The Intelligence of Dogs

Stanley Coren, Author Free Press $22.95 (271p) ISBN 978-0-02-906683-6
This carefully reasoned, historically minded volume examines human thinking about dogs as much as it speculates about the cognitive abilities of dogs themselves. Coren, a psychologist, dog trainer and lifelong dog devote, makes no bones about his respect for canine intelligence, and he shores up his discussion with examples, with thoughtfully analyzed surveys of veterinarians, dog obedience judges and other experts, and with research findings from ethologists and animal behaviorists. He identifies various aspects of canine intelligence, noting, for example, that a dog with a pronounced aptitude for problem-solving (e.g., a poodle or Doberman pinscher) cannot perform mundane tasks like herding or hunting nearly as well as supposedly less intelligent dogs (sheepdogs or terriers) that have been bred for these skills. He then assesses different breeds with regard to their intellectual strengths and weaknesses, taking pains to demonstrate that sensitive, consistent handling can enormously enhance the skills of a ``not-so-smart dog'' and that inept handling can be ruinous to a canine Einstein. Tests allow readers to calculate the IQs of their own dogs; determined owners can implement sensible suggestions designed to strengthen their pet's brainpower. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/28/1994
Release date: 03/01/1994
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