Measuring Your Dogs Intelligence

The Resource for Everything About Dogs


Measuring Your Dogs Intelligence

by Colin Albert



Most owners of dogs are curious to know how intelligent there dog is. A number of none too scientific studies have been published ranking particular breeds as to their intelligence. In addition, simple tests that purport to determine whether one?s own dog is smart are also available.

The study that is most often referred to is one presented in a book by Stanley Coren of the University of British Columbia, in Vancouver, Canada entitled ?The Intelligence of Dogs?.

The author believes there are 3 types of intelligence displayed by dogs, namely, adaptive intelligence (the ability to problem solve); instinctive intelligence (genetically-dictated behaviors); and obedience intelligence (the ability to obey commands).

As a measure of the latter, Dr. Coren polled some 200 dog obedience judges, asking them which breeds of dogs were most trainable. He then listed the survey results, basing them on how many repetitions it took for the breed to understand a new command and how often the dogs would then obey the command the first time it was spoken. Topping the list were Border Collie, Poodle, German Shepherd, Golden Retriever, Doberman Pinscher, Shetland Sheepdog, Labrador Retriever, Papillion, Rottweiler, Australian Cattle Dog and Welsh Corgi.

Bringing up the rear were the Bull Terrier, Chihuahua, Lhasa Apso, Bullmastiff, Shih Tzu ,Basset Hound, Mastiff, Beagle, Pekingese, Bloodhound, Borzoi, Chow Chow, Bulldog, Basenji and at the very bottom, the Afghan Hound.

Those dog owners whose dogs rank low may take solace in the criticisms that Dr. Coren?s list has attracted. One obvious problem is that the results are based on the subjective determinations of dog obedience trainers. This is clearly not an objective scientific method of measuring intelligence. And this flaw is compounded by the fact that only 200 trainers were surveyed, so that for each particular breed that is ranked, the sample size may well have been low and may not be statistically reliable.

Another issue raised by the list is whether obedience is really a good measure of intelligence. For example there are some breeds that seem very bright, such as terriers, which rank low in the survey. But does the fact that they are slow to respond to new commands mean they are unintelligent, or merely that they are independent and not overly doting on their masters. Be that as it may, dog owners whose pets rank highly probably enjoy and take comfort in the results.

A number of do-it-yourself tests for dog owners to measure their particular pet?s adaptive intelligence can be found on the internet and in Dr. Coren?s book as well. These involve things like:

(1) Letting your dog sniff some food he likes, then placing the food under an empty soup can and timing how long it takes for him to knock over the can to get the food;

(2) Having your dog sniff a large bath towel, then throwing the towel over his head and measuring how long it takes for him to free himself; and

(3) staring intently into your sitting dog?s face and when he looks at you, counting silently to three, then smiling broadly, and seeing whether he comes to you, tail a-wagging or not, or whether he does not move at all, or moves away from you.

Whether tests such as these provide any real feedback as to the actual intelligence of one?s dog is very debatable. Really, as a dog owner, what should interest you is your pet?s willingness to obey your commands and his overall temperament. And for people who do not yet own a dog but are seriously considering getting one, the best advice is to speak with a couple of local dog breeders, tell them what characteristics you are seeking in a dog and then heed their advice.

Colin Albert manages the TakeCareofYourPet website. The website features a product called Hope for Pets, an all-natural supplement that he believes is the top natural dog nutrition supplement on the market to help promote long, healthy lives for our dogs.



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