What Is The Average IQ Of A Dog? (All You Should Know)

What Is The Average IQ Of A Dog? Photo of a dog with glasses and books by its side.

Most pet parents have wondered, at some point, how smart their dog actually is. Curious? Read on to find out the numbers and what is the average IQ of a dog.

Experts in the field agree that dogs tend to have about 100 on a score for an IQ test. While some dogs will not be as bright or more brilliant than 100, this is the average. They are capable of learning up to 165 words and additional signals that they can interpret for more meaning.

To put it in perspective, this IQ score would line up with a person about 2 years old. The smartest dogs can learn up to 250 words and may be classed with children 3-4 years old in comparison!

Can dogs have a high IQ?

Many of us often think that our dogs are almost terrifyingly smart. They can seem to weasel their way out of trouble and find new ways to find new kinds of trouble. Dogs can have a high IQ, especially considering how far they are removed from humans and our standardized IQ. However, a dog’s IQ will be very different from that of humans. We’ll get into that more later.

As with many different things to do with canines, you’ll have dogs with a high IQ and dogs with a lower IQ. This is why experts sometimes talk about smart versus dumb dog breeds.

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Do dogs have a higher IQ than humans?

Technically, dogs do not have a higher IQ than humans. No matter how smart a dog might be, they don’t have brains that process things like humans. Some may say that dogs are smarter than humans — which they can be in some ways. However, they will always be inferior when it comes to overall IQ because the sheer intelligence in processing mentally isn’t going to be lower.

What is the IQ of a dog compared to a human?

So, let’s take a moment to compare a dog’s IQ directly to a human’s IQ. How do we know who is more intelligent and how to pick the number of 100 for their score? Their intelligence, when using our metrics, tends to focus on three main areas:

  • Data processing
  • Social cues and processing
  • Natural Instinct

Data processing on an IQ test would take the form of math and other kinds of logical processing. This is where the description of them between 2-4 years old in human years would come into play. Their brains don’t process logic and data the same way adult humans do, so this keeps them “immature” that way.

However, dogs tend to be very smart regarding social cues and emotional processing. Many pet parents are quick to agree to this! Dogs have impressive social capacities and will communicate effectively with each other and humans. They are typically 13-18 years old in human years when it comes to the sheer intelligence they can have with social interaction and emotions!

A dog’s natural instinct is literally one of the criteria used for an IQ test (more on that later). In a dog that is considered “smart”, they could be considered an adult! They are responsible animals that know what to do to keep their pack safe and will act on instincts with no concern on whether it’s the right thing to do or not.

Types of canine intelligence

If you’re surprised to learn that there are different ages for each section of intelligence, then you’re not alone! However, this is also how human intelligence works — creating a numeral score based on the results of different kinds of intelligence noted on sections of an IQ test! The sections on a dog’s IQ test would be:

  • Adaptive intelligence
  • Instinctive intelligence
  • Working/obedience intelligence

Adaptive intelligence

This is where dogs are compared to a 2-year-old, as mentioned briefly above. While dogs can problem-solve and understand how to fix a problem with no help from humans (such as math and logic), they are slower to do so than humans, and even the simplest problems (to us) can be complex for them.

Instinctive intelligence

This was another example we discussed above, and dogs are impressively like adults in this respect! Their breed, whatever it is, has natural instincts that allow them to survive, as taught from generation to generation. It could be herding, hunting, guarding, etc. Dogs often tend to be very intelligent in this instinctive intelligence, though there are still varying degrees!

Working/obedience intelligence

This kind of intelligence is specific to how dogs work directly with humans. Remember that biologically speaking, humans are predators rather than pack mates. So, working and obedience training measures just how able dogs are to adapt and learn specifically with humans! For example, some dog breeds struggle to understand basic obedience commands. Others have no problem with obedience training.

How smart is a dog?

When you see those different ways to understand a dog’s intelligence, it’s pretty cool to see just how we’ve figured out how to quantify a dog’s actual intelligence level! So, how do we determine which dogs are more intelligent than others? Factors impacting a dog’s intelligence include:

  • Genetics and biology
  • Timeliness and intensity of training
  • Socialization and interaction in development years
  • Diet and general health

While all of these are factors to think about, a dog’s intelligence will still be capped and limited compared to a human’s no matter how high/good all of these are considered in a dog’s life!

How do dogs show intelligence?

If dogs are so impressive in so many ways, how do they actually show this intelligence to us outside lab-focused studies? In other words: how can we determine for ourselves how smart or dumb our dog actually is? 

The most significant way to understand a dog’s intelligence is their ability to adapt to emotions and situations. This takes in adaptive and working/obedience intelligence with a touch of instinctive intelligence.

Dogs are considered intelligent when they can show empathy for family members. For instance, trying to comfort you if you are crying or showing excitement if you are happy or excited.

Another sign of a dog’s intelligence is that they can and understand the importance of holding eye contact! They are intelligent dogs if you are talking to them and their attention is undivided to you with direct eye contact, no matter what is going on in their periphery.

Intelligence dogs will also respond well to subtle body language, such as you gently tapping the sofa cushion next to you to get them to jump up, as opposed to giving them a verbal command and a firm pat on the cushion. 

Lastly, a dog is considered intelligent if they can take knowledge in one situation and apply it to a new one, even if it’s one they’ve never been in before.

What is the highest IQ of a dog?

As already stated, the average IQ of a dog is 100. Dogs who are not as smart as the average would be lower than this. It’s possible that dogs can score higher than 100, but experts agree that 100 is the maximum based on their testing metrics!

How to increase a dog’s IQ

If you’re interested in helping your dog be as bright as he can be, you’ll be happy to learn how to do it! A lot of it will sound familiar to parents out there who are used to teaching their children different types of intelligence through their developmental years.

One of the best ways to help increase your dog’s IQ is through puzzle games! These could be puzzle mats or games designed to push your dog’s intelligence using their nose, paws, and teeth! This is going to help them push their adaptive and problem-solving intelligence further and further. These are also great for high-energy and anxious dogs since it gives them something engaging to focus on.

Another way to help increase your dog’s intelligence is by learning how to organize their toys. It could be through learning to put their toys into their baskets, sorting them by color, and other things like that. It’s also fun to help your dog learn something beneficial for daily life!

Lastly, consistent and challenging obedience and agility training will help your dog be their most intelligent self! From classic commands to intricate tricks to an obstacle course, your dog can really increase their intelligence through this kind of education!

Dogs with the highest IQ

Some dogs are more intelligent than others, as mentioned above. Amongst the smartest dog breeds are:

  • Golden Retrievers
  • Collies
  • Poodles

Dogs with the lowest IQ

There are also dogs ranked lower in intelligence, as you can imagine. Dogs that are lower include:

  • Basset Hounds
  • Bulldogs
  • Beagles

Both the highest and lowest IQ dogs can have exceptions since these are just breed-specific rankings. Individual breeding and personalities also factor in that don’t make for a sure thing.

In general

Dogs are thought to score about 100 on an IQ test. Their types of intelligence include adaptive, instinctive, and working/obedience intelligence. Compared to humans, they act about 2-4 years old. Intelligence factors include breeding, health, and individual personalities.

It’s pretty interesting that a dog’s intelligence can be so easily understood when you take a personalized approach to it, but this is the case!

Know someone that will find this exciting and immediately want to start assessing their own dog’s IQ? Share this with them!

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Dog Advisory Council

A team whose main goal is to serve knowledge about the canine world. Together since 2012, we thrive to transform and inform, so each dog can live a happy and fulfilling life. Read more about us.