The intelligence of dogs?

Fascinating article in the UK’s Daily Telegraph newspaper.

This post was written last Monday in the hope that I will be back home from my ‘op’ by today, or more accurately expressed as hoping I was back home yesterday.

Friend, Chris Snuggs, sent me an item that appeared in The Daily Telegraph about measuring the intelligence of your dog.  Here’s how it opened:

Quiz: how intelligent is your dog?

Take our special test to gauge your pet’s brainpower

Canine brains: test your dog's intelligence Photo: Alamy
Canine brains: test your dog’s intelligence Photo: Alamy

By Andrew Bake

7:00AM BST 25 Oct 2014

We all love our dogs. They repay us with affection, loyalty, fun and amusement, and we boast of their beauty, athletic prowess and impeccable behaviour. But while we can subtly promote our own academic achievements, and hint heavily at the brightness of our children, it is hard to prove – really prove, beyond reasonable doubt – that our canine companions are as intelligent as we know in our hearts they must be.

There is no doubt that some breeds are more intelligent than others, the result – as so much else about dogs – of selective breeding for many generations. But human classification and stereotyping of breeds has also evolved – not always fairly – and there are exceptions within breeds. So it is perfectly possible for an ostensibly airheaded Chihuahua to perform very well in intelligence tests, while a supposedly sagacious German shepherd will fail to distinguish “sit” from “fetch”.

Behaviour that seems to demonstrate intelligence in dogs is often the result of a combination of breeding and intense training. It is often suggested that Border collies are outstandingly bright, and that may be so: but they have been bred for generations to respond rapidly to complex commands; and sheepdogs – the rock stars of the obedience world – are trained from puppyhood, in many cases at the side of their parents.

Andrew Bake closes his piece, thus:

So how can we arrive at a reasonable estimation of our dog’s mental abilities? The Telegraph canine intelligence test combines observation of the subject’s regular behaviours, some of which may have been influenced by training, habituation and what might loosely be termed upbringing, with a series of simple staged exercises which attempt to measure the dog’s ability to think sequentially and to respond to challenges.

Putting the scores from the two together will produce a fair estimate of general intelligence: good enough, at least, to boast about in the park.

No special equipment is needed — though patience, a new dog-toy and a supply of dog-treats will undoubtedly come in handy.

Then at the bottom of the article is a link ‘Let’s Play‘ that takes you to the test questions.


4 thoughts on “The intelligence of dogs?

  1. Delighted to say that the surgical procedure was undertaken as meant to be and I was back home yesterday evening by 6pm. For the fellas who read this, the procedure was the removal, using a laser cutter, of excess tissue from a BPE, a benign prostatic enlargement.

    When I am in front of a proper keyboard later on this morning, I will type up more details of what took place.


    1. Should have added, bearing in mind the title of today’s post, including details of how intuitive the dogs were towards me. Both when I left for the hospital at 9:15 and when I returned in the evening. Incredible, wonderful creatures!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.