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Dog intelligence: how smart are the four-legged friends?


Answering the question about dog intelligence is difficult. Dogs cannot be measured against human standards or compared to humans because they are simply different. Still, scientists think dogs are as smart as human toddlers. How does that come? This smart guy listens carefully - Shutterstock / Gladskikh Tatiana

If dogs follow their owner carefully, listen to him and learn quickly, they are considered smart. But dog intelligence - like human intelligence - is far more complex than mere learning ability. We humans can recognize these, but the hidden potential of the four-legged friends remains invisible to us.

Dog Intelligence: An Underrated Talent?

The American dog researcher and psychologist Stanley Coren has dealt extensively with dog intelligence and tried to measure it. He differentiates between so-called instinctive and adaptive intelligence as well as work and obedience intelligence. The instinctive dog intelligence is the innate potential of the dog, the adaptive intelligence describes the learned skills of the four-legged friend.

The work and obedience intelligence, on the other hand, describes how well a dog works with its human, obeys it and learns certain tasks that are not necessary for its survival. Coren tried to systematically record these and to see whether some dog breeds were extremely smart compared to their peers. For this purpose, he asked dog trainers in more than 1,000 dog clubs in the USA about their experiences and assessments on the subject of dog intelligence. The result: In Coren's opinion, dogs are as smart as two-and-a-half-year-olds in terms of their learning ability.

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These dog breeds are considered particularly smart

In the course of his study, Coren compiled a ranking list of the dog breeds that he considered to be extraordinarily clever and those that did not do so well in terms of obedience. The Border Collie is the most intelligent, closely followed by the poodle and the German Shepherd. Fourth place goes to the family-friendly Golden Retriever and then comes the Doberman. The scientist classified the Afghan hound and the Basenji as less clever. The English Bulldog also did not cut a good figure in its study on dog intelligence.

However, it must be emphasized that this only affects the ability to learn in the form of obedience that is visible to people. The dog breeds that appear "stupid" may be particularly smart in the area of ‚Äč‚Äčinstinctive and adaptive dog intelligence. They may understand what people want from them, but may not feel like doing the job. The main thing is a harmonious friendship between humans and dogs.


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