. Totally worthless in rat killing or anything else that involves not identifying himself to authorities as a Beta Dog.
However, that said, and to answer the OP, Mardi is one of the smartest and easiest to train dogs I’ve ever had- very sweet and good natured, housetrained in nothing-flat, and lazy and fat (I have to periodically put him on diets).

Come to think of it, I’ve had dogs most of my life and several have been small and there’s no real rhyme nor reason for intelligence:size any more than there seems to be in human. I had a Pekingese who was super smart (i.e. understood voice commands and easily trained) and another who was an imbecile, the smartest dog I ever had barring none was a dachapoo (half dachshund/half poodle) and the stupidest I’ve ever had was a dachshund (how stupid was she? She’s the only animal I ever literally scared the shit out of- because when I came back from a three day vacation she’d forgotten me) but I’ve known dachshunds who were super trained and you half expected to offer you some coffee. I think it’s more individual than breed.

But save possibly for Ollie, I’ve never known a truly stupid terrier. And he’s less stupid than he is a savant.