What is the Smartest Breed of Dog?

atkins-bookshelf-triviaMan has been living and working with dogs for more than 14,000 years. Today, there are an estimated 525 million dogs living on the planet alongside more than 7.2 billion people. Despite his long association with dogs, man’s understanding of dogs is contradictory (the dog is considered precious or a nuisance; the dog is loved or feared; and so forth), complex, and incomplete. Specifically, how a dog thinks remains a mystery. Do dogs have intelligence? Do they have consciousness? Can they problem-solve like a human? Most dog trainers have opinions about how certain breeds are more intelligent than others; and some breeds have limited intelligence. Psychologist and dog expert, Stanley Coren, believes that people are using the wrong terms: “Such people are using the word intelligence to mean trainability, and their assessments have to do with working or obedience intelligence.” So the question needs to be reframed: do dog breeds differ in their working and obedience intelligence? So to answer that question, Coren surveyed more than 208 dog experts (obedience judges from the American and Canadian Kennel Clubs) and asked them to rank the breeds according to their level of working and and obedience intelligence. The results of the survey appear below:

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

One border collie exhibited some remarkable working intelligence — in 2007, Chaser, owned by Alliston Reid and John Pilley of South Carolina, demonstrated that he knew the distinct names of 1,022 objects (more than 100 plastic items, 26 Frisbees, 116 balls, and 800 cloth animals). Now that’s one smart dog (with very patient and capable dog trainers)! After flexing his mental muscles, Chaser has enrolled in SAT-prep classes hoping to land a scholarship to attend a dog-eat-dog college.

Read related posts: Best Movies for Dog Lovers
Best Dog Novels
Epitaph to a Dog

For further reading: The Intelligence of Dogs: Canine Consciousness and Capabilities by Stanley Coren, Free Press (1994)

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