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In his book Dr. Coren states there are three types of intelligence in dogs:
Adaptive Intelligence (learning and problem-solving ability). This is specific to the individual animal and is measured by canine IQ tests.
Instinctive Intelligence. This is specific to the individual animal and is measured by canine IQ tests.
Working/Obedience Intelligence. This is breed dependent.
When writing the book the doctor took a survey of dog trainers and created a matrix showing which is the most intelligent breed of dog down to the least intelligent. These were based on how many times a dog completed a command and how quickly they understood a new command. Dr. Coren has the Border Collie ranked #1, making him the most intelligent dog and the Afghan Hound as #79 or last on his list. I guess you really don’t have to be smart when you are beautiful!
I am not a neurophysiologist and the only thing I have published are these local shelter articles but I have been associated with any number of dogs and their level of intelligence is not something you can so easily classify. Yes, Dr. Coren gives himself some wiggle room by theorizing that intelligence is dependent on the dog in his first two hypothesis but I do see some flaws in his third.
I have a Coonhound puppy. His breed is listed as #44 on the intelligence list; number 44 out of 79 so not the smartest dog. While I agree that he is not the calmest or quietist, the jury is still out on his level of intelligence. I will give you an example. The pup is going through house breaking training with the usual successes and failures any puppy has, but this pup has given this process some thought. He has discovered that if he has to go and doesn’t want to wait or can’t interest a human into letting him out, he can climb over the baby gate into the cat room, poop by the litter box and he doesn’t get into trouble. How can I be mad at him? It must have crossed his mind at some point that the cats poo in a box, the humans poo in a bowl, so why does he need to go outside to poo? I can’t really tell him he is bad for going there when I tell the cats they’re bad when they don’t.
Canine intelligence is not something that we can easily measure. It does have some correlation to breed and breeding, as there is a difference. What’s done with the baseline intelligence also factors in, such as how much correct training the dog has, how many owners he goes through and how bored he is allowed to get. A bored dog can do some stupid stuff.
So while I appreciate Dr. Coren for his effort and insight and I think he has it almost right; I think I will stick to the thrill of discovery while learning how intelligent my dogs are, because if they are too dumb to learn a command it usually means I’m too lazy to teach them.