Study: Grumpy dogs are very smart

The research shows that dogs with grumpy temperaments are adept at learning by observing humans or other dogs, challenging the belief that only friendly, eager-to-please dogs are intelligent learners. This finding could revolutionize training methods by acknowledging the intelligence and capabilities of less sociable dogs.

A study discovered that dogs with grumpy temperaments may also possess high intelligence.

Conducted in Hungary, the study explored how quickly dogs learn based on their personalities. Biologist Kata Vékony, one of the authors, emphasized the importance of understanding the connections between various dog behaviors rather than treating them as separate phenomena.


To assess the dogs’ temperaments, researchers issued a questionnaire to pet parents, gauging behaviors such as reactions during grooming or bathing, barking at disliked situations, and instances of aggression towards other dogs or people. This information was used to assign each dog an “irritability” score.

At Eötvös Loránd University, researchers conducted experiments to test the dogs’ social learning abilities. Dogs were tasked with navigating around a V-shaped wire mesh fence to reach a favorite treat or toy. Surprisingly, both agreeable and grumpy dogs performed equally well in groups with assistance from their owners.


However, the study’s scope was limited, focusing solely on social learning and not considering breed or certain behavioral issues like aggression or separation anxiety. Vékony acknowledged the need for a larger sample size to incorporate these factors fully.


Nevertheless, the study highlights that grumpy dogs are not inherently less capable. They can be well-behaved and responsive to training cues, as long as their preferences are respected. Ultimately, they teach us about being true to ourselves and pursuing what brings us joy.

Written by Telha

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