The Intelligence of Dogs

The Intelligence of Dogs is a 1994 book on dog intelligence by Stanley Coren, a professor of canine psychology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.[1] The book explains Coren's theories about the differences in intelligence between various breeds of dogs.[2][3][4] Coren published a second edition in 2006.[5]

The Intelligence of Dogs
AuthorStanley Coren
CountryUnited States
GenreScience & Nature
Publication date
  • 10 May 1994
Media typePrint (hardback and paperback)

Coren defines three aspects of dog intelligence in the book: instinctive intelligence, adaptive intelligence, and working and obedience intelligence.[6] Instinctive intelligence refers to a dog's ability to perform the tasks it was bred for, such as herding, pointing, fetching, guarding, or supplying companionship.[6] Adaptive intelligence refers to a dog's ability to solve problems on its own.[6] Working and obedience intelligence refers to a dog's ability to learn from humans.[6]


The book's ranking focuses on working and obedience intelligence. Coren sent evaluation requests to American Kennel Club and Canadian Kennel Club obedience trial judges, asking them to rank breeds by performance, and received 199 responses, representing about 50 percent of obedience judges then working in North America.[6] Assessments were limited to breeds receiving at least 100 judge responses.[6] This methodology aimed to eliminate the excessive weight that might result from a simple tabulation of obedience degrees by breed. Its use of expert opinion followed precedent.[7][8]

Coren found substantial agreement in the judges' rankings of working and obedience intelligence, with Border collies consistently named in the top ten and Afghan Hounds consistently named in the lowest.[6] The highest ranked dogs in this category were Border collies, Poodles, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, and Doberman Pinschers.[9]

Dogs that are not breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club or Canadian Kennel Club (such as the Jack Russell Terrier) were not included in Coren's rankings.


When Coren's list of breed intelligence first came out there was much media attention and commentary both pro[10] and con.[11] However over the years the ranking of breeds and the methodology used have come to be accepted as a valid description of the differences among dog breeds in terms of the trainability aspect of dog intelligence.[12][13][14] In addition, measurements of canine intelligence using other methods have confirmed the general pattern of these rankings[15] including a new study using owner ratings to rank dog trainability and intelligence.[16] 79 ranks are given (plus 52 ties), a total of 138 breeds ranked:[17]

Brightest DogsEdit

  • Understanding of New Commands: Fewer than 5 repetitions.
  • Obey First Command: 95% of the time or better.[18]
  1. Border Collie
  2. Poodle
  3. German Shepherd Dog
  4. Golden Retriever
  5. Doberman Pinscher
  6. Shetland Sheepdog
  7. Labrador Retriever
  8. Papillon
  9. Rottweiler
  10. Australian Cattle Dog

Excellent Working DogsEdit

  • Understanding of New Commands: 5 to 15 repetitions.
  • Obey First Command: 85% of the time or better.[18]

Above Average Working DogsEdit

  • Understanding of New Commands: 15 to 25 repetitions.
  • Obey First Command: 70% of the time or better.[18]

Average Working/Obedience IntelligenceEdit

  • Understanding of New Commands: 25 to 40 repetitions.
  • Obey First Command: 50% of the time or better.[18]

Fair Working/Obedience IntelligenceEdit

  • Understanding of New Commands: 40 to 80 repetitions.
  • Obey First Command: 30% of the time or better.[18]

Lowest Degree of Working/Obedience IntelligenceEdit

  • Understanding of New Commands: 80 to 100 repetitions or more.
  • Obey First Command: 25% of the time or worse.[18]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Coren, Stanley (1995). The Intelligence of Dogs: A Guide To The Thoughts, Emotions, And Inner Lives Of Our Canine Companions. New York: Bantam Books. ISBN 0-553-37452-4.
  2. ^ Boxer, Sarah (1994-06-05). "My Dog's Smarter Than Your Dog". New York Times.
  3. ^ Wade, Nicholas (1994-07-03). "METHOD AND MADNESS; What Dogs Think". New York Times.
  4. ^ Croke, Vicki (1994-04-21). "Growling at the dog list". Tribune New Service (published in the Boston Globe).
  5. ^ Showing all editions for 'The intelligence of dogs : a guide to the thoughts, emotions, and inner lives or our canine companions'. WorldCat. OCLC 30700778.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Stanley Coren (July 15, 2009). "Canine Intelligence—Breed Does Matter". Psychology Today. Retrieved 2011-08-16.
  7. ^ Hart, BL; Hart (1985). "LA". JAVMA. 186: 1181–1185.
  8. ^ Hart, BL; Hart, LA (1988). The Perfect Puppy. New York: Freeman.
  9. ^ Stanley Coren. "Excerpted from "The Intelligence of Dogs"". Retrieved 2011-10-23.
  10. ^ Example: Perrin, Noel (April 10, 1994). "How Do Dogs Think?". Chicago Sun-Times.
  11. ^ Example: "Coren's Canine List Has Owners Growling". April 30, 1994. Apr 30, 1994.
  12. ^ Example:Csányi, Vilmos (2000). If dogs could talk: Exploring the canine mind. New York: North Point Press.
  13. ^ Example:Miklósi, Ádám (2009). Dog Behaviour, Evolution, and Cognition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  14. ^ Davis, SL; Cheeke PR (August 1998). "Do domestic animals have minds and the ability to think? A provisional sample of opinions on the question". Journal of Animal Science. 76 (8): 2072–2079. doi:10.2527/1998.7682072x. PMID 9734856.
  15. ^ Example: Helton, WS (November 2009). "Cephalic index and perceived dog trainability". Behavioural Processes. 83 (3): 355–358. doi:10.1016/j.beproc.2009.08.004. PMID 19683035.
  16. ^ Coren, Stanley (2006). Why does my dog act that way? A complete guide to your dog's personality. New York: Free Press.
  17. ^ "Ranking of Dogs for Obedience/Working Intelligence by Breed". Archived from the original on January 2, 2012.
  18. ^ a b c d e f Coren1995