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How to Factor In Intelligence When Evaluating Dog Breeds

Intelligence is fairly irrelevant when predicting how well a dog is going to work as a member of your family. What’s more important is trainability or biddability, qualities that describe how much — or how little — a dog concerns himself with what you want him to do.

One factor to consider is the job a breed was developed to perform. Some dogs, such as hounds, were developed to work alone or with other dogs — independent of human control. Some breeds are trained to follow their noses and won’t even hear you calling when they’re on the scent of something.

Training can take the edge off the tendency to ignore your wishes, but getting your dog to mind is going to be easier with some breeds than with others.

Three of the breeds most often touted as highly intelligent — the Border Collie, Golden Retriever, and the Doberman Pinscher — a herding dog, a hunting dog, and a protection dog, respectively —were all developed to work closely with a human handler. They come prewired to look to a human for guidance, and if the human knows enough to provide that guidance, these breeds will gladly serve. That’s their job, after all.

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