Skip to comments.Renowned canine researcher puts dogs' intelligence on par with 2-year-old human
Posted on 08/08/2009 12:58:52 PM PDT by decimon
Border collies are brightest
TORONTO Although you wouldn't want one to balance your checkbook, dogs can count.
They can also understand more than 150 words and intentionally deceive other dogs and people to get treats, according to psychologist and leading canine researcher Stanley Coren, PhD, of the University of British Columbia. He spoke Saturday on the topic "How Dogs Think" at the American Psychological Association's 117th Annual Convention.
Coren, author of more than a half-dozen popular books on dogs and dog behavior, has reviewed numerous studies to conclude that dogs have the ability to solve complex problems and are more like humans and other higher primates than previously thought.
"We all want insight into how our furry companions think, and we want to understand the silly, quirky and apparently irrational behaviors [that] Lassie or Rover demonstrate," Coren said in an interview. "Their stunning flashes of brilliance and creativity are reminders that they may not be Einsteins but are sure closer to humans than we thought."
According to several behavioral measures, Coren says dogs' mental abilities are close to a human child age 2 to 2.5 years.
The intelligence of various types of dogs does differ and the dog's breed determines some of these differences, Coren says. "There are three types of dog intelligence: instinctive (what the dog is bred to do), adaptive (how well the dog learns from its environment to solve problems) and working and obedience (the equivalent of 'school learning')."
Data from 208 dog obedience judges from the United States and Canada showed the differences in working and obedience intelligence of dog breeds, according to Coren. "Border collies are number one; poodles are second, followed by German shepherds. Fourth on the list is golden retrievers; fifth, dobermans; sixth, Shetland sheepdogs; and finally, Labrador retrievers," said Coren.
As for language, the average dog can learn 165 words, including signals, and the "super dogs" (those in the top 20 percent of dog intelligence) can learn 250 words, Coren says. "The upper limit of dogs' ability to learn language is partly based on a study of a border collie named Rico who showed knowledge of 200 spoken words and demonstrated 'fast-track learning,' which scientists believed to be found only in humans and language learning apes," Coren said.
Dogs can also count up to four or five, said Coren. And they have a basic understanding of arithmetic and will notice errors in simple computations, such as 1+1=1 or 1+1=3.
Four studies he examined looked how dogs solve spatial problems by modeling human or other dogs' behavior using a barrier type problem. Through observation, Coren said, dogs can learn the location of valued items (treats), better routes in the environment (the fastest way to a favorite chair), how to operate mechanisms (such as latches and simple machines) and the meaning of words and symbolic concepts (sometimes by simply listening to people speak and watching their actions).
During play, dogs are capable of deliberately trying to deceive other dogs and people in order to get rewards, said Coren. "And they are nearly as successful in deceiving humans as humans are in deceiving dogs."
Invited Address: "How Dogs Think," Stanley Coren, PhD, University of British Columbia, Session: 3282, 2:00 2:50 PM, Saturday, Aug. 8, Metro Toronto Convention Centre, South Building Level 800, Meeting Room 801A
For more information or an interview, contact Stanley Coren at 604-876-4658 or cell 778-869-5776 or by e-mail at email@example.com
The American Psychological Association, in Washington, D.C., is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world's largest association of psychologists. APA's membership includes more than 150,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance psychology as a science, as a profession and as a means of promoting health, education and human welfare.
Well, that confirms a long held opinion. Dogs are smarter than 0bama voters.
I once had a dog that would open the refrigerator door looking for good stuff to eat.
It would have been a lot funnier if it hadn’t been my dog and refrigerator.
At least a 2 yr old wont hump your leg.
4th is golden retrievers, 5th is dobermans? I have a good friend who has a nice golden, but it is not even close to the intelligence of my dobermans.
In other news, water is wet :-) Any dog owner can tell you this. And cats aren’t so dumb either.
No, but they will poop on it....
The male was a Randy bugger who could spell estrus from at least 5 km and would plan is jailbreak and be out the door and disappeared in warp time. Both dogs were lightning fast as would be required by sheepherders. So when the male took off on amorous adventure there was no hope of catching him but the next morning he always came back looking like Sylvester the cat after a bad night.
First of all, I think this is hogwash. Canine intelligence varies tremendously. And I mean all canines, not just domestic dogs. And this variable intelligence is also different kinds of intelligence.
Wolves, for example, have perhaps the highest natural raw intelligence. They have a strict hierarchy within a pack, and perform coordinated team activities while hunting. And these skills have been specialized beyond wolves in some domestic dogs, by whistle command.
Coyotes, on the other hand, have a specialized form of intelligence that makes them expert tacticians. They plan and execute individual and group schemes, that include deception, cunning, treachery and “theft”.
Two important differences between humans and canines are first, that humans have an almost unique sinus cavity, that normalizes the pressure on the eyeballs while breathing. Typically when mammals breathe, for a brief moment during inhalation and exhalation, their vision turns blurry. This may be the reason that humans strongly prefer vision over their other senses.
This also means that when considering intelligence, we have to evaluate canine intelligence with respect to their emphasized senses, downplaying visual acuity somewhat.
The other major difference is that humans have a uniquely mutated form of a gene that is shared with some other animals. This gene is now believed to be responsible for our ability to speak with a complex dialogue.
Which leaves us with the tantalizing question, if dogs had this gene mutation, while it is unlikely that they could speak like humans, they might be able to develop the neural patterns to have greater speech understanding. Right now, it is estimated that canines might be able to learn 300 words.
Imagine if they could learn 3000 words.
Is there a hundmeister to ping?
And how many two-year-olds can do that? ;-)
My dogs think they are smarter then I am, and they may be right.
Because you saw that wolf hunt.
Yep - and I tell the missus that the flaps are up and the engine sounds just spiffy ... now where’s my rifle ....