As most dog owners know, canines are smarter than we give them credit for. That said, border collies are often known as the Harvard grads of the pack. During intelligence tests administered by the London School of Economics (LSE) and University of Edinburgh, researchers found these dogs have measurable IQs, much like people.
In a specialized dog "IQ test," researchers measured the intelligence of 68 working border collies. The IQ, or "general intelligence," test included: navigation, tested by timing how long it took the dogs to reach food that was visibly, but hidden behind a barrier; assessing whether they could tell the difference between food portions and how quickly they would go for the bigger of the two plates; and their ability to follow a human gesture pointing to an object, according to a news release.
The hope, researchers say, was to examine whether dog intelligence is structured in a similar way as in humans, who tend to perform comparably across different types of cognitive tasks during an IQ test. (Scroll to read more...)
"Just as people vary in their problem solving abilities, so do dogs, even within one breed. This is significant because in humans there is a small but measurable tendency for people who are brighter to be healthier and live longer," Dr. Rosalind Arden, a Research Associate at LSE, said in the release. "So if, as our research suggests, dog intelligence is structured similarly to ours, studying a species that doesn't smoke, drink, use recreational drugs and does not have large differences in education and income, may help us understand this link between intelligence and health better."
For example, dog develop dementia in similar ways that humans do.
"So understanding their cognitive abilities could be valuable in helping us to understand the causes this disorder in humans and possibly test treatments for it," Dr. Arden continued.
Overall researchers found dogs that did well on one task were more likely to test well on another. Furthermore, dogs that performed tests faster were likely to do them more accurately.
"This is only a first step, but we are aiming to create a dog IQ test that is reliable, valid and can be administered quickly," Dr. Mark Adams, Research Fellow at the University of Edinburgh, said in a statement. "Such a test could rapidly improve our understanding of the connection between dog intelligence, health, even lifespan, and be the foundation of 'dognitive epidemiology.'"
Their findings were recently published in the journal Intelligence.
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