Wednesday, August 12, 2009


There has been some recent articles on the intelligence of dogs. Stanley Coren, who has written a number of books on the intelligence of dogs, has stated in recent newspaper articles that dogs have the mental capacity of a 2.5 year old child. Stanley Coren says dogs have the ability to sniff out and solve complex problems and are more like humans and other higher primates than previously thought. Dogs can understand about 165 words while those dogs in the top 20 percent of intelligence, can comprehend 250 words. I have never counted the number of words that my dogs know. I do know that you have to spell out words to other members of your household if you don't want the dog to know what you are saying. WALK is probably the most famous word that gets spelled out by owners. Dogs also have the ability to do basic math. Dogs can count. My dogs have known that when they see me putting two cookies in my pocket and I only offer them one, there is still another one in that pocket and they wait for it. I have never asked my dogs to balance my checkbook or to do my taxes. That actually would be a great line to use with Revenue Canada when they are auditing your income tax filings. You could say that the dog did the math on figuring out your balance for your income tax.

Stanley Coren also rightfully says that dogs are the masters of body language and can pick up gestures, nuances and signals. My dogs have known what I am going to do before I even do it! For example, my lab knows when it is walk time before I even get the clothes/shoes out for the walk. He can pick up on nuances and body movements that I am not even aware that I am making. In the morning, he can also figure out if I am going to work or if it is the weekend and I am off doing errands. He expects to come with me if I am going to do errands but does not race around with a ball in his mouth if I am leaving to go to work. Does my dog know my wardrobe that I have for work? I have never asked him either for his opinion on whether he likes the clothes I chose for that particular day of work. Dogs also know whether you are having a great day or challenging day. They pick up on your body language and respond to your mood. My lab knows the time of day as he knows when I should be coming home from work and he waits on the couch looking out the window plus he knows his feeding schedule.

I have posted two pictures - my border collie Jessie who passed away last year and my lab. Stanley Coren has said that the most intelligent dog is the border collie, followed by poodles, german shepherds, golden retrievers, dobermans, shetland sheepdogs and then labrador retrievers. I know the two border collies that I have owned were smart and in some ways smarter than my lab. They have different personalities and traits. The border collies certainly had a different perspective on where I ranked in the hierarchy of the pecking order than my lab. It is also easier to handle 35 pounds of muscle versus 70 pounds of lab muscle at the end of the leash. I am trying to figure out if I should feel bad that my lab is only the seventh smartest dog. I know he is above average intelligence and is not at the bottom of the pack as compared to afghan hounds, bulldogs, chow chows, beagles and basset hounds which are lowest on the intelligence list.

Well it is time to go do an errand and the dog will naturally be expecting to come with me. Until next time.....

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