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How Smart Is Man’s Best Friend? A Ruidoso, NM Veterinarian Weighs In

March 1, 2024

Is your pooch a smart dog? Some of our canine companions are quite clever. The typical pup can understand over 100 sentences and gestures. Some can learn up to 250 or perhaps more.  To be more exact, Fido has approximately the same IQ as a two-year-old human toddler! Read on as a Ruidoso, NM veterinarian looks into this intriguing subject.

How Is Canine Intelligence Measured?

Stanley Coren, PhD, investigated this in his 1994 book, The Intelligence of Dogs. He categorized doggie intellect into three sections.

Adaptive Intelligence refers to a puppy’s cognitive ability to adapt to its surroundings. This is very applicable to many working canines, such as those that help the visually handicapped. Fido, for example, may refuse to assist his owner across a roadway if a car approaches.

Working Obedience indicates how hard Fido will work to meet your demands. This can be quite telling as well. Approximately 95% of the time, the most intelligent breeds completed the given sequence perfectly the first time. The slower dogs required more incentive.

Instinctive Intelligence defines how well a dog accomplishes the tasks for which it was particularly bred. A notable example of this is the Border Collie’s tendency to “herd” his human family members. (The breed’s initial role was to herd livestock.)

We Changed Them

Studies indicate that when domestic dogs mingled with people, they may have lost some of their natural cognitive capacities. One study showed that pet dogs tend to look at a human when faced with a difficult problem, as though asking for help. Wolves, however, do not do this.

We Are Still Learning About Canine Intellects

In 2022, Scientific Reports published an intriguing study from Helsinki.

Between 2016 and 2022, researchers tested approximately 2,350 pups. The study involved both purebred and mixed-breed dogs. Each of the dogs underwent a series of tests, suitably termed the smartDOG test battery. The examinations evaluated several aspects of canine intelligence.

Many of the breed-related findings went about as one would expect. For example, the Malinois, a herding dog, responded well to hand signals. However, several of the findings were startling. The Labrador Retriever, for example, although renowned as an extremely intelligent dog, performed badly. (He is still a Very Good Boy, however.)

How Can I Tell If My Dog is Intelligent?

There are numerous ways to evaluate your canine buddy.

  • New Tricks: Before you even begin teaching your dog tricks, make sure he understands the basic obedience commands, such as Sit and Stay. When training Fido, keep track of how long it takes him to learn new things. 
  • Paw Pads: These may be game changers! Give them a try and see how Fido reacts. Some dogs are remarkably astute at picking up words. In one case, a pup’s owner found and killed a poisonous spider. The pooch, a paw-pad whiz, ran downstairs to the pads and deliberately pressed keys for ‘bed,’ animal,’ and ‘sniff’ … indicating that she had not just smelled the spider, but wanted to talk about it! The short clip can be found on social media. 
  • Word Play: Do you normally use a specific tone of voice while calling your pet’s name? Continue speaking in the same way, but say something different. Any phrase will do. If Fido pays little attention to what you’re saying when you say “Cheese good” or “The humble carrot!” but perks up when he hears his own name, he’s probably pretty astute!
  • Puzzles: Giving your canine friend puzzle toys is another great way to test his brain power. Offer Fido a reward that can only be received by manipulating the toy in a specific manner. 

Of course, there are times when it is clear that your adorable pet isn’t the brightest bulb in the box. But don’t worry. Even if your cute friend is not a furry, four-legged genius, his endearing personality and steadfast loyalty will more than compensate!

Which Dog Breeds Are The Smartest?

Fido’s IQ is obviously impacted by his breed. There have been several studies and experiments on this topic. While the order may change somewhat, the same puppies regularly win.

Here they are!

  • Border Collie
  • Poodle
  • German Shepherd
  • Golden Retriever
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • Shetland Sheepdog
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Papillon
  • Rottweiler
  • Australian Cattle Dog
  • Pembroke Welsh Corgi
  • Miniature Schnauzer
  • English Springer Spaniel
  • Belgian Tervuren
  • Schipperke
  • Collie
  • Keeshond
  • German Shorthaired Pointer.

What Are The Dumbest Dogs In The World?

Okay, before we go there, we have to be clear.  We adore all of our canine patients! Not every dog has to know how to follow sophisticated commands. Fido can still be a great pet and companion, even if he’s a few fries short of a Happy Meal.

That said, In case you’re wondering, we do have a list of the dog breeds with the lowest IQs.

  • Basset Hound
  • Mastiff
  • Beagle
  • Pekingese
  • Bloodhound
  • Borzoi – Chow Chow!
  • Bulldog
  • Basenji
  • Afghan Hound

Naturally, all of these puppies are Very Good Boys who, like other canines, want praise, attention, and belly rubs. 

That said, if your furry companion is on this list or isn’t the smartest tool in the shed in general, exercise extreme caution when petproofing, and consider some additional safety precautions. For further information, please contact your Ruidoso, NM  veterinarian.

How Smart Is The Average Dog?

Research efforts have shown that most dogs have an IQ of around 100!

Who Are The Most Intelligent Dogs In The World?

We’ve already compiled a separate list of the brightest breeds, so this time, we’ll focus on a few very brilliant puppies.

At the top of the list are two Border Collies. Chaser is up first. Surprisingly, this puppy learned the names of approximately 1,000 different items! Rico, another Border Collie, was making waves with his intellect before Chaser bounded onto the scene. Rico was a master of more than 200 words!

However, another animal is actually the star of the show here, with Chaser and Rico playing supporting parts. You might be astonished to find that a little bird may be the most intelligent animal ever. A Budgie named Puck learned almost 1700 words!

Rico and Chaser are not the only dogs who possess exceptional intellect. Check out these more “pawesome” puppies:

Fellow: Jacob Herbert fell in love with this German Shepherd puppy. Herbert was so pleased by the puppy’s intellect that he trained it to follow very specific instructions, like “Jump Over the Sofa” and “Go Into The Back Room.”

Gander: This adolescent canine has an excellent reputation for fearlessness and intelligence. Gander rose to prominence on the battlefield after supporting Canadian soldiers during World War II. The brave dog, originally from St. John’s, Newfoundland, was well-known for constantly charging at the enemy. The brave canine even grabbed a live grenade and carried it away from his human companions. He literally gave his life to defend them.

Colonel: Charles Kestler, the proprietor of the Merchants’ Hotel, had this Denver dog.  Kestler always stored Colonel’s favorite ball in his desk drawer. One day the pup wanted to play, and he sat by the desk, no doubt looking sad and adorable. When no one took the hint, the determined Colonel decided to open the drawer on his own. This included crawling beneath and behind the desk, standing on his rear legs, and forcing it open!

Schedule an Appointment at Your Ruidoso, NM Animal Clinic

Have any queries regarding your dog’s health or care? Please contact us at any time. As your local Ruidoso, NM animal clinic, we are here to help!