How Smart is Your Dog?

How Smart is Your Dog?

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Luna, down. You’re so smart! A
lot of pet owners think their doggos are smart – very intelligent. MENSA ready. But how can we know for sure? At different points in history, dogs have
been the gatekeepers of the afterlife, fluffy hunting companions, security guards and even
family members. They respond to our body language, like gesturing
and pointing, they understand verbal commands and sometimes, they can be deceptive – having
a theory of mind (meaning they understand that our thoughts and feelings may be different
from theirs). But canine intelligence hasn’t been carefully
studied until recently. Perhaps because “intelligence” is so hard
to define. In dogs intelligence has been broken down
into three categories: Instinctive: how well your dog does what they
are bred to do, like herd sheep or retrieve things. Adaptive: This is how well your dog learns
from their environment in order to solve puzzles, like where you hide treats. And working and obedience: Or, how well your
pup does in obedience school and training. And much like people, dogs have a range of
intelligence. When they’ve been compared on working and
obedience, border collies, poodles, and german shepherds are the top three breeds. Way down at the bottom of the list were mastiffs
and basset hounds. They look kinda sad about it. So we know there are “smarter breeds”,
but researchers hadn’t tested intelligence within breeds until last year. British psychologists evaluated the adaptive
intelligence of border collies, using three pretty typical canine intelligence tests. And we’re going to do a dramatic reenactment. I just want Luna to be famous. First is the detour test. A simple course is set up that the dog must
follow to earn a treat. Once the dog is familiar with it, a “short
detour” is set up in its path and they are timed to determine how long it will take them
to figure out a new route to the treat. So, time your dog. In the study I mentioned before, The “smartest”
collie figured this test out in under 5 seconds and the one who scored the lowest took around
2 minutes. On average, the dogs took under 8 seconds
to complete the test. Next, the point-following test uses 2 inverted
cups. Using a treat that isn’t too smelly, show
your dog, then obstruct everything. Then, reveal the cups and point to the one
without the treat. If your dog followed your point without any
distractions, give them a pat on the back. Transition into a scratch. Good dog. Those border collies ranged from less than
a second to 43 seconds to arrive at the indicated cup, with an average time of less than 4.5
seconds. Finally, the quantity discrimination test. Fill two plates with different amounts of
wet food. Place these plates the same distance from
your dog. Let them go and time how long they take to
make a decision. Smarter pups will head for the bigger plate
and quickly. The border collie’s were pretty quick with
this one, arriving at the larger plate in under 3 seconds, on average. The border collie who made the fastest decision
did so in less than a second, and the slowest took just over 38 seconds. If your dog did well on the first test, you
should notice they’ll do well on the other two – this was found in the border collie
study and it suggests that dogs have a general intelligence factor – a general mental capacity
that can influence how well do on tests and in other activities. We’ve found that mice and chimpanzees have
a general intelligence factor, too. Testing other animals can help us develop
a complete theory of intelligence. In particular, there’s a link between intelligence
and health: higher intelligence leads to better health outcomes. And animals might be able to tell us if this
happens through genetics or through environmental factors. Animals are more of a control group than people
as their circumstances and environment remain pretty constant, as opposed to humans who
eat donuts when we’re stressed, smoke and drink, and binge watch Netflix instead of
getting 7-9 hours sleep. And Luna would never get less than 9 hours

100 thoughts on “How Smart is Your Dog?

  • Tigerous Post author

    My dog eat its own poop. I guess it is a genius since it isn't dead yet.

  • by peacewillow Post author

    and here i thought luna was a unique name for my black and white akita mix, who is an extremely smart 6 yo rescue that just doesn't get the finger point thing. luckily she does respond to verbal directions (left, right, your other right….)
    love your videos! 🐾

  • Gustavo Ribeiro Post author

    Luna looks so "cool" and "I don't care all the way"… I wish I'd look like that when I take tests… Vanessa looks good too, we still don't if you're wearing make up or not… is Luna??????

  • Carloswithac Post author

    That accent! 😍 also, very informative and entertaining.

  • Kaneanite Post author

    A channel recommendation from Vanessa Hill, whelp time to binge watch REACTIONS.
    P.S. Luna with glasses is love.<3

  • Nutcracko Games Post author

    here from Reactions πŸ˜€

  • TheyCallMeNewb Post author

    That's quite the dog-cam you have

  • zentouro Post author

    okay but now i just want to put a gopro on my dog and explore what she gets up to.

    also luna, so delightfully adorable.

  • SnoopyDoo Post author

    I love cats. Woof!

  • Grant Wallace Post author

    I guess it's my own fault, but I was thinking along the lines of how "sentient" is your dog. They're smart animals there's no doubt, but sentience is what I want to know. How much do dogs understand of their own feelings compared to those of their environment effecting them. Happy owner happy dog, etc etc.

  • Kat The Nerdfighter Post author

    AAAAAAAAAAAAWWWW!!! What? Oh, yeah, I totally clicked this video for the science.

  • Nathan Land Post author

    The food quantity test seems flawed. The dog could be going for the lesser bowl in hopes it is consumed before the other is picked up. It would be the right choice for a crafty strategist to make. I also think quick decision making is not always a key trait in intelligence. In nature quick movement can often cost you your lunch or in a dogs case a human could view it as rude or threatening and remove your lunch. This is why intelligence is often hard to quantify, but in theses cases I suppose you must look at it through strategy and dogs do tend to show this.

  • Braian Rodriguez Post author

    You're banned from my friends list if you say dog's aren't smart, sometimes i feel they can be smarter than some people πŸ˜‹ πŸ˜‹

  • roguecactus7 Post author

    I love dogs. The fact that my dog low crawls (commando crawl is the command) forces me to accept that dogs ARE better than cats. And to see a corgi bow is one of the cutest things in life. πŸ‘πŸ• πŸˆπŸ™…β€β™‚οΈ

  • Cal1003 Post author

    My fav episode so far!!!!!!

  • JJ Keller Post author

    I love that pupper just chills during the explanations

  • FrozenEternity Post author

    I literally have started taking steps to have a dog in my life again. I want a malinios. They are generally super smart so will need to be able to dedicate a lot of time and energy to the pup so that it's happy

  • Matthew Fennell Post author

    Yeah, if my dog has a problem she can't solve/ can't be bothered to solve she'll just bark until someone comes along and sorts it out for her. Does that make her really clever?

  • bigghoss762 Post author

    I think dogs are a lot more intelligent than we think. They've got us trained to feed and snuggle them and pick up their turdsΒ just for being adorable.

  • Confuzzled Tomato Post author

    someone spam this to Jenna Marbles lol

  • Charles Uwakwe Post author

    Vanessa, you are such a show off! You and Luna make for such an incredibly cute pair. I am so jealous.
    I loved the video far much more than having to endure watching you do the 100 layer challenge.

  • Kulvinder Bisla Post author

    Theory of mind in dogs? O_O
    You can't definitively say so! The Wiki page suggests otherwise:

  • Nut Suphanat Post author

    10 Hours Ago!!! 97th Comment!!! 8,771st View!!!

  • Kevin Gutowski Post author

    More videos of Luna please!! Haha this was a cool video πŸ˜€

  • Ken D Post author

    Crazy to think that an alien species could be much higher on the intelligence scale than us.

  • OM ANS Post author

    legend says that if you're early the most beautiful girl in the world will reply

  • KFC Manager Post author

    I think your cat has autism.

  • ilovepancakeswithjam Post author

    I wish I was her dog.

  • Yeeeeeeeeeet Post author

    But dogs ain't intelligent as cows ofc

  • Bickety Bam Post author

    I had a Basset until recently (passed away) and if Border Collie's are the "smarter breeds" then the idiot that decided that needs to try again. I can remember a border collie chasing it's ball as it went just under the fence at my local dog park. The BC stood their barking at the ball, yet my dog, the basset, put her paw under the fence and grabbed the ball in seconds.

    Of course she went and sat down and started to chew the ball to bits (which I always called back-engineering) but in this case she was way smarter then the Border Collie… it would have still been there barking at the ball on the other side of the fence, rather then barking at my dog for destroying its favorite toy. There were many instances where my Annabelle would have passed those tests along as failing the tests depending on the situation.

    The blood hound and the basset hounds noses (their sense of smell) are the best of all dogs, so if you put down two plates of food, one bigger then the other how do you know that the stronger smell isn't coming from the plate with the most food? On the flip side, you could skew that by putting a stronger smell on the smaller plate, proving the basset or blood hound is dumber because they went for the smaller (but smellier) portion. I think the tests need to take into consideration all the different breeds and what motivates them and then devise the tests with that in mind rather then just a standard test. Sense of smell, eyesight, even just how the dog is feeling could fail it because it doesn't respond the same way as some hyper dog that while can navigate an obstacle course will bark like mad at its own reflection in a mirror.

    Many a time my dog would stand in front of people at the dog park demanding the treats in their pocket, only to be told by the silly human that they didn't have any. I of course would inform them it is most likely a "crumb" which she could smell and once found by the silly humans she would take said crumb and leave the flabbergasted human standing there scratching their heads trying to comprehend how she could smell such a small amount. That was a regular occurrence.

  • Yoav Shati Post author

    I don't have a dog so…

  • VannTile Ianito Post author

    this connects so much with Homo deus, a wonderful book you should read if you haven't already

  • Barnesrino Kripperino Post author

    Your dog looks soo fluffy and sweet

  • animist channel Post author

    These kinds of multi-species tests often fail to control for the value systems of the subjects. For example, dogs will track eye movements and pointing fingers because they are pack animals, and they put more value on proving their loyalty than on proving their individuality or intelligence, so they perform well on certain tests because it's what they care about.

    An AKC breeder once told me about a grand champion labrador retriever, highest scorer of all time in breed performance tests, assumed to be some kind of genius dog; so it was autopsied when it died younger than expected. It turned out it had hydrocephalus, and all it had left was essentially a brain stem running on stimulus-response and basic loyalty instincts. It did every command perfectly, every time, without hesitation, because it basically had no thoughts of its own.

    Cats, on the other hand, are inherently more individualistic (and are evolutionarily successful at that), so when you point, they will look at you like, "Why are you showing me your finger for no reason, you stupid monkey? If there's something you want me to see, go get it yourself." Or you throw a ball and say "fetch!" and maybe they look at you with one eye, like "If you really wanted that ball, why did you throw it away, you idiot?" In this way, they have manipulated humans for thousands of years in return for feasting on the vermin humans attract, and making a few purring noises. Cats value the Great Dreaming and a life of luxury.

    In early attempts to chart the intelligence of dolphins, researchers found that at first they would have this great learning curve, then their performance would become erratic, almost random. Statistical analysis showed that the dolphins had quickly figured out they were being tested, got bored with the pedantic humans, and started throwing off the results on purpose just to mess with the scientists. So what do dolphins value? Having a sense of humor.

    Don't even get me started on ravens… they find humans a little bit cute, a lot ridiculous, and sometimes useful. They value novelty and taking advantage of other species.

    The idea of "general intelligence" is almost an oxymoron. Any given test is a value-based judgement attempting to compare traits among creatures against some artificially imposed standard transferred over from another value system. Even among humans, there are multiple versions of intelligence that allow them to succeed variably in different tasks or environments. GI is a colonial-era attempt to justify social stratifications and specializations, and to promote human arrogance in devastating the landscape.

    The proper question is not, "How intelligent is it?" The better question is, "How good is it at being itself, considering its inherent values, resources, and environment?" In the case of your dog, it just has to be good at being your dog, and it is apparently a sweet genius at being that πŸ™‚

    Did you ever see "Do schools kill creativity? | Sir Ken Robinson" (TED 2006) It's a fun look at non-linear, non-comparable forms of talent and intelligence, and how the attempt to set a standard scale has damaged whole societies.

    Then compare that to "TEDxSanDiego – 2011 – Martha Beck – The Four Technologies of Magic" and think about how powerful, exotic skill-sets arise from particular circumstances and experiences, rather than from some linear/standard scale.

  • Raido Post author

    i dont have a doggo.

  • Gautier Zacharewicz Post author

    Your dog is very cute ! Please, do all your next vidΓ©o with him πŸ™‚

  • Michael Mitchell Post author

    I know this sounds strange, but my uncle used to have a boxer that acted eerily like she was a human in her mannerisms without ever being trained. She knocked on the door before coming into the house, she would try and sit at the table (on a chair) with the family at meal times, and would idly turn her gaze to the television when everyone else did, among other undeniably human habits. She house trained herself, seeming to understand straight away that the house was not the place to do her business. I think her capacity to imitate was an impressive intelligence in itself πŸ™‚

  • BlckCloud73 Post author

    I tried to do these tests on our dog, but he wouldn't put his smartphone down. Apparently he was ordering a pizza. Dumb dog.

  • Villager #255 Post author

    What about cats? They do whatever they want to, so making them do tests is hard…

  • MinecraftTestSquad Post author

    Love your dog, it's really cute haha.

  • Thomas Chase Post author

    My dog loved frisbee but she prefered not to be the frisbee catcher and was terrible at throwing it. It went maybe five feet and always to her left and not towards me.

  • SuperNova Post author

    Nude please lol

  • Razid Post author

    Good doge

  • jod125 Post author

    How is being able to follow orders intelligence? Being able to think for ones self is intelligence.

  • Peter Schmidt Post author

    It saddens me how octopuses have such a short lifespan, because they're one of the most intelligent species on the planet and I feel like they have so much potential that they can't take advantage of.

  • Chris D Post author

    Great Video as always! πŸ™‚

  • Owen Edgson Post author

    What breed is your dog? she's amazing!! and so adorable!

  • Amy Fedelin Post author

    My puppy is a lab and husky mix. I would do this but my puppy is only 6 weeks old lol

  • Wan SN Post author

    Cutest episode ;skmgf;sfng;sfng

  • Ikiratuki Post author

    Tell Luna she is a good girl.

  • beth donovan Post author

    my dog doesn't like dog food or certain dog treats.

  • Shubham Bhushan Post author

    But that still doesn't explain why they are so friggin cuddly!!!!

  • Daxxon Jabiru Post author


  • Miriam Bates Post author

    Luna!!!! She's a good girl

  • Bill Kimzey Post author

    My border collie, Mocha, was so smart – and tricky. When I would come home from work, he and my sister's dogs from next door would come to greet me and get petted. Once, when I came back, they had heard something in the woods and had gone up there, barking. Mocha then came to the car for his greeting. After that, he figured out something, and when I would get home he would go barking into the woods with the other dogs following. Then he would circle back to the car, and have me all to himself. And you could see it on his face, how pleased he was with himself for leaving the other two barking in the woods at nothing.

  • Ros Post author

    I have a hypothesis, this entire video was a clever ploy to show off your doggo.

  • G. Brent Wilson Post author

    I don't think you really said anything in this video.

  • seasoakedperversion Post author

    what dog takes up to 38 seconds to choose which plate of food to go to? a paraplegic? haha

  • Xion Pentagast Post author

    awww the last part was lovely.

  • eddebrock Post author

    That is a well trained dog. That's rare to see.

  • BoxySama Post author

    you have a beautiful smile leting Natural Instincts be natural

  • Suryashekhar Das Post author

    you're awesome πŸ˜€

  • Dan Post author

    I don't find your dog cute.

    And I believe that's a good thing.

  • BittenUsagi Post author

    Luna is too cute!

  • MrB33keeper Post author

    what is it about seeing all those dogs makes me want to pat them?

  • Annika Victoria Post author

    Im here for the doggos!

  • Natalia Storm Post author

    I have a Borzoi and she would do marvellously on that first test. Badly on the second, because she doesn't pay any attention when I point at things. I'm not entirely sure she knows what it means. On the third test it would depend entirely on how hungry she was, because she's not food motivated.

  • Chordeiles Major Post author

    well you have the same problem you have with all animals and even with humans… you can train for intelligence tests and as the researcher you will not know if one dog is simply more intelligent or has just had a lot of training in similar tasks

  • Meg Alyssa Post author

    Your dog looks so content on your lap. I love it.

  • Gerardo Frias Post author

    I don't even have a pet.

  • Maddie Briggs Post author

    Can you do a video on dogs and anxiety? And particularly on what that would tell us about anxiety.

  • Goku Black Post author

    I like her.

  • bdbdbd Post author

    My dog is autistic and meows and purrs all the time

  • Virush Post author

    What breed is that lovely doggo ?

  • Gizmo Cat Post author

    Almost all creatures are intelligent, but have a different way of doing things, interpretation of this is hard, and we often misinterpret this.

  • Tom Post author

    Your eyes match your dog's. πŸ™‚

  • baselinebaz Post author

    seriously stunning

  • Mellow Yellow Post author

    Smarter dogs go for the bigger plate… and the smaller plate.

  • Rusk Reeder Post author

    A fine episode Vanessa. I'm sorry I haven't commented on your last few but I have been ill recently. Looks like your dog is fairly smart. There is an excellent documentary about dog on PBS Nova. Did you know that monkeys can't do the cup test? Also, when dogs look at you they will first look you in the center of the eyes then move to the right side of your eyes. It is believed they do this because the right side of our eyes convey emotion, and dog want to get a sense of our promotional states. Also, many evolutionary biologists believe that dogs helped establish civilization by moving us from hunter-gatherers to agrarian societies. And before you go "Sniff, sniff, you didn't remember my dog's name," did you say Luna?

  • A.C. Jelly Post author

    but do they know who the good boy is?

  • Cameron Keller Post author

    That is one cute dog….

  • Adrian D Post author

    Great video! I love how you cover so many subjects no other channel does, or barely touches on. Your dog is so cute, too πŸ™‚

  • PoseidonXIII Post author

    I love how dogs willingly try to find the weirdest most uncomfortably positions to put themselves in. XD

  • Superkoopatrooper Post author

    I feel like judging an animals intelligence based on how well they listen to you is kind of flimsy. I mean, going by these rules, my cat is a genius. He tries to sneak out of the house whenever we go through the main door. He'll try hiding behind the couch or under the tv stand near the door in an attempt to break free and eat grass. I guess that's him trying to mislead and execute a plan. I've trained him via positive reinforcement so whenever I snap my fingers, he sits down. For some reason, if he's in front of me it won't work, he speed walks… but if he's following me, he'll sit down right away. He also doesn't react to mirrors which suggests he's at least somewhat self aware. My other cat, well, she's just a cat haha.

  • Futuredudeman Post author


  • autistic tech girl 1990 Post author

    Our family has always had dogs over the years. And they always seem to work out I am visually impaired, I don't know how but they do. A few years ago we had a border collie who we sadly had to have put down because she was 14 and her back legs kept going. I remember I went to the shop with my sister One day. I walked in front using my cane and she walked behind with Nelly on the lead. After we had gone to the shop, my sister said to fold my cane away and see if Nellie understood to walk slower with me and if she could understand how to help me. So I held Nellies lead and walked with her. She walked much slower with me, she walked me around obstacles like posts. She would sit at the curb so I knew when to cross over, and when a group of people were walking towards us she sat in front of me so that I didn't bump into them and waited until they had passed. I couldn't believe she knew how to help me, she was A pet dog and had never ever had any training like a guy dog

  • Oma Post author

    Vanessa, at the end of this video there is a gray hairy thing partially hidden underneath the pillow over your right shoulder. Is it your cat?

  • chris soto Post author

    My dog still has trouble with the mirror πŸ˜‚

  • Fion Post author

    So what's your dog's IQ?

  • Robert Berger Post author

    when my dog was 1year old iI went into the forest and let him intangle by him self and let him untangle himself .
    That made him very smart and he maskes his own desision . The IQ tests is a child play for him it is hard for me to trick him

  • Nashawn Livingston Post author

    i have one question, why would obedience=intelligence? not related to this video just in general. great video though

  • nyutrig Post author

    It's "dog"

  • JungSHOOK Post author

    my dog is a mix bread Yorkie/Pomeranian…. he is STUPID. if you point at food he would still be confused.. if you hand a grape to him he will think it's a new toy

  • Daryl Skinner Post author

    Love your dog πŸ•

  • Pierre Gian Briones Post author

    How you do the dog smart

  • marcjtdc Post author

    im naked

  • Zone07 Post author

    I would like to see the obstacle test with vacuum cleaners. Most dogs will fail.

  • Lil' Dumb Cat -w- Post author

    I did this with my own digital doggo and it didn't work well….

  • Dwight Wiltz Post author

    Not sure don't have one I've been speaking on command for three years

  • Jill BV Post author

    Your dog looks sad 😲

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