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the 'smartest' dog breeds, according to a canine psychologist

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Boronia   

 
Westies are waaaaay down the list
...sigh
Allure Media
 

Here are the 'smartest' dog breeds, according to a canine psychologist

 
Jan 27, 2017, 5:19 AM
 
Border collie
 

There’s no easy way to rate dog intelligence.

As canine psychologist Stanley Coren wrote back in the 90s, there’s adaptive intelligence (i.e., figuring stuff out), working intelligence (i.e., following orders), and instinctive intelligence (i.e., innate talent) — not to mention spatial intelligence, kinesthetic intelligence, interpersonal intelligence, and more.

Indeed, as animal behaviorist Frans de Waal has argued, humans tend to judge animal intelligence in limited and unfair terms and often bungle the experiment.

While labs at Yale, Duke, and around the world are studying this question, for now we do at least have data on one metric: working intelligence.

Coren, in his book, “The Intelligence of Dogs,” featured the results of a lengthy survey of 199 dog obedience judges. The responses, he said, were remarkably consistent; however, he noted that many judges pointed out that there are exceptions in every breed and that a lot comes down to training.

Here’s what he found:

TOP TIER — the brightest working dogs, who tend to learn a new command in less than five seconds and obey at least 95% of the time.

 

Border collie obedience
 
Dan KitwoodA border collie shows how it’s done.

1. Border collie

2. Poodle

3. German shepherd

4. Golden retriever

5. Doberman pinscher

6. Shetland sheepdog

7. Labrador retriever

8. Papillon

9. Rottweiler

10. Australian cattle dog

SECOND TIER — excellent working dogs, who tend to learn a new command in 5 — 15 exposures and obey at least 85% of the time.

 

Welch corgi pembroke
 
Pmuths1956 on Wikimedia CommonsDon’t underestimate the small Pembroke Welsh corgi.

11. Pembroke Welsh corgi

12. Miniature schnauzer

13. English springer spaniel

14. Belgian Tervuren

15. Schipperke, Belgian sheepdog

16. Collie Keeshond

17. German short-haired pointer

18. Flat-coated retriever, English cocker spaniel, Standard schnauzer

19. Brittany spaniel

20. Cocker spaniel, Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever

21. Weimaraner

22. Belgian Malinois, Bernese mountain dog

23. Pomeranian

24. Irish water spaniel

25. Vizsla

26. Cardigan Welsh corgi

THIRD TIER — above-average working dogs, who tend to learn a new trick in 15 — 25 repetitions and obey at least 70% of the time.

27. Chesapeake Bay retriever, Puli, Yorkshire terrier

28. Giant schnauzer, Portuguese water dog

29. Airedale, Bouvier des FLandres

30. Border terrier, Briard

31. Welsh springer spaniel

32. Manchester terrier

33. Samoyed

34. Field spaniel, Newfoundland, Australian terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, Gordon setter, Bearded collie

35. American Eskimo dog, Cairn terrier, Kerry blue terrier, Irish setter

36. Norwegian elkhound

37. Affenpinscher, Silky terrier, Miniature pinscher, English setter, Pharaoh hound, Clumber spaniel

38. Norwich terrier

39. Dalmatian

FOURTH TIER — average working dogs, who tend to learn a new trick in 25 — 40 repetitions and obey at least 50% of the time.

 

image.jpg
 
ShutterstockThe soft-coated wheater terrier is about average at following orders.

40. Soft-coated wheaten terrier, Bedlington terrier, Smooth-haired fox terrier

41. Curly-coated retriever, Irish wolfhound

42. Kuvasz, Australian shepherd

43. Saluki, Finnish Spitz, Pointer

44. Cavalier King Charles spaniel, German wirehaired pointer, Black-and-tan coonhound, American water spaniel

45. Siberian husky, Bichon frise, English toy spaniel

46. Tibetan spaniel, English foxhound, Otterhound, American foxhound, Greyhound, Harrier, Parson Russel terrier, Wirehaired pointing griffon

47. West Highland white terrier, Havanese, Scottish deerhound

48. Boxer, Great Dane

49. Dachschund, Staffordshire bull terrier, Shiba Inu

50. Malamute

51. Whippet, Chinese shar-pei, Wirehaired fox terrier

52. Rhodesian ridgeback

53. Ibizan hound, Welsh terrier, Irish terrier

54. Boston terrier, Akita

 

FIFTH TIER — fair working dogs, who tend to learn a new trick in 40 — 80 repetitions and respond about 40% of the time.

 

Skye terrier
 
Stephanie Keith / GettyIt’s not easy to win an obedience trial with a Skye terrier.

55. Skye terrier

56. Norfolk terrier, Sealyham terrier

57. Pug

58. French bulldog

59. Brussels griffon, Maltese terrier

60. Italian greyhound

61. Chinese crested

62. Dandie Dinmont terrier, Vendeen, Tibetan terrier, Japanese chin, Lakeland terrier

63. Old English sheepdog

64. Great Pyrenees

65. Scottish terrier, Saint Bernard

66. Bull terrier, Petite Basset Griffon, Vendeen

67. Chihuahua

68. Lhasa apso

69. Bullmastiff

 

SIXTH TIER — the least effective working dogs, who may learn a new trick after more than 100 repetitions and obey around 30% of the time.

 

Afghan hound
 
ShutterstockThe Afghan hound doesn’t care what you want.

70. Shuh Tzu

71. Basset hound

72. Mastiff, beagle

73. Pekingese

74. Bloodhound

75. Borzoi

76. Chow chow

77. Bulldog

78. Basenji

79. Afghan hound

There are, again, exceptions. Coren talks in his book about a trainer who managed to win obedience competitions with multiple Staffordshire bull terriers (#49).

There are also, again, other ways of measuring intelligence.

Coren tells us about a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever (#20) he owned that was in some ways too smart for competitions. “He was so bright and attentive that he read my every motion, head turn, and even the direction that I was looking with my eyes, as a command,” he writes by email. “That made him very difficult to compete with in obedience trials, since, for instance, a glance with my eyes in the direction of the high jump might be interpreted by him as a command and that would send him off, taking the jump beautifully of course, but nonetheless disqualifying us from that round of competition.”

De Waal, in “Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?” spoke in defence of the Afghan hound (#79), noting that they may not be unintelligent but rather independent-mined, stubborn, and unwilling to follow orders.

“Afghans,” he wrote, “are perhaps more like cats, which are not beholden to anyone.”

 
 

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I never get very worried over studies like these because I personally don't see the point of labelling different breeds as intelligent or not. What they always fail to take into consideration is the individual purpose of each breed, which of course will dictate its ability to learn.

 

Those breeds in the lower tiers deemed as the least effective working dogs are mostly hounds, who would normally work independently. In my eyes, why would a dog bred for independence need to learn a trick quickly as their jobs don't rely on following directions from a human.

 

Terriers are another lot. In my experience, terriers are definitely NOT stupid by any means and in fact are far smarter than a border collie IMO. A BC will just do what it's told whereas a terrier will question why it should do something. I always think a BC would jump off a cliff because it was told to, whereas a terrier would look at you with a head tilt as if saying "why would I want to do that?"

 

In any case, I'm a sucker for a terrier and would choose a dog with attitude and question everything over one who would blindly follow whatever it was told any day!! :rasberry: 

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My Aussie and Std Poodle must be exceptions to the list then... This list puts Poodles at #2 and Aussies #42... swap those positions around and you have my dogs. My Aussie is exceptionally smart and extremely quick to learn... My Poodle although smart, takes a lot longer to piece things together.

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asal   

Yes , an impossible task, so many variables.

 

my favorite working dog was my friend Les Ellery's kelpie.

 

he had put an injured filly in a separate paddock so it would be easier to catch and clean her wounds twice a  day..

 

each time he would send his kelpie to bring her into the yards.

 

except day 3 she was in the far corner under the tree, other side of the fence was the main herd .  she flatly refused to leave the herd.  The kelpie looked to Les for orders.

 

Les meanwhile was rolling with laughter at the dogs predicament.

 

he said his dog gave him a totally disgusted look and it was as if he shurgged his shoulders, tossed Les's order to bring her in and instead jumped the fence and brought the entire mob up along the fenceline to the stockyards.

 

meanwhile the filly now all alone, followed along the fence and also arrived at the stockyards.  Dog leapt the fence, drove her the last feet through the open gate and sat in the gateway looking fiercely at Les. Les said his message unmistakable

 

NOW!  GET YOU SORRY ASS OVER HERE AND SHUT THE GATE!

 

Wonder how the scientists would rate that, in Australia its called initiative and our working dogs have it in spades

 

 

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5 hours ago, Boronia said:

 

“Afghans,” he wrote, “are perhaps more like cats, which are not beholden to anyone.”

 

Such ratings are subjective and  aren't worth a lot . . . though I confess, when I was a kid, there used to be an Afghan hound who followed his kids to the bus stop.  It wasn't really his name, but he answered to 'Stupid' . .. and he did live up to the name.  At least he was smart enough to make it home from the bus stop.

Not being beholden to humans could be regarded as a sign of intelligence.

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RuralPug   

Initiative and problem solving are my personal markers for intelligence. This study merely measures an eagerness to cooperate with an ability to learn and remember commands. 

I would rate a dog who learns by itself to lift a latch and raid a pantry as more intelligent than the winner of an obedience competition who starves to death loyally at their dead master's side rather than open a cupboard or go out of the doggy door and alert the neighbours to a problem. 

A well trained dog often says more about the trainer (and their willingness to experiment to find the motivational trigger for individual dogs) than about the breed. 
Case in point: see a clicker trained alpaca here.

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Roova   

I'd love to see more information about the 'study'.  How many of each breed were tested, have they all been exposed to learning at the same rate, how much experience do the owners have in training etc. I've been shaping with my Border Terrier from eight weeks and she loves throwing new behaviours out and easily remembers what we've learnt previously.  I would say she's instantly obedient 95% of the time.  My Frenchie tries really hard if treats are involved but doesn't care for learning so much lol.

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Scratch   

Ha I'll never understand why people want 'smart' dogs as per this type of test. Who wants to live with an animal that it always several steps ahead of you and practically reads your mind! 

 

My heart breed will always be the Chows because they're too 'stupid' to bother chasing anything they can't eat and too 'stupid' to be willing to learn pointless tricks or perform for anyone.....which for me actually adds up to a pretty darn smart animal 

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juice   

i'd take my dumb dog anyday, being a terrier she wants to know whats in it for her first.

i have no interest in a dog who wants me to throw a ball allday and looks at me waiting for me to instruct it.

i would rather laugh everyday because why go around something when you can barge straight through it.

Edited by juice
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Maddy   

Rating intelligence on how willing a dog is to obey a command seems like a pretty average way of going about it. We certainly wouldn't attempt to rate a human's intelligence by how willing they are to learn silly tricks and to do them when ordered to. 

Many sighthounds do very badly on these tests but, as has been pointed out over and over again whenever this sort of "study" gets done, breed purpose impacts biddability and arguably, a dog that must direct its own activities and solve problems without a human is probably more intelligent than a dog that works under, and relies on, human command.

I'd say about 95% of the greyhounds I've had would not obey commands to "earn" food rewards. They know they'll get fed dinner anyway so there's no need to waste valuable energy doing pointless tasks for tidbits. When it suits them, they can manage to do much more interesting things than just sitting on command and to be honest, I sometimes wish they were a bit dumber so that I wouldn't have to be constantly fixing and changing things to keep the dogs out of them. 

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BDJ   

sometimes trainability and obedience dont equate to intelligence

 

many years ago had a Sheltie who had no formal obedience training - therefore had no 'stay' command training (as in - when told to stay that means dont break position regardless of weather or distractions etc).  Was used to being groomed on a table, but that was all.    One day she was being groomed on an outside table when a thunderstorm hit.  Stopped grooming and ran inside.  Looked out 2 mins later and she was still standing on the table in the pouring rain.   That to me made her dumb (as in no independent thought)

 

I think as a trainability register it has some value - but smart???.

 

 

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10 hours ago, mingaling said:

Ha I'll never understand why people want 'smart' dogs as per this type of test. Who wants to live with an animal that it always several steps ahead of you and practically reads your mind! 

 

My heart breed will always be the Chows because they're too 'stupid' to bother chasing anything they can't eat and too 'stupid' to be willing to learn pointless tricks or perform for anyone.....which for me actually adds up to a pretty darn smart animal 

Omg it's so much easier to live with dumb dogs than smart ones!

 

My Shetland Sheepdog is definitely not smarter than my Aussie Shepherd :laugh:

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15 hours ago, RuralPug said:

Initiative and problem solving are my personal markers for intelligence. This study merely measures an eagerness to cooperate with an ability to learn and remember commands. 

I would rate a dog who learns by itself to lift a latch and raid a pantry as more intelligent than the winner of an obedience competition who starves to death loyally at their dead master's side rather than open a cupboard or go out of the doggy door and alert the neighbours to a problem. 

A well trained dog often says more about the trainer (and their willingness to experiment to find the motivational trigger for individual dogs) than about the breed. 
Case in point: see a clicker trained alpaca here.

Definitely agree with this. I'm fascinated watching the differences between how my foster dog and my own female work when they want to get through a barrier - the foster girl can jump pretty high but that's all she has, so she has jumped over the gate and an interior barrier but when I put in a new higher interior barrier (folding lattice) she decided she couldn't jump it and gave up.

 

My girl, who is smaller and either can't jump as high or doesn't want to bother has realised that the latch at the top of the gate is what holds it shut and focuses on trying to reach that, and she figured out in less than a minute that if she pawed from the side of the lattice barrier she could fold it to make a gap she could get through.

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Maddy   
3 hours ago, juice said:

i just found out there is a "like" button! always wanted one!

I noticed today that Troy made the avatar pictures square again. It made me so happy :o

edit.. wtf is with the emojis though. That's not the little pink one :mad

Edited by Maddy
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I admit I don't rate what that study rates as "smart dog"...

 

smartest dogs I know - are training their owners... and can get their owner to obey a new command in less than 5 trials, and obey 100% of the time...

 

Evil hound learns stuff very fast but is entirely into owner training when it comes to how likely she is to "show off" what she knows.

 

Or then there is the dog (owner trainer again) that just performs a tonne of cute stuff to cue their owner...

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On 30/01/2017 at 11:06 PM, Papillon Kisses said:

Anyone else read this:

 

 

 

 

As Labradors instead of laboratories? :laugh:

Yes!!! I was going to quote it and say the same thing, then noticed you already had :laugh:

 

I read it and pictured labradors running the tests and apparently my mind decided it was a satirical piece of writing. Then I realised it wasn't! 

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2 hours ago, DeltaCharlie said:

Yes!!! I was going to quote it and say the same thing, then noticed you already had :laugh:

 

I read it and pictured labradors running the tests and apparently my mind decided it was a satirical piece of writing. Then I realised it wasn't! 

Hahaha, so you pictured it too. I imagined Labs wearing lab coats in labs, crunching numbers with their pens and papers while surrounded by Bunsen burners and microscopes. :rofl:

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