Certain animals are known for their intelligence. The German Shepherd is no exception. Aside from being athletic, courageous, fast, loving and loyal, they are also known for their super smarts and ability to be trained. When it comes to their ability to learn and retain information, they are one of the top breeds. This is one of the reasons they are so popular for families, the military, and police. But exactly how smart are they? Find out with this in-depth article that features 7 amazing examples of German Shepherd intelligence!
1. A German Shepherd’s Intelligence Is Equal To A 2.5-Year-Old Child
A German Shepherd’s intelligence is on par with a two-and-a-half-year-old human child. In our world this may not seem like a lot but for an animal this is pretty astonishing!
A 2.5-year-old child may be smarter than you think! In fact, according to WebMD, they can remember the names of body parts, objects, parents and siblings. They can complete a sentence that is between 2-4 words. And they can follow simple instructions.
By the time a child reaches 30 months old, they have a pretty extensive vocabulary. The German Shepherd shares this attribute and can remember up to 250 words. This intelligence is much higher than most average dog breeds who can only remember 165 words.
2. A German Shepherd Can Remember Hundreds Of Commands
Piggy backing off of the last example, a German Shepherd’s ability to remember hundreds of words also means that they can remember and obey lots of commands.
This is why they are considered one of the easiest dog breeds to train. A German Shepherd’s intelligence goes way beyond sit, stay and rollover. They can learn to obey many more complicated commands even in other languages like German.
To understand the capability that dogs can reach, check out Chaser, the World’s Smartest Dog! She was a Border Collie trained by Professor John W. Pilley beginning at 8 weeks old. Her ability to remember names was unrivaled by any other animal in the world.
In fact, she could identify exactly 1,022 of her toys by name and fetch them for her owner. But don’t let her intelligence fool you! She loved to have fun and even earned her nickname from chasing cars.
3. German Shepherds Are The Third Most Intelligent Dog Breed
According to Dr. Stanley Coren’s research, German Shepherds are the third most intelligent dog breed in the world. The Border Collie ranks number one and the Poodle ranks second.
While not conclusive, the results of his study carry a lot of weight because over 200 dog obedience judges were used to observe each breed.
Each breed was tested to see how many times it took for them to pick up a new command. Additionally, the judges recorded what percentage of the time each breed was obedient.
The smartest breeds, including the German Shepherd, could obey a new command in less than 5 exposures. They also obeyed the new commands 95% of the time.
4. GSDs Make Excellent Military And Police Dogs
A GSDs ability to learn and obey new commands quickly is what makes them such a stalwart in the military and police. They can chase down criminals, detect bombs, and sniff out drugs.
In fact, they are so intelligent that they have been used by law enforcement for over 100 years. German Shepherds are cool, calm and collected in high-stress situations. They can adapt to most scenarios and are capable of completing complex tasks.
They are extremely loyal to their master and will put their life on the line to save someone. Additionally, their smartness makes them excellent medical and therapy dogs.
A German Shepherd’s intelligence also transfers over into the military and several different jobs. They have been used during war time as messenger dogs, relaying important information back and forth between soldiers.
During World War II, they were specifically trained for scout duty. This job required them to warn the soldiers of any potential booby traps, mines or enemies nearby.
5. German Shepherds Excel In Intelligence Based Sports
German Shepherds are also known for their ability to excel in several intelligence-based sports. There aren’t many sports that they don’t thrive in.
Several GSDs have earned the AKC title of Dual or Triple Champion which includes agility, obedience and tracking. Their quick wits in combination with athletic prowess allow them to maneuver through the course with speed and precision.
In addition to agility, they also excel in obedience and rally. In this sport, the dog works together with its handler to perform basic commands as well as a series of complex exercises which include heeling, retrieving and scent recognition.
Tracking is another sport that magnifies just how smart German Shepherds really are. They use their powerful sense of smell to locate and follow specific scents and are judged on how well they can track it.
Finally, they are the top of the food chain when it comes to the sport of Schutzhund which means “protection dog” in German. Most GSDs in the military or police are trained in Schutzhund.
The sport is judged and requires dogs to perform three different disciplines which include obedience, protection and tracking. During the tests, the dog’s bravery and willingness to protect its handler is put to the test.
They must have extreme self-control. German Shepherds are World-Class in the sport and normally dominate the annual USCA IGP Working Dog Championship.
6. GSDs Are Capable Of Solving Complex Puzzles
Similar to some other smart dog breeds like Border Collies and Poodles, GSDs can also use their brains to solve different brain games and complex puzzles.
Fun Fact: The German Shepherd has one of the biggest dog brains of any breed. It equals the size of a tangerine and weighs around 105 grams.
Check out 11-month old Zena, who proves that German Shepherds have the ability to use trial and error to figure out and overcome obstacles.
Interactive brain games and puzzles are a great way to stimulate your dog’s mental sharpness. A lot of popular puzzles reward your dog with a treat for solving it.
In addition, they keep your GSD from getting bored and participating in destructive behaviors.
7. German Shepherd Brains Process Voices Like Humans
A German Shepherd’s brain can distinguish between the sound of a dog and the sound of a human. Current Biology, back in 2014, used MRI scans to study the brains of dogs while they listened to an assortment of dog and human sounds.
They found that dogs process voices the same way humans do. GSDs actually have voice areas in their brain that lights up when it hears a human voice.
On top of that, they discovered that dog brains respond to emotional sounds like crying or laughing. In many ways, German Shepherds learn the same way that kids do.
Amazingly, they can even determine the meaning of an unfamiliar word by the process of elimination. A Border Collie named Rico proved this point.
When scientists asked him to fetch a toy he didn’t know the name of, he looked at all the toys in the room, and all of them — except one — were familiar to him. Therefore, the new word must correspond to the new toy, so that is the one he picked.Business Insider – 9 special abilities that show how smart dogs really are
According to the article, Dr. Brian Hare, a dog scientist, no other species of animal can even come close to accomplishing what Rico did.
German Shepherd intelligence may be hard to conclusively measure but the evidence is clear. The GSD is one of the smartest animals on the planet! These are just some of the amazing examples of their brain’s capabilities and what is possible with consistent training. For someone who is serious about teaching them commands, it is entirely possible to reach the 50-60 mark.
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Do you own a German Shepherd? Can you give us any examples of their smartness? Let us know! We would love to hear about your personal story!