The Intelligence of Dogs: A Guide to the Thoughts, Emotions, and Inner Lives of Our Canine Companions
AuthorStanley Coren
GenreScience & Nature
Publication date
  • 10 May 1994
Publication placeUnited States
Media typePrint (hardback and paperback)

The Intelligence of Dogs: A Guide to the Thoughts, Emotions, and Inner Lives of Our Canine Companions is a 1994 book on dog intelligence by Stanley Coren, a professor of canine psychology at the University of British Columbia.[1] The book explains Coren's theories about the differences in intelligence between various breeds of dogs.[2][3][4] Coren published a second edition in 2006.[5]

Coren defines three aspects of dog intelligence in the book: instinctive intelligence, adaptive intelligence, and working and obedience intelligence.[6] Instinctive intelligence refers to a dog's ability to perform the tasks it was bred for, such as herding, pointing, fetching, guarding, or supplying companionship.[6] Adaptive intelligence refers to a dog's ability to solve problems on its own.[6] Working and obedience intelligence refers to a dog's ability to learn from humans.[6]


The book's ranking focuses on working and obedience intelligence. Coren sent evaluation requests to American Kennel Club and Canadian Kennel Club obedience trial judges, asking them to rank breeds by performance, and received 199 responses, representing about 50 percent of obedience judges then working in North America.[6] Assessments were limited to breeds receiving at least 100 judge responses.[6] This methodology aimed to eliminate the excessive weight that might result from a simple tabulation of obedience degrees by breed. Its use of expert opinion followed precedent.[7][8]

Coren found substantial agreement in the judges' rankings of working and obedience intelligence, with Border collies consistently named in the top ten and Afghan Hounds consistently named in the lowest.[6] The highest ranked dogs in this category were Border collies, Poodles, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, and Doberman Pinschers.[9]

Dogs that are not breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club or Canadian Kennel Club (such as the Jack Russell Terrier) were not included in Coren's rankings.


Coren's book presents a ranked list of breed intelligence, based on a survey of 208 dog obedience judges across North America.[10] When it was first published there was much media attention and commentary in terms of both pros[11] and cons.[12] Over the years, Coren's ranking of breeds and methodology have come to be accepted as a valid description of the differences among dog breeds in terms of their trainability.[13][14] A 2009 measurement of canine intelligence using another method[more detail needed] confirmed the general pattern of these rankings,[15] and Coren included an updated study using owner ratings of dog trainability and intelligence in the 2006 edition of the book.[16]

The value of survey-based cognition findings have been dismissed by some cognitive researchers[17][more detail needed] and dog trainers.[18]

The 1995 edition of Coren's book lists 130 dog breeds, and assigns them to 79 ranks with some ties, grouped into six descending categories.[10]

Rank Breed Category
1 Border Collie Brightest Dogs
  • Understanding of new commands: fewer than 5 repetitions.
  • Obey first command: 95% of the time or better.[10]
2 Poodle
3 German Shepherd
4 Golden Retriever
5 Doberman Pinscher
6 Shetland Sheepdog
7 Labrador Retriever
8 Papillon
9 Rottweiler
10 Australian Cattle Dog
11 Pembroke Welsh Corgi Excellent Working Dogs
  • Understanding of new commands: 5 to 15 repetitions.
  • Obey first command: 85% of the time or better.[10]
12 Miniature Schnauzer
13 English Springer Spaniel
14 Belgian Shepherd Dog (Tervuren)
15 Schipperke
Belgian Sheepdog
16 Collie
17 German Shorthaired Pointer
18 Flat-Coated Retriever
English Cocker Spaniel
Standard Schnauzer
19 Brittany
20 Cocker Spaniel
21 Weimaraner
22 Belgian Malinois
Bernese Mountain Dog
23 Pomeranian
24 Irish Water Spaniel
25 Vizsla
26 Cardigan Welsh Corgi
27 Chesapeake Bay Retriever Above Average Working Dogs
  • Understanding of new commands: 15 to 25 repetitions.
  • Obey first command: 70% of the time or better.[10]
Yorkshire Terrier
28 Giant Schnauzer
29 Airedale Terrier
Bouvier des Flandres
30 Border Terrier
31 Welsh Springer Spaniel
32 Manchester Terrier
33 Samoyed
34 Field Spaniel
Australian Terrier
American Staffordshire Terrier
Gordon Setter
Bearded Collie
35 Cairn Terrier
Kerry Blue Terrier
Irish Setter
36 Norwegian Elkhound
37 Affenpinscher
Australian Silky Terrier
Miniature Pinscher
English Setter
Pharaoh Hound
Clumber Spaniel
38 Norwich Terrier
39 Dalmatian
40 Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier Average Working/Obedience Intelligence
  • Understanding of new commands: 25 to 40 repetitions.
  • Obey first command: 50% of the time or better.[10]
Bedlington Terrier
Smooth Fox Terrier
41 Curly Coated Retriever
Irish Wolfhound
42 Kuvasz
Australian Shepherd
43 Saluki
Finnish Spitz
44 Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
German Wirehaired Pointer
Black and Tan Coonhound
American Water Spaniel
45 Siberian Husky
Bichon Frise
King Charles Spaniel
46 Tibetan Spaniel
English Foxhound
Jack Russell Terrier
American Foxhound
Wirehaired Pointing Griffon
47 West Highland White Terrier
Scottish Deerhound
48 Boxer
Great Dane
49 Dachshund
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
50 Alaskan Malamute
51 Whippet
Chinese Shar Pei
Wire Fox Terrier
52 Rhodesian Ridgeback
53 Ibizan Hound
Welsh Terrier
Irish Terrier
54 Boston Terrier
55 Skye Terrier Fair Working/Obedience Intelligence
  • Understanding of new commands: 40 to 80 repetitions.
  • Obey first command: 30% of the time or better.[10]
56 Norfolk Terrier
Sealyham Terrier
57 Pug
58 French Bulldog
59 Griffon Bruxellois
60 Italian Greyhound
61 Chinese Crested Dog
62 Dandie Dinmont Terrier
Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen
Tibetan Terrier
Japanese Chin
Lakeland Terrier
63 Old English Sheepdog
64 Great Pyrenees
65 Scottish Terrier
Saint Bernard
66 Bull Terrier
67 Chihuahua
68 Lhasa Apso
69 Bullmastiff
70 Shih Tzu Lowest Degree of Working/Obedience Intelligence
  • Understanding of new commands: 80 to 100 repetitions or more.
  • Obey first command: 25% of the time or worse.[10]
71 Basset Hound
72 Mastiff
73 Pekingese
74 Bloodhound
75 Borzoi
76 Chow Chow
77 Bulldog
78 Basenji
79 Afghan Hound

See also


  1. ^ Coren, Stanley (1995). The Intelligence of Dogs: A Guide To The Thoughts, Emotions, And Inner Lives Of Our Canine Companions. New York: Bantam Books. ISBN 0-553-37452-4.
  2. ^ Boxer, Sarah (1994-06-05). "My Dog's Smarter Than Your Dog". New York Times.
  3. ^ Wade, Nicholas (1994-07-03). "METHOD AND MADNESS; What Dogs Think". New York Times.
  4. ^ Croke, Vicki (1994-04-21). "Growling at the dog list". Tribune New Service (published in the Boston Globe).
  5. ^ Showing all editions for 'The intelligence of dogs : a guide to the thoughts, emotions, and inner lives or our canine companions'. WorldCat. OCLC 30700778.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Stanley Coren (July 15, 2009). "Canine Intelligence—Breed Does Matter". Psychology Today. Retrieved 2011-08-16.
  7. ^ Hart, BL; Hart (1985). "LA". JAVMA. 186: 1181–1185.
  8. ^ Hart, BL; Hart, LA (1988). The Perfect Puppy. New York: Freeman.
  9. ^ Stanley Coren. "Excerpted from "The Intelligence of Dogs"". Retrieved 2011-10-23.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h Coren1995
  11. ^ Example: Perrin, Noel (April 10, 1994). "How Do Dogs Think?". Chicago Sun-Times.
  12. ^ Example: "Coren's Canine List Has Owners Growling". April 30, 1994. Apr 30, 1994.
  13. ^ Example:Csányi, Vilmos (2000). If dogs could talk: Exploring the canine mind. New York: North Point Press.
  14. ^ Davis, SL; Cheeke PR (August 1998). "Do domestic animals have minds and the ability to think? A provisional sample of opinions on the question". Journal of Animal Science. 76 (8): 2072–2079. doi:10.2527/1998.7682072x. PMID 9734856.
  15. ^ Example: Helton, WS (November 2009). "Cephalic index and perceived dog trainability". Behavioural Processes. 83 (3): 355–358. doi:10.1016/j.beproc.2009.08.004. PMID 19683035. S2CID 37255133.
  16. ^ Coren, Stanley (2006). Why does my dog act that way? A complete guide to your dog's personality. New York: Free Press.
  17. ^ Miklósi, Ádám. (2015). Dog behaviour, evolution, and cognition (Second ed.). Oxford, United Kingdom. ISBN 978-0-19-964666-1. OCLC 896850944.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  18. ^ Nadelman, Hether (July 1994). "Media Hound". Front and Finish The Dog Trainer's News. Archived from the original on 2002-02-13.