How smart is your dog? Most of us probably like to think our dogs are pretty intelligent. We can make an educated guess at their level of intelligence by how fast they learn, how well they adapt to new situations, or even how creative they are at finding ways to get into trouble. But scientists at the London School of Economics and Edinburgh University have developed a dog IQ test that they hope will provide a more objective answer to how smart a dog really is. Their eventual goal is to determine if a dog’s intelligence leads to a longer life.
Dog intelligence works very much like human intelligence in that if dogs perform well on one task, they tend to perform well on others. The IQ test that scientists developed presented a group of Border Collies with a series of challenges that they had to overcome. One involved working out how to get around a barrier to reach food, while another involved following human pointing gestures. The dogs that did well on the first challenge did well on the others, which indicates that dog intelligence is measurable.
The next step will be to determine if that intelligence helps dogs live longer. Scientists hope to use the findings and apply them to people to see how intelligence affects human longevity. Smart people do tend to live longer, but it’s hard to measure because humans make lifestyle choices like smoking, drinking, or eating poorly that affect results. Dogs, on the other hand, aren’t prone to those choices, so the results are a bit more accurate.
If you’re worried that intelligence is the only factor in canine longevity, don’t be too concerned. There are plenty of ways you can help your dog live longer. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, staying up-to-date on vaccinations, medication, and vet visits, and even paying attention to dental care and oral hygiene can all add years to your dog’s life.
Do you think your dog would do well in an intelligence test? Do you think smart dogs live longer? Let us know in the comments below!