How smart are dogs?
Renowned dog scientist: – We have underestimated them.
For millennials, dogs have been humans’ best friend, and not without reason. The species is uniquely intelligent and has a staggering ability to understand us and cooperate with us.
But how smart are they really?
The challenges of measuring a dog’s intelligence
It is hard to define a dog’s smartness on a general basis because there are several sides to what can be defined as intelligence. Practical intelligence and intuitive intelligence are two completely different types of smartness; however, they are typical dog traits.
No Einstein, but...
Dr Stanley Coren is a renowned dog expert. He graduated from the British-Colombia University and has since published several top-selling dog books.
He has done throughout analyses and research as he studied the dog’s intelligence. His findings have proved that dogs are a lot smarter than we think.
“We all want insight into how our furry companions think, and we want to understand the silly, quirky and apparently irrational behaviours [that] Lassie or Rover demonstrate”.
“Their stunning flashes of brilliance and creativity are reminders that they may not be Einsteins but are sure closer to humans than we thought”, Coren has previously stated in a press release.
5 facts about dog’s intelligence:
- They can understand more than 150 words
- They can count
- They can solve complex tasks
- They have the brain capacity of a two-year-old human child
Different kinds of intelligence
There is more than one type of intelligence, and according to Coren, among dogs, there are three prevailing types to consider.
1: Working and obedience
This type of intelligence applies to the dog’s ability to receive information and perform practical work based on the information received.
This is the intelligence dogs are born with. However, it often varies within breeds due to different type of breeders.
The dog’s ability to adapt to new situations and environmental challenges.
Top 10 work intelligent dog breeds
Work intelligence is the most accessible form of intelligence to study. You can easily judge a dog’s obedience and ability to learn new commands and task solving. Like in this instance, a dog doing yoga:
In a study conducted in the USA, 208 professional dog competition judges got the task of ranging different dog breeds based on their intelligence. According to the results, these are the top ten most work intelligent dog breeds:
1: Border Collie
3: German Shepherd
4: Golden Retriever
6: Shetland Sheepdog
7: Labrador Retriever
Dogs can understand more words than you think!
If you doubt whether or not dogs are intelligent, maybe this will help persuade you into believing; dogs can learn on average 165 words!
According to Coren, a dog can, on average, learn to understand about 165 words. However, some of the most intelligent dogs can learn to understand more than 250 words. The most conspicuous example is a Border Collie named Chaser, who learned the name for more than a thousand toys.
Witness the miraculous Chaser in action here:
Understands simple mathematics
Dogs cannot calculate the answer to the great challenges of the universe; however, they can count.
According to Coren, dogs can count to four or five.
A study done by students at the University of Emory proved that dogs have the mental capacity to recognize quantities. For example, the number of dogs in the dog park or treats in their owner’s hand.
In the end
Many dog owners have tried to convince other people that their four-legged family member is intelligent. Now, there is evidence to back this up.
Dogs are intelligent creatures with the ability to learn words, solve tasks and see the bigger picture. Their mental capacity could be compared to a human child at 2 years of age. For a pet, that is pretty impressive.
The degree of smartness varies between breeds, and even within the breeds themselves. Either way, one should not underestimate how much a dog understands. They are surprisingly bright.
The understanding we have of our dog’s intelligence isn’t just fascinating; it is also something we need to better understand the dog. By better understanding how they work, we can improve their quality of life.
For example, a border collie will need a lot of stimuli to thrive. They are dogs that have extraordinary abilities that need attention to become a resource for us.
This also applies to all other dog breeds. To thrive, they need stimuli, and the more we teach them, the more we learn about them.