There is no doubt that dogs are intelligent. They can be taught to sniff out bombs, drugs, humans and many other things. They can be taught as service dogs to help with laundry, housework and leading blind people across busy streets. Even when they aren’t specifically taught something, they can easily pick up tricks or behaviors based on their surroundings, environment and routine. How many of us have to be careful what words we say, lest our dog jump up at the words we carelessly utter and expect something wonderful because we have used the same words before to them? (Examples: treat, walk, ride, outside.)
Having been around dogs my entire life, and now being blessed enough to have a job where I get to meet and interact with many different dogs on a daily basis, it is obvious to me that each dog has his or her own personality, talents, gifts and quirks. I don’t like to put labels on anyone or anything, even in the case of what breed a dog may be. However, because dogs are “bred” to have certain characteristics and traits, in general, if a dog is a certain breed, he or she may naturally tend to be more like others of that breed.
When I read this article on Business Insider discussing the smartest breeds of dogs, I was NOT surprised to see that border collies rank as number one in their study. In fact, I wasn’t surprised by anyone who made it to the top 10 except the darling Papillion, simply because I haven’t had personal experience with that breed to know much about it. All of the others on the top 10 breeds are well known for various types of work they do.
Of course I had to see where our dogs ranked on the list. MaLord, a Shiba Inu, and Bright Eyes, a Staffordshire Terrier mix, were both ranked number 49, along with the short but long Dachshund. My beloved Great Pyrenees, Taiga (May he rest in peace) ranked way down in the second to last tier at number 64. This didn’t worry me, because I know that all of our dogs are smart in their own way. Taiga was VERY smart, but because he was bred to be alone on the mountain guarding livestock, he didn’t have the type of personality or “intelligence” that made him want to do tricks and silly things I tried to get him to do. Instead he would just look at me with a withering but patient stare as if to say “….Please….”
As the article states, “ 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.” (Canine psychologist Stanley Coren.) and the ability to judge a dog’s intelligence isn’t something that can be done in one way. Some dogs are SEEMINGLY more independent than others, but just because they can’t be taught quickly to fetch or run an obstacle course or something else doesn’t mean they aren’t just as intelligent, if not more so, than the dog that CAN be taught to do that in one or two tries. It just means that each breed (and more specifically, each individual DOG,) has a different learning style and a unique set of talents, traits and abilities.
So, even if your dog’s breed didn’t rank up there in the top two or three tiers, don’t fret. Further studies will continue to prove that dogs are more amazing and wonderful than we can even imagine.