Expert Q&A

Some breeds seem to be smarter than others. How can I determine how smart my female poodle is?

Some breeds seem to be smarter than others. How can I determine how smart my female poodle is?

BY: The Dog Daily Expert

I tend to question measures of dog intelligence, especially related to particular breeds, since each type of dog was bred for different reasons. A dog selected for searching and digging ability has evolved a completely different skill set than a dog bred to herd, for example. We also tend to equate intelligence with our own human abilities, so dogs that share more of our particular talents tend to be rated higher.

Nevertheless, it can be interesting to study research on dog intelligence. Canadian psychologist and dog trainer Dr. Stanley Coren created a canine IQ test. Using it, he concluded that the border collie is one of the most intelligent canines. Other smart dogs, based on this technique, are poodles, German shepherds, golden retrievers, Doberman pinschers, Shetland sheepdogs, Labrador retrievers, papillons, rottweilers, and Australian cattle dogs. Your female poodle is therefore in the top of this smart crop.

Intelligence doesn’t just vary among breeds, of course. Like humans, it can vary among individuals, due to genetics, life’s experiences, environment, health considerations and more. In The Dog Behavior Answer Book, author Arden Moore suggests a few simple tests you can do to measure your dog’s smarts. One is called “The Towel Test.” Just drape a large (for her body size) bath towel over your dog’s head and see how long it takes for her to get out from under it. Moore says smart dogs can figure this out in less than 15 seconds. Less brainy pooches require 30 seconds or more.

Another test is to see how long it takes for your dog to come to you after she sees you pick up her leash and house keys, or whatever objects you routinely use when going on walks. Smart dogs can associate such objects with events and should run to you immediately -- so long as they want to walk!

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