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These Are The 'Smartest' Dog Breeds, According to a Canine Psychologist

Where does your dog rank?

GUS LUBIN, BUSINESS INSIDER
28 JAN 2017
 

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 behaviourist 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 exposures and obey at least 95 percent of the time.

SmartDogs1Dan Kitwood/Getty

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 five to 15 exposures and obey at least 85 percent of the time.

SmartDogs2Pmuths1956/WikiMedia Commons

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 to 25 repetitions and obey at least 70 percent of the time.

27. Chesapeake Bay retriever, Puli, Yorkshire terrier

28. Giant schnauzer, Portuguese water dog

29. Airedale, Bouv 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 to 40 repetitions and obey at least 50 percent of the time.

SmartDogs3Vadim Petrakov/Shutter Stock

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. Dachshund, 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 to 80 repetitions and respond about 40 percent of the time.

SmartDogs4Stephanie Keith/Getty

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 percent of the time.

SmartDogs5Capture Light/Shutter Stock

70. Shih 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."

This article was originally published by Business Insider.

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