Pedigree Prodigy: Does A Dog’s Breed Affect Their Intelligence?

Some dog owners prefer purebred dogs, while others aren’t so picky about their pet’s lineage. They both have their reasons for their preference, but they can agree that a dog’s intelligence makes it appealing to adopt them. Dogs have such unique minds that they’re capable of being service dogs, search and rescue dogs, therapy dogs, and more.

With the availability of both mixed and pure dogs in the pound and for sale, it begs the question: do breed and breed purity play a role in determining a dog’s intelligence? Is there a reason why hound dogs are used in search and rescue operations, but not for guarding places?

The Dimensions of a Dog’s Intelligence

Dog intelligence can be classified into three major dimensions. They fall under instinctive intelligence, which is what a dog would be bred for; adaptive intelligence, or the abilities they can learn by themselves, and working and obedience intelligence, which they can achieve through dog obedience training. All dogs have all three, but the levels vary by breed, which we would be discussing here.

Instinctive Intelligence

As mentioned, this refers to the natural intelligence or abilities of a specific dog breed. For example, guard dogs are used to watch over places and things because being watchful is a predisposition of the breed. There are also herding dogs, who-as their name suggests-have a tendency to herd animals. It’s in their nature to “lead” other animals, even without being trained, though the help of humans can boost this ability.

Instinctive intelligence is a pointless basis of comparison for intelligence between dog breeds. Every dog possesses this intelligence, and again, it differs according to breed, so a dog’s cleverness cannot be measured by their instincts alone.

Adaptive Intelligence

Adaptive intelligence refers to the measure of the things dogs can learn by themselves. Unlike instinctive intelligence, which is shared by dogs of the same breed, adaptive intelligence can vary among dogs of the same breed. All hound dogs, for example, have the same instinctive intelligence, but definitely, not all of them are skilled in things they aren’t bred for, such as playing fetch. Thus, a specific dog breed’s intelligence can be measured by testing their adaptive intelligence.

Working and Obedience Intelligence

Engaging your dog in obedience training will help them boost this intelligence. It is how they learn to be service dogs, search and rescue dogs, police dogs, and so forth.

Training enables dogs to understand their owner’s commands and respond to them accordingly. All dogs are capable of understanding human language, even without formal training, but getting them engaged in one will heighten this skill.

Ranking Dog Intelligence

Breeds may matter if you rank dogs based on their adaptive and working and obedience intelligence. The American Kennel Clublisted 13 “most trainable dog breeds.” Border Collies topped this list while Poodles and German Shepherds rounded out the top three.

But if there are highly trainable and clever dogs, then there are also stubborn dog breedsthat can be a challenge to train. Akitas have been declared the most stubborn dog breed. Beagles come next, followed by Collies (Border Collies also tend to be stubborn).

It is important to note that just because a dog is stubborn doesn’t mean that it’s unintelligent. You only need to be more firm and assertive towards your dogs or have them trained by a professional instead.

Notwithstanding these rankings, everyone could agree that all dogs are adorable and intelligent. Whether they’re obedient or stubborn, professionally trained or not, they are all perfect companions, and they aren’t called “man’s best friend” for nothing. No matter the breed, all dogs deserve love and nurturing!



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