Researcher and author Dr. Stanley Coren, who penned the book, The Intelligence of Dogs, told the American Psychological Association his choices for the five smartest dog breeds.
Coren says the five smartest dog breeds are: the border collie, the poodle, the German shepherd, the golden retriever, and the Doberman.
A lot of people were offended by the second list.
It appears that Coren based his opinion on the smartest dog breeds on a survey that asked dog obedience trial judges to name the smartest dog breeds.
Focus on obedient dogs
So, the answers were from American Kennel Club judges based on their perceptions.
My problem with this is that AKC judges, for the most part, only have experience with AKC breeds and aren’t judging dogs on intelligence but trainability.
If a dog in the obedience ring can run a pattern and remember it, he will score well and be considered “smart.”
Smart dogs may get bored after a few repetitions, say “forget it,” and run off to go find something more fun to do.
My Airedale, Christopher, was a great demonstration dog for my obedience classes. I taught 17 classes a week. I had Chris demonstrate everything we did in every class 17 times a week.
Chris did it over and over again, happily and enthusiastically each time.
Why? Because although it’s unusual for an Airedale, Chris isn’t very bright. And to him, I think it was the first time, every day, every week, every month, every year.
Chris was an easy dog. He didn’t know he had options. It never occurred to him that he could refuse to do something. He happily did what he was told so he didn’t have to figure things out alone.
Smart dogs get bored
Sarah, my Malamute, was a lousy demo dog. She got bored quickly.
Very smart, very easily bored — these things go together.
When I used her to demonstrate to students how a dog such as a service dog could pick up dimes from a cement floor, she got bored after the third or fourth dime and started swallowing them when she was supposed to be bringing them to me.
With a big smile, she said, “so, whatcha gonna do now.”
And she was right. She obeyed me. She had picked up the dime. I had never told her, nor was there a command for “don’t swallow the dime.”
She had outsmarted me. Again.
So, be careful when choosing a breed.
You may not want a dog that’s smarter than you. Dumb dogs are much easier.
Terry Jester is a nationally recognized expert on companion animal behavior. She is regarded by The Humane Society of the United States as being “Humane and effective in dealing with problem pets and their owners.” Connect with Terry on her website.