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Dog Smarts - Do you have Einstein or Stooge?

I subscribe to a newsletter from purebredbreeders.com.  This was an article they sent.  Very interesting.  Although we have a "mixed-breed", our two breeds are in the top 10 smartest breeds.  At the end of the article it suggests some "games" to try to see if your dog is really smart or just so-so.  The games looked like fun and I think our babies would love doing them.

Dog Smarts - Do you have Einstein or Stooge?
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You might think you have the smartest pup in the dog park. He comes when he's called, sits when commanded, doesn't tear up your favorite shoes, and even performs his best "roll-over" trick for guests. Or maybe you're wondering if your dog is clueless - not knowing the difference between "sit" or "stay," and sometimes forgetting his own name. Doggie intelligence, like human intelligence is hard to define.

A dog's mental ability is similar to a toddler between 2 to 2.5 years of age, but when it comes to canine intelligence - breed does matter. Different dogs are good at different things. Some dogs are bred to herd cattle, others have webbed feed and are better swimmers, while some are better trackers. Every dog has instinctive behaviors that are attributed to their breeds.

What is doggie intelligence?

Brian Hare, founder of the Duke Canine Cognition Center and author for The Genius of Dogs, says most pet owners have a misconception between "smart" and "dumb" dogs, and will underestimate their pup's wits.

Everyone has a different perception of intelligence. Some might think a smart dog will fetch you the morning paper, others might assume a dog who can open doors is Einstein reincarnated in your furry pal. The ability to learn and obey commands is not the only way to measure canine intelligence.

Dog expert and author of The Intelligence of Dogs, Stanley Coren defines canny canines into three categories: adaptive, instinctive, and working/obedience intelligence. In his bestselling book, Coren tested 110 breeds and had over 200 professional dog obedience judges rank them based on their working/obedience intelligence (View list below.)

Adaptive Intelligence

Adaptive intelligence measures what a dog can do for himself. This type of intelligence is specific to problem-solving, understanding language, and your pups ability to learn and recognize relationships.

Instinctive Intelligence

Instinctive intelligence is embedded into a dog's genetic code. It's based on what the dog was bred to do. For example, border collies are herding dogs which are known for rounding up animals, keeping them close, and giving them a sort of direction. This ingrained skill is breed specific to herding dogs such as Sheep dogs, collies, German shepherds, Corgis, ect.

Working/Obedience Intelligence

How well can your dog can follow commands? This school-like learning ability is based on what the dog can do when instructed by humans. When most people think of dog smarts, they think of a well-trained dog who can respond to commands. A dog who correctly responds to a command is showing his obedience intelligence.

World's Smartest Dog

Meet Chaser, a 9-year-old border collie who knows 1,000 words. Formally known as "the most scientifically important dog in over a century," she knows nouns and actions. Just like any other dog, she loves to play, but her ability to understand human language sets her apart from most canines. She can interpret sentences with three elements of grammar, for example "To ball, take Frisbee" and she also learns by imitation. When her owner John W. Pilley says "Watch what I do. Now you do it," she is able to mimic the behavior. Like all dogs, training Chaser requires lots of consistency, attention, rewards, and affection.

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(Image source: TIMES.COM VIA Dana Cubbage Photography )

Top 10 Brightest Breeds:
These top breeds were able to understand commands in less than five repetitions and obeyed them 95% of the time or better.

  1. Border Collie
  2. Poodle
  3. German Shepherd
  4. Golden Retriever
  5. Doberman Pinscher
  6. Shetland Sheepdog
  7. Labrador Retriever
  8. Papillon
  9. Rottweiler
  10. Australian Cattle Dog


Bottom Breeds:
These breeds had to hear the commands 80-100 times more before they obeyed them 25% or less of the time.

  1. Basset Hound
  2. Mastiff
  3. Beagle
  4. Pekingese
  5. Bloodhound
  6. Borzoi
  7. Chow Chow
  8. Bulldog
  9. Basenji
  10. Afghan Hound


So what does this mean? If you have an Afghan Hound, you're living with a Stooge - No. Quite the opposite. Afghan Hounds are one of the oldest dog breeds in existence. They were bred to hunt, making them extremely fast and agile runners.

There is no one clear-cut way to determine how smart a dog is, but you can test their canine's brain power.

Quiz Time - Dognition

Below are a few ways to test your furry friend's dog smarts. Don't try these tests all in one day, your dog might become overwhelmed and not respond to his best ability. Remember to reward your pup with treats and make this fun.

Problem-solving:

Place a towel or blanket over your dogs head. If he removes it in less than 15 seconds, give him 3 points. If it takes him 15-30 seconds to remove the towel, give him 2 points. Anything longer, give him 1 point.

Memory:

Take 3 buckets and place a dog treat or your dog's favorite toy under one of them. Let your dog see which bucket the object is under, turn the dog away for a few seconds, and then let the dog go. If your dog goes immediately to the right bucket, give him 3 points. If it takes two attempts, give 2 points. If your dog checks the wrong two buckets first, then give 1 point.

Problem-solving:

Take a treat and wrap it in aluminum foil. If your dogs uses his paws to open the foil, give him 3 points. If he uses his mouth, give him 2. If he doesn't open the foil and starts playing with it instead, give him 1 point.

Scoring
6 - higher: Einstein
5 - 4: Average
3 - less: Not the brightest kibble in the bag, but we still love them.

Further Reading:
Canine Intelligence-Breed Does Matter

Einstein or Stooge: Measuring Canine Intelligence

Dogs' Intelligence on Par With Two-Year-Old Human, Canine Researcher Says

The Brilliance of the Dog Mind

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Comment by Debbie & Trixie on December 16, 2013 at 9:48am

Thanks! I would need an 8 footer!  I'll check it out!

Comment by Debbie & Trixie on December 15, 2013 at 11:36pm

Kathy, I have been trying to come up with a bright idea for a  barrier into our dining room forever...yours is perfect!  I will head out at first light for spring rods and material!!  Thanks!!! :D

Comment by Jo Bill on December 15, 2013 at 9:14pm

I love hearing how your "tests" have gone.  I STILL have not tried Gizmo.  But I do intend to ... especially since you all are having so much fun with it.  Keep the stories coming!

Comment by Kathy, Elliott & Spencer on December 15, 2013 at 8:44pm

We now have child proof mechanisms on all the lower cabinets in the kitchen. Spencer can open all the cupboards and has almost mastered regular doorknobs so he can enter any room he pleases.

Our living room entrance is 5 feet wide. too wide for most child gates. I have 2 shower rods, the pressure kind with the spring in them, that I have simply put into that doorway with decorator fabric gathered on them. It only takes a small bump to make the rod fall down, and yet every one of our dogs over the years has seen this as a barrier. It keeps them out of the living room.

Spencer truly seems to enjoy a blanket over his head and makes no effort to get it off, simply lies down for a nice nap. Elliott wrestles it off quickly. Yet, Elliott shows none of Spencer's "break and enter" talent.

I think both of my guys are pretty smart, yet in different kinds of ways. Thanks for the laughs JoBill. I had not idea that Spencer just wouldn't bother to even try to get the blanket off! Our sides are still sore from laughing.

Comment by Debbie & Trixie on December 15, 2013 at 6:40pm

Wow!!  We have some gates like that to keep the "cat area" separate from the "dog area"...Trixie has never given a thought to the idea that she might be able to open one!  Then again...we have a 24" baby gate across our closet door to keep her out...she could SO EASILY jump over it, but just doesn't realize it! :)   Perhaps we fall on the "Stooge" side of the equation!

Comment by DonMarie & Picco on December 14, 2013 at 4:50pm

Picco failed but he's no dummy!  He likes when I rub his face with a towel after a bath so he stood there waiting for me towel him off. But he does throw off blankets during playtime. I'm not surprised he didn't get the bucket test or the foil. He doesn't go after food unless it's in his bowl or we hand feed him. And I don't think he likes foil! When I put his ball under the cup, he looks at me to get it for him. The cup is not one of his toys so he's not going to touch it. I think my Picco is very smart and very polite no matter the outcome of these tests! Being cute sure doesn't hurt either :-)

Comment by DonMarie & Picco on December 14, 2013 at 11:26am

I think Picco wants the protection for him and his precious toys. I'm curious of what he would really do in a situation, but then I don't want that to really happen. He has defended himself against other dogs. 

Comment by Kathy, Elliott & Spencer on December 13, 2013 at 9:05pm

I don't get this. I really like having a blanket over my head. Why would I want to take it off?

Spencer

Comment by Jo Bill on December 12, 2013 at 11:02pm

I'm so glad you all are having fun with this.  I haven't had a chance to "test" Gizmo yet....been a busy week with Dr. Appts for Terry and getting ready for our family dinner on Saturday.  I will do it soon, though.

Comment by Debbie & Trixie on December 12, 2013 at 1:33pm

That's an interesting response...do you think Picco thinks when the door opens he'll be going out so he must get his ball to play with, or that he's grabbing his most precious possession and running to Mommy for protection, or?????  You've got to love them! :)

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