Study: Sit, Shake . . . Count!? Dogs Show Surprising Levels of Intelligence
Dogs may be smarter than most people give them credit for! Leading canine researcher and psychologist Stanley Coren, Ph.D. spoke about "How Dogs Think" at the American Psychological Association's 117th annual convention.
According to Coren, dogs can count, learn over 150 words, and intentionally deceive people and other dogs to get treats! He rates their mental abilities as similar to a 2-2.5 year old child.
"We all want insight into how our furry companions think, and we want to understand the silly, quirky and apparently irrational behaviors [that] Lassie or Rover demonstrate," said Coren in an interview. "Their stunning flashes of brilliance and creativity are reminders that they may not be Einsteins but are sure closer to humans than we thought."
Most Intelligent Dog Breeds
Dogs are ranked on three types of intelligence: instinctive, which is breed-based; adaptive, or how well the dog adjusts to environment; and working and obedience, which is similar to "school learning." Breed plays a large role in working and obedience intelligence, and data from 208 dog obedience judges ranked the various breeds. Starting with most intelligent, results are:
- Border Collie
- German Shepherd
- Golden Retriever
- Shetland Sheepdog
- Labrador Retriever
The least intelligent dogs in terms of obedience and working were of the hound variety.
What Your Dog Knows
In studies, the average dog was found to be able to learn 165 words, and those super smart dogs in the top 20 percent could actually learn up to 250 words.
A Border Collie named Rico demonstrated a type of fast-track learning that was before thought to exist only in humans and language-learning apes. He also showed knowledge of over 200 words. Coren also found that some dogs can count to four or five, and will notice errors in simple arithmetic, such as 1+1=3.
Besides this, dogs also have spatial knowledge, such as an ability to find the fastest path to a favorite chair, learning and remembering the location of valued treats and toys, understanding how to operate simple mechanisms such as latches, and understanding the meaning of certain words and symbols, often through watching or listening. During play, dogs are able to deceive other dogs in order to get something they want, such as a treat or a toy.
AND said Coren, don't be fooled. While the dog may be man's best friend, they can definitely play us too. In fact, "“they are nearly as successful in deceiving humans as humans are in deceiving dogs.”