Canadian canine expert and author Dr. Stanley Coren, professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia, reports that Fido may just be as smart as two-year-old children.

Coren  found that average dogs can learn 165 words, which is about the same amount as a toddler.  And the smartest of the bunch can learn up to 250 words!   Signals and gestures are also part of the canine repertoire.

And if you think learning a few words and signals is the only thing man’s best friend can do, think again!  Dogs stand toe-to-toe with three or four-year-old kids when it comes to basic math skills. Go figure!  They can count to four or five and can even notice mistakes in simple math computations.  And when it comes to social skills, those lovable pooches are right on course with teenagers!  According to Coren, Rover can also show emotions such as anger, disgust and happiness.

Coren explains there are three aspects of intelligence in canines:

  1. Instinctive intelligence measures what the dog was bred for. Different breeds have different instinctive intelligence.
  2. Adaptive intelligence  measures what dogs can learn and do.
  3. Working and obedience intelligence  looks at what can dogs learn when taught by humans or “school learning.”

Data was collected from dog obedience judges, all registered with the AKC and Canadian Kennel Club,   from the US and Canada.  Nearly 200 judges completed a questionnaire and ranked breeds according to various abilities.  Consensus of the top dogs was “amazingly high.”

Top 10 Dogs in Working and Obedience Intelligence:

10. Australian Cattle DogBorder Collie
9. Rottweiler
8. Papillon
7. Labrador Retriever
6. Shetland Sheepdog
5. Doberman Pinscher
4. Golden Retriever
3. German Shepard
2. Poodle
1. Border Collie

Bottom 11 Breeds:

11. Shih Tzu
10. Basset Hound
9. Mastiff
8. Beagle
7. Pekingese
6. Bloodhound
5. Borzoi
4. Chow Chow
3. Bulldog
2. Basenji
1. Afghan Hound

Cohen does point out that those in the bottom of the list have other special traits and qualities. Beagles, for instance, are one of the most “loving and sociable dogs” while Afghans are one of the most beautiful.

For more information, read Canine Intelligence, Breed Does Matter , available on Psychology Today.


Border collie photo via Foxy Par on Flickr
Photo of Afghan Hound by  Esparta
Bloodhound photo by  SuperFantastic
Beagle photo courtesy Hector Landaeta StockXChng
Bulldog photo from  JSLander