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The Intelligence of Dogs is a book on dog intelligence by Stanley Coren, a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.[1] Published in 1994, the book explains Coren's theories about the differences in intelligence between different breeds of dogs.[2][3][4]

Based upon previous research, Coren recognizes that intelligence has a variety of different dimensions. Coren writes of three such dimensions: instinctive intelligence, adaptive intelligence, and working and obedience intelligence.[5] Instinctive intelligence refers to a dog's ability to perform the tasks it was bred for, such as herding, pointing, fetching, guarding, or supplying companionship.[5] Adaptive intelligence refers to a dog's ability to solve problems on his own.[5] Working and obedience intelligence refers to a dog's ability to learn from humans.[5]


The book's ranking focuses on working and obedience intelligence. Coren sent evaluation requests to American Kennel Club and Canadian Kennel Club obedience trial judges, asking them to rank breeds by performance, and received 199 responses, representing about 50 percent of obedience judges then working in North America.[5] Assessments were limited to breeds receiving at least 100 judge responses.[5] This methodology aimed to eliminate the excessive weight that might result from a simple tabulation of obedience degrees by breed. Its use of expert opinion followed precedent.[6] [7]

Coren found substantial agreement in the judges' rankings of working and obedience intelligence, with Border collies consistently named in the top ten and Afghan Hounds consistently named in the lowest.[5]

Ranking of dogs by breed

Brightest Dogs

  • Understanding of New Commands: Fewer than 5 repetitions.
  • Obey First Command: 95% of the time or better.
    1. Border Collie
    2. Poodle
    3. German Shepherd
    4. Golden Retriever
    5. Doberman Pinscher
    6. Shetland Sheepdog
    7. Labrador Retriever
    8. Papillon
    9. Rottweiler
    10. Australian Cattle Dog

    Excellent Working Dogs

  • Understanding of New Commands: 5 to 15 repetitions.
  • Obey First Command: 85% of the time or better.
    1. Pembroke Welsh Corgi
    2. Miniature Schnauzer
    3. English Springer Spaniel
    4. Belgian Shepherd Tervuren
    5. Schipperke
      Belgian Sheepdog
    6. Collie
    7. German Shorthaired Pointer
    8. Flat-Coated Retriever
      English Cocker Spaniel
      Standard Schnauzer
    9. Brittany
    10. Cocker Spaniel
    11. Weimaraner
    12. Belgian Malinois
      Bernese Mountain Dog
    13. Pomeranian
    14. Irish Water Spaniel
    15. Vizsla
    16. Cardigan Welsh Corgi

    Above Average Working Dogs

  • Understanding of New Commands: 15 to 25 repetitions.
  • Obey First Command: 70% of the time or better
    1. Chesapeake Bay Retriever
      Yorkshire Terrier
    2. Giant Schnauzer
    3. Airedale Terrier
      Bouvier des Flandres
    4. Border Terrier
    5. Welsh Springer Spaniel
    6. Manchester Terrier
    7. Samoyed
    8. Field Spaniel
      Australian Terrier
      American Staffordshire Terrier
      Gordon Setter
      Bearded Collie
    9. Cairn Terrier
      Kerry Blue Terrier
      Irish Setter
    10. Norwegian Elkhound
    11. Affenpinscher
      Silky Terrier
      Miniature Pinscher
      English Setter
      Pharaoh Hound
      Clumber Spaniel
    12. Norwich Terrier
    13. Dalmatian

    Average Working/Obedience Intelligence

  • Understanding of New Commands: 25 to 40 repetitions.
  • Obey First Command: 50% of the time or better.
    1. Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier
      Bedlington Terrier
      Fox Terrier (Smooth)
    2. Curly Coated Retriever
      Irish Wolfhound
    3. Kuvasz
      Australian Shepherd
    4. Saluki
      Finnish Spitz
    5. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
      German Wirehaired Pointer
      Black and Tan Coonhound
      American Water Spaniel
    6. Siberian Husky
      Bichon Frise
      English Toy Spaniel
    7. Tibetan Spaniel
      English Foxhound
      American Foxhound
      Wirehaired Pointing Griffon
    8. West Highland White Terrier
      Scottish Deerhound
    9. Boxer
      Great Dane
    10. Dachshund
      Staffordshire Bull Terrier
    11. Alaskan Malamute
    12. Whippet
      Chinese Shar Pei
      Wire Fox Terrier
    13. Rhodesian Ridgeback
    14. Ibizan Hound
      Welsh Terrier
      Irish Terrier
    15. Boston Terrier

    Fair Working/Obedience Intelligence

  • Understanding of New Commands: 40 to 80 repetitions.
  • Obey First Command: 30% of the time or better.
    1. Skye Terrier
    2. Norfolk Terrier
      Sealyham Terrier
    3. Pug
    4. French Bulldog
    5. Brussels Griffon
    6. Italian Greyhound
    7. Chinese Crested
    8. Dandie Dinmont Terrier
      Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen
      Tibetan Terrier
      Japanese Chin
      Lakeland Terrier
    9. Old English Sheepdog
    10. Great Pyrenees
    11. Scottish Terrier
      Saint Bernard
    12. Bull Terrier
    13. Chihuahua
    14. Lhasa Apso
    15. Bullmastiff

    Lowest Degree of Working/Obedience Intelligence

  • Understanding of New Commands: 80 to 100 repetitions or more.
  • Obey First Command: 25% of the time or worse.
    1. Shih Tzu
    2. Basset Hound
    3. Mastiff
    4. Beagle
    5. Pekingese
    6. Bloodhound
    7. Borzoi
    8. Chow Chow
    9. Bulldog
    10. Basenji
    11. Afghan Hound


    When Coren's list of breed intelligence first came out there was much media attention and commentary both pro[8] and con.[9] However over the years the ranking of breeds and the methodology used have come to be accepted as a valid description of the differences among dog breeds in terms of the trainability aspect of dog intelligence.[10] [11][12] In addition, measurements of canine intelligence using other methods have confirmed the general pattern of these rankings[13] including a new study using owner ratings to rank dog trainability and intelligence.[14]

    See also


    1. Coren, Stanley (1995). The Intelligence of Dogs: A Guide To The Thoughts, Emotions, And Inner Lives Of Our Canine Companions, New York: Bantam Books.
    2. Boxer, Sarah My Dog's Smarter Than Your Dog. NewYork Times.
    3. Wade, Nicholas METHOD AND MADNESS; What Dogs Think. NewYork Times.
    4. Croke, Vicki Growling at the dog list. Tribune New Service (published in the Boston Globe).
    5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 Stanley Coren. Canine Intelligence—Breed Does Matter. Psychology Today. URL accessed on 2011-08-16.
    6. Hart, BL, Hart (1985). LA. JAVMA 186: 1181-1185.
    7. Hart, BL; Hart (1988). The Perfect Puppy, New York: Freeman.
    8. Example: includeonly>Perrin, Noel. "How Do Dogs Think?", April 10, 1994.
    9. Example: includeonly>"Coren's Canine List Has Owners Growling", Apr 30, 1994.
    10. Example:Csányi, Vilmos (2000). If dogs could talk: Exploring the canine mind., New York: North Point Press.
    11. Example:Miklósi, Ádám (2009). Dog Behaviour, Evolution, and Cognition, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    12. Davis, SL, Cheeke PR (August 1998). Do domestic animals have minds and the ability to think? A provisional sample of opinions on the question.. Journal Of Animal Science 76 (8): 2072-2079.
    13. Example: Helton, WS (November 2009). Cephalic index and perceived dog trainability. Behavioural Processes 83 (3): 355-358.
    14. Coren, Stanley (2006). Why does my dog act that way? A complete guide to your dog’s personality., New York: Free Press.

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