Sometimes whenever you adopt a dog, they may not end up being as impressive intellectually as you would like to be. This has led many people to wonder if maybe they wound up with a dumb dog.
There is a problem with that line of logic. You cannot apply the same type of standards that you apply to people to another species. While if a dog took a human IQ test, obviously they would be severely intellectually disabled, they can actually be more intelligent than us at certain tasks.
Albert Einstein once said that if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, they would always receive an F. As a human, you have the tendency to see things from a human perspective.
It can already be rather difficult to see things from the perspective of another person, let alone another animal species entirely.
If you have ever found yourself questioning the intelligence of your beloved pet, then this article is inspired by you. We will go over some of the basics behind intelligence, another species.
Then we will move on to look at certain things that you can look for in your puppy to judge their general intelligence level more accurately.
By the end, you should feel pretty confident that you will be able to tell whether or not you have a dumb dog.
The basics of dog intelligence
Scientists that study intelligence in other animals are animal behaviorists. Animal behaviorists believe that intelligence and animals are more specialized than it is in humans. What sets us apart from other species is our general intelligence.
You can grab a person from somewhere on earth and, with the right education, teach them almost anything. Animals experience it a little bit differently. Certain tasks are so hardwired into them; they learn how to do them instinctually.
This is a far more efficient learning process than anything that humans have today.
The problem is that it is a specialized intelligence. This means that it is not able to cross over to other disciplines the same way human intelligence can.
The only time a dog could be dumb is if they have a disability
When you are judging the intelligence of an animal, compare them with other members of their species. It may be a natural tendency to want to compare them to humans. This is a contradiction, even if it is natural.
Since you are comparing them with other members of the same species, you will not find nearly as many dumb dogs.
Typically the only time that you will find an animal that is done is if they have a disability. In fact, the intelligence distributions amongst breeds of dogs follow similar patterns to populations of humans.
You cannot apply human standards to dogs or any other species
It is a fallacy to think that if a dog is not as intelligent as a human, then they are dumb. Cross-species intelligent measurement is a very young science, and most indications support this notion.
In general, most species are highly specialized creatures. Meaning that they are adapted for very particular tasks in a particular environment.
Humans are much more general-purpose creatures. Instead of adapting to our environment genetically, we use our environment to adapt.
Your dog could be understimulated and acting lethargic as a result
If you have a dog that seems a little slow, they could be understimulated. It’s easy to mistake a dog that is being lethargic as stupid or unintelligent. The present very similarly whenever you take your first look.
Unintelligent dogs will always be slow when trying to solve intellectual tasks even if they are physically quick once in a while. Understimulated dogs are able to speed up once they get the proper activity again.
Some dogs simply process things a little more slowly than other dogs
Now there are dogs that are just slower than others. Think of a Bassett hound, for example. Basset hounds are actually one of the more intelligent species of dogs, even though they typically do not run very fast.
It’s important to remember that intellectual ability is not the same as intellectual processing speed. For the most part, they do typically correlate with each other. There are exceptions, though.
Certain breeds of dogs can be particularly intelligent
If you have a working animal for a dog, the chances are they may be from one of the most intelligent dog species. Canines have been domesticated actively by humans for millennia. Over that time, we have spent generations breeding for certain traits.
Many times traits were selected that would help farmers develop their land better. These have been passed down through the generations in the bloodlines of working breeds. Some of the breeds that you may be familiar with our corgis, Australian shepherds, and even the German Shepherd.
If you herd breed, there is a good chance that they are a highly intelligent member of the canine species. Heard breeds first were used to help farmers out with all of the tasks on a farm.
Managing such a complex activity requires enormous intellectual capacity. For selected genetics that favored the development of dogs that had high chances of coming very intelligent. These same traits are still present in the bloodlines that are used in these breeds today.
If you want to get an animal that will be more intelligent than your average dog considers getting a herding breed.
Do not just listen to your dog look at their body language too
One of the most common ways that people mistake regular dogs as being unintelligent is they simply listen to their dog.
Most of the communication your dog puts into the world is not through the noise at all. They communicate almost entirely nonverbally. Most of the vocal noises that they make are just the icing on top of their communication message.
Once you get a good idea of how to read your dog’s body language then you can judge their intelligence a little more easily.