I Want a Smart Dog!

DATE: 28 Oct 10

Many people claim they want a smart dog. But how smart is your dog really? The American Kennel Club has produced a list of the top ten smartest dog breeds. These dogs were classified “smartest” because of their ability to absorb commands in less than five repetitions and obeyed them 95% of the time or better.

1. Border Collie

A workaholic, this breed is the world’s premier sheep herder, prized for its intelligence, extraordinary instinct, and working ability.

2. Poodle

Exceptionally smart and active. Bred to retrieve things from the water. The miniature variety may have been used for truffle hunting.

3. German Shepherd

The world’s leading police, guard, and military dog — and a loving family companion and herder.

4. Golden Retriever

Intelligent and eager to please. Bred as a hunting companion; ideal as a guide and as assistance with search-and-rescue operations.

5. Doberman Pinscher

Known for its stamina and speed. Bred to be a guardian and in demand as a police and war dog.

6. Shetland Sheepdog

The “Sheltie” is essentially a miniature working Collie. A rough-coated, longhaired working breed that is keenly intelligent. Excels in herding.

7. Labrador Retriever

An ideal sporting and family dog. Gentle and intelligent.

8. Papillon

A happy, alert breed that isn’t shy or aggressive. Known as Dwarf Spaniels in the 16th and 17th centuries, they reach 8-11 inches high.

9. Rottweiler

Robust and powerful, the breed is happiest with a job. Suitable as a police dog, herder, service dog, therapy dog, obedience competitor, and devoted companion.

10. Australian Cattle Dog

Happiest doing a job like herding, obedience, or agility. Energetic and intelligent.

But should we only pick a dog because of its intelligence quotient? Many dog behaviourists warn that having a highly intelligent dog may have its drawbacks. For example, when left alone too long, these dogs can become bored and destructive or neurotic. Working dogs like the Border Collie require a lot of activity and can become depressed when it isn’t given any opportunity to work or exercise.

Chris Redenbach, an Atlanta-based dog trainer who runs The Balanced Dog, a training program, says, “Typically, it’ll come out in other areas, like destructiveness, running away, nipping at kids. Having a smart dog is like having a very smart kid. They’re always into something and will get into trouble if they’re bored.”

On the other hand, a dog with a slightly lower IQ may take hours to realise you were gone, and be pleasantly surprised when you come back sooner than expected.

Perhaps the key is in knowing what breeds suit your lifestyle, and knowing what works for that particular breed and how to motivate it accordingly. Most dog trainers and behaviourists agree that any dog can learn new tricks, though some may take longer than others.

As dog lovers, perhaps we shouldn’t discriminate, as long as we love our dogs and focus on bringing out the best in them.

What do you think? Take our poll below, or leave us a comment! We’d love to hear from you.

Tags: dog
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