Do You Care About Your Dog’s IQ?


The Dog IQ Test: The title alone stopped me in my tracks. Back in 1996, when people still browsed bookstores for the latest titles, I paid about $15 for the book by Melissa Miller and had a project for the next week or so with Brandy Noel, the dog before my current dog, Dexter. I wondered about my dog’s IQ.

I thought about the book and the test recently, and it raised some issues for me, including how we value animals (and why we feel the need to rank animal intelligence), and how my own view has changed toward dogs and myself as a dog mom.

Soon after I bought the book, I tackled the pages and put my pooch to the test, wondering whether I had either a canine Einstein or maybe just a smarter-than-average dog sharing my life. Miller designed the IQ test as a yardstick for measuring the intelligence of the domestic dog population in general.


In the process, I learned a bit about myself and my attitude as a dog mom. It was during this period I stopped calling myself a “dog owner” and progressed into “dog mom.”

Miller writes, “The test is meant to be accurate, but above all, entertaining and amusing to take.” Your dog is given a series of things to do. You, as the dog mom or dad, assess and score based on the provided system.

In one exercise, I had to wave a flashlight all around the room and make the light shine brightly on the wall. A smart dog, she writes, investigates the source of the light. I remember Brandy sniffing the front of the flashlight and then looking at me as if I were nuts.


The layers of testing

The markers to asses dog intelligence are pretty much in line with human IQ tests. The areas include memory (such as what your dog does when you reach for the leash), vocabulary (I always wondered how many words my dog knew — it turns out more than 100), verbal apprehension (such as coming when called), perception (detecting the mood of the human parent), and spatial ability (judging distance and speed when tossed a ball or toy).

Some of the test questions made me laugh out loud. One was, “How do you think your dog would spend its free time if it [were] human?” We’re given an assortment of choices — organizing events, eating out, and watching television are among them. Portions of the test are highly subjective, to be sure.

he test provides different points for each answer. At the end of the test, you add up the points — you’ve got a number, and your dog has an intelligence quotient.


How my Brandy scored

In researching this story, I found Brandy’s old veterinary records. I have no idea why I kept them, but perhaps a piece of her still remains. To be honest, I couldn’t find my old copy of The Dog IQ Test, but I did find her score filed with the vet records. When we took the test in 1996, she was 3 years old; it seems like a lifetime ago. She scored in the upper quotient of intelligence.

The book also tests the IQ of the dog owner. Categories for owners include “doting,” “congenial,” “sensible,” and “demanding.” The author then recommends breeds depending on owner temperament. I was “sensible” and “doting,” so no surprise there.

So, why am I talking about a book I read 17 years ago? When I found Brandy’s score, I thought about purchasing it again so I could test my dog, Dexter. Then I realized I already know all I need to know about him, and I would prefer not to assign a number or a label to my pooch.


A Fun Way To Engage Your Dog’s Mental Faculties

Instead of putting our dog, Dexter, through the IQ test, we decided to engage with the folks at Dognition and determine our pooch’s personality and mental faculties, so to speak. If you’ve been following along, we put out dog through a series of fun mental games. The results would come at the end of the test in the form of a 15-page assessment but most notably, an overall badge awarded to our dog. I love most that this test does not test your dog’s IQ, as there are no wrong or right answers.

Dognition tests 5 areas of your dog’s inner puppy, and the best part is: There are NO wrong answers. The games measure empathy, communication, cunning, memory, and reasoning. In our first blog post, we showed you testing in empathy and communication. To review, these are the five categories your dog is tested in:

  1. Empathy – Reading and responding to the emotions of others
  2. Communication – Using information from others to learn about the environment
  3. Cunning – Using information from others to avoid detection
  4. Memory – Storing past experiences to make future choices
  5. Reasoning – Inferring the solution to new problems

You can read these oru Dognition post part A Dognition post part B and to see how our dog performed, but alas: Here is the overall assessment:


Would you ever test your dog’s IQ? Where do you think your dog would rank? Does it even matter? Does the idea of a dog IQ test make you mad? Would you prefer a fun game like Dognition, which incidentally we are giving one away here. Let me know in the comments!


  1. Well, as you know we just finished up the test with Jack and thought it was a lot of fun. I still have to tackle it with Maggie but given her more shy and fearful natures, I’m not sure she will enjoy it as much as Jack did. Jack’s ‘type’ was pretty much spot on – do you think Dexter is a Renaissance Man?

  2. Don’t know if my dogs, (3) are smart or not. Doesn’t matter as they are all “heart smart” They know the exact time to smother me with love. I don’t even have to use a command voice…they read my mind! They do have the attention span of a knat thought! Gott’a love my mutts.

  3. This would be fun although I think Layla is a smarty pants just by some of the things she does 🙂 Am such a Jewish Mom though LOL. When the phone rings Layla is like a bullet to the frontdoor as she knows that 90 percent of the time it means the kids are on the way over, she hears me just say hullo on Skype and she is dancing around the chair wanting to get on the desk. So being able to test her and know more for me would be really fantastic cos her being a rescue I never knew her upbringing till she came to me 🙂

  4. undecided b/c i think all of my girls are smart…..i think dogs in general are smarter than people think they are, some are just lazy like people and dont apply themselves…my girls dont do good at the puzzles but i dont think they are intelligent b/c of this….just like people dont think dogs remember them from yrs ago, not true….my girls remembered their breeder mom after 3 ys….just like some people are better at certain things, so are dogs…..

  5. I’m pretty sure I have one super smart dog and one… “slow” dog. With Bentley, I have to be careful that he doesn’t outsmart me. For example, sometimes he’ll be bad just to get a reward for stopping the bad behavior. Quincy, on the other hand… He has gotten lost inside straight agility tunnels. Then he gave up, flopped on his back, and started rolling around inside for the fun of it. LOL

    Their intelligence doesn’t matter, really. I love them both. Quincy’s “slowness” is just s endearing (if not more!) as Bentley’s intelligence. I wouldn’t change either of them if I could. 🙂

    • Love that attitude and we raise our sparkling water glass to you. Love that Quincy got lost in an agility tunnel and rolled over – too stinkin cute!

  6. I’m sure that, like with the kids, we all think our fur kid is super intelligent and these tests would help show that. I’m with you I don’t want to brand my little fella. Really what does it matter as long as they and you are happy. Thanks for telling us about Dognition and your testing of Brandy.

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