Is Your Dog A Genius?

Portrait of the yellow American Dingo dog.

Well, first off, that would depend on your definition of what a genius is. After spending many years in the education field, I became very familiar with Is your dog a geniusthe idea that genius demonstrates itself in a variety of ways. Howard Gardner’s cognitive research with (human) students, has lead to the theory of Multiple Intelligence’s. The theory is that humans possess different kinds of cognitive abilities. Different ways in which they learn, remember, perform and understand. Gardner has identified seven distinct intelligence’s in humans that identify a person’s cognitive strengths. In the past 10 years, a similar studies have been done to understand the intelligence of canine’s. The study of dog cognition is providing similar results in our canine partners.

Dr. Brian Hare’s research on dog cognition at Duke University, has begun to uncover what little we know about a dog’s cognitive abilities. Just like humans, dog’s are genius’s in one particular area. The genius of a dog can be measured in 5 different categories; empathy, communication, cunning, memory, and reasoning. Many of us that live with dogs can agree that our furry friends demonstrate differences in their ability to do a variety of tasks. For instance, our dog Grace is a pure bred Labrador Retriever. She doesn’t retrieve. Retrieve? What’s that about? Although she does not retrieve, she is extremely good at teaching humans where the cupboard is that the treats are kept. She stands at the cupboard as if is in need of one of those treats and you can open the door to get one for her. I would say she is quite cunning.

Dr. Hare’s research is just beginning to help us understand what a dogs cognitive abilities are. There are dogs that can understand up to 1000 words, identify objects, rescue families before a tragedy happens, calm a person during an anxiety attack and discover cancer in a their human. Some of us would like to understand how that is possible. The evolutionary growth of dogs from wolves to a creature of unbelievable human companionship, has aroused human curiosity. With researchers like Dr. Brian Hare, one day we may be able to answer the question: How do they do what they do? Is my dog a Genius?

To participate in the cognition research experiment with your dog, go to:


Posted by
Cheryl Wilson

Cheryl Wilson created Why We Wag in 2012 as her result of her lifelong love of dogs. After 22 years in the Educational sector, Cheryl utilizes her expertise as an award winning educator, to educate dog lovers, along with offering supplies that support a healthy, meaningful relationship with canines. Residing in Utah, Cheryl is celebrating her 5th generation with dogs and now her first generation of grand-dogs.