Dogs are widely recognized as one of the most intelligent members of the animal kingdom. Anyone who has ever witnessed a dog following complicated sheep herding commands or sniffing out cancer molecules would agree. 

Here at Union Lake Pet Services, we think all of our canine friends are the smartest (not to mention cutest) dogs in the world. If you’ve ever wondered about your own dog’s “canine I.Q.”, you’ve come to the right place. Join us as we delve into the fascinating world of canine intelligence. 

Intelligence Varies 

Scientists and animal behaviorists have been studying man’s best friend for years in an effort to understand how dogs think and learn. As it turns out, whether a dog is considered smart or not depends on which aspects of behavior we are looking at. 

Researchers have narrowed canine intelligence down to three basic types: 

Instinctive intelligence — Instinctive intelligence refers to what a dog was bred to do; retrievers retrieve, herding dogs herd, hound dogs track or pursue, pointers point…you get the idea. Every breed has its own specific instinctive intelligence, making it impossible to make comparisons across the breeds in this area. 

Adaptive intelligence — We’ve all heard stories of dogs alerting their owners of danger or learning how to open doors. Both are examples of adaptive intelligence, which is defined as how well a dog can solve problems and learn from his or her environment, other animals, and humans. Adaptive intelligence can differ widely among members of the same breed, and can be measured with proper testing. 

Working intelligence — Working intelligence gauges how easily a dog can learn basic obedience commands, as well as commands related to specific jobs. For example, a hunting dog must know how to follow specific commands related to hunting, just like a guide dog must be able to perform the tasks related to helping his or her owner. 

Working intelligence is arguably one of the most important aspects of overall canine intelligence. After all, if dogs weren’t capable of performing the helpful tasks that we originally valued them for, they never would have been domesticated and wouldn’t be sharing our lives today. 

Canine I.Q.? 

All of this discussion of canine intelligence leads us to the burning question in the minds of dog owners everywhere: just how smart is my dog? 

You can google “canine I.Q. tests” and come up with a wide variety of ways to test your dog’s intelligence–lots of free tests and a few in-depth paid tests. There probably isn’t one true answer to this question though the paid tests probably come closest. Just like with human I.Q. tests, canine I.Q. measurements have their own sets of limitations, not the least of which is the personal bias of the person interpreting them. One thing remains certain: each dog is special and wonderful in his or her own way. 

Your friends at Union Lake Pet Services can’t imagine life without our tail-wagging companions, no matter what their canine I.Q. may be. We look forward to seeing you and your dog soon!