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Every dog is unique. Breed, diet, exercise and natural environment play a large part in determining your dog’s personality and working intelligence. Personality characteristics can either enhance or interfere with your dog’s capacity to learn.

Any dog person will tell you that all breeds differ greatly in their intelligence and temperament. There are also differences in male and female dogs.

Stanley Coren, author of “The Intelligence of Dogs” mentions that most judges recognize that there are definite differences in the intelligence and trainability of the various breeds. Experts say that even in the dullest breeds, some dogs will work well, whilst in the most intelligent breeds, certain dogs show no willingness to learn.

Manifest Intelligence is the sum   of all the dimensions of intelligence that a dog displays. Canines like humans do not ever achieve their full psychological potential. Experts measure the difference among the different breeds and see how each breed reaches a certain level of performance and what is the absolute maximum performance that a dog of any given breed may be expected to achieve.

Interestingly enough most experts placed  Border collies in the top category, then the Poodle, German shepherd and Golden retriever. What surprised me was that the Afghan hound, the Basenji and chow chow were a few of the ten worst breeds for obedience training. All the herding dogs and retrievers had the highest scores and the hounds the lowest- not surprising.

What about mixed breeds? Today most of us will adopt our next furry best friend and many of these great canines will be a mixed breed. How does one determine the intelligence of these dogs? It’s well known that the particular collection of genes that define a breed is determined by its genetic makeup .The particular collection of genes of a certain breed enable us to determine and predict a dog’s behavior, size, shape and coat coloring. What happens when we crossbreed is that we lose some of the predictability and we do not know which genes will be passed on by each parent and how they will combine.

According to John Paul Scott and John C. Fuller, who carried out selective breeding experiments at the Jackson Laboratories in Bal Harbor, Maine, their results revealed a simple rule that seemed to work each time.

Their conclusion was that a mixed breed dog is most likely to act like the breed it most looks like. The more of a blend of the two breeds in physical appearance, will result in a dog’s behavior having the blend of the two parent breeds. So first decide what your mixed breed most looks like, and then use that as your prediction for a mixed breed dog’s working and obedience intelligence.

Stanley Coren

Canine Intelligence

Science Daily

Smartest Dogs. American Kennel Club


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