How Smart Is Your Breed? | PetFirst Pet Insurance
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Smarty Paws! How Smart Is Your Breed?

by MetLife Pet Insurance
11 years ago
It would seem fairly obvious that not all dogs are created equal.  They come in such a variety of shapes, sizes, abilities and temperaments, from the itty-bitty teacup yorkshire terrier to the frightful and massive Irish Wolfhound!  163 breeds in all are officially recognized by the American Kennel Club.  It’s easy to use these differences and traits to choose a companion to bring into your family, but mama always told me not to judge by outward appearances alone!  What about what makes a particular dog tick?  Have you ever wondered what goes on behind your puppy dog’s big brown eyes?

One particular researcher, Stanley Coren, PhD, set out to gain a little insight in this area.  He believed that dog breeds vary consistently by intelligence.  In other words, some breeds are smarter than others.  In order to prove it, he surveyed hundreds of professional trainers for both their expert opinions and quantifiable data in two areas:  How many times a trainer must repeat a command for a dog to learn it, and the % likelihood that once learned, the dog will perform the task on the first command given.  The survey covers 80 breeds.  We thought you would be interested to know the results:

Brightest Dogs

  • Understanding of New Commands: Fewer than 5 repetitions.
  • Obey First Command: 95% of the time or better.

Border Collie
German Shepherd
Golden Retriever
Doberman Pinscher
Shetland Sheepdog
Labrador Retriever
Australian Cattle Dog

Excellent Working Dogs

  • Understanding of New Commands: 5 to 15 repetitions.
  • Obey First Command: 85% of the time or better.

Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Miniature Schnauzer
English Springer Spaniel
Belgian Shepherd Tervuren
Schipperke Belgian Sheepdog
Collie Keeshond
German Shorthaired Pointer
Flat-Coated Retriever English Cocker Spaniel Standard Schnauzer
Cocker Spaniel
Belgian Malinois Bernese Mountain Dog
Irish Water Spaniel
Cardigan Welsh Corgi

Above Average Working Dogs

  • Understanding of New Commands: 15 to 25 repetitions.
  • Obey First Command: 70% of the time or better

Chesapeake Bay Retriever Puli Yorkshire Terrier
Giant Schnauzer
Airedale Terrier Bouvier des Flandres
Border Terrier Briard
Welsh Springer Spaniel
Manchester Terrier
Field Spaniel Newfoundland Australian Terrier American Staffordshire Terrier Gordon Setter Bearded Collie
Cairn Terrier Kerry Blue Terrier Irish Setter
Norwegian Elkhound
Affenpinscher Silky Terrier Miniature Pinscher English Setter Pharaoh Hound Clumber Spaniel
Norwich Terrier

Average Working/Obedience Intelligence

  • Understanding of New Commands: 25 to 40 repetitions.
  • Obey First Command: 50% of the time or better.

Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier Bedlington Terrier Fox Terrier (Smooth)
Curly Coated Retriever Irish Wolfhound
Kuvasz Australian Shepherd
Saluki Finnish Spitz Pointer
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel German Wirehaired Pointer Black and Tan Coonhound American Water Spaniel
Siberian Husky Bichon Frise English Toy Spaniel
Tibetan Spaniel English Foxhound Otterhound American FoxhoundGreyhound Wirehaired Pointing Griffon
West Highland White Terrier Scottish Deerhound
Boxer Great Dane
Dachshund Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Alaskan Malamute
Whippet Chinese Shar Pei Wire Fox Terrier
Rhodesian Ridgeback
Ibizan Hound Welsh Terrier Irish Terrier
Boston Terrier Akita

Fair Working/Obedience Intelligence

  • Obey First Command: 30% of the time or better.

Skye Terrier
Norfolk Terrier Sealyham Terrier
French Bulldog
Brussels Griffon Maltese
Italian Greyhound
Chinese Crested
Dandie Dinmont Terrier Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen Tibetan TerrierJapanese Chin Lakeland Terrier
Old English Sheepdog
Great Pyrenees
Scottish Terrier Saint Bernard
Bull Terrier
Lhasa Apso

Lowest Degree of Working/Obedience Intelligence

  • Understanding of New Commands: 80 to 100 repetitions or more.
  • Obey First Command: 25% of the time or worse.

Shih Tzu
Basset Hound
Chow Chow
Afghan Hound

The thing to note about this study is that it is weighted heavily toward obedience, but not necessarily ingenuity and understanding of the dog’s situations and environment.  This could technically mean that a beagle knows exactly what you’re asking it to do but is stubborn or perhapssimply unconvinced(I’ve known somebeagles…)!  What do you think?  Do you own a dog that bucks the trend?  Tell us why in comments.

For more on the subject, check out Dr. Coren’s book, The Intelligence of Dogs.

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