Are German Shepherds Smart?

Find out about German Shepherds and how smart they are, how their intelligence matches up against other dog breeds, how to further improve their intelligence and why their cleverness makes them useful in so many different ways, especially as police and military dogs.

Dogs are smart animals and each breed has their own unique personality traits which contribute to their intelligence levels. The average breed of dog has an intelligence equal to that of a two year old child.

This is very interesting when you consider how intelligent two year old humans can be, as they are always learning new things and picking up abilities quickly as they move through the toddler stages.

German Shepherds are well-known as a highly intelligent dog breed. They’re also strong, loyal and committed. They love to learn new things and work on a variety of tasks, and they’re exceptionally easy to train.

Read on to find out more about German Shepherd’s and their remarkable intelligence.

How Intelligent Are German Shepherds?

German Shepherds are known as the third smartest dog breed, just behind Border Collies (1st place) and Poodles (2nd place).

Not only are they remarkably clever, German Shepherds are a very easy breed to train due to their fast and highly retentive memory. They can pick up a new ability in just five repetitions during training.

They are quick to remember words, commands, and tricks taught to them by their handler. The German Shepherd’s intelligence can be traced back to its history in Germany when the breed was originally used to herd cattle and sheep.

They made excellent herding dogs because of their intelligence, responsiveness, ability to learn commands quickly and to alert it’s owner of danger.

They were later used as military dogs during World War I to transport messages and ammunition, due to their unrivalled loyalty and ability to quickly understand commands (which are highly desired traits for a dog soldier).

They are now widely used in the police force due to recognition of their performance as military dogs; and their intelligence helps them to excel in tracking, detecting, restraining, patrolling, searching and rescuing – which are all valuable law enforcement activities performed by police dogs.

German Shepherds’ Intelligence As Puppies

Even when they are just puppies, German Shepherds show a high level of intelligence. From 7 to 12 weeks old, German Shepherds  are learning basic words and commands, and checking out their surroundings.

Between 7 and 12 weeks of age, German Shepherd puppies are highly receptive to the training of basic commands and environments so it’s an ideal period of time to teach them a few important things.

Exposing the puppies early to new sights, sounds, smells, environments and people will help to make sure that they develop into clever, diligent dogs which love to learn new things.

Exposing the German Shepherd to new experiences and completing a basic level of training in the early years of it’s life will help owners to unlock their full potential as highly intelligent companions.

The Different Types Of Intelligence In Dogs

The intelligence of dogs can be broadly separated into two varieties. 

1. Instinctive intelligence – This type of intelligence is inherent to the specific breed. In the case of the German Shepherd, it’s instinctive intelligence is composed of it’s fantastic abilities in protecting and detecting. 

2. Adoptive intelligence – This is the type of intelligence that is accrued by a breed over time and as a result of the activities that it has engaged in over many years.

Adoptive intelligence is a dog’s overall ability to learn, such as learning to complete certain tasks and commands, socializing with other dogs and humans, understanding key words and picking up new abilities quickly. 

How Can You Find Out How Smart A Dog Is?

Many dogs tend to excel in one type of intelligence more than the other. You can actually determine your dog’s intelligence level by completing a dog IQ test.

You can find these online and they will provide you with some tasks to complete with your canine pal to find out how smart he or she really is. 

How To Train An Adult German Shepherd To Be Even Smarter

There are some methods you can adopt to further improve the already impressive intelligence of an adult German Shepherd.

The vast majority of these dogs do not work as police or military dogs and are rather owned as pets, but they still love to be both physically and mentally challenged.

They need to complete around two hours of daily physical activity per day, and providing them with mental tasks will greatly improve their overall happiness, as they have a great love of learning new things.

German Shepherds can become easily bored if they are not frequently challenged, and the best way to challenge a German Shepherd and tap into it’s intelligence is to create tasks that it can complete independently.

Brain games are also a good option to keep your German Shepherd entertained, such as treat games where the dog has to locate a hidden treat. Again, you can find lots of brain games online to play with your German Shepherd.

Training courses also exist for dogs, where pets can be enrolled to improve their intelligence and other qualities such as agility, endurance, and obedience.

You can normally find these courses in your local area by looking online.

Final Thoughts

German Shepherds are the third most intelligent dogs in the world, so that’s a lot to be said for this mental powerhouse of a breed.

Their intelligence has been widely recognized and used for a variety of functions across history and still today – namely in military and police forces.

They make excellent pets too, as their ability to pick up new commands and cool tricks is astounding. Just like you’ll find it difficult to match the loyalty, obedience, and companionship a German Shepherd will provide you with, there’s not many dog breeds out there that beat this canine in terms of brainpower. 

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