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Doggy Brainpower: Just How Intelligent Is Fido?

March 1 2024

Some of our canine companions are incredibly intelligent. The average dog can understand over 100 words and gestures. Some can learn as much as 250 or even more!  To be more specific, Fido has approximately the same level of Intelligence as a two-year-old human toddler! Read on as an Urbana, IL vet looks into this fascinating subject.

How Smart Are Most Dogs?

According to studies, the majority of dogs have an IQ of around 100. That’s pretty impressive!

How Is Canine Intelligence Assessed?

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

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

Adaptive Intelligence refers to a puppy’s cognitive ability to adapt to its surroundings. This is crucial for many working canines. One example of this would be pooches that help the visually impaired. Fido may refuse to guide his owner across a road if a car is approaching, even if commanded to.

Working Obedience indicates how hard Fido will work to meet your requests. For example, approximately 95% of the time, the most intelligent breeds completed the given order perfectly the first time. The slower dogs required more motivation.

We Are Still Learning About Dogs’ Minds

The journal Scientific Reports published an intriguing study from Helsinki in 2022.

Between 2016 and 2022, researchers tested over 2,350 puppies. The study involved both purebred and mixed-breed dogs. Each of the dogs underwent a series of tests, aptly termed the smartDOG test battery. The exams evaluated various aspects of canine intelligence.

Many of the results, particularly those involving breeds, were not surprising. For example, the Malinois, a herding dog, responded positively to hand signals, as one might expect. However, some of the findings were startling. The Labrador Retriever, for example, performed poorly despite its reputation as an extremely intelligent pooch. 

How Can I Tell If My Pet is Intelligent?

There are numerous ways to evaluate your canine friend. Here are a few you can try at home:

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 term will do. In some cases, randomness is preferable. If he doesn’t pay much attention when you say “Paper products” or “The humble zucchini!” but gets excited when he hears his own name, he’s probably pretty smart.

New Tricks: Before you begin teaching your dog tricks, make sure he understands the basic obedience commands. That said, when training Fido, keep track of how long it takes him to learn new things. 

Paw Pads: These are fairly new, but they very well might be game-changers! Give them a try and see how Fido reacts.

Puzzles: Giving your canine partner puzzle toys is another good way to test his intelligence. Offer Fido a treat that can only be received by manipulating the toy in a specific manner. Another option is to conceal food beneath a cup.

Of course, you may also end up realizing that your adorable pet isn’t exactly the brightest bulb in the box. But don’t worry! Even if Fido isn’t exactly a furry, four-legged intellectual, his endearing personality and unwavering loyalty will more than compensate!

Which Dog Is Considered the Smartest?

While every dog is different, Fido’s IQ is definitely influenced by his breed. Several investigations and experiments have been undertaken on this topic. Though the order may change slightly, the same puppies consistently end up at the top.

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

Becoming A Pet Changed Fido

According to new research, dogs may have lost some of their natural intelligence when they became pets. For instance, one study clearly demonstrated that dingoes perform better than house dogs in problem-solving. 

Another study showed that pet dogs often look at a nearby person when they are faced with a difficult problem. However, wolves do not do this. 

Who Are The Most Clever Dogs In The World?

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

Two Border Collies are at the very top of the list. Chaser is up first. This incredible pooch learned the names of approximately 1,000 different things! Wofford College included the smart pup in its training curriculum. Rico, another Border Collie, was making waves with his intelligence even before Chaser arrived. Rico knew more than 200 words!

However, Chaser and Rico aren’t actually the champions here. Another animal is taking center stage, leaving the two canines to play supporting parts. It turns out that a little bird could be the smartest pet ever. A Budgie named Puck learned over 1700 words.

Rico and Chaser are not the only dogs who possess exceptional intelligence. 

Check out these more “pawesome” puppies:

Fellow: Jacob Herbert adored this German Shepherd puppy! Herbert was so pleased by his puppy’s intelligence that he taught him 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 forces during World War II. The brave dog, originally from St. John’s, Newfoundland, was well-known for constantly charging directly 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 protect them.

Colonel: Charles Kestler, the proprietor of the Merchants’ Hotel, had this extraordinary Denver dog.  Kestler kept Colonel’s favorite ball in his desk drawer. One day, the pup sat by the desk, hoping someone would play with him. When no one took the hint, the stubborn Colonel decided to unlock the drawer by himself. This entailed crawling beneath and behind the desk, standing on his back legs, and pushing it open!

What Are The Dumbest Dogs In The World?

Let’s be clear: we adore all of our canine patients. Not every dog needs to know how to fetch certain items or follow sophisticated commands to be a great pet and companion! But, in case you’re curious, we also 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, these puppies are Very Good Boys who, like other dogs, require praise, affection, and belly rubs. However, if your furry companion is on this list—or just isn’t the smartest tool in the shed in general—take extra precautions with petproofing and safety. Ask your Urbana, IL veterinarian for more information.

Schedule an Appointment at Your Wichita, Kansas Animal Clinic

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

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