Can You Measure Your Dog’s Intelligence?

Many dog owners think their dog is the smartest dog around and some of them may be right. This had us wondering if you can actually measure how smart your dog is. They can’t take an IQ test like humans do, but they can take a dog intelligence test.

Dogs have both instinctive and adaptive intelligence. An example of instinctive intelligence is when a Labrador automatically jumps in the water and swims or a Border Collie starts herding animals without being trained. It’s instinct. Adaptive intelligence is their ability to learn and it can be measured by how quickly they learn and retain commands. Border Collies, typically thought to be the smartest dog, can learn and retain commands with fewer than 5 repetitions and obeys the first command 95% of the time.

For dog owners that want to test their own dog’s intelligence there are several simple tests that you can perform and even ‘kits’ that you can buy with specifically designed tests that give a fairly accurate measurement of your dog’s capacity for learning, and his ability to think and solve problems. Here are a few examples of some simple at home tests you can try to see how Fido stacks up. To begin, you will need a stopwatch to measure their time and a towel large enough to cover your dog’s head.

Problem Solving

  1. Toss the towel over your dog’s head. Start your stopwatch and measure how long it takes for your dog to remove the towel.
  • 30 seconds or less: 3 points
  • 31–120 seconds: 2 points
  • Tries but doesn't succeed within 120 seconds: 1 point — and take off the towel for him!
  • Doesn't try to get free: 0 points

Problem Solving and learning

  1. Get some of your dog’s favorite treats.
  2. Show him the treats.
  3. Place the treat on the floor and then cover it with the towel.
  4. Start your stopwatch and measure how long it takes for your dog to remove the towel and get the treat.
  • 30 seconds or less: 3 points
  • 31–60 seconds: 2 points
  • Tries but doesn't succeed within 60 seconds: 1 point
  • Doesn't try to get the treat: 0 points


  1. Get three plastic cups and some dog treats.
  2. Place the cups about a foot apart on the floor.
  3. Show your dog the treats and then place them under one of the plastic cups.
  4. Take your dog out of the room or out of sight of the cups for about 30 seconds and then let them back in to find the treats.
  5. Does your dog go directly to the cup where you placed the treats?
  • Checks the correct cup on the first try: 2 points
  • Checks the correct cup within 2 minutes: 1 point
  • Doesn’t find the treat: 0 points

Obviously, the higher your pet’s score on these tasks, the ‘smarter’ he or she is.

Here’s some additional tests you can try with your pet:

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