How Smart are Springer Spaniels?

August 26, 2022

If you've just added a Springer Spaniel to your family one of the first things you will notice is how quickly they pick up new skills and learn commands.

It's one of the most stand-out qualities of this breed along with their high energy and affectionate personalities. Just a few of the things that Springers such great family pets.

This may leave you wondering how smart a Springer Spaniel actually is.

Well, in this article we will cover everything you need to know about Springer Spaniel intelligence, how it was measured and even how you can help your dog become even smarter!

Sound interesting? Let's get started!

Are Springer Spaniels Smart?

Yes, Springer Spaniels are some of the smartest dogs around.

You'll have no trouble with basic obedience training or any of the trickier commands. Especially if food is involved. The quickest way to a dog's heart!

This sharp mind will need to be engaged through mental stimulation but we will get on to that in more detail a bit later on.

English Springer Spaniels vs Welsh Springer Spaniels

How smart your Springer Spaniel will be will vary depending on the type you have. English Springers are smarter than their Welsh relatives.

This became apparent in a study by canine psychologist Stanely Coren who measured how smart 138 different breeds were. In this study, the English Springer Spaniel impressively secured the 13th spot and Welsh Springers came in 41st.

While both rankings are pretty great out of 138 breeds the English Springer does win by quite a bit.

How is Springer Spaniel Intelligence Measured?

So how did Stanely Coren determine that Springer Spaniels are smart dogs?

He broke down dog intelligence into three sections which included adaptive, instinctive, and working and obedience training.

Let's take a look at how well Springer Spaniels performed in each of these areas that earned those high rankings.

Adaptive Intelligence

Adaptive intelligence measures how well your Springer Spaniel adapts to their environment and learns from it.

As the Springer Spaniel was bred to be a hunting dog they are well attuned to quickly responding to changing circumstances. Even now they are still a popular gun dog!

Instinctive Intelligence

This is another area of canine intelligence that Springers owe their history flushing out game for as instinctive intelligence measures their ability to do the task they were bred for.

Full marks for the Welsh and English Springer Spaniel here. They were that good at this it's even where their name comes from!

Working and Obedience

This type of intelligence measures how many repetitions it takes for a dog to learn new commands and the success rate of your dog following the command on the first time you ask.

Ranking 13th the English Springer Spaniel came under the category of "Excellent Working Dogs" and obeyed the command on the first time 85% of the time.

The Welsh Springer Spaniel came under the "Above Average Working Dogs" category with a 70% chance of listening to the command on the first time.

Are Springer Spaniels Smarter than the Average Dog Breed?

Yes, it is very fair to say both the Welsh and English Springer Spaniel are smarter than many other dogs.

If you take the study which measured 138 dog breeds and look where both Springers came in you can see they are well above the average. Especially the English Springer.

Keeping a Springer Spaniel Mentally Stimulated

As Springer Spaniels are such intelligent dogs you will also need to think about how well you engage their minds. Not doing so can lead to a bored dog who can become a little destructive or even just a bit sad.

Luckily, mental stimulation is an easy way to keep your Springer Spaniel thinking. There are many ways to do this at home and I've actually written an article covering 14 different ways to mentally stimulate a dog.

Is it Possible to Make my Springer Spaniel Smarter?

Yes, by spending time with your dog you can help make your dog smarter.

This can be achieved through teaching your dog new tricks, brain games, obedience training, or engaging your English Springer Spaniels 'hunting genes' with creative games.

The only thing to consider here is the distinction between trained actions and the types of intelligence outlined above. That said, a dog who is given brain games on a daily basis and has more training, in general, will be sharper than one who just lounges around every day.

This doesn't mean you can take a Dachshund (92nd) and make them as smart as a German Shepherd (3rd) but you can make meaningful strides if you put in the work.

Can I Test my Springer Spaniels Intelligence?

If you are looking for a bit of fun or just want to see how smart your English Springer Spaniel actually is there are ways you can test it at home.

  • Test One: Place a towel over your Springer Spaniel's head and see how quickly they work out how to remove it. Wait around 20 seconds. If your dog had not worked it out by then just take it off and move along.
  • Test Two: Place a toy just out of reach of your dog. For example, behind something they would have to move to get it. Here you are testing their problem-solving abilities.
  • Test Three: Do an action your Springer Spaniel should have a positive association with such as getting ready for a walk and see if they put it together.

As you have a Welsh or English Springer Spaniel it is very likely they will score very highly on these little tests.

A nice way to spend a half hour if you are just playing with your dog.


A Springer Spaniel is a very intelligent dog who will be able to easily pick up a wide range of skills and behaviours with relatively little effort.

While some people just refer to this breed as Springer Spaniels there are actually two distinct types and they are not the same breed. This is Welsh and English Springer and they do measure up differently when it comes to intelligence too.

The English Springer is the smarter of the two breeds, however, the Welsh dog does also rank pretty well.

This all stems from their rich history as hunting companions where they had to have a sharp wit and perform an important job for their owners.

While most Springers you see these days will be living as companion pets these sharp minds still help by making them great family pets.

Allan  Noble
Hi, my name is Allan! I am the owner of Spaniel Advisor and I've got over seven years experience of owning Spaniels.  
I hope this article was helpful for you! 
Spaniel Advisor aims to be the top online resource for sharing information about all Spaniel breeds. 
Copyright 2022 - All Rights Reserved.