Are English Mastiffs Smart? Unlock Dog Intelligence 2024

Greetings! Today, I am here to delve into the intriguing world of English Mastiffs and their intelligence. As dog enthusiasts, we often wonder about the cognitive abilities of our furry friends, and English Mastiffs are no exception. In this article, we will explore whether these gentle giants possess the traits of intelligent and clever companions.

Are English Mastiffs Smart?

  • The intelligence of English Mastiffs may not rank among the highest based on conventional assessments of cognitive abilities.
  • While they may not be considered the “smartest” dogs, English Mastiffs exhibit other valuable traits such as loyalty, protectiveness, and a loving nature.
  • Intelligence can be subjective and measured in various ways, so it’s important to consider the specific characteristics of the breed.
  • English Mastiffs have a reputation for their calm demeanor, making them wonderful companion dogs.
  • When evaluating a dog’s qualities, intelligence is just one aspect to consider, and English Mastiffs have many other remarkable qualities to offer.

Ranking of Dog Intelligence

When it comes to the smartest dog breeds, English Mastiffs do not make the cut for the top 100. However, it’s important to remember that intelligence rankings can vary depending on the specific tests used to assess cognitive abilities. While English Mastiffs may not excel in conventional measures of intelligence, they possess other desirable traits that make them exceptional companions.

Intelligence in dogs is a complex trait that can be difficult to measure and rank definitively. Various factors come into play, including problem-solving skills, trainability, and adaptability. Different breeds may excel in different areas, suggesting that intelligence is not a one-size-fits-all quality among dogs.

top 20 smartest dogs

While English Mastiffs may not be among the smartest dog breeds, it’s essential to recognize that intelligence is just one aspect to consider when looking for a furry companion. English Mastiffs are known for their loyalty, gentle nature, and protective instincts, making them wonderful family pets despite their ranking in intelligence lists.

How Brain Size Relates to Intelligence

The size of an animal’s brain has been widely linked to their cognitive abilities. Research conducted at the University of Arizona revealed a positive correlation between brain size and cognitive performance in dogs. Larger dogs, with their generally larger brain size, demonstrated better cognitive abilities.

English Mastiffs, being a large breed, often possess sizable brains. However, further investigation is required to ascertain the specific brain size of English Mastiffs and its direct correlation with their intelligence. While brain size is an important factor, it is not the sole determinant of a dog’s cognitive capabilities.

The Relationship Between Brain Size and Intelligence

Studies have shown that animals with larger brains tend to exhibit better cognitive performance. This can be attributed to the increased number of neurons and synaptic connections in a larger brain, which facilitates complex information processing and problem-solving abilities.

However, it is essential to note that brain size is not the only factor influencing intelligence. Other factors, such as neuronal density, the organization of brain regions, and the efficiency of neural pathways, also play crucial roles in determining cognitive abilities.

brain size

Brain Size Variation among Different Dog Breeds

Various dog breeds exhibit considerable variation in brain size, which may contribute to differences in their cognitive capabilities. While a comprehensive study on the brain size of English Mastiffs is currently unavailable, it is reasonable to assume that their large physique translates into a proportionate brain size.

To provide a comparative perspective, let’s take a look at the brain sizes of some other popular dog breeds:

BreedAverage Brain Size (in cubic centimeters)
Border Collie114
Golden Retriever76
English MastiffTBD

While the above data highlights the variations in brain size among different breeds, it is important to note that brain size alone does not dictate a dog’s intelligence. A comprehensive understanding of neurobiology and the interplay of various factors is necessary to evaluate a dog’s cognitive capabilities accurately.

The Belgian Malinois as the Cleverest Breed

In a recent scientific study conducted at the University of Helsinki, the Belgian Malinois was identified as the world’s most intelligent dog breed. The study assessed 13 different breeds using cognitive and behavioral tasks, with the Belgian Malinois achieving the highest score. While English Mastiffs were not included in this study, it highlights the variability of intelligence among different dog breeds.

To determine the cleverest breed, researchers at the University of Helsinki designed a series of cognitive tasks and behavioral tasks to evaluate the dogs’ problem-solving abilities, memory, and obedience levels. The Belgian Malinois emerged as the top performer, showcasing exceptional intelligence and trainability.

The study’s findings shed light on the remarkable intelligence of the Belgian Malinois, a breed renowned for its working abilities and keen intellect. These dogs excel in various roles, including police and military work, search and rescue operations, and as assistance dogs.

This recognition of the Belgian Malinois as the cleverest breed demonstrates the significance of cognitive abilities in dogs and the extensive range of intelligence across different breeds. While English Mastiffs may not rank among the smartest breeds, they possess their own unique qualities and are beloved for their gentle nature and loyal companionship.

Top Performers in the University of Helsinki Study

Belgian Malinois1
Border Collie2
Labrador Retriever3
German Shepherd5

Alternative Measures of Intelligence

When it comes to measuring intelligence in dogs, there are various approaches that experts consider. One prominent researcher in the field of canine intelligence is Professor Stanley Coren, known for his book “The Intelligence of Dogs.” In his work, Coren provides rankings based on obedience intelligence, which evaluates a dog breed’s responsiveness to commands and their ability to understand and obey them.

According to Coren’s obedience intelligence rankings, English Mastiffs are not among the most obedient or intelligent breeds. However, it’s important to bear in mind that obedience intelligence is just one aspect of a dog’s cognitive abilities and may not fully capture their overall intelligence and problem-solving skills.

While English Mastiffs may not excel in obedience intelligence, they possess other admirable traits that make them beloved companions. Their gentle nature, loyalty, and protective instincts are qualities that have endeared them to many dog lovers. A dog’s intelligence is a multifaceted trait that extends beyond simple obedience, and English Mastiffs have much to offer in terms of companionship and affection.

Least Intelligent Dog Breeds

While it’s important to appreciate the unique qualities of every dog, some breeds are generally considered to be less intelligent than others based on various factors. Here is a list of some of the least intelligent dog breeds according to popular rankings:

BreedIntelligence Ranking
Chow ChowLow

It’s important to note that intelligence rankings can vary, and individual dogs within each breed may exhibit different levels of intelligence. While these breeds may not be considered the most intelligent, they still have their own unique characteristics and can make wonderful companions.

Least Obedient Dog Breeds

Depending on your definition of intelligence, obedience can also be a factor to consider. Some dogs may possess high intelligence but be less inclined to follow commands. Here is a list of some of the least obedient dog breeds, according to various studies and observations:

  • Afghan Hound
  • Basenji
  • Bloodhound
  • Bulldog
  • Chow Chow

Again, it’s important to remember that these rankings are generalizations, and individual dogs may vary in their level of obedience within each breed. Proper training and socialization can greatly influence a dog’s behavior and responsiveness to commands regardless of their breed’s rankings in obedience intelligence.


While English Mastiffs may not rank as the most intelligent dogs based on traditional measures of cognitive abilities, it’s important to remember that intelligence is a subjective trait that can be measured in various ways. While they may not excel in tasks typically used to assess intelligence, English Mastiffs exhibit a range of other valuable qualities.

One of the standout characteristics of English Mastiffs is their unwavering loyalty. They are known for forming deep bonds with their owners and will go to great lengths to protect them. This loyalty, combined with their imposing size, makes them excellent companion dogs for those looking for a protective and devoted four-legged friend.

Additionally, English Mastiffs have a loving and gentle nature, making them wonderful family pets. They are known for their patience, especially with children, and can be a calming presence in the home. Their calm demeanor and laid-back attitude also make them ideal for individuals or families who prefer a more relaxed and low-energy pet.


Are English Mastiffs considered intelligent dogs?

While English Mastiffs may not rank among the top 100 smartest dog breeds, intelligence can be subjective and measured in various ways. They may possess other desirable traits beyond conventional measures of intelligence.

How does the intelligence of English Mastiffs compare to other breeds?

According to rankings based on obedience intelligence, English Mastiffs were not among the most obedient or intelligent breeds. However, it’s important to consider that obedience intelligence may not fully reflect a dog’s overall cognitive abilities.

Does brain size play a role in the intelligence of English Mastiffs?

The size of an animal’s brain is often correlated with its intelligence. While English Mastiffs are a large breed, further research is needed to understand the specific brain size and its correlation with their intelligence.

Which breed was identified as the most intelligent in a recent study?

In a study conducted at the University of Helsinki, the Belgian Malinois achieved the highest score for intelligence among the 13 breeds assessed. However, English Mastiffs were not included in this study.

What are alternative measures of intelligence in dogs?

Intelligence in dogs can be measured in different ways. While English Mastiffs may not rank highly in obedience intelligence, they exhibit valuable traits such as loyalty, protective instincts, and a loving nature.

Is intelligence the only factor to consider when evaluating the qualities of English Mastiffs?

No, intelligence is just one aspect to consider. English Mastiffs possess other valuable traits that make them wonderful companion dogs, including their loyalty, protective instincts, and loving nature.