The Intelligence Of Dogs - Stanley Coren: is it good?

There is a book called The Intelligence of Dogs written by author Stanley Coren. It is about how intelligent are the different breed of dogs. Is it any good? Did anyone read it?

asked by Humber in Books & Writing | 1389 views | 08-09-2009 at 12:59 AM

The Intelligence Of Dogs by Stanley Coren is an excellent book. Highly recommended.

Here's an excerpt from the book:

For example, over 200 professional dog obedience judges, ranked 110 dog breeds on the basis of their intelligence. According to them, the top dozen dogs in terms of intelligence are:

Rank Breed

1. Border Collies
2. Poodle
3. German Shepherd
4. Golden Retriever
5. Doberman Pincher
6. Shetland Sheepdog
7. Labrador Retriever
8. Papillon
9. Rottwieler
10. Australian Cattle Dog
11. Pembrook Welsh Corgi
12. Miniature Schnauzer

At the low end of the intelligence rankings are:

106. Borzoi
107. Chow Chow
108. Bull dog
109. Basenji
110. Afghan Hound

One of the more surprising things that this book points out is that, depending upon your life style, it may be more difficult to live with a more intelligent, rather than a less intelligent dog. To quote from the book:

An example of how an intelligent dog can use bad behavior to manipulate its owner comes from a single woman who owned a Miniature Poodle named "Arnold". She inadvertently trained it to urinate on her bed whenever she had a male guest stay over at her house. She interpreted this behavior as "jealousy" on Arnold's part. The real problem was that the dog was simply too smart. When the owner was by herself she paid a good deal of attention to the dog. However, she fell into the trap that many of us do, and paid more attention to the dogs misbehaviors than to its desirable activities. One particularly undesirable behavior, which brought a lot of attention, was urinating on the bed. However, the woman managed to break the dog of the habit, and was confident that it was now under control. Whenever her boyfriend came to visit, however, she paid considerably more attention to her guest and consequently less attention to the dog. Arnold remembered the amount of social contact which was engendered by urinating on the bed, and was smart enough to understand that this behavior would work in the present conditions. The end result was obvious.


Whenever she hosted a male guest, the dog would head for the bedroom with malice aforethought. It was a guaranteed method of gaining attention.


Intelligent dogs are inadvertently taught many unwanted behaviors. Increasing the activity level in a household, and increasing the number of people that are present in it, increases the likelihood that chance associations will be learned. For the intelligent dog this means that there is a greater opportunity to learn things that will be useful in adapting to everyday life, but also provides a greater opportunity for the dog to learn "odd" or annoying associations. Consider the case of "Prince", a Border Collie whose great joy in life was to race around outdoors. Whenever someone was about to leave the house Prince would race after them, trying to get outside. Once, after Prince had started his mad dash for the exit, the screen door swung closed and the dog ended up crashing through the wire mesh. Rewarded by the chance to romp outside, the dog learned from this one instance that it could create its own "doggie door" by simply running full tilt at the screen. After several repairs had been attempted, Prince's owners added a protective layer of heavy farm wire that the dog could not break through. Frustrated by this new development Prince began casting around the house and noticed that many of the windows were open and only covered by the same material that used to cover the screen door. For this intelligent dog it was easy to reach the conclusion that these windows could also be used as exits.

Instantaneously, every open ground floor window then became a target Prince's headlong rush for the joys of the outdoors, much to the dismay and annoyance of the dog's owners. A less intelligent dog would have been considerably less likely to form the association that crashing through the screen results in outdoor time, based upon a single instance. Furthermore, when confronted with the obstacle of the heavy wire over the door screen, the less intelligent dog would have been considerably less likely to generalize its knowledge and apply its newly learned information to windows or other screened apertures. Simply put, the less intelligent dog will miss many of these chance contingencies and hence will move through the noise and chaos of a busy household without learning bad habits from only one or two associations.

answered by Madd | 08-09-2009 at 01:01 AM

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