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The smartest dog breed, according to science

A team of researchers has decided which breed of dog is the brightest having passed a series of behavioral and cognition tests with flying colors.

A team of researchers has decided which breed of dog is the brightest having passed a series of behavioral and cognition tests with flying colors.

A recent study carried out by scientists from the University of Helsinki (Finland) has revealed which is the most intelligent breed of dog through a series of cognitive tests for which they have looked at more than 1,000 specimens from 13 different breeds. The result points to the Belgian Malinois, a tracking dog characterized by its ability to solve problems and its magnificent understanding of human beings and their needs.

To reach this conclusion, the research has produced the most complete data set on cognitive aspects of dog breeds that exists to date. The dogs examined have passed a total of 10 tasks: seven cognitive and three behavioral. Subsequently, the same team of experts responsible for the creation of smartDOG has evaluated the results.

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Each race has its strengths and weaknesses. However, as one of the authors of the study, Katriina Tiira, told the Telegraph in the case of the “Belgian Shepherd Malinois stood out in many of the cognitive tasks, having very good results in a majority of the tests.” The scientist has also highlighted the role of border collies in the tests carried out.

How have the dogs’ intelligence been tested?

Among the tests to which the canines have been subjected, those of logical reasoning stand out, where there have not been great differences between the different breeds, and those of cognition, which have differential results and have served to verify the ability of dogs to solve problems. Another noteworthy test has been the one that measured the ability to read human gestures, which has been performed by evaluating the reaction of the canines to five gestures typical of people: pointing constantly, pointing very little, pointing with their foot, pointing at something while looking in another direction, and finally following the human’s gaze.

In line with this test, scientists have investigated the degree of independence of dogs and the speed with which they come to the aid of a human in need. To do this, the dogs have been given the unsolvable task of trying to access food that is inside a box that cannot be opened. This task “measured a social aspect as well; some breeds scored very highly on human-directed behaviour, meaning they attempted to ask the human for help with the difficult task, whereas at the other end dogs were independently attempting to solve the problem,” Tiira specified, adding “Both responses can be useful in different situations.”

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Final test results

In both the gesture and cognition tests, the Belgian Malinois came first. In addition, it was the fifth most independent. They were followed in the results by the border collies -second place- and the Hovawart -third-. However, the team of scientists has clarified that the classification regarding each trait is not “as useful” as knowing which breeds perform best in their own abilities.