February 2, 2006

The Intelligence of Dogs

Here are the Top Ten and Bottom Ten smartest dog breeds from Stanley Coren's book:

Ranks 1-10
Often working dogs, the brightest dogs who learn commands quickly, and respond to the first command 95 percent of the time:

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

Ranks 69-79
The most difficult to train, they need many training sessions and lots of repetition. They typically react to first command less than 25 percent of the time.

69. Shih Tzu
70. Basset Hound
71. Mastiff
72. Beagle
73. Pekingese
74. Bloodhound
75. Borzoi
76. Chow Chow
77. Bulldog
78. Basenji
79. Afghan Hound

Of course, this is just one particular definition of intelligence, one created by humans trying to get productive work out of dogs. From a dog's point of view, a workaholic breed like the Border Collie might seem pretty stupid. Why work as hard as a Border Collie does when you can get people to feed you anyway just by being lovable? A cat would think a Border Collie is a complete moron.

Still, in my limited experience, any conceivable measure of intelligence would have to rank Afghans as dumb as a box of rocks. I was at a picnic once where I was given a huge steak. I finished half of it, and didn't know what to do with the other half, when an Afghan gamboled up, begging food. I held up the steak to him, which riveted his attention. Then I decided to put it behind my back to tease him momentarily. Within two seconds of my hiding the steak behind my back, he forgot all about it and ran off.

By the way, Collies, which, as I recall from my childhood, used to devise brilliant mechanisms for rescuing Timmy from the quicksand every Sunday evening at 7pm, have been getting dumber and dumber, according to animal science professor (and famous autistic) Temple Grandin. Breeders have been narrowing down the skulls of collies for aesthetic effect, which doesn't leave much room for brains.

And thanks for all the hypoallergenic dog tips, but my son's asthma has gotten better so, when somebody offered us a Fila Brasileiro pup, we took him up on it.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

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