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New Study Finds Dog's IQ Can Be Measured

A new study looks at whether dogs have measurable IQ similar to humans.


A group of researchers at the London School of Economics and Political Science and the University of Edinburgh recently published the results of their work in the journal Intelligence. The study found that dogs have IQs that can measured in the same way that we can measure a person's IQ.

IQ, also known as "general intelligence," is determined by a series of tests involving cognition. People who perform well with one kind of task generally do similar tasks at an equal level of competence. Using the format of a human IQ test as a guide, the researchers created a test specifically for dogs.

The first set of tasks involved problem solving by finding a treat that might be hidden or behind a clear barrier such as glass. The second set of tests involved the dogs' ability to follow a pointing gesture, which determines their ability to use visual cues to make decisions. This involved hiding treats underneath beakers and pointing to them to see which the dog would choose. The last set of tests looked at the dogs' ability to estimate the differences in quantity between two sets of treats placed on plates arranged in random configurations.

The study involved 68 Border Collies and each dog was tested for an hour or less, which is approximately the same amount of time most people need to take an IQ test. The dogs all came from working farms where they were employed to do sheep herding, so the dogs were raised and trained in a homogeneous manner and environment.

The researchers found that if the dogs performed well on one category of test, they did even better on the other categories. In fact, the faster a dog completed a test, the more accurate their performance was.

The authors note that, "Learning about individual differences in animal intelligence is a first step in understanding how cognitive abilities fit into the fitness landscape. It will provide crucial information on the relationship between intelligence and health, aging and mortality." The researchers recommend further study with larger and more varied sample sizes in the future.

Source: Rosalind Arden, Mark James Adams. A general intelligence factor in dogs. Intelligence, Volume 55, March-April 2016, Pages 79-85.

Photo credit: Young via photopin (license)

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