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How Clever Are Cavalier King Charles Spaniels?

The Cavalier King Charles spaniel is a sweet, affectionate and generally not hugely challenging spaniel breed from the toy dog group, in contrast to most spaniel breeds which hail from working gundog origins.

This petite and very personable little dog breed shares many of the key spaniel traits but also has a range of unique features all of their own that make them excellent pets and companions, not least of which is that they are much less challenging to exercise than most larger spaniel breeds!

If you are looking for a smaller spaniel dog breed as your next pet, or are checking out toy dog breeds with a view to finding your next companion, there are lots of good points about the Cavvie than might mean they make it on to your shortlist.

Whatever dog breed you finally decide to choose, there are a number of key considerations to bear in mind and research in detail before you can make an informed decision on a purchase, and one of these is naturally intelligence.

The intelligence of dogs can vary considerably from breed to breed, and the type of intelligence a dog might display is more self-evident in some breeds than others.

For instance, you might fairly expect breeds with working origins (like most spaniels and spaniel-derived breeds) to be really intelligent, but when it comes to dogs that are generally kept as companions and lapdogs like those within the toy dog category, how clever they are is much less important to their lifestyles and roles.

This means that making an educated guess on Cavalier King Charles spaniel intelligence is not particularly easy; on the one hand they are a spaniel breed after all, but on the other, they’re a toy spaniel breed, not a working one.

So, how clever are Cavalier King Charles spaniels? This article has the answers. Read on to find out more about Cavvie intelligence levels, and how obedient the average dog of the breed is too!

How do we determine Cavalier King Charles spaniel intelligence?

There is one well-known and almost universally accepted benchmark of canine intelligence that is used to rank a total of 138 different dog breeds in intelligence order, and to outline what this means in practice in terms of their intelligence norms.

This is the Coren methodology, the results of a large-scale study by canine psychology professor Stanley Coren, published in 1994 in his book “The Intelligence of Dogs,” which is still widely used as the most comprehensive and accurate outline of canine intelligence by breed up until the present day.

The Cavalier King Charles spaniel is one of a total of 138 different dog breeds ranked within the study, which gives pointers to the breed’s intelligence level and obedience alike.


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How intelligent is the Cavalier King Charles spaniel compared to other breeds?

So, how intelligent are Cavalier King Charles spaniels, and how do they rank compared to other dog breeds?

Out of the 138 dog breeds included in the Coren ranking, the Cavalier King Charles spaniel falls in 73rd place, and so just a touch below the exact midpoint. It is fair to say, therefore, that the Cavalier King Charles spaniel is around average in intelligence compared to other dog breeds.

The same can be said for their obedience levels; and the Cavalier King Charles spaniels’ 73rd place intelligence ranking places them in the grouping reserved for dogs designated as those that display average working intelligence and obedience, so very much middle of the pack in all regards!

How clever are Cavalier King Charles spaniels?

What does this mean in practice for the intelligence of Cavalier King Charles spaniels? Dogs ranked within the “average” grouping were assessed based on how many repetitions were needed of a brand-new command before the average dog of the breed demonstrated understanding of it.

For the Cavalier King Charles spaniel, this was achieved within between 25-40 repetitions on average.

Within the “average” ability group, which contains a total number of 41 different dog breeds, the Cavvie is 11th out of 41, so within the group alone, near to the higher end of the spectrum; and so you might fairly expect the average Cavalier King Charles spaniel to pick up a new command within nearer to 25 repetitions than 41.

Are Cavalier King Charles spaniels obedient?

The Coren study also attempted to measure Cavalier King Charles spaniel obedience, based on how frequently dogs of the breed would follow a command they were given the first time they were told to; in contrast to how often they needed to be told twice or more.

So, how obedient is the average Cavalier King Charles spaniel? Well, the average dog of the breed can be expected to follow a command that they know the first time that it is given 50% of the time or better – which is not hugely impressive when you consider this means that they will need telling twice almost half of the time too!

That said, this is also considered to be average for dogs as a whole, regardless of breed, and so if your Cavalier King Charles spaniel is more obedient than this, they’re doing better than most!


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