Friday, October 31, 2008

Are Greyhounds as Intelligent as Other Breeds?

Unfortunately, the answer to that question is NO. According to S. Coren*, author of "The Intelligence of Dogs", there are three types of dog intelligence:

  1. Adaptive Intelligence (learning and problem-solving ability). This is specific to the individual animal and is measured by canine IQ tests.
  2. Instinctive Intelligence. This is specific to the individual animal and is measured by canine IQ tests.
  3. Working/Obedience Intelligence. This is breed dependent.
In the ranking of dogs for obedience/working intelligence by breed, our beloved Greyhounds fall into the Average Working/Obedience Intelligence level which is actually on the lower end of the spectrum. They have an understanding of new commands after 25 to 40 repetitions and obey a first command 50% of the time or better.

During this ordeal with Sugar, I have come to realize that she is VERY, VERY smart, despite what the research says (or maybe just stubborn?). This is especially evident when it comes to taking her pills. She can find them no matter where I've hidden them at which time she immediately spits them out onto the floor, whilst continuing to eat. (This holds true for any food item except ice cream - thank God she swallows a scoop all at one time!) You can ease them into her mouth while she is kicking and fighting, only to see they are hidden in her gums and as soon as you think she has swallowed them, she spits them back out. She is surely incorrigible and is certainly testing my patience and creativity.

Last night I tried a little cottage cheese in her dinner, hoping she would eat it just for the nutrition of it! But alas, she licked it a bit and then when she saw the white curds, which look oddly enough just like her antibiotic she takes every day, she stopped eating. I suppose it was just the association of the two, not so much the taste. Most dogs like cottage cheese. Anyway, being the servant to the little princess that I am, I then grabbed her food bowl and removed any trace of cottage cheese. I placed the bowl back onto her feeder at which time she then proceeded to eat the whole thing. Go figure.

Just for the fun of it, I found a list of the top ten "brightest" dogs. They are listed below. Although these are all wonderful breeds, I'll think I'll keep my Greyhounds!
  1. Border Collie
  2. Poodle
  3. German Shepherd
  4. Golden Retriever
  5. Doberman Pinscher
  6. Shetland Sheepdog
  7. Labrador Retriever
  8. Papillon
  9. Rottweiler
  10. Australian Cattle Dog

I found this out there in Internet land . . . here are some simple and fun ways to measure your dog’s intelligence.

  • Throw a towel over your dog’s head and time how long it takes him to free himself. An average may be 15 to 20 seconds.

  • Place three paper cups upside down on the floor, three feet apart. Allow your dog to see you place a bit of weenie under one of them. Turn him in a circle twice or lead him into another room for about 30 seconds and then see if he can go to the right cup the first time.

  • Split a weenie in half so that it has a flat side. Place it just under the edge of the sofa. Time how long it takes him to get it out. An average may be around 60 seconds.

  • Take your dog outside the yard on a long leash and walk along the fence several feet from the gate which you will leave open. Toss a bit of weenie back over the fence. See if he figures out to go back around through the gate to get the treat

You can also visit this MSN article for a few more IQ tests for your dog. This is definitely pretty interesting stuff. I have to say though, that I don't necessarily agree with Dr. Coren's assessment of the Greyhound. I think, for the most part, they are pretty intelligent animals.

Before I close, I would be remiss if I didn't take this opportunity to applaud Jen Bachelor for her work with Greyhounds. She has the patience of a Saint and the drive and determination needed to train her Greyhounds to levels most trainers only dream about! Her Greyhounds perform in agility and obedience trials all over the country and hold more titles than any Greyhounds in the sport. Way to go Jen - you do the Breed proud!

Just goes to show you that you can teach an old dog new tricks! Even a Greyhound!

*Stanley Coren is a neuropsychologist and professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Coren has published articles in medical journals including The New England Journal of Medicine, American Journal of Public Health and Sleep. He has appeared on numerous television programs including Good Morning America, CNN, The Osgood Files and The Today Show. Dr. Coren is a fellow of the American Psychology Association, American Psychology Society and Canadian Psychology Association. He was recently awarded the Killam Memorial Fellowship.

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10 comments:

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Ah, thanks for the plug. I have noticed that I seem to have to extra training at certain things or do a lot more repetitions when training greyhounds than my friends with more traditional obedience breeds.

Jen

Addie said...

That's really interesting! I also notice some, uh, variation within the breed, just based on my two.

Bruno is much easier to teach than Hoover, so I'm tempted to say he might be a little brainier. For example, when I tell Bruno "No" about something, usually by the time I correct him twice or three times about the same thing, he understands that's a PERMANENT no. Hoover hears "No" as "No, I don't want you to do that right now. Why don't you try again every 3 minutes or so to see if I might be more receptive." Neither of them tried to get the towel off his head, though. I just tried it and they both just sat there wearing a kitchen towel as a hat.

Addie

KF-in-Georgia said...

Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference between stubbornness and stupidity.

I don't know about other breeds--or even other greyhounds--but Sam can be hard to train because when he sees food he goes all stupid. He doesn't hear a command, he doesn't see a hand signal. The sight of food totally short-circuits his brain. You have to try to train him without letting him see any food.

If I put something on Sam's head, he pulls it off pretty fast. Jacey, on the other hand, once wore a sock draped over the top of her head for 15 minutes before it fell off on its own.

Stephen said...

Patti - I threw bits of my weenie around like the excercise suggested. Something's gone wrong. Jennifer won't let the dogs near me and I'm getting a little faint from the blood loss. Maybe I'm going about this all wrong?

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

I'm married to a weirdo!

Jen

earl said...
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Meade Skelton said...

I actually think greyhound are more intelligent. I have a greyhound and he likes to see what he can get away with. Its not that they aren't smart enough to do new commands, its that they are so smart they don't see the point. Where a regular mutt will just do what you ask. Greyhounds are highly intelligent .

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

Anonymous said...

I have two Greyhounds one boy and one girl. They are both retired racers and retarded as well. They have got to be some of the stupidest dogs out there! From everything like not understanding a simple game of fetch, or going to the dog park and just eating grass. But I will say they are very low maintanence :)

Boise said...

Great wright-up! I recently addopted a greyhound but had to surrender him back to rescue because he suffered from extreme seperation anxiety. He was a danger to himself and costs a lot of damage and would not function in a home with two dogs. during the 4 days I had him he seemed very interested in learning and I had already trained him a few basics...sit, lay down. I did not have time to teach him to stay but he seemed to understand the concept and with a few more days and relieving some his SA I think he would obey. From my experience a lot of the experts are correct - short and intense with lots of rewards or they get bored. I highly reccomend a Greyhound as a pet if you meet his neccassary requirement criteria