We on the STEM team have a confession to make… we are total dog nuts. Just give us an excuse and we’re happy to regale you with tales of our canine’s crazy antics and fantastic feats. So when someone mentioned dedicating a blog post or two to our dogs, who were we to argue? However, we are also science-oriented people, and it wouldn’t do for us to just gratuitously dote on our pets. So we thought we would take a second to dig into the science behind our dogs’ intelligence and apply what we learn through a doggie showdown to crown one of our pooches smartest of them all!
It may seem easy to speculate about the intelligence level of our dogs by assessing how good they are at tricks and how well they listen to their owners. In reality, these types of assessments only get at part of the picture. According to Stanley Coren, author of the book The Intelligence of Dogs, working/obedience intelligence is only one of three types of dog intelligence. The other two types of intelligence are adaptive intelligence, which marks a dog’s problem-solving abilities, and instinctive intelligence, which marks how sharp their instincts are. So just because your dog may not do what you say, that does not make him/her a dumb dog!
So how do we get a better idea of the overall intelligence levels of our dogs? Well, it turns out we weren’t the only ones to ask this question. PBS Kids came up with a wonderful collection of tests to test dogs’ problem-solving skills. So we thought we would follow suit and put our dogs up to the test!
Here’s the lineup:
Age: 7 months
Favorite Toy: Rawhide bones
Little Known Fact: The shih-tzu is an ancient breed from China and played a part in many royal families.
Trick Repertoire: When she has her stuffed animal toys she will shake them so hard that they flip up in the air and she will jump and catch it.
LENNU (pronounced Len-oo)
Age: 5 years
Breed: Australian Shepherd
Favorite Toy: FRISBEE!!!
Little Known Fact: Lennu disappeared last year and found his way back home after 4 days.
Trick Repertoire: Sit, Stay, Down, Rollover, High-five, Figure 8 (through the owners’ legs), Back up, Speak, Leave it, Drop it
Age: 2.5 years (estimated)
Breed: American Pit Bull Terrier
Favorite Toy: Anything Roxy is playing with
Little Known Fact: She was rescued off the streets and was in pretty bad shape, but after being nursed back to health she’s turned into the perfect family dog who lives for giving anyone and everyone lots of kisses!
Trick Repertoire: Sit, Stay, Down, Dance, Leave It, Wait, Back
Age: 2.5 years
Breed: American Staffordshire Terrier Mix
Favorite Toy: Squeaky Ball
Little Known Fact: It takes Roxy less than 30 minutes to annihilate “indestructible” toys but she loves playing with inflated balloons so much that she has learned how to be gentle with them so she can play with them for hours.
Trick Repertoire: Sit, Stay, Down, Sit Pretty, Dance, Sing, Leave It, Wait, Back
Age: 3 years (estimated)
Breed: Black Lab/Border Collie Mix
Favorite Toy: Lennu
Little Known Fact: Sammy is in an on-again-off-again relationship with his owner’s sister’s Yellow Lab/Border Collie Mix named Abby
Trick Repertoire: Sit, Stay, Down, High-five, Rollover, Drop it
SIR FITZGERALD (“Fitz”)
Age: 3 years
Favorite Toy: ALL TOYS, including his bed (he will herd all of the toys around the house into his bed then carry the bed by mouth to another room)
Little Known Fact: The Shih-tzu breed wasn’t brought to the United States until WWII.
Trick Repertoire: Fitz loves to dance on his hind legs & he can talk and say “I wuv you Candice.”
So what do you think? Who will come out on top?
Weigh in with your prediction of the smartest dog, and tell us why you made your choice!