Your dog is as smart as your two year old

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Smart Dog

Your dog is as smart as any two year old, according to a new study. Dogs bring much happiness to their owners, and even promote human health. Most two years olds keep us engaged in life – an important component of living a long and happy life. According to Stanley Coren, PhD, of the University of British Columbia, our dogs are smarter than we thought.

Dr. Coren, a psychologist and canine researcher, reviewed numerous studies to find out that dogs are as smart as 2 to 2.5 year olds. He is also the author of more than a half dozen books about dogs and dog behavior.

Forget about one word commands – according to Coren, the smartest dogs (mine!) can learn up to 250 words. Most dogs understand an average of 165 words.

Coren says,” The upper limit of dogs' ability to learn language is partly based on a study of a border collie named Rico who showed knowledge of 200 spoken words and demonstrated 'fast-track learning,' which scientists believed to be found only in humans and language learning apes.”


Dogs are also great at deceiving (mine!). During play, they have the ability to deceive humans and other dogs in order to get treats. "And they are nearly as successful in deceiving humans as humans are in deceiving dogs,” says Coren.

Dogs can also count to four or five, which might explain how they know when their toys are missing. Coren explains, “Their stunning flashes of brilliance and creativity are reminders that they may not be Einsteins but are sure closer to humans than we thought”.

Different dogs have varying levels of intelligence. The smartest breed is a Border collie (not mine!). "Border collies are number one; poodles are second, followed by German shepherds. Fourth on the list is golden retrievers; fifth, dobermans; sixth, Shetland sheepdogs; and finally, Labrador retrievers," said Coren.

Animals can do much to keep us happy, healthy, and protect us from harm. Stories of dog heroes can be found using a simple internet search. Dogs really are our friends, and they can keep us healthy too. Pets teach us responsibility, keep us from loneliness, and can serve as therapists for handicap individuals. Dogs are smarter than we knew – as smart as a two year old.

American Psychological Association



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