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Are Vizslas Smarter Than Most Dogs? Instinctive & Adaptive Intelligence

Written by: Rachael Gerkensmeyer

Last Updated on April 30, 2024 by Dogster Team

Vizsla dog

Are Vizslas Smarter Than Most Dogs? Instinctive & Adaptive Intelligence

Vizslas are natural-born working dogs. Originally bred as gundogs, Vizslas would spend hours each day out in the fields, working to retrieve prey for their human hunting companions. Today, these dogs are revered as rugged athletes that enjoy sporting activities and can easily fit into family life. They stand between 20 and 24 inches tall when fully grown, and they have an easily recognizable rust-colored coat.

As hard workers, these must be smart dogs, right? As it turns out, this is an intelligent dog breed that can outperform many other breeds in various capacities. Let’s delve deeper into how smart the Vizsla is, what goes into determining the smarts of a dog, and how we can help improve the intelligence of our pets.


The Intelligence of Vizslas

A canine psychologist by the name of Dr. Stanley Coren got together with 199 canine obedience judges to determine the intelligence of various dog breeds. There are many different aspects, or types, of dog intelligence that a dog has: adaptive, working, instinctive, interpersonal, and kinesthetic intelligence.

The study that Dr. Coren produced did not take all types of intelligence into account but focused on working intelligence. This is how quickly certain dog breeds can learn commands, skills, and/or tricks and how often they will perform those on command. Mr. Coren and the judges he worked with did acknowledge that training can play a big role in working intelligence.

According to the study, the Vizsla ranks number 25 for working intelligence. The tier of dogs with top working intelligence can learn new commands in fewer than five lessons and will obey those commands more than 95% percent of the time. This Vizsla is considered a “second tier” breed, as they can typically learn a new command in between five and 15 lessons, and they will obey the new commands at least 85% of the time.

Although still considered intelligent, some dogs have been ranked in the fifth tier, which is the lowest on the study’s scale. This makes tier three the average one. Therefore, it’s safe to say that the Vizsla is smarter than the average dog breed—at least in terms of working intelligence.

man training his vizsla dog
Image By: ABO PHOTOGRAPHY, Shutterstock

Instinctive and Adaptive Intelligences Are Important

Dr. Coren stated that the instinctive and adaptive intelligences are just as important as working intelligence. But what do these types mean? Let’s break it down.

Instinctive Intelligence

This type of intelligence correlates with the type of job that a dog is bred to do and how well they do that job. In other words, how well can a dog instinctively perform the duties that they were bred for without the need for extensive training? For the Vizsla, this means gauging their ability to instinctively assist their hunting companions with pointing and retrieval tasks.

Adaptive Intelligence

This all boils down to how easy it is for a dog to essentially teach themselves things. When your Vizsla is faced with a puzzle toy, do they work to figure things out, or do they seem to give up and look for outside guidance? The more committed that a dog is to learning new things and the quicker they are at coming up with solutions and answers to challenges, the more adaptive intelligence they tend to have.

That said, the instinctive and adaptive intelligences, along with many other aspects of intelligence, are not the same for all dogs, no matter their breed. While Vizslas might be smarter than the average dog as a whole, each dog is different, and some are bound to be smarter than others.

How to Determine Your Vizsla’s Intelligence

To determine how smart your Vizsla is, you can complete a doggy intelligence test. It’s designed to evaluate how well a dog can learn and retain information, problem solve, and reason. It involves a series of six tasks that will help you figure out your dog’s overall “IQ.” While there is no such thing as IQ numbers for dogs, this test does have a scoring system that will enable you to determine how smart your dog is compared to others. Dogs that do well on this intelligence test tend to be extremely trainable and might even be good candidates for service jobs.

Excited vizsla puppy dog with stick playing in park
Image By: Antony Robinson, Shutterstock

Can You Make Your Vizsla Smarter?

You may be able to improve your dog’s intelligence through training and positive reinforcement. The more training your dog gets and the more opportunity they have to learn, problem solve, and reason, the smarter they will become as time goes on. You can use the following tips to help make the process easier:

  • Practice basic commands every day.
  • Socialize your dog as often as possible.
  • Provide plenty of praise when problems are solved correctly and efficiently.
  • Practice new skills and commands daily.
  • Make puzzle toys and feeders available.
  • Keep training sessions short and interactive.



Yes, Vizslas seem to be smarter than the average dog, at least in terms of working intelligence. However, not all dogs are created equal, and each individual Vizsla has strengths and weaknesses when it comes to the aspects of intelligence that they possess. That said, you can use a doggy intelligence test to gauge how smart your Vizsla pup is.

Featured Image Credit: Chiemsee2016, Pixabay

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