Everybody knows that dogs are smart. After all, that’s why dogs were employed for many centuries to help out in a variety of tasks. Not many people are aware though of the extent of a dog’s intelligence. Many dogs have shown an uncanny ability to perform tasks even without prior learning, and some dog stories just leave us baffled, wondering if canines are close to being the four-legged impersonification of a genius. These heart-warming stories are proof of how deep, and often underrated, a dog’s intelligence can be.
The Loyal Akita
Hachicko, a loyal Akita, was known for patiently awaiting his owner each day at the train station at the same time each day. Sadly, he then lost his owner to a deadly cerebral hemorrhage in 1925. Little did he know that his owner would never get off the train again. Ever since, this loyal Akita waited for him at the train station every day at the train's exact arrival time and did this for nine years. After his death, a statue was erected in his honor and can be found in front of the Shibuya train station in Tokyo.
The Akita is considered an aloof, but highly intelligent breed that loves to spend time with its family. One of this breed's unique traits is it tendency to mouth. Some owners report a tendency to carry their wrist in their mouth to lead them somewhere such as towards the door so they can be taken out. This predisposition to mouth can be utilized to train the Akita to bring the newspaper, grab a pair of slippers of find misplaced keys. Originally developed as a fighting dog, this versatile breed was also utilized in the past to retrieve waterfowl and to hunt deer, wild boar and even bears.
Smoky, the award-winning Yorkie
Smoky, a yorkshire terrier was found by an American soldier in a foxhole by the New Guinea jungle in 1944. The Yorkie was then sold to Corporal William A. Wynne for two Australian pounds. For the following two years, Smoky accompanied Corporal Wynne on several combat missions facing adverse conditions and eating a diet of C-rations and Spam. According to Wynne, Smoky saved his life several times, alerting him of incoming shells and guiding him away from a fire. She was also able to help run a telegraph wire through a 70 foot pipe, a job that would have been quite a complicated and dangerous task for men. During down times, Smoky was entertaining the troops with tricks. According to Animal Planet, Smoky was also the first therapy dog on record. Smoky has been credited for twelve combat missions and has been awarded eight battle stars.
These small, feisty pooches are very smart and are blessed with an adventurous terrier spirit which makes them mischievous, perky and outgoing. Training should start as early as possible so they can learn how to behave. Blessed with keen senses, Yorkies make great watchdogs prone to sounding the alarm as soon as they detect any unusual sights or sounds.These small dogs were originally used as "ratters" to keep the rodent population under control in textile mills and factories.
Barry, the savior Saint Bernard
Barry was a mountain rescue dog that worked for the Great St. Bernard Hospice in Switzerland in the early 1800. He became famous because he was credited for saving more than 40 lives. His most famous rescue was of a sleeping child found in an ice cavern. Barry warmed up the child by licking him and then carried him on his back to the hospice. As of today, the Natural History Museum of Bern considers Barry the most famous Saint Bernard. His preserved body is still on display at the museum.
Originally these gentle giants were employed by the Saint Bernard hospice as guardians and helpers for lost or injured travelers. These are very intelligent dogs that learn quickly. They may have an independent streak though which is what ultimately allowed them to work alone searching for helpless travelers in the treacherous pass.
Eve, the courageous Rottweiler
It all happened one day when Kathie Vaughan was driving her truck and it suddenly began to fishtail. Soon, when she pullled over, the cockpit quickly started filling up with smoke. Being paraplegic and paralyzed from the waist down, Kathie couldn't get out of the car. She was able though to let out her Rottweiler Eve. Right when Kathie was feeling like passing out, she felt Eve pulling at her leg. The brave dog was able to drag her 10 feet away from the car to safety, minutes prior the car burst into flames. Eve was awarded the Stillman Award for bravery.
Originally bred to drive cattle, the Rottweiler was also utilized to pull carts of fresh meat to the market. These highly intelligent dogs were then utilized for police and military work. This breed is easy to train, but needs loads of socialization to prevent it from becoming territorial or overprotective. Stanley Coren in his book "The Intelligence of Dogs" list the world's smartest breeds with Rotties ranking 9th for doggie smarts.
Trackr, the Ground Zero Hero
Trackr, a courageous German Shepherd along with police officer James Symington were one of the first search-and-rescue teams to provide assistance at Ground Zero. Despite horrific conditions, the team was able to locate a last survivor and help her get out from under thirty feet of unstable debris. Time Magazine proclaimed Trackr one of the most heroic animals in history. His rescue efforts were so remarkable that his owner won a cloning contest, and after his death, Trackr was successfully cloned producing five puppies.
Developed by Max Von Stephanitz, the German shepherd breed is a highly intelligent and versatile dog with a history of being used for police work, guardian duties and search and rescue missions. German shepherds rank third place for intelligence, right after border collies and poodles.
Chaser, the walking dictionary
How about a dog who can discriminate between the names of over 1,000 toys? This grants Chaser top rank for intelligence, beating the record of another border collie who knew 200 works and puts him at the level of intelligence of a 3-year old child. His impressive vocabulary includes a variety of toys which he can recognize and retrieve on command.
These active, agile dogs were selectively bred to herd sheep in the hilly areas between the borders of Scotland and England. Stanley Coren ranks the border collie as the top intelligent dog. Training these dogs though isn't easy as pie as one would expect. These dogs are always a "step ahead" and eager to anticipate every move, traits that require skill and attention for those who wish to train them. When trained correctly, these dogs can accomplish a whole lot and can entertain with their large repertoire of impressive tricks.
The Bottom Line
What makes a dog smart? People seem to agree that it’s the dog’s desire to please and its predisposition to quickly learn to obey commands. However, it’s wrong to assume the many independent breeds who didn’t make it on the list of the world’s smartest breeds lack canine smarts. Afterall, dogs were selectively bred to engage in different tasks, so a hound who cares less to come when called is ultimately not being dumb or stubborn, but is just engaging in what he does best: sniffing and tracking prey.