Is Shih Tzu the smartest dog?

You may have heard that Border Collies are the smartest dogs, or that Poodles top the charts when it comes to canine intellect. But have you ever considered the shaggy-haired, rotating-tail, wide-eyed Shih Tzu in this league of smarty-pants pooches? That’s right, the world’s most adorably henpecked, regally pampered pet has a knack for outsmarting us humans and looking adorable while doing so!

Shih Tzus come with a long lineage of royal treatment, pampering and a score of fans, starting from the Chinese imperial court to millions of households today. However, the question that echoes the mind of many dog enthusiasts is, “Is a Shih Tzu the smartest dog?”

Generally, the intelligence of dogs is determined by their trainability, instinctive skills, and problem-solving capabilities. Assessments by experts like Dr. Stanley Coren, a renowned dog behaviorist who ranked dog breeds by intelligence in his book “The Intelligence of Dogs,” showed that Shih Tzus were nowhere near the top. Yet, the attributes that were used to rank those breeds were heavily skewed towards working and hunting dogs whose skills, developed over generations, are easily demonstrable and measurable.

But anyone who’s had a Shih Tzu curling on their lap, giving them the “puppy eyes” to sneak a treat, or avoiding bath time like a pro, will surely testify to their utter brilliance and wit! Shih Tzus have a unique, adaptive intelligence that makes them incredibly good at understanding and interpreting human behavior. They’re quick learners when it comes to understanding their human’s moods, wants, and schedules.

Let’s deep dive into the reasons why many Shih Tzu owners think their furry friend deserves more credit for their intellectual prowess.

Firstly, Forgetfulness? Not in Their Vocabulary! Shih Tzus, despite their royal and pampered exterior, possess an astounding memory. Canine researchers suggest dogs can remember things for up to two minutes, while other studies indicate that canines can remember things even after several years. Shih Tzus, as many owners claim, are skilled at remembering people, places, routes, commands, and even the positions of hidden objects.

Secondly, they are Persuasion Experts! Shih Tzus are proficient at manipulating situations to their advantage. Haven’t you noticed their masterful puppy eyes when they desire a bite from your dessert? Or their spirited enthusiasm when you’re heading toward their favorite park? These are not just ‘cute’ behaviors but an inherent understanding of human actions and reactions.

Thirdly, their Adaptability is Unmatched! Unlike certain breeds that require strict routines and specific environments to function optimally, Shih Tzus are adaptable. They thrive in various environments, whether it’s a small city apartment or a sprawling country home. They tend to adjust well with other pets and are gentle with children, displaying a high level of emotional intelligence.

Of course, as charming and smarty-pants as they are, Shih Tzus can sometimes prove quite stubborn and independent, which may give the illusion of them being ‘less intelligent’. But, it’s not that they don’t understand your commands. They simply decide what they want to follow, which again, showcases their problem-solving skills and decision-making abilities. It’s all a part of their endearing personality.

So, how can you best bring out the “genius” in your Shih Tzu? The answer: Positive Reinforcement. Like most dogs, Shih Tzus respond best to rewards-based training. Be patient, consistent, and show them love. Brain games and fitness routines can also be fun ways to boost your Shih Tzu’s cognitive health.

In conclusion, Shih Tzus may not rank highest in traditional measures of canine intelligence, but their emotional intelligence and problem-solving abilities are something to marvel at! So, the next time you see your Shih Tzu outsmart you, remember, you are dealing with a dog that has been a royal companion to emperors. Never underestimate this pint-sized, fluffy creature’s knack for brainpower — and your Shih Tzu will continue to surprise you with their witty and endearing antics!