What is the most intelligent dog breed?

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One of the most controversial topics in the dog world is which breeds are the most intelligent. Traditionally, there are a number of dogs that are considered particularly intelligent: until now, the most intelligent breed has been the border collie, but a new study has put Belgian Malinois – typically trained as a police dog – in first place. This is a surprising result in part, because until now it has not been a breed that typically appears at the top of these rankings.

Measuring a dog's intelligence is always complicated because some of the factors evaluated, such as the relationship with humans, are conditional on two important variables: the dog's personality — which specifically depends more on the parents than the breed itself — and function. Historically bred, the breeds were obtained by selecting for desirable personality traits: thus, for example, it is understandable that sheepdogs such as the Sheltie show a greater tendency to wait for human instructions since specifically, they were bred for that purpose.

Many of the participating breeds showed very different results depending on the type of test: for example, golden breeds proved exceptional at interacting with humans and reading their gestures, but almost half of them gave up when it came to solving logical problems. ; Other breeds, such as the Shelties mentioned above, showed little initiative when not receiving gestural instructions from humans. “Most breeds have their own strengths and weaknesses,” says Sara Juntella, lead author of the study and a doctoral researcher in canine cognition.

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Study with over a thousand dogs

The study, which was published in the journal Nature, was conducted on 1,002 dogs belonging to 12 different breeds: Border Collie, English Cocker Spaniel, Golden Retriever, Hoofwart, Australian Kelpie, Labrador Retriever, German Shepherd, Belgian Malinois, Australian Shepherd Dog, and Spanish Water Dog. Terrier, Finnish Lavond and Sheltie; In addition to the thirteenth group consisting of dogs of mixed breeds.

It is important to emphasize that the researchers did not directly choose which breeds would participate in the study: according to Sarah Juntilla, anyone could volunteer to participate with their dog, but breeds with at least 40 individuals were selected for the tests so that the results were statistically relevant.

The dogs in the study passed a series of tests that assessed different behavioral traits: attitude toward an unknown person, exploration of the environment, solving logical problems and the time spent on them, initiative when they did not receive instructions from a human, confidence in their own memory and perseverance when solving assigned tasks.

The smartest dog breeds ever, according to science

By averaging the results across all tests, the final classification was made adding a total of 39 possible points. The Belgian Malinois took first place in most tests and received 35 points in the final classification. So far they have not typically appeared on lists of the smartest breeds, but that may be because they tend to be popular pet dogs, while Malinois are primarily a working breed, used primarily by police and other security forces, and in previous studies It is not often included.

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The Border Collie, which until now topped the lists of the most intelligent dogs, came in second place with 26 points. This breed stands out in one area in particular, which is its exceptional memory: it can recognize over 1,000 words and learn instructions in less than five times.

The third and fourth seeds were Hoofwart and Spanish Water Dog, with 25 and 24 points, respectively. The latter has not been particularly prominent in any specific field. Hovawart, on the other hand, showed greater confidence in his memory than in human gestures, as he was able to recognize when they “tricked” him by telling him that the prize was in the wrong place.

Taken from National Geographic

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