Testing Your Dog’s IQ

About Dr. Jennifer Coates
Dr. Coates is a veterinarian based in the other “Sunshine State” – that's Colorado to the rest of you – where she lives and plays with a varied range of animals.
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barney1 768x1024 Testing Your Dogs IQ

Mad Mike’s Barney contemplating life. He should really have an IQ test.

I gave Apollo, my boxer, an “IQ” test the other day (yes, I was procrastinating), and it confirmed what I have been saying ever since he moved in with us a couple of years ago — he is not very bright. There are other ways I could describe his mental capacities (one ends in the phrase “box of rocks”), but since I do love the guy, I won’t go there.

The “IQ” test I used involved six tasks, and he received a score based on his ability to complete them within a set amount of time.

Test 1 involved hiding a treat under an opaque cup while he was watching and timing how long it took him to retrieve it. He didn’t, and based on what his facial expression told me, “Wowww, the treat, like, disappeared… totally” he wasn’t ever going to figure it out. Test 4, hiding a treat under a tea towel had the same results.

For test 2, I threw a blanket over Apollo and timed how long it took him to extricate himself. Again, he didn’t. To be fair, he eventually rubbed his head against my leg long enough to dislodge the part that was covering his eyes, but for the most part he just walked around bumping into things with his tail (and back half of the blanket) wagging.

Test 3 didn’t go much better. I waited for a time when Apollo was lying down a few feet away from me, caught his eye, and then smiled broadly. Supposedly, “smart” dogs will immediately get up and walk over. Apollo looked at me quizzically for 10 seconds or so, and then started getting nervous (“Uhhh, why are you staring at me with that crazy look on your face, Mom?”) and then wouldn’t make eye contact with me for a while. Can’t say I blame him, I must have looked demented.

He actually did pretty well with test 5. While he watched, I placed a treat under a chair and he had to use his paws (and his freakishly long tongue) to get it. It only took him about 20 seconds. Of course, the first time we tried this test, he knocked the chair’s skirt down, meaning he couldn’t see the treat anymore, and we were back to Test 1’s “out of sight, out of mind” result, but I gave him a second chance.

Finally, test 6 had me call out “refrigerator” and “movie” in the same tone of voice I use for his name. If he ignored the random words but responded to his name, he got the full 5 points. He aced this one… but unfortunately it was too little too late. I won’t embarrass him by giving you his final score, but the description he received was “Your dog is not too bright, but is most likely very cute.” Yes, he certainly is cute!

Apollo is also exceptionally sweet, which in his role as the family dog, is really more important than intellect anyway.

Dr. Jennifer Coates writing for PetMD

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Posted by on November 28, 2012. Filed under Advice,Animals,CRITTER TALK. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry
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12 Responses to Testing Your Dog’s IQ

  1. James Smith Reply

    November 28, 2012 at 10:24 am

    One of our dogs is blind so visuals would be pointless. Both score high on the cute scale, so that’s good enough.

    • Michael John Scott Reply

      November 28, 2012 at 11:28 am

      One of our dogs is partly blind and not so cute, although he has a nobility about him that works. He’s also pretty smart, except not being able to see well he growls at everything that remotely resembles another dog.

      • greenlight Reply

        November 28, 2012 at 12:51 pm

        “Cute” isn’t the word to describe him, but “majestic” certainly is. Or maybe “noble.”

        • Michael John Scott Reply

          November 28, 2012 at 1:34 pm

          How about noble majesty? :-)

          • berkeleygirl72 Reply

            December 3, 2012 at 8:06 pm

            Majestically noble. :)

  2. Joe Hagstrom Reply

    November 28, 2012 at 11:15 am

    My dog Dudley looks dumb as hell but the son of a bitch is a genius. If he can’t get the treat he knows how to manipulate so someone gets it for him.

    • Michael John Scott Reply

      November 28, 2012 at 11:32 am

      LOL! They’re good at that Joe. The picture on this post is my Barney and he’s a master manipulator, even without the hat :-)

  3. Carol Maietta Reply

    November 28, 2012 at 11:54 am

    I will try this test tonight with my Bernese Mountain dog who may not do as well as my big old Yellow Tabby cat :-)

    • Michael John Scott Reply

      November 28, 2012 at 1:35 pm

      Let us know Carol :-)

    • Bill Formby Reply

      December 6, 2012 at 1:39 pm

      Bernie should do pretty good Carol. As long as I use hot dogs or chicken as the treats Rascal does really well on the test.

      • James Smith Reply

        December 6, 2012 at 2:24 pm

        With hot dogs or chicken, I would do pretty well on the test! Maybe not quite as well as a dog, but not too badly. ;)

  4. Marsha Woerner Reply

    November 29, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    What about cats? My impression is that these supposedly “IQ test” is coming the pointless with them :-) with cats, it tests whether or not they feel like having a treat of the type that you are offering. If they do, then they will find it. If they don’t, then there’s nothing you could do to spur them into doing anything they aren’t intending to do anyway. Come to think of it, I don’t think it requires a treat of any kind to show that!

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