Are English Springer Spaniels Smart?

While English Springer Spaniels have taken the world by storm as they are lovable, high-energy, and playful dogs with outstanding hunting skills, you are probably wondering if they are smart enough to train at home?

Springer Spaniels are incredibly smart and ranked as the 13th smartest dog breed in North America by Professor Stanley Coren, a canine psychologist, as they obey commands far quicker than other smart dog breeds and possess a high level of intuitive and adaptive intelligence.

Although it is clear to see that English Springer Spaniels are incredibly smart, this gifted dog breed is full of surprises. So, if you want to know how smart they truly are – read on!

Canine Intelligence: What You Should Know

Renowned psychology professor and neuropsychological researcher Stanley Coren has been researching canine intelligence and the bond they have with their humans for several decades.

His critically acclaimed book, The Intelligence of Dogs, published in 1994, ranked the intelligence of more than 100 dog breeds.

Coren identified the following three predominant forms of intelligence: adaptive, instinctive, obedience, or working IQ, by evaluating a canine’s memory, problem-solving skills, obedience, social interactions, and observational skills.

However, obedience testing is the preferred method of measuring how smart dogs, like English Springer Spaniels, are. Thus, a dog that quickly learns new commands in rapid order is classified as a smart dog, with an above-average working or obedience IQ.

While there are limitations to the working or obedience intelligence testing method, it’s far easier to objectively ascertain how smart English Springer Spaniels are although this testing method is not flawless, it’s a great place to start.

Why Are English Springer Spaniels Truly Smart?

So, how smart are English Springer Spaniels, you might ask? Well, they are incredibly smart!

Professor Coren conducted obedience trials with 199 dog training experts and collected obedience training data concerning accredited Canadian Kennel Club and AKC dog breeds to determine which type of dog was the smartest.

The following criteria were used to ascertain how smart the various dog breeds were:

  • The number of command repetitions dogs needed to react accordingly. So, dog breeds that mastered new skills with fewer repetitions were ranked higher on the smart breed list.
  • Additionally, dogs that obeyed new commands on a first attempt were deemed the smartest breeds.

While English Springer Spaniels were ranked in 13th place of the top 100 smartest breeds and missed the coveted top 10 category list, they had some stiff competition with some of the smartest dog breeds in the world like Border Collies and Poodles, and they were classed as brilliant working dogs.

Additionally, Springers were mentioned with some of the world’s smartest dog breeds like Pomeranians, Welsh Corgis, Weimaraner breeds, and Schnauzers, to name a few.

Furthermore, not all the participating dog breeds were smart enough to be mentioned on the prestigious list, so English Springer Spaniels deserved their moment in the limelight!

Are English Springer Spaniels Easy To Train?

English Springer Spaniels are comparatively easy to train as they are eager to please, especially because these gundog breeds have learned to respond to commands quickly.

However, their intelligence and high energy levels mean they can easily be distracted if bored, so it’s vital to use fun and challenging training methods.

As an example of how smart they are, this dog breed can learn new commands with only 5-15 repetitions and, depending on the complexity of the command, can master a new skill in under an hour.

Moreover, they can obey a familiar command with an 85% success rate on the first attempt, which makes them a pleasure to train as they are so responsive!

Additional Reasons Why Springers Are Super Smart

It’s important to consider that canine intelligence measurement techniques are not limited to measuring how obedient they are and that Coren’s research only took that into account when he assessed how smart the tested breeds were.

Certain dog breeds are innately stubborn, so they will not excel in obedience training, which does not mean they are not smart.

In fact, Coren acknowledges that measuring a dog breed’s intelligence is far more complex than only measuring their obedience or working IQ.

More importantly, it does not consider their level of adaptive or instinctive intelligence, and these abilities might be more valuable than their ability to obey commands. However, these additional forms of intelligence are incredibly difficult to measure.

The English Springer Spaniel’s Instinctive Intelligence

Certain dog breeds demonstrate an exceptional instinctive intelligence or an outstanding skill as their forebearers were bred to perform certain tasks, so they are born with that ability.

For example, aptly named Golden Retrievers were bred to retrieve birds for hunters in the marshlands, so they did not have to use boats or swim to find the shot-down birds. So, no wonder they excel in playing catch as they instinctively know how to retrieve items.

Likewise, Springer Spaniels were bred as bird dogs as they have exceptional smelling abilities and can find bird game in shrubs, and trees, so they possess an above-par level of instinctive intelligence.

However, what makes them even smarter is their unique ability to drive birds in the direction of a hunter’s gun, like a herding dog.

Moreover, the AKC classified Springer Spaniels as one of the world’s eight best bird dogs. So, they are certainly a super smart dog breed!

English Springer Spaniels Adaptive Intelligence

Adaptive intelligence is not something dogs are born with; it pertains to a dog’s ability to learn new skills that he does not instinctively possess.

A great way to measure a dog’s adaptive intelligence is by judging its ability to solve problems and to learn from its mistakes quickly.

While it is incredibly difficult to empirically prove that any dog breed possesses an outstanding level of adaptive intelligence, English Springer Spaniels often remark how quickly their dogs learn to get what they want, even if it entails doing things they should not be doing.

Springer Spaniels Versus Other Smart Dog Breeds

While Springer Spaniels outperformed other averagely smart dog breeds during trails, it only means that they require a little bit more time, consistency, and patience.

Moreover, Springer Spaniels were competing with some of the world’s most lovable and popular dog breeds like Husky’s, Greyhounds, Shiba’s, and Terriers.

However, these dog breeds needed 25-40 command repetitions to learn new skills, whereas Springer Spaniels were up to eight times faster to obey new commands.


There is no doubt that English Springer Spaniels are incredibly smart as they can master new skills far quicker than most other intelligent dog breeds. Additionally, their exceptional working, instinctive, and adaptive level of intelligence is off the charts!

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