Is a Saint Bernard a smart dog?

Are you familiar with the famous dog named Barry? Known for saving more than 40 people in the Swiss Alps during the 19th Century, he was a courageous Saint Bernard. These gentle giants, due to their extensive service as Swiss mountain rescue dogs, became famous worldwide. But does this service to mankind mean that Saint Bernards are smart dogs? That’s what we are going to find out today!

Saint Bernards, as you probably know, are large dogs. They feature a powerful and muscular physique along with a friendly and gentle demeanor. But there’s more to this breed than their size and friendly nature. They also have a particularly keen sense of smell and are highly perceptive, leading many to wonder if these traits are signs of superior intelligence.

Dog intelligence, it is worth noting, does not parallel human intelligence in the way we commonly think about it. A dog’s intelligence is usually classified into three types: instinctive, adaptive, and obedience-and-working intelligence. Instinctive intelligence refers to the skills and abilities a breed was initially developed for. For instance, retrievers are naturally good at fetching, and herding dogs are experts at controlling livestock. The Saint Bernard’s instinctive intelligence is all about locating and rescuing people buried in the snow.

Next comes adaptive intelligence. This is what we might consider “problem-solving” ability. It’s about a dog’s capacity to solve problems on their own, learning from previous experiences. A lot of Saint Bernard owners commend their dogs for being quick problem solvers in unexpected circumstances.

There’s also obedience-and-working intelligence, which is gauged by a breed’s trainability. Stanley Coren, a professor of canine psychology, found that Saint Bernards ranked 65 out of 138 breeds for this form of intelligence in his book “The Intelligence of Dogs”. That’s above average! On average, Saint Bernards obey the first given command 70% of the time.

However, their size can sometimes give the impression that they’re slow or lazy, leading some to question their intelligence. In truth, Saint Bernards are gentle, not dumb! Unfairly, larger dogs often get labeled as less intelligent than their smaller counterparts. But when you look at breeds like the Saint Bernard, it’s clear to see there’s a difference between being calm and being slow-witted.

In their historic role as rescue dogs in treacherous mountain conditions, Saint Bernards demonstrated not just strength and courage, but also remarkable intelligence. History has it that these dogs would go out in pairs searching for lost travellers. Upon locating a person, one dog would dig through the snow and stay to provide warmth while the other would return to the monastery to lead the monks to the lost traveller. Surely, such a complex task requires more than just brute strength or a keen sense of smell. It calls for effective problem solving, reliable communication, and a high level of discipline – signs of an intelligent breed.

Brought up properly, a Saint Bernard can be enormously helpful, loyal, and smart! They are often good natured, which makes them great with kids and other pets. With their history and proven abilities, it’s safe to say that Saint Bernards aren’t just big, cuddly teddy bears, they’re also impressively intelligent!

Their intelligence, however, also means that they need mental stimulation. A bored Saint Bernard can become destructive or disobedient. So, always remember to challenge your Saint Bernard. Kinds of stimulation could include obedience training, puzzles, or interactive toys. Despite their size and laid-back nature, they also need regular exercise to maintain their health and happiness.

In conclusion, while Saint Bernards may not be topping the charts in obedience-and-working intelligence, their problem-solving skills and the tasks they were bred for signal a high level of overall intelligence. This combination of physical strength, sensory sharpness, and mental agility is what makes them truly smart dogs – and perfect companions!

From rescuing lost travelers in the Swiss Alps to being faithful family dogs, Saint Bernard’s certainly have a lot to offer. If you’re thinking about bringing a Saint Bernard into your home, remember the importance of keeping them mentally stimulated and physically healthy. Nurture their intelligence, and you will have an extraordinarily smart, gentle, and loyal friend by your side. After all, there’s a reason they were trusted to rescue people stranded in the harshest conditions imaginable – and that’s not something every breed can boast!