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How smart are dogs?

Author: The DogsPlanet.com Team

You might think you know the answer to the question how smart are dogs? Your answer is probably very. They know when you’re sad, can be the eyes for those who can’t see, and can smell the tiniest amount of explosives from far away. That’s pretty clever.

When it comes to dog intelligence and deciding how smart they are, their breed can play a role. Dogs bred for hunting, herding, and retrieving are usually more eager to please. It’s in their genes to work and they understand the importance of doing a good job. This means they’ll learn quicker. Dogs that are scent hounds or livestock guards are less likely to be as fussed with learning new tricks. 

Although the breed is important when it comes to dog cognition, each pooch is different. Just like us. How you train your dog and the amount of mental stimulation you give them is a huge factor in developing their own intelligence.

How intelligent are dogs?

Social and emotional intelligence

Socially and emotionally, dogs are very smart. Actually, even more than other primates such as chimpanzees. Dogs are excellent at reading their humans, they know when they’re doing something right based on our expressions and gestures.

This might not sound like a lot, but human babies can’t do this. When we nod our head they understand that that means yes. They can also read our body language to know if we’re angry, scared, or sad and they usually act accordingly!

Pups also know when we’re not looking, have you ever noticed that? Often they’re not silly enough to do something naughty right in front of us. They wait until we’ve left the room or are looking away. This is very clever as they’ve learned what is right and wrong and associate a certain act with being told off. They avoid this by not letting us see it!

Not only are our dogs socially intelligent, but they can also display emotions. Jealousy for example. If another dog is rewarded, or playing with your dog’s favorite toy your dog may act in a jealous way. This could be sulking and not playing anymore, or trying to get their toy back!

In fact, many scientists say dogs can have the social and emotional intelligence of a 2.5-year-old human. Imagine that!

Dogs can learn words!

how intelligent are dogs

The average dog can learn over 100 words. Different dogs have different memories, and whilst some can’t remember the walk you did that morning, others are really good at remembering objects! Most (trained) dogs will understand words such as fetch, sit, and stay but when given the chance to learn more, their vocabulary could increase a lot. One of the most famously intelligent dogs is Rico, a Border Collie who has the ability to understand 200 words!

Dogs have an amazing ability to be trained

Because of their incredible sense of smell, dogs are trained for numerous jobs, including the police force or as guard dogs. They can be taught to sniff out explosives, drugs, or other poisonous substances. They’re even being currently trained to smell COVID 19 in patients!

It’s not just their great sense of smell, their unique canine intelligence means they can be trained to aid those who have sight impairments or other illnesses. They can be trained to alert someone if their owner is about to have a seizure or another medical concern. I think that pretty much answers how smart dogs are!

Why are dogs so intelligent?

Most scientists agree that dogs are so smart because of thousands of years of breeding to become man’s best friend. Dogs are descendants of wolves, which obviously can’t be trained, so over the years owners have bred our pups to have the ability to be taught by us. They’re loyal, friendly, and can be incredibly intelligent.

A reason why our dogs are also so good at reading us is that they spend a lot of time around humans. They learn to read our individual reactions, tone of voice, and facial expressions. Early socialization of any pup is really important to get them used to being around humans and to develop their emotional intelligence.

What can you do to develop your dog’s intelligence?

canine intelligence

When thinking about dog intelligence compared to humans, they both need one thing. Regular exercise. Lots of owners take their pups out for walks and runs, but their brain is just as important. Teaching your dogs new tricks or taking them to a more formal training activity can greatly improve their intelligence. Sometimes the breed of dog can indicate which activity would most stimulate them. Herding dogs for example are physically and mentally kept in shape by herding livestock, whereas hunters may benefit from finding activities. 

Whatever your pup is like, it’s fair to say that dogs are intelligent. They have a special ability to understand us humans, learn new skills, warn us, and constantly cheer us up!


What’s the most intelligent thing your dog does? Let us know in the comments!

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