How Smart Are English Bulldogs? Here’s What You Need to Know

The English Bulldog is a popular breed because of its affectionate nature. These dogs also have a calm demeanor and docile temperament, which is perfect for families with kids. But we can’t help but wonder, how smart are English Bulldogs? Are they easy to train? In this post, I answer this question together with added information you need to know.

How smart are English Bulldogs?

how smart are English Bulldogs

In general, English Bulldogs aren’t the smartest bunch. If we are to compare them to Golden Retrievers, English Bulldogs are on the lower part of the scale.

This is mainly due to the fact that English Bulldogs weren’t bred as working dogs. They were bred to be bullbaiting canines with no special skills but to fight. The good news is that this bullbaiting past is long behind them. However, it doesn’t erase the fact that English Bulldogs don’t do well on the working intelligence aspect.

According to experts, English Bulldogs are one of the ‘least intelligent’ canines. But how do they measure canine intelligence? It all boils down to Coren’s Dog Intelligence Criteria.

The Coren’s Dog Intelligence Criteria

Under the Coren’s Dog Intelligence Criteria by Professor Stanley Coren, it’s said that 51% of a canine’s intelligence is connected to its genes. Meanwhile, the remaining 49% is related to environmental circumstances.

Moreover, Professor Coren based the intelligence ranking of canines on three aspects: upbringing, personality, and environment. Just take note that Professor Coren’s metrics are on a sliding scale since each Bulldog is bred and raised differently.

Overall, there are three dimensions to a dog’s intelligence: instinctive, adaptive, and working & obedience.

🐶Instinctive dog intelligence

Instinctive intelligence refers to what the dog is bred for. For example, retriever dogs are trained to collect their handler’s catch. The same goes for herding dogs that are bred to round up animals on a farm.

In the case of Bulldogs, they were trained to fight bulls. It’s a long-banned practice, and the modern Bulldog has been successfully shaped into a companion breed. With that, they aren’t expected to perform mental tasks the same way as herding or retriever canines.

🐶Adaptive intelligence

In general, all Bulldogs have the same instinctive intelligence. However, each Bulldog will differ when it comes to adaptive intelligence.

For example, a well-bred Bulldog raised in a caring home complete with food and vet care will thrive in training compared to puppy mill-produced counterparts. Also, the Bulldog’s diet will largely affect its brain development and ability to recall commands.

Overall, dogs with access to basic needs will respond better to training. After all, basic needs are part of the 49% environmental circumstances that Professor Coren indicated on his criteria.

In this dimension, dogs are said to vary in intelligence based on the stimuli to which it’s exposed.

🐶Working and obedience intelligence

This third dimension of dog intelligence refers to how well a canine can learn when instructed by humans. It largely pertains to the training response of dogs. In general, Bulldogs rank low on this portion due to their stubbornness and hard-to-train nature.

Moreover, it’s easy to rank individual dogs in terms of working and obedience intelligence. Many kennel clubs have tests, say the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen program that has a point-basis examination. Canines that can perform the tasks on the list have higher working intelligence levels.

With this, a specific Bulldog can earn a high score while another could fail. This is why there’s only a small number of Bulldogs that passed the AKC CGC program.

How can I make my Bulldog smarter?

To be fair, there’s nothing we can do on the genetics aspect. English Bulldogs aren’t working dogs, so they can’t be as sharp as a Border Collie.

Still, you can perform training to help boost your pet’s adaptive and working intelligence. Socialization is also crucial to improve your Bulldog’s desensitization to various stimuli.

Moreover, you have to start training at an early age. This way, you can shape your Bulldog’s brain development even before it establishes its own fears, biases, and preferences.

When in doubt, you can always ask the help of an animal trainer. This will help you realize better results.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Do English Bulldogs have a good memory?

A: English Bulldogs have a decent memory and recall if trained well. They can learn various tasks and tricks, but you have to practice a lot of patience during the training phase. Also, you shouldn’t expect an English Bulldog to learn all the tricks you’re teaching them.

Q: Are English Bulldogs easy to train?

A: English Bulldogs aren’t easy to train due to their stubborn nature. As much as they are sweethearts, you have to be extra patient and consistent to see positive results. You should always use positive reinforcement through rewards since this canine is highly food-driven.

Q: Are Bulldogs not smart?

A: Based on the intelligence ranking of canines, Bulldogs rank at the 77th spot of the Intelligence of Dogs by Stanley Coren. Meanwhile, Border Collie, Poodle, and German Shepherd top the list. Still, it doesn’t mean that your Bulldog is a lost cause. It’s still ahead of the Afghan Hound and Basenji.

Q: Are Bulldogs lazy?

A: Bulldogs are couch potatoes because of their stocky bodies and short legs. Also, they don’t need a lot of exercise due to their brachycephalic anatomy. This is often perceived as lazy by some pet owners.

Q: What are the least trainable dog breed?

A: According to experts, the least obedient dogs include the Afghan Hound, Chow Chow, Basenji, Bulldog, and Bloodhound. These rankings are influenced by a lot of factors, including the innate characteristics of the breed. But with patience and the right approach, you can teach these dogs a trick or two.

Final words

How smart are English Bulldogs? They aren’t on the highest ranks, but these doggos are still capable of learning commands and tricks. You just have to be extremely patient and consistent with training to unleash the best from your pooch. Still, you should know that this breed has its limitations that you have to respect.


  • Brad

    Hi I'm Brad, the founder of Having been a vet of 6 years I work alongside our team to provide valuable insight into your dog's health. I have a frenchie myself named Senzu who is my pride and joy!