Dogs have always been man’s best friend. They provide us with comfort, companionship, and love. While each and every dog is a unique individual with their own likes, dislikes and personal quirks, dogs also have particular characteristics that are specific to their breed. For example, some dogs are known for their calm nature, some are known for being fantastic hunters, and some are known for their high level of intelligence. This might be an important consideration if you’re considering any form of pet travel with your future four-legged friend!
Researchers at the University of Helsinki in Finland recently set out to prove which is the smartest dog breed once and for all. The study is said to be the most extensive laboratory study of canine intelligence that has ever taken place. They put over 1,000 dogs of varying breeds to the test to find out. Thirteen different dog breeds took part in a series of cognitive challenges and behavioural tasks. Then the team ranked each breed based on their performance. One of the 10 activities involved recognising human gestures. Another noted their ability to solve problems. The dogs also had their short-term memory tested.
And the result may not be the one you were expecting. The Border Collie, which often tops lists as being the world’s smartest dog breed, actually came in at second place. The Belgian Malinois took the top spot. Also known as the Belgian Shepherd, they are often employed in police forces for their intelligent and obedient nature. In this study, it received 35 out of 39 points across the various challenges. The Border Collie received 26 points.
Dr Katriina Tiira told The Sunday Telegraph:
“The Belgian malinois stood out in many of the cognitive tasks, having very good results in the majority of the tests.”
Towards the bottom of the list featured the Labrador retriever. The breed scored particularly low in tests involving inhibitory control and problem-solving.
Professor Stanley Coren from the University of British Columbia in Canada has previously undertaken similar research. Coren, the author of the 1994 study entitled ‘The Intelligence of Dogs’, told Newsweek:
“All of the dog breeds selected for this study are very bright. This is equivalent to taking a sample of ten Nobel Prize winners and comparing their intelligence.”
Although the aim of the study was not to rank different dog breeds. PhD researcher Saara Junttila said that the purpose of the study was to understand how breeds differ from each other across the various traits.
Junttila told Newsweek:
“The results help us create a more complete picture of breed-specific behaviours and, in the long run, maybe even help us choose the right kind of breeds for the right tasks.”
If you’d like to read the full results of the study to find the world’s smartest dog breed, you can read it in the journal Nature Scientific Reports.
Fri Apr 7 2023