Dog Intelligence Test

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Dog Intelligence Test

Dog Intelligence Test

Has anyone seen a white coat hanger? I seemed to have lost it.

Stanley Coren ranked dog breeds by intelligence in his book The Intelligence of Dogs based on surveys done of dog trainers, the article for which contains a summary of the rankings obtained. According to Coren, there are three types of dog intelligence.

They are:

  1. Adaptive Intelligence (learning and problem-solving ability). This is specific to the individual animal and is measured by canine IQ tests.
  2. Instinctive Intelligence. This is specific to the individual animal and is measured by canine IQ tests.
  3. Working/Obedience Intelligence. This is breed dependent.

Coren has come up with six test to see how intelligent dogs are. These tests will help you work out whether your canine should go to Harvard or just stay asleep on the couch eating his own poop.
They test your dog’s adaptive intelligence- the ability to solve problems, understand language and learn social cues, like responding to a human smile.

Test Rules:

  1. Use your own dog, at least one year old, and living with you for at least 3 months
  2. The tests should be like a game for your dog
  3. You must remain calm, don’t raise your voice, act disgusted or over excited
  4. You can only do the tests once or twice for scoring purposes
  5. The tests can be given separately and in any order. Because they’re mostly based on food reward it may be better to give them over a number of sessions so the dog doesn’t end up full of food and tired, both of which will affect it’s motivation and performance, and it’s IQ score.

About the dog IQ Test:

The tests were devised by Dr Stanley Coren, professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia, a prizewinning dog trainer and an authority on canine intelligence.


Pug eating food

Who needs brains when you have flan!

This is a test of your dogs problem solving ability.

Things you’ll need to do this test

  • An empty can, like a soup can
  • Some desirable tidbit your dog likes to eat, a piece of cheese is good
  • A stopwatch or a way of timing your dogs response

How to do the test

  1. First sit the dog, if it won’t stay you’ll need someone to hold the dog by the collar.
  2. Then show the dog the tidbits of food and let it sniff it.
  3. Then with the dogs’ full attention slowly place the tidbit on the ground about two meters away from it, and invert the can over the tidbits.
  4. Start timing and encourage the dog to get the food.


If the dog knocks the can over and gets the tidbits in 5 seconds or less… 5 points

If the dog knocks the can over and gets the tidbits in 5 to 15 seconds… 4 points

In 15 to 30 seconds … 3 points

In 30 to 60 seconds … 2 points

If the dog sniffs around the can, but didn’t get the bait after 60 seconds… 1 point

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    • Casey,

      Are you sure you want to be friends with me anymore? I’m quite the opposite of smart and my humans wouldn’t dare try these with me! I’m still mastering my “Come here, Bunk.” 😉

  1. What happens if I have the following problem?
    Test 1: My dog is so well behaved he won’t knock the can over no matter how much I encourage him.
    Test 2: My dog throws towels over his own head and walks around the room growling at himself
    Test 3: No problem there, top marks
    Test 4: Same problem as Test 1, he sits patiently and waits.
    Test 5: Same problem as Test 4
    Test 6: Again top marks

  2. My dog taught me how to break into my own house using our sliding glass door. I can’t even lock her out. These tests were nothing for her.

  3. My nine month old German wire hair/ lab just scored 18!! Not bad for barely being able to even stand still for five seconds:)

  4. My dog aced the whole test, 30 points, and yet he is a complete wally…. he must be making the intelligent choice to act like a numpty…. 🙁

  5. The one problem I see with these tests is that they really only test the dogs desire to eat the treats so there behavior will change based on what treats you use and whether they are a food driven dog. I have two dogs a 50lb mutt and also a miniature dachshund. While they both enjoy treats, the mutt is not nearly as excited by them, he responds more strongly to affection and toys. These tests really don’t say anything about your dogs intelligence.

    • That’s a very interesting viewpoint Dan. Thanks for sharing! I think it really depends on the dog and what he responds to. I also think that there really isn’t ONE way of knowing your dog or his intelligence. This is just one of the more renown tests out there, that’s all. 🙂

  6. This doesn’t have anything to do with intelligence, especially the “name” one. As a person above said, not all dogs are food motivated. Furthermore, a true test of intelligence shouldn’t have anything to do with what you have learned. Each of these is a learned behavior that the dog will improve at over time, they are not inherent problem solving abilities.

    Another thing to note is that problem solving isn’t the “ultimate” test of intelligence. Trying to hold a dog to what we consider to be “intelligence” is not the most prudent way.

    Why not observe the dog with other dogs? Come up with tests based on /dog/ behaviors, not human.

    • Thank you for your response. While we understanding your thoughts, our job is to make sure we inform our readers about all the information available. That being said, we make sure we only publish well-researched articles. These are tests developed by a person who has been studying dogs and dog behavior for a while. Is his way the ONLY way? Of course not. Am I about to abandon my dog if he does not fit the intelligence test? Absolutely not! HOWEVER, I can run these tests at home to test for intelligence and have some fun along the way!

    • Vivi! We found her through a google search and thought she was so adorable. We are so happy for you that she decided to become your owner 😉

  7. Any dog that cannot complete these task in the minimum time. Is stupid. These tests are just survival skills. With one caveat. If the dog is being treated like a little person in a fur coat. There is no hope.

  8. According to this test, my dog is a complete moron. I know this not to be the case however, so I’m not bothered by it.
    Our dog trusts us implicitly, and doesn’t feel the need to free himself from a towel (or blanket) when we throw it over him. Apparently that’s only worth 1 point.
    Our dog does not come to us simply with his name. The command is ‘Come’. So that was 1 point.
    His tail wagged at us smiling, but he is not allowed to get up from sitting unless we give him the OK. So he just sat there like a good boy. Another 1 point.
    Great tests, I’m sure, if your dog is trained according to the university training program. But for pet owners that are capable of training their own pets, sans ‘professional help’, these tests are very off-base.
    Just my 2 cents..


  9. Bonnie, Pippin and Zac's mom on

    all dogs were good at different tests but my labradour (bonnie) usually chews blankets and loves food so she was good at the one where you hide treats under the blanket haha!

  10. I like these tests. I think they are fun.

    I walk dogs and pet sit for a living. I have a pack of 30 dogs I take out each week in varying rotations. Some of these situations come up naturally, and it is interesting to see who will do what in response.

    I do think that much of what is deemed as intelligence in dogs is driven by desire to please or motivation for reward.

    When I brought my Shiba Inu home and we took our first walk down our driveway which is three-tenths of a mile long he balked about 2/3 of the way down and refused to go any further. I remember looking around and saying “There’s nothing here. What are you afraid of?” I picked him up, took two steps and smelled the skunk. At 14 weeks old he knew that critter was there and he knew to stay away from it.

    I also gave him an egg. I placed it on the floor to see what he would do. He immediately picked it up, smashed it onto the floor and ate it.

    He is smart, but he is also stubborn. When I give him a command he is trained to he will sometimes make eye contact with me and stand there and think about it for a while. It’s not that he doesn’t understand what I want him to do, it’s that he doesn’t want to do it.

    Thanks for your posting. Bunk is adorable! And I’m going to look for Coren’s book.

  11. Just completed this test with my 11 mo German Shepherd. Yea, he passed everything within seconds. I agree with the doctor about giving them many experiences. I live in an apartment with mine and we go out any place you can think of all the time and he’s calm as can be. The lady on the bottom floor of our building can’t believe i let him off leash to walk him, I just don’t have to worry about him doing something bad. I hate bragging but he is just that smart. Take that vet! (the vet said every time we went to get shots or check up that i needed to look into training cause GSD’s are smart, but bad. Not the case here.) His intelligence level is amazing. I could go on and on, but I don’t mean to brag. I’m just so proud of him. Treat them like family and they will prosper in intelligence.

  12. I have a rescue dog of unknown breeding. brindle, web feet, black marked tongue, standup eats, 80lbs 3yrs old now, good eye sight, but is a scent primary sense hound, very dominant with other dogs,, very high energy, curious,,retrieves, territorial, affectionate to his family pack including our cat, aggressive to strangers until introduced,,strongly bonded to me and protective.loves to run on scents., doesn’t bay, doesn’t point, just waits for me to catch up. His home job is catching flys that get in and he is very good. My vet said he looked like a hyena….Enki knew he had been insulted and tried to nip the vet goodbye then. My vet then said is is what dogs would devolve to if there was no human intervention, feral dogs, so i GUESS he’s a Devo dog. We have already played all these tests as games, and he has been able to master them all since a pup in the “genius” level. I am having harder and harder times challenging him now. He not only know his name, but the specific name of all his toys…about 30, and won’t play with them if not called by the right name. He grumbles if he has to do things he prefers not to or if the play is too simple for him..(I can;t remember them as well).
    However, I think IT IS His acute sense of smell along with hearing and sight that he uses to accomplish these things rather than thinking the problem through. His socialization as a outdoor-indoor dog member of the family helped him learn the basic exceptions and correct dog etiquette with us. It also made him quite the show off in finding things, listening and learning words, since he understood that pleased humans. One side effect, he talks back now. Still no idea what type of dog he is.

  13. Kathleen Gabriel on

    “It’s” means “it is”. “Its” is the possessive of “it”. This was consistently written backward and took my attention off the article. Really. Seriously.

  14. Bunk? Is it okay to ask a question? because i have a few? My sister was looking at the different intelligence tests, and she says that she wants to try to do it on me. She says that since I’m a puppy that i may not be able to do it. Do you think I can?

    • Hi there, Jubie!

      Why don’t you go ahead and try? These are meant to be fun and you can take them as many times as you want throughout your life. 🙂

      Love, Bunk.

  15. Mayo's Uncle on

    Uncle tested me out, and I scored almost 30 points! I must be a genius!
    …or so you think, Mayo!

    • My dog would make a rock look smart. Either that or she is so far superior to me in intelligence she is faking me out so I underestimate her. Either way, she’s still a keeper … an entertaining keeper.

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