Have you ever wondered why some dogs are easier to train than others?
Does it have anything to do with intelligence?
One of the most popular and best-known studies in the field of dog breed intelligence is Stanley Coren’s “The Intelligence of Dogs.”
Dog Intelligence Ranking
The intelligence of dogs is a very broad term and has been the subject of many studies and much research. A dogs intelligence is generally defined as the ability of a dog to think, learn and solve various problems.
In the past, most studies of animal intelligence were focused on observation of behavior, based on the famous Pavlov’s dog experiments. Today there are numerous tests and researches which study the subject of intelligence in dogs in detail. Certainly one of the most popular and recognized research in this field is “The Intelligence of Dogs” by Stanley Coren.
When the book first came out in 1994, there were a lot of negative commentaries and bad media attention. Particularly controversial was Coren’s list of the smartest dog breeds. But the methodology he used in ranking the breeds become accepted and valid over the years.
There are three types of intelligence according to Coren’s book:
- Adaptive – learning and problem-solving ability, which is individual and measured by canine IQ tests.
- Instinctive – also individual and measured by canine IQ tests.
- Working intelligence – also called obedience intelligence, which depends on the breed.
Coren published a number of other books and studies on dog behavior and psychology, and he concluded that dogs could solve complex problems and are more like humans and other higher primates than previously thought. According to his studies, dogs know how to count, understand more than 150 words and may deliberately deceive other dogs and people to get treats. His research showed that dog intelligence is at the level of a two-year child.
Studies also showed that dogs by observing could learn: where is the valuable object (eg. a treat), the shortest routes in the environment (eg. The fastest way to a favorite spot), how to handle simple devices (such as latches) and the meaning of words and their symbols (just by listening to the speech of people and by watching their actions).
Dog Intelligence List
If you want to know which dog breeds are the smartest, here is a list of the smartest dog breeds, based on Coren’s “The Intelligence of Dogs“. And if you want to check your dog’s IQ by yourself, there is a lot of interesting games and questionnaires at Dognition to test your dog.
We must emphasize that this study has its drawbacks. It did not cover all known types of dogs, however it did cover 130 breeds. Many new races and crossbreeds were omitted.
Here is Coren’s list of the smartest dogs ranked dogs by working and obedience intelligence in six categories:
CATEGORY 1: BRIGHTEST DOGS
5 or Less Repetitions Required to Understand New Commands:
- Border collie
- Standard Poodle
- German Shepherd
- Golden Retriever
- Doberman Pinscher
- Shetland Sheepdog
- Labrador Retriever
- Australian Cattle Dog
CATEGORY 2: EXCELLENT WORKING DOGS
5-15 Repetitions Required to Understand New Commands:
- Pembroke Welsh Corgi
- Miniature Schnauzer
- English Springer Spaniel
- Belgian Shepherd Dog (Tervuren)
- Schipperke, Belgian Sheepdog
- Collie, Keeshond
- German Shorthaired Pointer
- Flat-Coated Retriever, English Cocker Spaniel, Standard Schnauzer
- Cocker Spaniel
- Belgian Malinois, Bernese Mountain Dog
- Irish Water Spaniel
- Cardigan Welsh Corgi
CATEGORY 3: ABOVE AVERAGE WORKING DOGS
15-25 Repetitions Required to Understand New Commands:
- Chesapeake Bay Retriever
- Giant Schnauzer
Portuguese Water Dog
- Airedale Terrier
Bouvier des Flandres
- Border Terrier
- Welsh Springer Spaniel
- Manchester Terrier
- Field Spaniel
American Staffordshire Terrier
- Cairn Terrier
Kerry Blue Terrier
- Norwegian Elkhound
Australian Silky Terrier
- Norwich Terrier
CATEGORY 4: AVERAGE WORKING/OBEDIENCE INTELLIGENCE
25-40 Repetitions Required to Understand New Commands:
- Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier
Fox Terrier (Smooth)
- Curly Coated Retriever
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
German Wirehaired Pointer
Black and Tan Coonhound
American Water Spaniel
- Siberian Husky
King Charles Spaniel
- Tibetan Spaniel
Jack Russell Terrier
Wirehaired Pointing Griffon
- West Highland White Terrier
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
- Alaskan Malamute
Chinese Shar Pei
Wire Fox Terrier
- Rhodesian Ridgeback
- Ibizan Hound
- Boston Terrier
CATEGORY 5: FAIR WORKING/OBEDIENCE INTELLIGENCE
40-80 Repetitions Required to Understand New Commands:
- Skye Terrier
- Norfolk Terrier
- French Bulldog
- Griffon Bruxellois
- Italian Greyhound
Coton de Tulear
- Chinese Crested
- Dandie Dinmont Terrier
Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen
- Old English Sheepdog
- Great Pyrenees
- Scottish Terrier
- Bull Terrier
- Lhasa Apso
CATEGORY 6: LOWEST DEGREE OF WORKING/OBEDIENCE INTELLIGENCE
80-100 Repetitions Required to Understand New Commands:
- Shih Tzu
- Basset Hound
- Chow Chow
- Afghan Hound
If your canine is not ranked so well, don’t give up easily. Remember that Coren’s list of the smartest dogs is mostly based on a dog´s willingness to accept training. Just like people, some dogs learn faster, and some dogs need more patience and persistence.
With proper technique and the right kind of motivation, whether it’s treats, petting, or praise you shouldn’t have any issues training your dog.
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A lover of animals, peace and quiet, and reading. When Fern is not working she will be engrossed in a Fiction book or drooling over the idea of going out for dinner. Fern is strangely fond of Vampire movies.