Posts Tagged ‘foxes’

Do You Own the Smartest Dog in the World?

August 11, 2009

I consider myself lucky. I get to work all the time, working with folks in their homes (I love people!) and their dogs (I love dogs!). I also get to work with two of the smartest dogs in the world. I know; I know – EVERYBODY thinks their dog is the smartest. -Okay, except for that lady that called last week, but I digress.

But, I have proof! CNN posted this article about how smart your dog may be. I happen to own a German Shepherd (Ranked #3) and a Golden Retriever (Ranked #4).

This very interesting article also talks about “recent” breeds, vs. “older” breeds. First remember that everything is relevant. But by “recent”, they were talking about breeds like Collies and Retrievers. Huh? They are compared to breeds like hounds that “just needed to be fine tuned, as they already did what humans wanted”; kill food. All we had to do was intercept the food. Huh? (again).

Hmm… I have a problem with this part. I’d have to check my evolutionary chart, but I don’t remember natural selection creating hounds, German Shepherds, or Chihuahuas. No, at some point 10,000 years ago, some hunter befriended a wolf pack when they realized the wolves would take down the moose and provide food. I’m thinking one day the hunters selected a more tame pup from a litter here and a litter there and bred something a tad more docile, but that retained the hunter instinct.

In the 1950’s some Russian scientists did a fascinating study with foxes.  (There is also a documentary of sorts on this that I’ve seen on cable). As they bred for more tame foxes, many things started happening to them. Read the article, it’s very interesting. A quote from the article: “…selection for behavior implied selection for physiological characteristics that would have broader effects on the animals’ development.” Trust me that hounds are just as “made” as a Collie.

At some point in our history, (I’ll happily be proven wrong here and retract…), all of our canine friends were wolves. We’ve selected and selected and quite frankly forced development that likely never would have happened in nature. Be realistic; what are the chances for survival in the wild for a tea cup Chihuahua? And to be even more honest, I’m not sure how long many of our “bully breeds” would last out there either.

But I started out talking about intelligence. I’m constantly amazed by how much we humans project onto our canine friends. Yes, some dogs do take longer than others to learn. But approached in the right manner, I really believe that your dog can learn. They may struggle, but given consistent, repetition and a human determined to help the pooch learn at its pace- the pooch will learn. Even one of my favorite shows, “MythBusters” did a segment on “Teaching an old dog new tricks”. Don’t say, “My dog can’t learn” or “My dog is dumb”, etc. You’re starting with the assumption of failure! Assume your dog WANTS to learn, WANTS to please.  It does!

 So, grab YOUR intelligent dog and have a blast! It Can learn!

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