Could This Dog IQ Test Help People With Dementia?

Dogs have measurable IQs, like people, suggests new research from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and the University of Edinburgh.

The research, published in the journal Intelligence, looked at whether dog intelligence is structured in a similar way as in humans. When IQ, or ‘general intelligence’, is tested in people, individuals tend to perform comparably across different types of cognitive tasks – those who do well in one type of task, tend to do well in others.

For the purpose of this research, the team created a proto-type dog ‘IQ test’ which they used to assess the intelligence of 68 working Border Collies and carried out a series of tests including: navigation, tested by timing how long it took the dogs to get food that was behind different types of barriers; assessing whether they could tell the difference between quantities of food and; their ability to follow a human pointing gesture to an object.

Photo Credit: Dr Angela Driscoll/Kinloch Sheepdogs

The researchers found that dogs that did well on one test tended be better at the other tests. Furthermore, dogs that did tests faster were likely to do them more accurately.

The series of tests were conducted in under an hour per dog, which is comparable with the time it takes a person to do an IQ-type test. Again highlighting similarities between man and his best friend.

Speaking of the findings Dr Rosalind Arden, a Research Associate at LSE, said: “Just as people vary in their problem solving abilities, so do dogs, even within one breed. This is significant because in humans there is a small but measureable tendency for people who are brighter to be healthier and live longer. So if, as our research suggests, dog intelligence is structured similarly to ours, studying a species that doesn’t smoke, drink, use recreational drugs and does not have large differences in education and income, may help us understand this link between intelligence and health better.”

She continued, “In addition, dogs are one of the few animals that reproduce many of the key features of dementia, so understanding their cognitive abilities could be valuable in helping us to understand the causes this disorder in humans and possibly test treatments for it.”

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