by Good Dog People January 14, 2021 4 min read

Ever wonder how smart your favourite fur baby is? Sure, they can pick up tricks and learn to be obedient - but what exactly does intelligence mean for a dog? What are some of the smartest dog breeds? What does it mean to have a high IQ dog?

How Smart Is Your Dog?

You might be surprised to know but your furry friend may actually be as smart as a 2 year old! 

While our smartest dogs are not able to vocalise their thoughts like us, they can still comprehend a lot of the human language. In some studies, researchers even found that our cunning companions can actually outsmart people for more treats!

But doggy intelligence is a little different from ours. Dog IQ comes in three forms - Instinctive, Adaptive and Working/Obedience Intelligence. Understanding these forms can help you plan the exercises you need to improve your dog’s intelligence in the various areas.

Instinctive Intelligence

Historically, dogs have been bred for a whole host of purposes - from hunting to being our best friends! As such, they often come equipped with different instincts.

While herders like Border Collies enjoy herding sheep, ducklings and occasionally children, scent hounds like beagles or bloodhounds are bred to be a skilled sniffer. If you’re looking to boost your dog’s sniffer instincts, one way is to hide a couple of pungent treats like ZIWI Peak Good Dog Rewards Treats around the house for a delicious and fun doggy scavenger hunt! 

How Smart Is Your Dog?

Adaptive Intelligence

How well does your pup solve problems on their own? If they’re a regular problem solver, they might be high in Adaptive Intelligence!

In other words, high Adaptive IQ indicates that your dog is able to understand and comprehend their past experiences to help solve new problems. How do you tell if your dog is high in Adaptive Intelligence? One example might be your dog’s ability to let themselves out the dog door to go to the bathroom!

You’ll be pleased to know that you can also improve your dog in this area. Puzzle toys are a great way to do so! Outward Hound Nina Ottosson Dog Casino Plastic Interactive Dog Toy provides mental stimulation to help keep your dog's mind alert through the process of understanding how to get treats out. What’s more, there are different levels for Nina Ottosson’s Interactive Dog toys so you can be sure that your pup won’t get bored after a while. 

Other interesting interactive toys like KONG Genius Leo Interactive Dog Toy are also good in stimulating your dog’s curiosity. 

      How Smart Is Your Dog?

      Working/Obedience Intelligence

      The closest to the human definition of intelligence, Working/Obedience Intelligence is all about your pup’s ability to listen to instructions. 

      If your pup is great at performing tricks and is obedient, they’re probably doing stellar in this department! 

      Include highly rewarding treats like Farmland Traditions Dogs Love Treats in training sessions to encourage the good behaviour you desire. Keep a few bags of treats around the house at strategic places so you can easily reach for a reward when your dog does something smart! 

      The ‘Smarter’ Dog Breeds

      That said, different dog breeds can have different levels of all three types of intelligence. For instance, some dog breeds like Border Collies and Golden Retrievers are easier to train as they’re often equipped with higher Obedience Intelligence!

      Some of the smartest dog breeds around include: Border Collie, Poodle, German Shepherd Dog, Golden Retriever, Doberman Pinscher, Shetland Sheepdog, Labrador Retriever, Papillon, Rottweiler and Australian Cattle Dog

      How Smart Is Your Dog?

      Intelligence is not everything

      Didn’t spot your dog’s breed above? Fret not! This list of smart dog breeds only accounts for a breed’s Obedience Intelligence. Adaptive and Instinctive Intelligence differs from dog to dog.

      Plus, Obedience Intelligence isn’t everything. While a Border Collie might pick up tricks quickly, dogs like Beagles, while having less Obedience Intelligence, are highly capable as detection dogs in the police force!

      Even though dogs with an active and intelligent mind may be easier to housetrain since they pick up instructions better, it is good to know that even for the smartest of dogs, regular brain exercise can be really beneficial, especially as your dog ages. 

      The key is to consistently include activities that stimulate your pup’s different senses.

      How Smart Is Your Dog?

      Showering your pup with plenty of praise when they display intelligent behaviour is also a great way to encourage them to work their brains! For younger and older pups, take your time and give them more time to pick up new tricks. Supplements like Zeal New Zealand Hoki Fish Oil Dog Supplement can also help to boost your pup’s overall health, including brain health.

      How Smart Is Your Dog?

      Dog IQ might not seem like an important aspect of dog ownership to consider - but a dog with a stretched mind is a happy and active dog! All it takes is 30 minutes of your day spent playing with and training your pup!


      Editor’s Note: 

      GDP supports ethical and responsible dog ownership and you can be assured that all the products featured on our online store are responsible products. You may check out our Academy to learn more about various interesting topics that might guide you to becoming an even better dog owner for your furry friend. If products listed below are 'out of stock', that means they are super popular, but before you get disappointed, check out the drop down bar to discover other flavours or sizes. 










      Tammi ChngTAMMI CHNG
      Tammi writes articles about anything from data analytics to animal health, and loves doing the occasional craft. But most importantly, she loves hanging out and doing photo-shoots with her dog. 

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