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How Smart Is Your Dog?

Updated on July 3, 2011

It has long been recognised that the Border Collie is the smartest dog breed, followed closely by the Poodle and then the German Shepherd. Dogs are undoubtedly very clever and every dog owner will have stories to relate as to just how intelligent their own pet is.

Dogs are not just instinctively clever but they learn too, not just spoken commands or whistles but from human body language to. It often surprises people to find their dog is ready to go somewhere or do something when all the dog owner appears to have done is think about it. The dog has picked up on subtle changes in their owners behaviour, added three and three together to make six,

Many other species are undoubtedly clever too but at the end of the day they are animals and it is patently ridiculous to talk about giving human rights to the likes of Chimpanzees or Dolphins. Respect, yes and without a doubt but rights other than The Five Freedoms I think not.

Chaser the Border Collie

The Cleverest Dog in the World

Probably the cleverest dog in the world is a Border Collie called 'Chaser'. 'Chaser' is probably unique in the animal kingdom because he can understand a spoken human language vocabulary of over 1000 words. That puts all your Chimpanzees, Dolphins, African Grey Parrots in the shade. We should not forget 'Puck' the Budgerigar who managed to learn an astounding 1,728 different words. The difference here is that 'Chaser' can understand the mixture of verbs and nouns as in.

Chaser...go and get the red ball

Chaser bring the big ball

Chaser fetch the blue frisbee

'Chaser' was taught by way of determining the upper limits of a dogs memory and left his nearest contender 'Rico', with just 200 words way behind. So bright is 'Chaser' that he is cleverer at identifying objects than the researchers who trained him. 'Chaser' is even capable of differentiating different categories of object and can select the requested ball out of 116 balls without any problem at all. This remarkable animal has demonstrated the incredible ability to recognise the spoken names of 1,022 different objects but knows them visibly too. Many humans would have a bit of a struggle to perform the same feat.

The Intelligence of a Dog

There any number of different calculations to assess an animals intelligence. They will usually place the Dog somewhere between six and eight on the list behind Horses, Chimpanzees, Elephants, Monkeys and Dolphins.

These are all very well but I have worked with all of these species and with some of them very closely over long periods of time. I am not a scientist, I have no fancy degree but I can honestly and truly state that intelligence rests within the individual animal and not within the species. Some Chimpanzees are just plain stupid and so are some Horses. We have already seen that in general the Border Collie is the brightest breed but I would be prepared to bet that there are some complete dorks amongst them.

So is 'Chaser' cleverer than a Chimpanzee or a Dolphin? Undoubtedly he is cleverer than some members of those species but not necessarily all of them.

Right now though until someone can show different 'Chaser' is one of the cleverest animals on the planet. How smart is your Dog?


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  • Peter Dickinson profile image

    Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia

    Aya Katz - valid points. All the dogs I have ever owned were bright in their own way and some more cooperative than others.

    As to chimpanzees, there really are some dorks amongst them whilst others are extremely bright. I have always talked to my chimpanzees in the same way I do humans... in fact probably talked more if I was working around them alone. They knew exactly what I was talking about, but some moreso than others and I was not conciously training any of them to understand language. I number three chimpanzees amongst my closest of friends...sadly all now deceased. Old age, cancer and injury.

  • Aya Katz profile image

    Aya Katz 7 years ago from The Ozarks

    Peter, I don't think that we should confuse the eagerness to please and the willingness to obey with intelligence. There are many dogs who understand many human words and sentences, but they have not been trained to fetch on command.

    I live with a chimpanzee who can spell and write and comprehend in two languages, but he will not do it when ordered to do it, and so there is no "objective proof". You can't give him an order and get a consistent result. He also lies.

    Is cooperation the same as intelligence? If someone refuses to take a IQ test ipso facto not intelligent. These are important issues that the scientific community will not address.

    Chaser's very smart no doubt, but so are many other dogs and many other animals who would never agree to fetch things on command.

  • Peter Dickinson profile image

    Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia

    SEO Expert Kerala - Thank you for reading.

  • SEO Expert Kerala profile image

    SEO Expert Kerala 7 years ago from KERALA

    peter dikin you had described over hear about various types of dogs and also its characteristics. Nice to know from you that chaser can understand human languages. Thanks for giving such information.

  • Peter Dickinson profile image

    Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia

    Thank you for reading Hello, hello, and words2inspire. Now if we can only teach the dog to talk we may really get somewhere ;-)

  • words2inspire profile image

    words2inspire 7 years ago

    Wow, 1000 words! Interesting. They do make the best pets.

  • Hello, hello, profile image

    Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

    Wow,that sounds great and interesting.