Scientists Develop IQ Test for Dogs

Border-collie.08feb2016
Researchers have developed an IQ test for dogs, using border collies. This German border collie named Rico can fetch at least 200 objects by name. Manuela Hartling / REUTERS

How smart is your dog? Researchers have created a test to answer that question.

In a study published in February in the journal Intelligence, scientists Rosalind Arden and Mark Adam tested the intelligence of 68 border collies from working farms in Wales. They found that, like humans, dogs that did well on one test tended to do well on others. It's the first time that this similarity between human and canine intelligence has been demonstrated, and suggests the test can also be used to accurately gauge dog smarts in the future. The researchers also noted that the more quickly a dog responded to prompts in a test, the more accurate the dog's responses tended to be.

These finding are "consistent with the prediction made by the many experts in the 'dog world'—trainers, veterinarians, members of dog societies, and farmers—who were consulted in the early stages of this study," the authors write. "Those experts said that in their experience some dogs were more likely to catch on, learn and solve problems more quickly than others," which the study confirmed.

The paper argues that a better measure of smarts in "other species will constitute a major advance in understanding the evolution of intelligence." Particularly since dogs don't engage in human behaviors like drinking and smoking and aren't generally affected by socio-economic factors in the same way as humans (all of which can affect IQ), they represent a good model for understanding the link between genetics and intelligence, the researchers note.

To evaluate the animals' intelligence, they gave them a number of tests, which included such tasks as choosing which of two plates had a larger portion of food and navigating a maze-like entryway to figure out how best to reach a treat hidden behind a barrier.