Brainy Breeds: Measuring Canine Intelligence
When it comes to canine intelligence, most dog owners have anecdotal evidence as to why their dogs are at the top of the class. While we certainly believe you, there are some breeds that have been determined to have a greater capacity for learning and performing tasks.
Whether it’s herding large flocks of sheep or becoming a certified assistance dog, their ability to learn quickly and respond to human cues have made canines indispensable companions.
So what makes a dog smart, and is there more to canine intelligence than meets the eye?
Measuring Canine Intelligence
Man’s best friend has coexisted with us for nearly 20 thousand years in a symbiotic relationship that benefits both humans and dogs alike. From providing protection to assisting with hunting, dogs have been instrumental in helping to shape hunter-gatherer and agrarian cultures.
Over the past several decades, the study of canine intelligence has identified three distinct types:
- Instinctive – the behaviors the dog was bred to perform
- Adaptive – the ability to adapt to surroundings and learn new skills
- Working – what we closely associate with obedience training and other skills that are taught and reinforced
Historically, the American Kennel Club has been the leading authority on judging canine intelligence by breed – particularly in the area of working or obedience skills. Most research defines intelligence in dogs as the ability to learn and solve problems, as well as obey commands.
Now, however, we’re considering a wider range of social intelligence factors that help dogs live successfully among their packs and even their human family members.
Getting back to the traditional view of canine intelligence as instinctive, adaptive, and working, the following breeds have topped the charts for the past several decades:
- Border collie
- Golden retriever
- German Shepherd
- Doberman pinscher
- Labrador retriever
- Shetland sheepdog
Beyond Basic Intelligence
If your clever canine didn’t make the grade, don’t worry. There are many factors that determine what we perceive as intelligence. After all, doesn’t your dog seem to intuitively know when you’ve had a bad day and need snuggles?
Another thing to keep in mind is the importance of training. If you want to reinforce your dog’s skills, there are several trick training videos online, along with other forms of canine training videos. There are also tests you can give your dog to determine basic intelligence (all in good fun of course!).
No matter where your pet falls on the spectrum of smarts, we believe every dog is one in a million and deserves the best life possible. What we value most is their capacity for loyalty, service, and unconditional love.
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Schertz Animal Hospital
Since 1976, Schertz Animal Hospital has offered the greater San Antonio area outstanding pet care. Our state-of-the-art animal hospital in Schertz, TX compliments our stress-free handling and experienced veterinary staff. Make an appointment online or give us a call at (210) 659-0345 today!